MQL
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WTF?

 
 

It’s time to stop asking what the funnel happened to your leads. You need a clear, shared, measurable model to increase efficiency from lead to revenue.

We call it the Measurable Lead Model.

Written by Marko Savic, Founder at FunnelCake, in partnership with Drift

 
 
 
 

About the Measurable Lead Model

FunnelCake has worked with over a hundred B2B organizations on implementing lead-to-revenue reporting and lead management models with our revenue operations platform for Salesforce.

We used these learnings to create a new model for measurable lead management – a clear, shared, easy-to-use model that can help B2B organizations of any size scale their lead-to-revenue process.

 
 
 

Foreword by Drift

Good leads are the lifeblood for any growing business. Sales depends on them to close deals and drive revenue. It’s marketing’s job to generate leads and introduce them to the right people so sales can help them buy. 

But timing is everything.

What happens when you don’t follow up and respond to leads fast enough? For one thing, you’re leaving money on the table. And worse than that? You’re creating a bad buying experience for your customers.

Because people expect everything NOW. Not later. So the #1 goal for sales and marketers is to make sure you’re connecting with buyers who have the highest intent more quickly. 

You need to engage with buyers anytime they’re ready to start a conversation. And then when you’re talking with them, you need to build trust by helping them understand what you offer and how you can help them solve their needs. And once you’ve done all that, that’s when you can make helpful recommendations that deliver real value. 

None of this happens by chance. It’s easy to think that buyers have a very structured and rational buying process. Don’t fall into the trap. Because the truth is, humans are irrational and buying processes are messy. 

This is where a measurable lead model can save the day and make your lead management more efficient and more buyer-centric. And that’s exactly why we wanted to partner with FunnelCake on this book. 

We’re both big believers in measurement. And to us, no one has articulated the importance of measurement better than the one and only Peter Drucker.

“What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker 

So if you want to have conversations with buyers now, not later, and if you want to start closing deals now, not later – then you need to start measuring now. Not later. 

Your customers will thank you. 

– The Drift Team

 

 

 Today’s lead models are broken

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You spend a lot of money on leads: your marketing team, demand generation spend, sales reps, and systems. Without measuring lead management you can’t understand or improve the efficiency of that spend. 

 

By measuring lead management, you’ll:

  • Win customers faster and more often. 

  • Create a predictable financial model and forecast your sales funnel.

  • Measure if you have a return on marketing investment. 

  • Align Marketing and Sales with the data you need to grow your business. 

  • Identify changes in market dynamics or internal performance factors early enough to change course.

  • Hold your team accountable to internal processes that drive revenue.

So what is lead management? It’s the internal practice of turning prospects into customers. Lead management encompasses the systems, tools, and processes that help your team be more efficient everyday.

The Measurable Lead Model solves the management problems other models don’t:

  • It’s clear and understandable to everyone on your team – building alignment to shared goals.

  • It’s shared across marketing, sales, systems, and various go-to-market efforts – one model to rule them all.

  • It’s measurable in a way that identifies performance gaps quickly and obviously – so you can fix them fast.

 
 

 

Today’s lead models aren’t designed for alignment or shared accountability. Without this, you won’t be able to identify roadblocks to growth, create predictable revenue, or increase operational efficiency across your go-to-market teams.

Fixing this starts with your prospect experience.

A great prospect experience should create more qualified leads that convert faster. How fast, frequent, and valuable your interactions are with leads has a large impact. Your team has full control over how proactive, responsive, and relevant they are to your prospect.

In an ideal world a lead takes an action, hears from your team, and schedules next steps. That ideal flow won’t account for all of your leads, and your lead model needs to fill in the gaps. To deliver the best prospect experience your team needs a set of expectations that are clear, shared, and measurable.

A great prospect experience is driven by operational excellence. Your lead model must create accountability, competition, and a measurable way to improve performance for your team.

 

 

Today’s models are abstract, linear processes

 
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You’ve probably heard about demand waterfalls, account-based marketing (ABM), product qualified leads, and many other models. These are linear lead models that move in a straight line: from lead, to pipeline, to customer, to retention/expansion.

Your prospect doesn’t buy in a straight line, sometimes they don’t even buy on the first sales attempt. Waterfall models don’t factor lead cycles into the equation. Worse still, these models need to be customized or combined in every application – it’s likely that your go-to-market teams use different approaches for different go-to-market efforts, making it difficult to measure what’s working. 

