Latest blog entries http://www.velosgroup.com/blog.html Thu, 17 Aug 2017 09:25:50 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb CRM Really Matters to Your Small Company ... It Helps You Grow in 2013 and Ads Needed Value http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/crm-really-matters-to-your-small-company-it-helps-you-grow-and-ads-needed-value.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/crm-really-matters-to-your-small-company-it-helps-you-grow-and-ads-needed-value.html Many of our clients have told us that with only a small sales force, they get along just fine without spending a limited budget on sophisticated Sales Lead Management or Sales Force Automation software. A significant number of them feel as if they can “Run the business in their heads.”  This may have been true five years ago, but the marketplace is drastically changing. 

Small companies will not only greatly benefit from establishing strong CRM Processes and procedures; they must take a stand and incorporate it into their business. 

Why They Need CRM Software

1. CRM is the glue that keeps the sales, marketing and customer service process together; used consistently and with discipline, it helps ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. All inquiries and leads are entered and accounted for as they make their way through the sales process. Everyone who needs to know what’s going on at an account will have access to it; potentially eliminating any embarrassing miss-communications. 

2. CRM software and the security helps keep your valuable customer and prospect information safe even when a sales rep is unavailable or leaves the company. Ultimately, this important information is a corporate asset and is protected as such. One of the big benefits of this approach is the faster ramp up time for a new sales rep; they won’t have to start working their territory from scratch. Who are our best accounts? Which prospects should we call on first? Are there any we should avoid? Why? These are all questions that can be answered and enable new reps to quickly become productive. 

3. Sales Accountability/Management visibility

Set up and used properly, it can enforce sales accountability without having a Sales Manager overseeing the reps routine everyday. This includes: number of calls being made; how many of them are over the phone and how many are face-to-face meetings? These statistics can be quickly and easily tabulated daily, weekly and by sales rep or the whole sales team. 

Conclusion

Every company, small, medium and large, can significantly increase the value of their organization by automating best-in-class CRM processes and procedures. By setting up your CRM software to reflect your company’s requirements, sales revenues will increase along with their consistency and predictability. These are easy to implement, cost effective ways to increase the value of your company.

 ~ Mark Friedman Velos Group President

For more information on this topic, call Mark at 714-544-1003 or email Mark: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) CRM Tue, 22 Jan 2013 20:51:06 +0000
Sales Lead Management Strategies - Do your sales leads work as hard as you do? http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/sales-lead-management-strategies-do-your-sales-leads-work-as-hard-as-you-do.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/sales-lead-management-strategies-do-your-sales-leads-work-as-hard-as-you-do.html Companies spend millions of dollars trying to identify qualified prospects for their products and services. We have come to understand the benefits of targeted marketing using sophisticated database techniques. But what happens once a prospect “raises their hand” and indicates some level of interest in what the company has to say? Some sobering industry information may be illuminating.

A recent study from the Harvard Business School found that fully 80 percent of the sales leads generated from marketing programs are never followed up by the sales organization. In a similar study, Performark, Inc. stated, “As much as 90 percent of a business-to-business direct marketing budget may be spent trying to attract leads, and yet a shocking number of those leads are ignored. Of those leads that were actually followed up, over 60 percent were not called until 60 days after the initial contact. Of those leads that were followed up, a large percentage were poorly qualified. Direct marketing studies have shown that poorly qualified leads cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars and increase the cost per lead, since poorly qualified leads are less likely to result in a sale.”

Successful sales lead management today requires a company to evaluate every aspect of its sales process. Taking a long, hard look at your current sales lead processing procedures may be the best first step toward increased sales. Here are a few areas to look at first.

Prospect Database

Your prospect database should record and keep as much lead source information as possible. If one of the desired end results from a closed-loop sales lead management system is a suite of reports that helps management evaluate the effectiveness of each marketing activity, make sure your prospect database is set up to record the source of the lead and how it came to you (phone call, bingo response, Web, business reply card, etc.). This will aid you greatly in evaluating which programs work best for you in terms of increased responses and sales. Make sure this source information stays attached to the inquiry from the beginning of the sales process all the way to the end.

There are four specific areas of information that are required in order to build a successful marketing effectiveness reporting capability:

  1. Campaign Type - Identifies type of marketing campaign that stimulated a response.
  2. Campaign or Project Name - Identifies the name of the specific function/project.
  3. Source - Specific stimulus (source) from which an individual response was derived (purchased list, an internal list, etc.).
  4. Response Vehicle - Defines the response medium through which the respondent contacted the company.

Quick Response

Let's face it. Quick, personalized response to an inquiry creates a very positive image for a company; it is often the first measure a prospect has of how professionally the company operates. Each company should set a goal to send out the requested information within 48 hours initially, with a long-term goal of 24 hours. It is important that the company responds with the information requested, incorporating a customized greeting and letting the person know how to contact the company if there are any questions or interest.

A company should use the source information described above plus the qualification information described below to determine how it will respond to each inquiry: Will the respondent receive a full literature pack or just an e-mail? In either case, the prospect receives information, but those who stand a better chance of becoming customers receive the more expensive fulfillment package. Not only will you respond quickly but over time you will be able to reduce your overall cost to fulfill these requests.

Qualify, Qualify, Qualify!

