How to Set the Foundation for Successful Lead Management

Lead management is a set of effective tools and processes for improving demand generation. Learn how to get started through change management and planning.

“Change is hard”, writes James Belasco and Ralph Stayer, “because people overestimate the value of what they have — and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” This sentiment rings true for many marketers in the age of digital transformation: as marketing shifts away from traditional advertising to demand generation, it’s not uncommon for executives and staff to respond with immediate concern and resistance. These reactions should come as no surprise; after all, the tools and procedures that touch a brand’s revenue stream are intertwined with the closely held aspirations and paychecks of individuals. When leaders want to usher in a paradigm shift, they need to think of people first.

Improving Demand Generation with Lead Management

Understanding the human response to change is essential to rolling out high-impact demand generation practices like lead management. Lead management – the process of using automation, data, and best practices to prime leads for sale – can be a force multiplier for your organization as it increases the velocity and capacity of your company’s marketing funnel, ultimately driving revenue and growth. Lead management is 10% training people on new tactics and tools, and 90% evangelizing new models of incentivization, motivation, and productivity. When we implement lead management, we are not simply changing the way we approach tasks – we are redefining the whole concept of marketing ‘work’ in a new way. We are revitalizing the demand side for the digital age.

To set the foundations for  successful lead management, marketing and sales teams need to understand why it’s worth breaking from the status quo, and be equipped to collaborate on a plan for its implementation. We might describe this phase of lead management implementation as pre-planning and planning: first creating urgency, coalition and vision, then understanding the current reality and possible future for the people and processes that impact your organization’s lead flow.

Let’s take a detailed look at the first two elements of lead management – pre-planning and planning.

Pre-planning with Change Management

Pre-planning is the pause to get the right people in the room; come to a consensus on concepts and central goals; unify around expectations; and strategize for adoption. As Leading Change author Dr. Kotter writes: “Win hearts first, and then minds. The best way to do that is to create as many miniature wins as possible. Demonstrate momentum and a reason to get excited about change as a positive, not a negative force. Early adopters come on board in waves when things are truly successful.” By creating momentum and establishing a climate for change, we make space for tomorrow’s learning, revelations, reconciliations, goals and co-creation.

In pre-planning, the initiative stakeholder convenes a lead management implementation team with key representation from Marketing and Sales.  . We blend access to key stakeholders and points of view within Marketing and Sales, at a level senior enough to understand the gravity and accountability of the project but hands-on enough to understand current reality at the ground-level.

From there we include other teams — Inside Sales, Content Strategists, Campaign Managers, Reps — who experience the marketing and sales funnels first-hand, and acknowledge the need for a new way forward. In all cases, we’re bringing direct experience to bear on forging that path.

When the right people are excited and enthusiastic about change, we set the scene for the successful adoption of lead management. Installing new tools and processes might give us capacity, but without urgency, coalition, and vision, we may as well be giving a rifle to a warrior who has only ever used a spear. When the warrior throws the gun like a spear, what has failed, the tool, or the adoption?

Planning: Setting Intentions around Tactics

Once a climate for change has been established, we can move on to the second phase: planning. During the planning phase of lead management implementation, we roll up our sleeves to get clarity on our present reality as well as our aspirational future. 

Get a clear baseline first. How do your organization’s people and processes work (or not work) together? Where are the current gaps in understanding, expectations, or logistics? How does Inside Sales view and categorize ideal vs. non-ideal buyer demographics and interactions? How does that contrast or compare with how Marketing’s campaign team views the same?

Before we build the new, we must establish the credibility of our ‘build-the-new’ effort by reflecting back the current reality, backed up by data, from multiple viewpoints. This is where change that sticks takes root: with good listening. Once we have consensus on the current reality from all perspectives—Marketing as well as Sales—we can begin the shared work of designing the new.

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Design the Processes

As obvious as it might seem, start by identifying the overarching goal for lead management shared between Marketing and Sales. Then, map the stages of the complete revenue funnel, extending the same analytical rigor to Marketing’s activities as we usually apply to that of Sales. Think of it as a blueprint for every touchpoint, interaction, or intervention between awareness and a signed deal.