These models are typically marketing-centric, not shared with your sales organization’s view of the world. With linear funnels, you’ll:

  • Slow down growth and hamper your ability to accurately forecast.

  • Lose qualified deals because leads aren’t worked to their full potential.

  • Waste marketing dollars because leads are only touched once or not at all.

  • Create conflict between marketing and sales teams.

  • Be unable to measure if a marketing campaign creates good or bad leads, because you won’t know if the team has fully worked the leads.

 

The Measurable Lead Model model is how you work with prospects

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The Measurable Lead Model is functionally how your team already works with prospects. Every day your team makes a choice: when, why, and how to work a lead or account. 

With the Measurable Lead Model, you’ll be able to:

  • Have productive conversations between sales and marketing about lead quality and lead management.

  • Benchmark how you’re doing relative to industry peers.

  • Measure which marketing programs generate sales-ready leads and invest in the right programs to drive meaningful revenue.

  • Measure if leads are being worked to their full potential or revenue is dying on the vine.

  • Identify whether performance issues are due to lead quality, messaging, process, sales capability, or sales capacity.

  • Coach your team on effective strategies for converting leads into pipeline.

 

 

Leads are on a clock

Leads are more time sensitive than most aspects of your sales funnel – they’re on a clock. If a lead enters your funnel ready to buy, speed-to-lead can make-or-break the sale.

That means lead management is more critical to improve today – and every day – as soon as you can. Incremental improvement, rather than a one-time systematic shift, should be what creates a defined, scalable process. Lead management is not a one-time silver bullet; lead management is a practice you must do well every single day.

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Think of every lead as the hands of a clock, always moving to the next stage of their cycle – they are only in a buying cycle for a short window. Your team needs to identify where those leads are: are they ready to buy now, not now, or never, and then work them accordingly.

You have to care the whole time

Some people in your organization may think of “lead management” as solely a marketing activity. Lead management is everyone’s job. In fact, once a lead is assigned to a rep most of the operational effort is in the hands of the sales organization!

So, who should own lead development – sales or marketing? There isn’t a one-size fits all answer. Both models work. From our experience, it matters more who you have leading those teams than your business model itself. The further marketing owns down the funnel, the more effective and revenue-focused your marketing efforts will be – but it takes a special kind of CMO to drive this model.

 

THE

Measurable Lead Model

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While building our Revenue Operations product at FunnelCake, we saw how companies struggled to understand their business performance through a mix of demand waterfalls, product qualified leads, and account-based marketing. 

In building our product, we developed a universal lead model that could work across these varied go-to-market approaches and across Salesforce implementations.

We found 3 things an effective lead model must be:

Clear

Your lead model is used by everyone from an SDR who just graduated college to your Board – which means it needs to have obvious, easily understood names that people with passing familiarity with your business can understand. No acronyms, stages that are black-and-white, and work-flows anyone can follow.

Shared

Since most organizations generate leads and sell in more than one way, an effective lead model needs to be universal enough to be implemented across teams and go-to-market processes without jumping through hoops.

Measurable

In an effective lead model, every stage and every hand-off needs to be measurable in a clear, programmatic fashion. Exception mean the process was not clearly defined or the business is changing.

 

 

The Measurable Lead Model starts when we are supposed to engage with a lead.

Leads are assigned, then worked for a short period of time before being dispositioned –identifying if the leads are ready to buy now, not now, or never. All leads move in cycle: if they are not ready to buy now, they may be later, and must be recycled.

The Measurable Lead Model by FunnelCake

Below we’ll break down the plain-language terms used in the Measurable Lead Model and why they’ll help add clarity to your internal conversations.

 
 

YOUR LEAD MODEL MUST BE 

Clear

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Today’s lead models can be frustrating for your team – there’s enough shared language that it feels like you understand each other, and enough ambiguity that you probably don’t.

The Measurable Lead Model has clear, well defined, plain language terms that make it obvious what you’re talking about at any stage of the lead cycle.

Think about everyone who needs to understand leads in your organization:

  • Leadership – like your CEO, CMO, CRO, CFO and your board.

  • Everyone in Marketing – from a marketing co-op who is learning about leads for the first time to demand generation who lives and breathes this.

  • Everyone in Sales – from an SDR with their first job out of university to account executives with 30 years experience.

  • Operations – someone has to implement the process, measure it, and communicate it to the organization.

  • Finance – Finance must understand the model to determine where there is risk in the forecast and confidence in future investments.