An inquiry is an expression of interest, whereas a lead is an expression of interest that is qualified to purchase the product or service and has an identified timeframe to make a buying decision with an established budget. Attempt to qualify each inquiry before it is sent to the sales organization. The time and effort  spent up front qualifying these leads can result in gigantic payoffs down the line in the form of increased sales productivity. Many companies argue that inquiry qualification is one of the tasks they pay their salespeople to accomplish. This is a shortsighted approach. Let's take a look at why:

  1. Sales reps are paid to sell. Typically, they are paid quite well to sell. When your sales reps are spending more time selling and less time qualifying inquiries, everyone is a winner.
  2. Inquiry qualification can be handled quite well by a lower cost resource, usually a trained telemarketer.
  3. When push comes to shove, the vast majority of sales reps would rather have a root canal than pick up the phone and qualify inquiries. (See above for real-world research.)

A well-designed inquiry qualification program will increase sales results and sales productivity. This process can also assist a company to determine accurately which programs are working the best to create sales.

Components of an Inquiry Qualification Program

Elements of a well-constructed inquiry qualification program are as follows:

  1. Define a consistent set of criteria, with significant input from sales, which help identify who is an ideal prospect. Typically, these will be what kind of company (end-user, reseller, distributor, government, etc.), what industry, an indication of either the company's size or the size of a potential deal, what budget has been established, what is the anticipated decision timeframe and any other items a company needs to identify the companies with whom they should be spending time.
  2. Once these criteria have been agreed upon by sales and marketing, it is imperative toshow, when they come to the Web site and request information, on business reply cards, etc. This will help prioritize which companies to pursue and the follow-up timeframe, as well as become an excellent source of marketing profile information that can be used to identify companies for future sales and marketing programs.
  3. Start classifying all inquiries and qualified leads with a standard format. It is important that the Lead Quality code contain at least two characters: one relating to a decision timeframe and the other relating to either the company or potential deal size.

This Lead Quality Scoring format will accomplish several important objectives:

  • Decisions can be made regarding which leads should be forwarded to sales. Forinstance, should accounts looking to make a decision 13 months from now be sent tosales? Should they be put into an e-mail nurturing process that sends out regular communications and invites them to call or visit the company's Web site when they are ready to start evaluating solutions?
  • As qualified leads are sent to sales, they will have a better way to prioritize their followup activities.
  • Decisions can be made regarding the most cost-effective way to fulfill these inquiries. It is possible to track the number of inquiries from a marketing program plus the number of qualified leads, as well as the timeframe and size of these leads. As more information is tracked over time, the marketing department can evaluate which activities are generating the best leads and which activities need to be expanded, modified or eliminated.
  • By incorporating these elements into a comprehensive sales lead management program, companies will experience increased sales results and sales productivity. Their overall cost of sales will decline and the sales cycle will be shortened.
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mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) Sales Lead Management Sat, 05 Jan 2013 09:30:00 +0000
Understanding What Your Sales Manager is Up Against http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/understanding-what-your-sales-manager-is-up-against.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/understanding-what-your-sales-manager-is-up-against.html How do best-in-class Sales Lead Management techniques help your company become a Level Four company? The top Sales Priorities of leading companies utilize the following major tactics.  Read below and learn how to become a Level Four company.

Major Tactics:

  1. Optimize lead-generation programs
  2. Revise sales process   
  3. Align sales and marketing more closely
  4. Evaluate and implement CRM software tools

Optimize lead-generation programs

The study highlighted declines in the percentage of leads resulting in initial meetings, those leading to formal presentations and presentations resulting in sales. Additionally, the article cites the ability of buyers to effectively use the Internet to perform preliminary research so that “the buy cycle is often well underway before the seller is even aware there is a cycle.”

Effective Sales Lead Management techniques and leveraging the use of Sales Force Automation (SFA)-Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can give the seller a much better chance of discovering the buying intentions of both customers and prospects alike. The key is creating a comprehensive Account Profile to segment/target customers and prospects, and customizing sales/marketing communications to each identified group. Once this segmentation has been accomplished, communications to each group needs to be consistent, relevant and compelling. With this regular and relevant communications plan in place, buyers will identify themselves and contact the company sooner in their buying cycle.

Revise Sales Process

The article states ”…But having a process is not the same as using a process.” Effectively customizing the SFA/CRM software and reinforcing management insistence on using it in a disciplined manner is one of the fastest, easiest and cost-effective ways to get a sales force to use the established sales process.

Most mainstream SFA/CRM packages can be customized to address this issue in two ways:
  1. They can incorporate a company’s sales methodology to identify the approved steps to follow in the sales cycle and create accurate and real-time sales forecasts.
  2.  Also, they incorporate the ability to define and implement Automated Processes. For instance, once a sales inquiry has been qualified and sent to sales, a task to call the prospect can be automatically set for the assigned sales rep for one day after assignment. Or, after a sales demo, the software can initiate a literature request and schedule a follow-up call.

Align sales and marketing more closely

There are several important areas in which sales and marketing need to learn to work together more effectively.  Certainly effective Sales Lead Management can help in the following ways:
  1. Marketing qualifies leads based on sales input; it’s not a lead unless sales says it’s a lead
  2. Marketing codes all leads by Lead Source and delivers the qualified leads in the SFA/CRM software
  3. Sales uses their SFA/CRM software to create their forecast information and marketing has access to the system

When these actions become standard operating procedures, then sales will increase along with sales productivity and marketing can accurately track the ROI for each of their lead–generation programs. When this new process takes hold, marketing and sales develop mutual trust and each organization stands a better chance of meeting their goals. The two departments become more aligned and more successful in reaching not only their individual goals, but overall corporate goals as well.

