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Lead prioritization: the secret sauce to spending more time on revenue-generating tasks.

Content provided by guest author Philip Schweizer, CEO Saleswings.

68%
. That’s the incredible share of time that your sales team likely spends on tasks which do not have a direct impact on your revenues, Salesforce claims in its third “State of Sales” report.

What happened to ABC - Always-Be-Closing? That’s what sales people are meant to do.

There are many reasons why sales people spend their time away from the phone. Let’s have a closer look.

Top causes for inefficient sales teams

Professional call centers who are dialing out to sell various services or products have optimized their processes to make their sales reps efficient. While some just call contact lists from top to bottom (not very smart), others use advanced, so-called “predictive dialers” for Salesforce.com CRM to connect the call center agent after 5 to 10 second intervals with the nextn call. None of these 2 approaches are likely for you, given that your sales team potentially sells more complex products or services that require lead qualification - but you still need to optimize your game.
sales and marketing alignment tips marketing funnel

Sales efficiency is much about lead prioritization, and “sales and marketing alignment”. Marketing departments need data and tools to filter poor leads and keep them from reaching the sales team. “Poor” can mean anything from being a bad-fit with your value proposition, bad timing, having no budget, or authority. Regardless of the lead quality reaching your sales team, many elements can lead to sales teams working inefficiently:

  • Complex and fastidious data entry in CRM:
    Data entry is a tedious task. Typing in contact data manually, for example, is no longer acceptable, and no longer necessary.

  • Sales and marketing alignment:
    Marketing Sherpa has pinpointed a lack of alignment between sales and marketing being one of the top 3 time wasters. Sales and marketing need to define what a perfect lead looks like, and have a process of handing them over to sales.

    What type of companies do your leads work at (industries)? What job titles do they own? Basically: what makes a good lead? This will allow the marketing team target their communication well and keep poor leads away from your sales team. Furthermore, every sales lead has a moment where they are “sales ready” as they have an immediate need for your product or service. Failing to identify that “moment of action” means losing business to the competition.

  • Poor contact data available:
    Lead qualification starts with accurate contact data. For instance; not having the “job title” available in your CRM means that your sales reps may not be able to distinguish between contacts that have decision power, and those who don’t. If you don’t collect great contact data then your sales team needs to manually find it - and that takes a lot of time.

  • Unclear processes and lack of training:
    Defining sales processes properly ensures that your sales reps understand what they need to do next. If you don’t guide your sales team in how to prioritize their work and what a winning sales process looks like, you lose. Leads need to be quickly qualified, or disqualified. Lastly, even seasoned sales reps should spend at least 3 hours a week with continuous learning.

  • Technology:
    Having the wrong technology, or even no technology, in place to prioritize, optimize and automate key sales tasks, plays into the hands of your competitors. Technology is more available today than ever, in all price ranges, and you need to find the right technology for your and adopt it timely if you want to stay competitive.
There are many other reasons for sales teams wasting time, and we can’t cover all of those. Let’s tackle above points step by step and look at some solutions.

Solutions and tools for better lead prioritization

Automate data entry in CRM

If you’re already using Salesforce CRM to manage your customer relationships, have a look at Cirrus Insight. Cirrus Insight allows you to quickly create contacts right from your Gmail or Outlook Inbox. Furthermore, it attaches emails that you’re sending and calendar entries linked to contacts to Salesforce to log data smartly. Alternatives are Yesware or Salesforce’s native Inbox functionality.

If you’re not using Salesforce yet, consider using Fullcontact’s Chrome extension. It automatically searches your inbox for contact email signatures, and suggests new contacts that you can create automatically and then sync back to your CRM.

Deploy lead scoring for sales and marketing alignment:

Unless you’re an enterprise where Ideal Customer Profiles (ICP) are communicated top-down, start with an internal workshop where your sales and marketing teams get aligned on what the perfect customer looks like that your sales team should talk to. This way, marketing can start communicating more accurately and attract the right leads.

Once there is a sufficient volume of leads, consider deploying lead scoring to identify the right marketing-qualified leads that you should pass on to your sales team.

What is lead scoring?

“Lead scoring”, as the name suggests, assigns leads a score to essentially quantify “interest” or “fit” with a score (points, percentage, etc). The goal is to prioritize leads more intelligently and determine the moment when a lead needs to be dealt with. Historically it is a marketing tool, allowing them to define a “threshold” of points as of when leads should be passed over to sales automatically.

Studies have shown that lead scoring is highly effective to enhance sales and marketing effectiveness. We distinguish between “lead (profile) grading” and “lead (activity) scoring”. For both scoring types, there are then two categories: predictive scoring, or point-based scoring.

lead scoring for sales and marketing alignment study

  • “Lead activity scoring”:
    “Lead activity scoring” gives leads a higher score who show stronger interest in you based on their “digital language”. Concretely their level of activity on your website, reading your emails, or submitting web forms etc will unveil strong interest and make sure your team prioritizes them as leads with more urgency.