  • IT/Systems – your model needs to be codified into various systems like Salesforce, Marketo/Hubspot, Salesloft/Outreach, and more.

That’s a lot of people who need to understand your lead model. We built our model around plain language terms that make it easy to create a shared understanding of company performance.


Raw leads

Raw leads are people in your database – they might only exist in marketing automation or they may be stored as leads and/or contacts in Salesforce. You know who the leads are, but you aren’t ready for Sales to work these leads yet.

This is your lead marketing funnel and you should have a process in here that warms these leads up until they are ready to be assigned. From a strictly operational point of view this stage is a holding pen until a lead is ready to be worked by a sales rep. When a lead is ready to be worked they should move to the next stage: Assigned.


Assigned leads

When a lead is assigned it’s with the expectation that a sales rep is actively going to work the lead, contact, or account.  In a waterfall model, you might think of this as “MQL.” In an account-based model you might think of this as a “target account.”

A lead may be assigned when:

  • They hit a score from behavior or demographic data

  • They perform a specific action like requesting a demo

  • They are pulled out of an outbound queue, such as a list from a tradeshow or recycled leads

  • They are a member of a target account who meets one of the criteria above

Since leads are time-based, once a lead is assigned it starts a clock. From here you begin measuring service-level agreements like response time and trigger additional work-flows as leads age in this stage. A lead should only leave assigned when it is worked.

Wait – this sounds like an MQL?

Words are powerful: while the term MQL has been around for ages, it’s not an inclusive term. MQL stands for Marketing Qualified Lead. It’s very name creates tension: Marketing owns it, and Sales has their own definition to accept and qualify leads.

This is why the Measurable Lead Model uses Assigned. 

Leads can be assigned from anywhere – assigned by marketing, self-assigned from a queue, or from a lead calling a 1-800 number. Assigned puts a clear obligation for action onto the rep: the rep was assigned a lead. If a lead is not assigned, why would you expect someone to do something with it? Assigned creates a clear, revenue-focused metric everyone can contribute to.

As a workshop, bring Marketing and Sales team members together in front of a whiteboard and list every path a lead can take to get to your team. Ask if that lead should be worked. That is your assignment criteria, and the gaps between the teams expectations need to be resolved.


Working leads

Leads move to Working when, and only when, the rep logs an activity – they do something with the lead. This is a critical distinction from using status to define what is happening with a lead. Updating a lead status, writing notes, and creating plans are the not the same as working a lead.

Working is an active stage – the rep is trying to get in contact with and qualify the lead. You are working a lead to determine where they are in a buying cycle, and if they are interested in your product or service. That means working a lead must result in the lead being dispositioned: marked as qualified, nurture, or unqualified. 

While being worked the lead should be in a cadence, a structured sequence of touchpoints like emails, calls, and social interactions, over a set amount of time, with the goal of getting in contact with the lead.

Some organizations have sub-stages within working, like “Connected” to indicate when the rep has engaged the lead. These statuses can be useful for measuring how messaging converts, but they shouldn’t be used for measuring leads themselves. “Connected” is not the endgame for a lead, you still need to determine if the lead is in a buying cycle now, not now, or never.

Because leads are time-based, the working stage should be time-bound. As an example, if after 30 days the sales rep is not able to engage with an inbound lead, the lead should be abandoned, set to a nurture program to be re-activated at a later date. This is very important as it frees reps to move on to different leads and tells your automation systems to run marketing programs or recycle leads into outbound queues. Keeping leads in working will block these efforts.


Lead Dispositions

All leads must be dispositioned. This means a lead must end in one of three states: qualified, nurture, or unqualified. Since leads are time-based, these can be thought of as the lead’s current buying intent: they are in a buying cycle now, not now, or never will be.

All leads must be dispositioned

In cases where leads are not dispositioned, it is usually because reps have left the lead sitting in Assigned or Working. Systems like Salesforce and Marketing Automation rely on these lead statuses, and the systems will ignore leads “being worked” by the reps.

That means when leads are left in working, Marketing won’t be running nurture programs and Sales won’t be running outbound programs – this is a huge waste in investment that went into getting that lead ready for sales.

If you have a high volume of leads in Working, but not being worked, you can end up with a substantial portion of your database that no one in your organization is talking to, increasing the chance they purchase from one of your competitors when they enter a buying cycle.

What if the rep wants to hold onto the lead?