Successfully implementing SFA/CRM systems

Important keys to successfully implementing the CRM systems include:
  • Obtaining and maintaining top management support for the initiative
  • Clearly identifying and prioritizing the goals for the program
  • Setting a realistic timeframe for implementing the program
  • Ensuring comprehensive planning to incorporate all the company’s unique sales processes and data requirements. Ensuring to include top-performing sales and marketing representatives in on the planning.
  • Verifying that the software supports the sales person’s ability to be more successful without making it difficult or time-consuming to use.

By implementing these Sales Lead Management techniques and recommendations, you will start your journey towards becoming a Level Four company and start significantly out-performing your competition.

Mark Friedman
© 2010

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mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) CRM Sun, 16 Dec 2012 06:00:00 +0000
Sales Lead Management - Back to the Basics http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/sales-lead-management-back-to-the-basics.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/sales-lead-management-back-to-the-basics.html Lead Management is a formal process that defines how a business generates, qualifies, distributes and follows up on sales leads. Most important … it creates a pipeline of opportunities for any sales team.

Lead management systems vary widely and can consist of spreadsheets and manual follow-up or have a fully-integrated automated program with a company’s operating system. So, when companies implement a formal process around leads, everyone involved knows exactly what is expected and can actually increase lead conversion by as much as 18 percent.


Establishing an effective and affordable lead management system requires:

  1. Lead Generation: A marketing term referring to the creation or generation of prospective consumer interest or inquiry into a business’ products or services.
  2. Lead Qualification: Helps determine whether a lead is real (and ready for sales consumption) or not. Qualifying questions help to categorize a lead’s position in the buying cycle which determines the best time to give to Sales.
  3. Nurturing: Gives educated buyers relevant information about your products or services. “Automated Nurturing” is a series of interactions that bring a client from interest to a closed sale based on predetermined triggers.
  4. Lead Distribution/ Territory Management: Sends sales leads to the right entity. Established rules that to determine where a lead goes when ready for Sales’ attention. Rules consider: product interest, vertical markets, and/or geographic sales territories. Once territories are defined, Sales Reps are assigned leads.
  5. Tracking and Reporting: Enables benchmarking the success level of marketing campaigns, lead sources, sales territories, and sales conversions for ROI.

When Sales and Marketing use different management tools within a company it always results in inefficiencies and lost prospecting data. Understanding lead management and how an automated system meets your individual business needs allow Marketing and Sales to become more productive and profitable. If your company is losing prospects – or worse yet – can’t identify them, you need to think seriously about evaluating your sales lead program.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for an evaluation of ways you can implement your own Sales Lead Management basic program.

Mark Friedman
© 2012

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mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) Sales Lead Management Fri, 09 Nov 2012 19:44:00 +0000
Your Web Analytics in 2012 http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/your-web-analytics-in-2012.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/your-web-analytics-in-2012.html Are you all set in 2012 to easily test and analyze your online marketing data results? Do you understand your customer behavior? Are you optimizing your website and campaign performance?

Even if you have access to reports with good summary data, it’s a challenge to pull out the drill down statistics and data that provides true insight about your site visitors.


Linking web data to your customer data and improving customer communications forces a “seek and find” mode pretty quickly.

For instance, how much of your company’s offline business is influenced by the Web? What‘s the impact of a catalog, social media or direct marketing promotions on web traffic and conversion rates?  How do you target the right customers and prospects based on their recent web behavior? How do you remarket to customers that have visited your site, and left without taking further action?

Web analytics leverage website data. It provides you a fertile source of behavioral insights on individual prospect or customer levels and tracks more than who visited your web home page. It also reveals how they responded to your online campaigns and social media efforts.

This allows you to link this behavioral insight to your data mart (a simple data warehouse focusing on a single subject or functional area, such as sales, finance, or marketing), and make conscious business decisions based on this “enhanced view” of your customers and prospects.

Web Analytics Provide:

  • Powerful and flexible reports: for marketers across the enterprise
  • Individual visitor-level data: “minute” level data
  • Role-based GUI: easy access to dashboards or reports
  • Complete Interactive Marketing Solutions: gives immediate inclusion for outbound-inbound marketing campaigns and programs

Web Analytics Improves Web Marketing Too:

  • Improves marketing results
  • Reduces the process of achieving revenue-enhancing impact
  • Increases speed and responsiveness
  • Provides broader set of marketing data
  • Shares web data
  • Moves quickly from insight to action

The value of using web analytics helps businesses meet the full range of analysis pressures they face today and in the future. Your entire organization gains insight into exactly what their customers and prospects want from them. If you’re interested in a free consultation to learn how web analytics can help your company in 2012, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Mark Friedman
©2012

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mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) Web Analytics Sat, 10 Mar 2012 07:16:00 +0000
Without Proper Handling ... Sales Leads Can Seem a Lot More Like Fresh Fish than Fine Wine! http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/without-proper-handling-sales-leads-can-seem-a-lot-more-like-fresh-fish-than-fine-wine.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/without-proper-handling-sales-leads-can-seem-a-lot-more-like-fresh-fish-than-fine-wine.html Some Sobering Statistics ...
  • 70% of all Trade Show Leads are never followed up by sales reps
  • 60% of Business-to-Business leads took over 60 days to follow up
  • Advertising studies indicate that 20% of inquiries about your products or services end up purchasing from someone (either you or your competition) within six months and 45% end up purchasing within 12 months

