Is Your CRM Set Up for a Successful Outbound Prospecting Operation?

Devon-McDonald by

In my role as a Senior Associate in OpenView Labs, I am often coaching our portfolio companies on high-level CRM best practices, particularly when launching lead qualification teams.

In my experience, most CRMs at the expansion stage are initially customized with only the Field Reps in mind. The biggest concern that management has is tracking opportunity details for forecasting purposes … specific customizations geared toward the front end of the funnel often go neglected.

That being said, if you are thinking about launching a lead qual team, or you have a lead qual team already in place but you are concerned that your CRM falls short for them… hopefully this post will give you some tips, particularly if you are using Salesforce.com as your CRM. (the most common CRM in our portfolio)

Why is it so important to build out the CRM properly for our lead qual team and train them to use it properly and consistently?

Not only can you find new opportunities through their aggressive output (the obvious reason), but there is SO much to learn from this team’s conversations (good or bad), and it would be a shame to not have the leads logged properly so that your business can maintain (the best form of) contact with everyone through relationship marketing! Also, as the manager, you need to have a clear picture as to where ALL leads are in the system – are they being exhausted, or falling through the cracks?

My first tip: I highly recommend that your lead qual team work out of leads in your CRM… yes, leads. NOT out of contacts and accounts. Honestly, it’s far easier for reporting, tracking lead statuses, creating a different layer within your CRM, and keeping the system more organized. Unless your team is doing incredibly strategic enterprise deal prospecting, and you having them working only a handful of companies, stick to leads.

Here is a app from the exchange that will help you associate leads to accounts, which has been very useful for a number of our portfolio companies.

Second tip: Keep it SIMPLE, if you have too many fields, too many statuses, too many activity types, your team is going to be completely confused and not using the system properly.

Third tip: Lead Status and Associate Reasons are KEY!

Recommended front end of the funnel Lead Stages (pre-opportunity):
  •  Open (has not been touched yet, fresh lead from import)
  • Attempting (made a touch point — email or VM — but no contact has been made)
    • Create a report to see that leads in attempting status have been contacted in the last X days… this will help you manage your team’s efforts and making sure they are not only going after the low hanging fruit, but rather making the multiple attempts required against each lead in your designed touch point process)
  • Qualifying (contact has been made, but still needs additional steps before setting up demo)
    • Create a report to see leads that are in attempting status, and what the next step schedule is to maintain contact with this high priority lead… you don’t want these ones falling through the cracks.
  • Demo/Appointment/Discovery call (Whatever your team calls this next step with the Sales rep!)
  • Unqualified (see reasons below)
  • Nurture (see reasons below)
Unqualified reasons (make this required when you select unqualified lead status):
  • Bad data (lead or company do not exist)
  • Not relevant lead
  • Not relevant company
Nurture reasons (make this required when you select nurture lead status):
  • Satisfied with Competitor (insert name of competitor into notes field as well)
  • Not interested/no need
  • No budget
  • Not the right timing/no current project or initiative
  • No response (after the number attempts that you ask your team to make against each lead – we recommend 3-4 calls/3 emails typically)

The more legitimate “nurture” reasons that you can add to this list, the better you will be able to nurture these with relationship marketing content. JUST MAKE SURE that none of the reasons are redundant, because, again, your team will be confused,  using the statuses in different ways and reporting will be completely off.

Ideally, your marketing team is in sync with these nurturing buckets, so that your organization can develop a touch point rhythm with content that is specific to each of the buckets’ needs. It is also important to note, that as the Lead Qual manager, a least once a quarter these nurturing buckets should be revisited with a human touch point (ie a call) – don’t expect Marketing to do all of the work!