    Have a look at Saleswings which provides a flexible lead scoring add-on for Salesforce to track your lead’s activity on your website. US based research company Forrester explains that a lead’s engagement in your company is an important buying signal, that should create urgency amongst your sales reps to prioritize a lead.
  • “Lead grading”:
    Lead grading seeks to identify leads who fit your ideal customer profiles, as defined by who they are. Do they have the right job titles? Is the company big enough? Are they located in a relevant territory? You don’t really need an additional tool for this. Simply apply the right filters in your CRM to hide certain leads from your sales team in their lead views or reports, as long as you’re not certain. If you’re getting a lot of leads through web forms, make sure as well to ask them the right questions which allow you to grade your leads correctly. If you have a very high number of leads and want a tool to do the grading for you, consider Salesforce’s marketing automation solution Pardot.

  • “Predictive” vs. “point based” scoring:
    There are two approaches to lead scoring and lead grading that are important to distinguish. “Predictive scoring” is looking at historical CRM or activity data of a lead, and predicts a future outcome, meaning, “likeliness to buy”. With recent enhancements in the artificial intelligence space, predictive scoring becomes more popular, yet is still a bit of a black box and it relies on a lot of CRM history. Point based lead scoring on the other hand automatically gives points to leads, based on user criteria. You decide why a lead gets points, not the machine.


salesforce sales cloud lead scoring example SMALL
Marketing and sales teams have more control over it, but there are other limitations such as managing point scoring over time (point inflation). Good lead scoring systems such as Saleswings incorporate both.

Having rich contact data available

As a sales and marketing team you should understand what kind of data you need about your contacts to be able to qualify them as good or bad leads. Once you have defined them, think how you can maintain it. Keep in mind that you want to automate data collection as much as possible.

If you’re getting a lot of inbound leads, then make sure that you collect key information already through your forms. If company size is key, then ask them for it. For Salesforce, Formassemblyssembly provides a great solution to collect data flexibly and add them straight to Salesforce.

If you want to enrich all your existing contacts with good data, you can consider a batch contact cleansing and enrichment service which will take your existing contacts, and provide you with additional data. To enrich contact data in Salesforce on the go, have a look at Clearbit.

customer profile data enhancement

Unclear processes and lack of training:

If you’re doing a lot of cold contacting and have sales development reps that need to engage with a high number of contacts, consider a sales development platform. Sales development platforms such as Reply.io or Outreach.io come with a clear process and put new leads on a sales sequence (a.k.a cadences) consisting of emails, calls and tasks (such as LinkedIn requests). Sales reps can easily follow their daily task list and work efficiently.

Salesforce is expected to bring a similar solution in Q1 2019 called “Work Queues” which will live right inside the CRM.

For other situations, Salesforce provides numerous ways to control and enforce efficient sales processes to ensure proper prioritization of tasks. For instance, you can set up daily sales reports or lead views, where sales teams easily find their best leads based on lead score or other CRM data. The entire workflow from initial lead assignment to opportunity management and managing customer success can also all be done inside Salesforce Sales Cloud.

Adopt the right Technology

We have already covered some great technologies above. Technology is “human enhancing”, and you should have an open spirit towards trying and testing new technology. There are many issues that technology can solve, and once you have identified them you will find a great selection of tools on Capterra.

Technology can do what humans can’t, and whatever repetitive process you can automate means efficiency gains. But it’s often hard to select amongst the many different tools, which is why there are advisors around such as Nexell, who spend hours testing and selecting great tools and can help you make the right choices.

Conclusion

Lead prioritization is key to sales efficiency, and it all starts with data. Start slowly by defining the type of data you need in order to qualify or disqualify leads. Once you know what data you need to collect, engage in a process of collecting the data you need and try to automate every aspect of it.

With a data collection process in place you can start revising your lead prioritization strategies and use methodologies such as lead scoring to perfect the hand-over from leads that need prioritization to sales. It all comes down to having the right approach and process, and adopting technology to support it.

The team at Nexell is here to help you with advice and tailored services.

About our guest Author:
Philip Schweizer is Co-founder and CEO at SalesWings, a lead website tracking and lead scoring add-on for Salesforce and Salesforce Marketing Cloud. He’s an expert in the design, selection and implementation of modern sales and marketing processes and how to support them using the latest technologies.
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Nexell GmbH mit Sitz in der Schweiz ist Ihr offizieller, zertifizierter Partner für Salesforce.com und Salesforce.org, Pardot und Fonteva.

Seit der Gründung im Jahr 2002 unterstützen wir unsere Kunden und non-profit Organizationen im Bereich CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Unser Dienstleistungsangebot und unsere Technologien greifen auf langjährige Erfahrung mit kleine wie grossen Firmen, lokal wie international, zurück. Diese Erfahrung führte zu einer Reihe von Best Practices, welche wir heute auf jedes Projekt anwenden, ob gross oder klein, national oder international.

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