So what is the implication for your Sales Lead Management program?  Speed matters - the first company to respond to a qualified lead stands a better chance of closing the deal.  There are a couple of important reasons for this:
  1. Image enhancement – when you respond quickly and professionally to an inquiry, the account perceives your company as organized and responsive.
  2. Influence the Specs – Responding to an inquiry quickly and qualifying it effectively will uncover potential buying opportunities.
Using a fast systems approach to optimize your Sales Lead Management process will result in:
  1.  Faster response to the inquiry – establish a goal to respond in one manner or another within 24 hours whenever possible.
  2.  Faster qualifying an inquiry – responding to an inquiry is the first step and incorporating a mechanism to qualify the inquiry, based on established criteria received from the sales organization is the next step.
  3. Faster delivery of qualified leads to the ultimate lead owner – Once an inquiry has been qualified and meets the definition of a qualified lead, it is absolutely crucial to deliver this lead to the ultimate lead owner.
Why are leads not routed in a timely manner? Since Lead Distribution is complicated, many companies employ a Segmented Sales Strategy that assigns different sales personnel or teams to specific groups of prospects, such as:
  • Fortune 1000 – Government - Education
  • By Product Line
  • Current customer Base, New business
  • Accounts handled by Direct/Indirect sales channels
Best practice calls recommends creating business rules that identify the ultimate lead owner in their sales organization and use Sales Force Automation (SFA) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to automatically assign the lead to that owner. Sales must provide the input for these rules. If there could be multiple ultimate lead owners, define the preferred methodology to distribute the leads.

It is important to define an exception process: If the Business Rules can’t identify a lead owner, identify the resource(s) within your company that will be the final decision maker for the lead assignment.

Once a lead has been assigned, then the company can either rely on the SFA or CRM software to notify the lead owner they have a new lead, or the company can call, Fax or email the lead owner to check their software for the new lead.  The real issue is that unless a lead is immediately delivered to the correct ultimate lead owner, the inevitable delay lessens the chance of your company making the sale.

Mark Friedman
© 2010]]>
mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) Sales Lead Management Thu, 23 Feb 2012 05:30:00 +0000
Improve How You Get, Keep and Grow Customers With Velos CRM-360 http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/improve-how-you-get-keep-and-grow-customers-with-velos-crm-360.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/improve-how-you-get-keep-and-grow-customers-with-velos-crm-360.html Velos CRM-360 Assessment: A Web-based Diagnostic Survey that Isolates and Prioritizes Opportunities

Maximizing your organization’s revenue growth requires management to isolate business issues and identify the process improvements critical to your success, while identifying the specific technology solutions that will enable you to implement them.

The Velos Group offers an easy, affordable way for you to isolate and prioritize all of the customer relationship management weaknesses within your marketing, sales and customer service operations: The CRM-360 Assessment.


Benefits

  1. Provides a comprehensive, structured, empirical approach to uncovering all of the opportunities to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your marketing, sales and customer service operations.
  2. Helps you to build consensus among all of your customer management stakeholders with regard to your current situation and the approach you should take to managing customer relationships going forward.
  3. Focuses CRM technology evaluation process on your areas of greatest need.
  4. Improves the morale of all of your customer-facing personnel by giving everyone the opportunity to provide valuable input.

Our web-based CRM-360 survey helps identify critical weaknesses such as:

  • Process deficiencies and productivity obstacles,
  • Incomplete, inaccurate and inaccessible information &
  • The lack of timely performance feedback.

Weaknesses that are negatively affecting your organization’s ability to:

  • Create demand for its products and services
  • Manage and qualify sales leads
  • Close sales opportunities
  • Process and fill sales orders
  • Serve and support customers
CRM-360 Reports clear, concise “Views” that specify:

Current Situation View - helps quickly identify CRM process areas where improvements can be made.
  • The survey is accessible directly from an Intranet site or an e-mail web link
  • Survey participants simply “click” on each answer choice
  • “Filter” the results by Department and Job Level
Gap Analysis Summary View - helps uncover CRM areas of greatest need.
Gap Analysis Detail View - helps identify highest priority CRM issues.

  • Gap analysis graphs visually display your CRM areas of greatest need
  • “Click” a Gap value to view the specific weaknesses within each area
  • Survey response detail is available for display and analysis
  • View all the comments input by the survey participants
  • View all of the specific process questions and their scores
  • Color-coding and numeric scoring help to identify and prioritize each CRM issue
Top 10 View - helps identify and analyze Top 10 CRM strengths and weaknesses.

  • Analyze either your top 10 CRM strengths or weaknesses
  • Overall rankings will help build consensus among all of your CRM stakeholders
Don’t wait … Call us toady at 714.544.1003 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more about the Velos CRM-360 solution.]]>
mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) Velos CRM-360 Mon, 06 Feb 2012 18:01:00 +0000
Eight Tips to Maximizing Your Trade Show Investment http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/eight-tips-to-maximizing-your-trade-show-investment.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/eight-tips-to-maximizing-your-trade-show-investment.html Several years ago one of our clients told us they had spent a lot of money to attend the annual industry trade show; they paid extra for a prime location and had high expectations regarding their lead generation targets. They had good booth traffic and managers were please when it was all over.

They packed up their booth and sent it to storage.

The next year in preparation for that trade show, they unpacked the booth only to discover all their leads from last year had been left in the drawer of the booth … and nobody had missed them!

