It’s a question that I often hear asked by sales leaders: How should we handle our prospects within Salesforce? In fact, it was posed again recently on Modern Sales Pros, which is an online forum for sales operations professionals like myself. Someone asked the group if it’s better to track prospects as leads or as contacts tied to accounts.
That launched a spirited, wide-ranging discussion about the limitations of Salesforce’s architecture. The problem is there is no connection between leads and accounts natively within Salesforce. In fact, someone in the group even called it “the inherent flaw” of Salesforce. And he’s exactly right.
It’s the reason why businesses spend so much time and effort creating ad-hoc fixes to manage their data. And they have to keep making those fixes, over and over, as their sales process changes.
Everyone is trying to solve this problem. It’s also why my company, LeanData, created a solution to bridge that troubling gap. LeanData automates lead management by simplifying the complexity of routing leads in Salesforce. We’ve helped hundreds of companies reduce costs and unproductive time among sales teams. In the process, I’ve learned that everyone’s lead flow is different. Some businesses route leads, others convert them into contacts and most do a hybrid version of both.
But everyone wants the same thing: getting leads to the right place — fast. At LeanData, we like to say that we guzzle our own craft beer. But I prefer to think of LeanData as our best beta customer because our lead-management process incorporates all of our products’ different capabilities.
Here’s LeanData’s internal blueprint for leads and contacts:
- Leads are auto-converted into contacts when they match into Customer, Target, and Consultant/Partner accounts. We do this because we consider leads going to those accounts to be already qualified. We want to keep them away from our front-line Account Development Reps because they should be focused on starting new conversations. So these leads will go directly to either Account Executives, Customer Success or our Sales Leadership. One example: Nothing is more embarrassing than to have an ADR cold call an existing customer, like I once did. (I still feel bad about that.) LeanData ensures that never happens.
- Leads are auto-converted into contacts when they match accounts with an Opportunity in either the Scoping or Negotiation Stage. These prospects already are deep in the sales process with our Account Executive team. We don’t want ADRs — through no fault of their own — following up on leads with those accounts and potentially leading to confusion.
- Leads are auto-routed to designated ADRs that match into Non-Target accounts. We want the appropriate ADRs following up promptly with leads that match into those accounts.
- Leads are auto-routed to designated ADRs who own corresponding leads that don’t match into any existing accounts. Essentially, what this does is bundle together leads from a company and gives the ADRs full context as they begin investigating whether it should be an account.
- Leads that don’t meet the criteria above are entered into a sophisticated round-robin process that ensures both a fair lead-distribution system among the sales reps as well as full account coverage for the business. We have created five round-robin pools.
- Leads that match into Non-Target accounts in Bay Area technology hub
- Hot Leads — demo requests and “contact us” requests
- Cold Leads — one example would be from List uploads
- Leads that download White Papers and eBooks
- Leads that register for Webinars
- We have a Route-On-Update feature that is triggered when a lead in our “unqualified” queue is activated. LeanData has a holding basket for unqualified leads that I oversee. But when something happens to activate the lead, it automatically is routed to the correct ADR.
At the end of the day, our leads never get lost at LeanData. They quickly get to the right rep who then has the full context of that account. Reps can focus on selling and not the mind-numbing task of reassigning leads.
All of this, by the way, doesn’t just make the sales team more productive and efficient. LeanData’s solution ensures that our marketing team can do accurate reporting about the effectiveness of campaigns.
Here’s my one piece of take-away advice: You first need to figure out the process you want to build within Salesforce. It’s going to be different for every business. And because we’ve helped so many companies design their system, we can help you design a lead flow that’s customized to your business and has the flexibility to change as you scale.
If you want to learn more about routing and converting leads with LeanData, here’s a link to get our eBook “A Lead’s Journey to Find the Right Home.” And don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions.
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