opportunity stages

Lead Nurturing – Step 1: Review your current lead to opportunity to customer process

Here is the detail first step of your lead nurturing initiative as describe in my previous post: How to get started with lead nurturing.

Reviewing your lead to opportunity to customer is the primary activity you should plan, even before to start lead nurturing. After all, why would you put efforts nurturing leads if they are not properly managed when they become sales-ready? To make an analogy, simply think about the water pipe system in your house. Before opening the main valve, you need to make sure that no pipes are leaking.

To check the health of your process, simply ask every member of your team how do they rank or classified or work their leads. If you get a couple of different options, you know you need to review your processes.

First, make sure that you create a simple funnel where each stage of your revenue cycle are precisely define and understood by both your sales and marketing team. The following image represents a typical revenue cycle with the main stages. It is strongly inspire by Marketo Revenue Cycle.

Once marketing and sales have agreed on the complete Revenue Cycle, make sure to map your current lead and sales process to it. In order to do that, you will need to clearly define each Lead Status and Opportunity Stages required to follow up on leads and opportunities. You will want to have specific Lead Status for leads that are not sales-ready yet and are continuously nurtured by marketing as opposed to some specific Leads Status for leads that are sales-ready and only worked by sales.

Once the leads are becoming more ready to buy, your conversion of leads to opportunity needs to be as clear as previous processes. You will need to have a good definition of each stages required in order to win an opportunity. This will vary a lot from a company to another, but as long as it is clear internally and everyone sticks to it, you will be amazed by the results.

And if some leads handle by sales are finally not ready to buy, you need to have a clear process to return those leads to marketing so they can be recycled with further nurturing program.

The last piece of your process review is to make sure you know and understand from where all your leads are coming into your CRM. It is fairly easy to multiply the different sources where leads are captured, but if this is not managed properly, you will end up having leads that are not assign to the right person or are not even being touch by some others because they simply don’t see them in your CRM. Each source should have a precise process that everyone understands. Moreover, you will want to track each of them to determine what is working best for you in terms of marketing ROI.

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Wednesday, September 9th, 2009 Lead Management, Marketing 3,777 Comments