Use these steps to optimize your trade show investment and generate a positive ROI:

  1. Conduct a pre-Show mailer inviting targeted attendees to your booth. Recommended Process:
  2. Ensure that show producer provides you a pre-show attendee list.
  3. Identify what demographic/other criteria to segment the pre-show attendee list.
  4. Create an interesting/compelling offer to attract attendees to your booth.
  5. Telemarket to capture valuable Account Profile information and invite to your booth.
  6. Create a Trade Show Inquiry Qualification Sheet to qualify inquiries.
  7. Consolidate all inquiry information: Badge/Card-scanner, the Qualification sheets and Business Cards; create a single Excel spreadsheet/database; eliminate duplications.
  8. De-Dupe the records and then import into your Sales Force Automation (SFA)/Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Always indicate the contact Lead Source as the Trade Show.
  9. Perform Literature Fulfillment.  Distribute Qualified Leads to the Sales Reps based on pre-determined business rules.
  10. Also provide a list of all other inquiries to the sales reps so they can flag those accounts they wish to keep on file.
  11. All Inquiries not flagged should be contacted with a telemarketing call to qualify and determine interest in further contact with your company.
  12. Create a consistent email campaign to send to these accounts highlighting the benefits of your products and/or services.

Conclusion:  This comprehensive approach to Sales Lead Management will ensure your Trade Show costs pay off.


Mark Friedman
© 2011]]>
mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) Sales Lead Management Tue, 05 Jul 2011 16:08:42 +0000
Part II: Do your Sales Leads Work as Hard as You Do? http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/part-ii-do-your-sales-leads-work-as-hard-as-you-do.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/part-ii-do-your-sales-leads-work-as-hard-as-you-do.html Do Your Sales Leads Work as Hard as You Do", we looked at databases and the importance of responding to sales leads in a timely manner.  Part II covers the qualification, lead qualification and lead scoring.


Part II - And now for the conclusion of the article ...  

Qualify, Qualify, Qualify!

An inquiry is an expression of interest, whereas a lead is an expression of interest that is qualified to purchase the product or service and has an identified timeframe to make a buying decision with an established budget.



Attempt to qualify each inquiry before it is sent to the sales organization. The time and effort spent up front qualifying these leads can result in gigantic payoffs down the line in the form of increased sales productivity. Many companies argue that inquiry qualification is one of the tasks they pay their salespeople to accomplish. This is a shortsighted approach. Let's see why:

 

  1. Sales reps are paid to sell. Typically, they are paid quite well to sell. When your sales reps are spending more time selling to qualified prospects and less time qualifying inquiries, everyone is a winner.
  2. Inquiry qualification can be handled quite well by a lower cost resource, usually a trained telemarketer.
When push comes to shove, the vast majority of sales reps would rather have a root canal than pick up the phone and qualify inquiries. (See above for real-world research.)

A well-designed inquiry qualification program will increase sales results and sales productivity. This process can also assist a company to determine accurately which programs are working the best to create sales.

Components of an Inquiry Qualification Program

Elements of a well-constructed inquiry qualification program are as follows:
  1. Define a consistent set of criteria, with significant input from sales, which help identify who is an ideal prospect. Typically, these will be what kind of company (end-user, reseller, distributor, government, etc.), what industry, an indication of either the company's size or the size of a potential deal, what budget has been established, what is the anticipated decision timeframe and any other items a company needs to identify the companies with whom they should be spending time.
  2. Once these criteria have been agreed upon by s start using them whenever the company has contact with a potential buyer—at a trade show, when they come to the Web site and request information, on business reply cards, etc. This will help prioritize which companies to pursue and the follow-up timeframe, as well as become an excellent source of marketing profile information that can be used to identify companies for future sales and marketing programs.
  3. Start classifying all inquiries and qualified leads with a standard format. It is important that the Lead Quality code contain at least two characters: one relating to a decision timeframe and the other relating to either the company or potential deal size.

This Lead Quality Scoring format will accomplish several important objectives:

  • Decisions can be made regarding which leads should be forwarded to sales. For instance, should accounts looking to make a decision 13 months from now be sent to sales? Should they be put into an e-mail nurturing process that sends out regular communications and invites them to call or visit the company's Web site when they are ready to start evaluating solutions?
  • As qualified leads are sent to sales, they will have a better way to prioritize their follow-up activities. 
  • Decisions can be made regarding the most cost-effective way to fulfill these inquiries. 
  • It is possible to track the number of inquiries from a marketing program plus the number of qualified leads, as well as the timeframe and size of these leads.

As more information is tracked over time, the marketing department can evaluate which activities are generating the best leads and which activities need to be expanded, modified or eliminated.

By incorporating these elements into a comprehensive sales lead management program, companies will experience increased sales results and sales productivity. Their overall cost of sales will decline and the sales cycle will be shortened.

Mark Friedman
© 2011

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mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) Sales Lead Management Fri, 03 Jun 2011 20:27:00 +0000
Part I: Do your Sales Leads Work as Hard as You Do? http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/part-i-do-your-sales-leads-work-as-hard-as-you-do.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/part-i-do-your-sales-leads-work-as-hard-as-you-do.html
A Harvard Business School study found that fully 80 percent of the sales leads generated from marketing programs are never followed up by the sales organization. In a similar study, Performark, Inc. found, “As much as 90 percent of a business-to-business direct marketing budget may be spent trying to attract leads, and yet a shocking number of those leads are ignored.

Worse yet, of those leads that were actually followed up, over 60 percent were not called until 60 days after the initial contact. Of those leads that were followed up, a large percentage were poorly qualified. Direct marketing studies have shown that poorly qualified leads cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars and increase the cost per lead, since poorly qualified leads are less likely to result in a sale.

