When a Lead Stops Being a Lead – How to Automate Lead Management

As your business grows, your sales processes need to mature. So that means continually developing and understanding the complete sales lifecycle. In this blog, we explain how to automate lead management. As a result, you will establish the foundations for continuous business growth.

The right system to enable growth

Young sales organisations might evolve from Excel spreadsheets to an entry-level CRM system, which records names and addresses of sales leads. Then, to reach the next stage of sales maturity, you need CRM automation. Because if your sales team needs to manually manage every sale stage, your business’ growth will be limited.

Evolving from a basic CRM system to a platform such as Salesforce might be easy in terms of out-of-the-box functionality. But simply moving the data from one system to another without looking at the system’s new potential will continue to limit your growth and your return on investment (ROI) in the tool.

As your business grows, you need to better understand its sales lifecycle stages, how to manage them, and how to measure their effectiveness. 

A lead is just that: a lead 

Creating a lead
Stage 1: Creating a lead

So how do we define a lead? A lead, simply put, is the information you have on someone interested in your product or service. And it will remain just that until you qualify it by their level of interest. 

BANT, MEDDIC and NEAT, referenced below, are examples of sales methodologies used to qualify that level of interest. For a young sales organisations to grow, it must be able to qualify leads within their CRM. Furthermore, the CRM must automate the lead management process.

Economic impact
Access to authority

Access to authority

Economic buyer
Decision criteria
Decision process
Identify plan

Conversion is the key 

Qualifying a lead
Stage 2: Qualifying a lead

In order to guarantee the best chance of a sale, you’ll need to gather information on the customer such as:

  • What stages does the opportunity need to go through to reach a sale?
  • What’s the process to progress between each stage?
  • Does the customer need to gain approval from other parts of the business? 

Answers to these questions will establish your sales path, offering information at each stage of the sales cycle. The best way to gather this information from customers over time is via (CRM-integrated) lead forms.

When a lead is qualified to a certain point in the sales lifecycle, it stops being a lead and becomes an opportunity: a potential customer. When the salesperson decides to convert a lead into an opportunity, Salesforce automates account creation if no existing account exists in the system. Salesforce will turn the lead record into a contact record and associate it with the account record, as well as the opportunity record. Salesforce will simultaneously transfer information that was in the lead record to the new contact record, account record and opportunity record.

The source of the lead is the road to sales success

Creating an opportunity
Stage 3: Creating an opportunity

One of the most critical pieces of information that many companies miss on opportunities is the lead source, or campaign source. This is a crucial ingredient for repeatable success.

Marketing and sales departments are often misaligned. That can be due to marketing efforts being under-appreciated due to the lapse of time. Marketing campaigns are not just time-based offerings, such as discounts or calls to action. The core of marketing is journey-based – through nurturing and influence. 

Influence is key, and when creating campaigns in Salesforce, you can define the period for which a campaign may influence leads. It may be surprising for a salesperson to see that the source of an opportunity was a campaign that had run many months previously. This information is important to inform Marketing on the tactics that deliver ROI. It also reminds the sales and customer success teams in future of a contact’s interests and their history of engagement with your business.

The lead is just the beginning 

The path is clear:

  • Capture the lead information necessary to qualify it as a sales opportunity
  • Convert it to a prospective account
  • Manage the opportunity through its lifecycle towards a sale

Salespeople will need to report on their opportunity pipelines within their CRM, and sales managers will need to be able to analyse those reports. Marketing will also be able to view this data in order to repeat success from influential campaigns. 

Setting up your CRM to automate lead management takes young sales organisations through to the next stage of maturity. Because Salesforce speaks salespeople’s language, it allows you to seamlessly automate sales path creation, from lead through to opportunity.

Getting the right Salesforce partner to support you on this journey is crucial to set up your business for future success. Contact BrightGen today if your sales organisation needs to progress to the next level of maturity.

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