Lead management measures what would otherwise be unmeasurable—the movement of leads through the funnel. It gives organizations the ability to be more predictive and proactive, testing a variety of tactics to figure out what works best to close a greater volume of high-quality leads.

To give us a clear view of what works, lead management maps the buyer journey to our selling journey (the funnel), in stages that chart interactions along with the internal Sales and Marketing process. We can set goals, make improvements, and contribute to overall corporate performance by using a ‘control panel’ to observe the effect of messages, campaigns, and outreach.

Lead management reports on what’s actionable, giving us insight on day-to-day Marketing and Sales activities. The chart below summarizes key processes and elements your team will want to clarify as you plan for lead management.

Division/Product Line/Product IdentificationThe buyer journey varies depending on your brand and organization. Mapping interactions for a small company with a single product will be much different than the same task for a larger company with multiple product lines, products, and stakeholders in a diverse array of industries. Experiment with lead management in one specific zone, if your organization has a broad portfolio.
Personas and Buyer JourneyDeeply considered, high-stakes, or complex purchases involve multiple stakeholders, each with a unique set of questions, mandates, and perspective on success. Their roles and influence on the selection process vary: financial, technical, executive.
Funnel StagesTo update the funnel with the reality experienced by buyers, we layer their high-level experience (questions, mandes, perspectives) over our process. This lays the foundation for the stages that will govern our lead management system, made even more targeted as we add more finely-drawn interactions and internal steps.
Lead QualificationEach funnel stage is defined by rules that determine what criteria, interactions, or outcomes qualify a lead to graduate from one stage to the next. At every stage, we want to respond in-step.
Lead RoutingWith routing, we define how a lead moves between stages as defined by qualification rules. What are the paths through the funnel? Can a lead move backwards? What happens with a disqualified lead? How is a fake lead treated?
Lead NurturingWhere routing tracks the flow of leads in the funnel, nurturing defines the tactics that give prospects decision-making momentum.
KPIs/MetricsTo measure revenue funnel performance, we choose a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that best comprise a full picture of marketing and sales effectiveness at a high level. For insight on the effectiveness of one tactic versus another, detailed metrics track everything from email subject lines to ad messaging, giving campaign leads quantitative guidance for A/B testing.

Design the Roles

The next part of the planning process involves designing the roles your marketing and sales teams will play in a lead management framework – who will help move leads along the revenue funnel? In this stage of planning, we take a strategic look at the individuals and teams who generate decision-making momentum and help make the case with our prospect.

It’s a range of roles that extends far beyond what we might have assumed before lead management: it’s sales representatives, the brand team, content creation team, and campaign managers within marketing, as well as various staff in Operations and IT. It will be staff as well as relevant decision makers and external consultants and key partners such as advertising agencies.

If we strip away all the arbitrary boundaries between teams and roles, we can begin to think more freely about who does what — and how their success touches revenue. Here are some key questions you will want to consider as you identify the variety of roles your staff will play in lead management:

  • Who creates and delivers influential content to decision makers to help crystallize unmet needs and establish trust?
  • Which interactions help prospects understand our differentiators when they’re making competitive assessments?
  • When prospects are at the point when they need their own high-level green light on the project, who within our revenue team can support them?

When designing the roles within lead management, think of it as an exercise not in prescribing corrective measures, but in equipping for success.

Set the Stage for Lead Management Success

Lead management can have a game changing impact on revenue and growth for your organization.

The first two elements of its implementation – pre-planning and planning – are fundamental to its success. During pre-planning, implement change management processes to get the right leaders on board – create a sense of urgency and develop a strong vision to gain momentum. When you have established a climate for change, plan the processes and roles for lead management and develop a strategy for rolling it out. 

Want to learn more about implementing lead management in your organization? Check out our E-Book, “Lead Management: The Framework for Transformation.” 

Increase ROI with Lead Management

Get a clear picture of your marketing activities and double down on what works.

Explore Lead Management Capabilities >

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