Taking a long, hard look at your current sales lead processing procedures may be the best first step toward increased sales.  Here are a few areas to look at first.

Prospect Database

Your prospect database should record and keep as much lead source information as possible. If one of the desired end results from a closed-loop sales lead management system is a suite of reports that helps management evaluate the effectiveness of each marketing activity, make sure your prospect database is set up to record the source of the lead and how it came to you (phone call, bingo response, Web, business reply card, etc.). Make sure this source information stays attached to the inquiry from the beginning of the sales process all the way to the end.

There are four specific areas of information that are required in order to build a successful marketing effectiveness reporting capability:
  1. Campaign Type - Identifies the type of marketing campaign responsible for stimulating a response.
  2. Campaign or Project Name - Identifies the name of the specific function/project.
  3. Source - Names the specific source from which an individual response was derived (purchased list, an internal list, etc.).
  4. Response Vehicle - Defines the response medium through which the respondent contacted the company, web, phone, email, etc. This could also be the web landing page created for the Campaign. 

Quick Response

Quick, personalized response to an inquiry creates a very positive image for a company; it is often the first measure a prospect has of how professionally the company operates. Each company should set a goal to send out the requested information within 48 hours initially, with a long-term goal of 24 hours. If the inquiry was initiated from your web site or an individual landing page, an auto-response email should be sent immediately. It is important that the company responds with the information requested, incorporating a customized greeting and letting the person know how to contact the company if there are any questions or interest.

A company should use the source information described above plus the qualification information described below to determine how it will respond to each inquiry: Will the respondent receive a full literature pack or just an e-mail? If there is a link to additional information, which link should be included. In either case, the prospect receives information, but those who stand a better chance of becoming customers receive the more appropriate and customized fulfillment package. Not only will you respond quickly, but over time you will be able to increase your response rate, your close rate and reduce the cost to respond to your prospects.

Watch for our Blog post - Part II: Do your Sales Leads Work as Hard as You Do? in the June.

Mark Friedman
© 2011

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mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) Sales Lead Management Tue, 03 May 2011 22:56:47 +0000
Value of Lead Scoring - Part II: Recommended Steps In Establishing a Lead Score http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/value-of-lead-scoring-part-ii-recommended-steps-in-establishing-a-lead-score.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/value-of-lead-scoring-part-ii-recommended-steps-in-establishing-a-lead-score.html Establishing a Lead Score

As a company’s lead scoring requirements become more complex, a best practice is to design a system that produces a numerical value identifying a lead as qualified and ready to distribute to sales.

Lead score ranges also determine whether to send a lead to the company’s field sales organization, inside sales or to a reseller/channel partner. It also determines whether to pursue the opportunity or to not pursue it.

Recommended Steps to Establish A Lead Score:

  1. Identify key qualifying criteria that detect the best leads (ones that typically result in actual sales.) Examples: Budget Approved, Industry, Company’s Employee Size, Product Interest, Installed Systems information, Identified Need, Decision Timeframe, Revenue Potential, and Decision Role of Contact.
  2. Identify the relative importance for each criterion and assign a maximum number of points for each one.
  3. Within each criterion, assign the number of points for each response received
  4. Determine a total score and range that determines whether a lead should be sent to Sales, kept in Marketing for further nurturing or not pursued.  Below are examples of results:
Active Project:
Total Possible Points: 30
Response Total Possible Points
Yes 30
No  0


Budget Approved:
Total Points Possible: 25
Response Total Points Possible: 25
Yes 25
No 0


No. of Networked Devises:
Total Possible Points: 20
Number of Devices Number of Points
1,000+ 20
500-999 18
250-499 15
100-249 8
 50-99 5
1-49 2


Project Timefrme:
Total Possible Points: 15
Timeframe Number of Points
0-3 months 10
4-6 months 15*
7-12 months 5
13+ months 0

* We often find that when an immediate decision is indicated, a vendor has already been selected. In this situation, the odds of closing the deal are greatly diminished.  When the contact reveals a decision timeframe in the next range, Sales often has more of an opportunity to gain a better understanding of their buying criteria and potentially shaping them to their company’s advantage. The odds of closing the deal are then greatly increased.

Decision Role:
Total Possible Points: 10
Decision Role Number of Points
Decision Maker 10
Recommender 5
Member of Team 2
Information Gatherer 0


The maximum number of points is calculated in the above examples ... 100. Sales then identifies the point at which a lead is considered qualified, kept in marketing for further nurturing, or which ones were not pursued. The scoring approach is then communicated to all sales levels (including reseller/channel partners) and people who might receive the qualified leads.

Many other criteria may be used, based on your company’s unique requirements. The objective is to remain flexible so it can be applied to different product lines or vertical markets … again based on sales input.  It is important to revisit the scoring approach each year or whenever market conditions indicate.

Conclusion
The value of lead scoring is paramount.  It gives your marketing group a clear idea of your sales’ expectations regarding which leads should be sent to them. Sales is assured that the leads sent to them fit their requirements, making them much more committed to following up on leads and passing feedback to marketing regarding lead status. Marketing gathers valuable information on which programs are generating the best leads and ultimately the most sales.

By using lead scoring properly, a company experiences increased sales results, higher sales productivity and an ability to allocate scarce marketing resources to those programs that are working best for them.  Wasting good leads is foolish and chasing bad leads is insane. 

Mark Friedman
©2011

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mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) Sales Lead Management Thu, 14 Apr 2011 16:41:03 +0000
The Value of Lead Scoring http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/the-value-of-lead-scoring.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/the-value-of-lead-scoring.html This is done by creating either a numerical score or a Lead Quality Code (LQC) that is universally recognized and understood companywide, especially sales and marketing. For those companies selling through indirect channels, each channel partner should be involved in the lead score and LQC.

Lead scoring classifies a sales opportunity by either assigning points or creating a LQC based on responses from qualifying questions. Since every company is unique in their sales approach and the markets in which they compete, these scores should be customized to provide optimal value.

Why is Lead Scoring So Important?

  1. Lead Scoring determines whether the lead goes to sales, a reseller, retained for cultivation/nurturing, or not pursued at all.
  2. Qualified leads are better prioritized for follow-up.
  3. Decisions regarding the most cost-effective fulfillment approach are smarter.
  4. The LQC helps determine which leads get email responses, CDs, catalog inserts or full-literature packs.
  5. LQC reduces costs while allowing fast response to all inquiries.
  6. Lead scoring lets you track the number of inquiries from a marketing program, the timeframe and revenue potential. Over time, marketing evaluates which activities generate the best leads, need to be expanded, modified or eliminated.
  7. Lead Scoring is straightforward, more sophisticated and effective.
  8. Creating Your Unique Lead Quality Code
Below is one LQC approach basing the Revenue Potential on the estimated number of annual corporate Moves/Adds and Configurations:
                                                  
Decision Timeframe Revenue Potential
A=  0-3  Months   1 = 500+
B=  4-6  Months    2= 350-499
C= 7-12 Months    3= 250-349
   = 13+ Months    4= 100-249
   5= 25-99
   6=  1-24

The LQC here combines two digits, for instance, an A3 or B2, and determines whether to pursue/not pursue the opportunity by identifying it as qualified and ready to distribute to sales. And, the leas score ranges determine whether the lead goes to the company’s field sales inside sales, or reseller/channel partner.

Our Value of Lead Scoring - Part II Blog will cover Recommended Steps to Establish a Lead Score. 

Mark Friedman
©2011]]>
mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) Sales Lead Management Tue, 15 Mar 2011 22:31:16 +0000
Small Business CRM Intricacies http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/small-business-crm-intricacies.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/small-business-crm-intricacies.html Customer Relationship Management software, or CRM, optimizes performance in the areas of sales and marketing.  This system allows a company to view its sales prospect activity, and presents an all-encompassing view of a company’s customer base.


There are two clear reasons why CRM may disappoint

Often a CEO views the implementation as only a technology decision and NOT as an important business strategy.  In these cases, upper management neither takes part in the user requirements sessions, nor do they successfully communicate the parameters in which the ultimate goal will be achieved.  The key is getting the interested in the beginning and keeping them engaged throughout the process.

Also, companies install the software as soon as it comes out of the box, omitting:

Comprehensive Business Process Review to identify and improve a company’s existing processes

  • Procedures

  • Unique sales requirements

  • Data/reporting requirements results in the implementation of software that has not been adapted to the company’s needs.  


Without these steps, the sales and customer service divisions regard the CRM system as complicated and detrimental to their operations. They either disregard the system completely, or they attempt to create off-line programs, which ultimately leads to the entire CRM project failing.

For CRM to Work, Senior Management Must Be Proactive

Senior management must take a proactive role in the execution of the CRM program, and the transition of the project as a whole to guarantee that the company is evolving and succeeding. This type of “change management” is often more vital than the actual CRM software used.

The Process Takes Time

Methodical preparation, the primary and secondary objectives and requirements of the system are identified. Consequently, all applicable procedures, workflow, data and report requirements are organized and recorded.  Detailed documentation of these requirements and workflow is crucial in tailoring the software to optimally benefit the business.

Without taking the time to complete the groundwork, CRM will deliver substandard results, and a disappointing ROI.  This discourages those who spent time and resources on the project. Don’t allow your company to fall into the same mistakes. If your company started right out of the box and have encountered some of the issues discussed above …The Velos Group provides solutions for the CRM implementation and can get you back on track.  

Mark Friedman This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
© 2011

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mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) CRM Thu, 03 Feb 2011 18:13:51 +0000
Herding “Sales” Cats: Managing the Pipeline – Blog Part 3 - Follows December 17th Blog ... http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/herding-u201csalesu201d-cats-managing-the-pipeline-u2013-blog-part-3-follows-december-17th-blog.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/herding-u201csalesu201d-cats-managing-the-pipeline-u2013-blog-part-3-follows-december-17th-blog.html Managing the Pipeline is critical to the two segments covered in our previous blogs: Part I and Part II: Increasing Sales Productivity using the best SFA and choosing the most appropriate Sales Methodology for your company.

Manage Sales Pipeline/Productivity

SFA software can keep track of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that Sales Managers should track regularly

Lead Conversion Ratio

By tracking this ratio, a company can identify which Lead Sources are generating the most Sales and Profits.

Lead Response Time

Companies that respond the fastest to new leads often have the chance to win the business by demonstrating process competence, fast response and by potentially shaping the requirements for the sale in their favor. SFA software can help a company monitor and manage this response time.

Pipeline to revenue target ratio

Best-In-Class companies keep records regarding what size of a pipeline is required to close enough business to meet or exceed quota. By quickly identifying a gap in this critical metric, Sales Managers can identify when additional prospecting is required to make sure a Sales Rep meets quota.

Time per sales stage (Pipeline Aging)

Identifying stuck opportunities can dramatically improve Sales Velocity and also make sure your sales organization is working with only the best qualified opportunities.  Experienced Sales Managers know that many of the opportunities in the pipeline may be suspect as the sales people confuse Activity with Results.

Average Revenue per sale

Keeping track of this statistic can be an excellent indicator of the company size the Sales Rep is comfortable calling on and successful in closing. It may also be an indicator of the distribution of company size for a given territory.

Win-Loss ratio

A well-designed SFA system can help identify your best closers by tracking each reps’ “Batting Average.” By understanding their process and methods, a company can teach the other reps their techniques…and increase the overall team Batting Average. Additionally, understanding your won and lost sales by important criteria such as customer type, industry, product, can yield keen insights about priorities, performance, or sales forecasts when compared against your existing sales pipeline.

Lost Deal Reason Report

Best-in-Class companies keep track of why deals are lost so they can evaluate their sales Reps, their competitive positioning in the market or to evaluate where they are generating leads in the first place.

Revenue growth and bottom-line improvement require understanding what your business issues are and mapping a plan to optimize them.
Using the right software and getting the right team onboard will:

  1. Keep Sales focused on targeted accounts/prospects
  2. Reinforce the company’s chosen Sales Methodology
  3. Hold Sales accountable for their Activity as well as their Pipeline

Implementing the software to accomplish this helps make Sales more productive and successful and provides management with better information to drive this part of the business more successfully.

Mark Friedman

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mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) CRM Mon, 27 Dec 2010 17:40:41 +0000
Herding “Sales” Cats: Sales Methodology - Blog Part 2 - Follows December 6th Blog ... http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/herding-u201csalesu201d-cats-sales-methodology-blog-part-2-follows-december-6th-blog.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/herding-u201csalesu201d-cats-sales-methodology-blog-part-2-follows-december-6th-blog.html Once this is all in place, then specific reports need to be created and monitored to ensure the Methodology is being employed aggressively. It is critical that Management should lead discussions and ask questions using this information.  

Increase Sales Accountability - Manage Sales Activity

Well designed SFA software and its disciplined use can help Sales Management better understand where Sales Reps are spending their time and who they are calling on.  As Sales Reps use the SFA software to log significant calls and meetings with their customers and prospects, management reporting can be generated without asking the sales reps to provide separate off-line reports that take away from their selling time.

Additionally, many companies have implemented an account tiering plan (Platinum, Gold, Silver or A, B, C, etc.) that identifies their largest, most strategic Customers and Prospects. These companies then define the type and frequency of interaction they expect from their sales reps for these accounts. By using the SFA software, management can create the following targeted reports to keep track of the these larger accounts:

Reports to track interaction with tiered accounts

  1. Number/Results of Phone Calls
  2. Number of Emails sent, by Subject
  3. Number of Meetings
  4. Open Sales Opportunities
  5. Closed Sales Opportunities
  6. Customer Service Events by Date/Status

Watch for our next blog which wraps up the "Herding Sales Cats" Sales Methodology series.

Please don't hesitate to contact Mark for the complete article: 714-544-1003.

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mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) Sales Lead Management Fri, 17 Dec 2010 19:08:44 +0000
How to Succeed at Herding “Sales” Cats: Using Software to Help Manage your Sales Organization http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/how-to-succeed-at-herding-u201csalesu201d-cats-using-software-to-help-manage-your-sales-organization.html http://www.velosgroup.com/blog/entry/how-to-succeed-at-herding-u201csalesu201d-cats-using-software-to-help-manage-your-sales-organization.html
Sales organizations have historically been difficult to manage.  While most companies understand the trade-off between a successful sales profile and an easy-to-manage employee, they have found managing successful sales people to be exasperating.

Making it all work challenges the best.  

One activity overlooked by many companies is how to use their Sales Force Automation (SFA) software to drive sales productivity and outcome…and as a result, improve the management of the sales organization.  Properly designed, SFA software can:
•    Help bring order to the sales organization chaos
•    Drive sales success

Companies have options in making their SFA software implementation drive sales productivity and results.  

Increase Sales Productivity

How many companies hire a new sales person and then tell them to do their own prospecting? On one extreme you have sales reps looking through the Yellow Pages (either the printed version or on-line). Or reps are told to drive around in their cars, identify potentially attractive buildings and make a cold call on them.

First, companies must implement a proactive marketing approach to increase sales productivity that’s supported within their SFA program.  Identify the ideal prospect by - industry, company size, systems installed, trucks in their fleet, etc.

Next, import the data into the SFA program.  Once imported implemented, the then assign the new leads to the sales organization and state this is their “Call List”. Sales will be more focused, marketing programs coordinated with sales activities, all enhancing the probability for greater sales success.

Best Practice recommends that another organization, such as Inside Sales or an out-sourced Telemarketing company other than your front-line sales reps make these prospecting calls.

Track Marketing Program ROI

Once the leads are imported and sales on board, an SFA program helps marketing track which programs work best.  As the more productive programs are expanded, sales will receive more and better leads, resulting in increased sales productivity.

You can reinforce your Best Practice sales mMethodology if you assume that the company has identified a sales methodology they wish to employ, the major milestones of this methodology should define the sales stages of their sales opportunity record. The roadmaps include:

Watch for next blog: How to Succeed at Herding “Sales” Cats: Sales Methodology


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mark@velosgroup.com (Mark L. Friedman) CRM Tue, 07 Dec 2010 00:51:07 +0000