Frequently reps will get in contact with a lead that matches your ICP criteria that isn’t currently in a buying cycle and they want to re-engage in 3-6 months. If allowing this is part of your process, we strongly suggest these leads get dispositioned as sales nurture and the rep logs a task for follow-up. This cleans up the reps true lead funnel and prevents the systems and reporting issues highlighted earlier.

There are three core dispositions: qualified, or now; nurture, or not now; and unqualified, or never.

 

Qualified

Qualified should be thought of as ready to buy now. This criteria will vary from company to company, we suggest when an opportunity is created, a contact role has been added, and the opportunity reaches a specific pipeline stage (like “meeting completed”).

From here your pipeline management process should take over. Remember though – they’re still a lead until they’re won – if that opportunity is lost in the sales process, the contacts in the account should be dispositioned as nurture so future sales attempts can be made.

 

Nurture

Nurture is when the prospect is a fit, but they aren’t ready to buy now. Nurture programs are largely misunderstood – many people think of them as drip marketing programs. They get your newsletter, so you are nurturing leads.

Structured nurture should be based off the nurture reason and include a mix of automated marketing activities and consistent outbound efforts. Both of these efforts should be connected to your nurture reasons.

Nurture reasons

Clear Nurture reasons prevent nurture from becoming a dumping ground for leads reps don’t feel like working. Similarly, Nurture should not be seen as a substitute for selling when a rep encounters an objection. Clear nurture reasons provide your team with the context to create structured, value-add programs that prime leads to purchase from you when they are back in a buying cycle.

Good nurture reasons are clear, audit-able, and in a language your prospect uses. Bad nurture reasons are fuzzy catch-all buckets.

Good nurture reasons define why timing is wrong:

  • Budget not available for 6+ months

  • Product missing key feature for use case

  • Prospect is re-evaluating internal processes

Bad nurture reasons are ambiguous:

  • No budget

  • Not a fit

Abandoned

Abandoned is a nurture reason every organization should have. Leads should be marked as abandoned when you never hear from them, give up on them, or they go cold. It matters to classify why a lead was abandoned – was it a choice the rep made, or did the CRM automatically abandon the lead after a period of inactivity by the rep?

Rep Abandoned

Leads should be abandoned by the rep at the end of a working cadence with no response. This indicates the rep tried everything they could, but for whatever reason the lead didn’t want to engage at this time. Ideally your sales engagement system will do this for you.

Auto-Abandoned

Leads should be auto-abandoned when they pass a certain threshold in time – say after 30 days in working, with no activity by the rep in the last week. It’s important to incorporate auto-abandoned leads in your systems for two main reasons.

First, if reps aren’t abandoning leads then those leads may stay in Working forever. This will likely prevent your automation systems from putting these leads through marketing programs or adding these leads back into cold lead queues to be worked by outbound reps.

Second, if reps aren’t completing cadences, you need to know about it. Is this an occasional problem, a systems problem, or a rep-specific behavior issue that needs to be addressed? By automating and tracking auto-abandoned leads you can answer these questions and ensure all leads get a future sales attempt.

 

Unqualified

Unqualified should be thought of as this person or organization will never buy from us.

We strongly prefer unqualified over disqualified. It’s a semantic distinction, but it’s very important in building a clear model that you’re specific. Unqualified means a person does not meet objective criteria; disqualified means the person reviewing the lead is subjectively choosing not to proceed. 

Think about it in real-world terms: if you are hiring a Doctor and they do not have a medical degree, you would consider them unqualified for the job (never). However, if that Doctor is not the best candidate for the role today, you would consider them disqualified (not now, or Nurture) and possibly consider them down the road.

Unqualified reasons

Like Nurture, Unqualified needs specific reasons or it becomes a dumping ground:

Good unqualified reasons define why a prospect will never buy from you:

  • Not a prospect (student, job seeker)

  • Incompatible systems/solutions

  • No longer at organization

Bad unqualified reasons are ambiguous:

  • Not a fit

  • Bad lead / junk lead

If a lead is the right account, wrong buyer, do you disposition it as nurture or unqualified? It’s a question of whether you want your organization to continue marketing to that title, and if you want to segment that in your metrics.


Recycling leads

Leads should be considered recycled when they enter the lead cycle again. The leads may have gone through a nurture program and are routed to an outbound rep after 6-months, or they may come in through inbound channels again like a demo request. Once these leads get assigned they start their clock all over again. These leads must be worked and dispositioned. Leads may be recycled several times before they buy from you.

Recycled is not a state like qualified or nurture, but a recognition that some leads will go through multiple sales attempts before becoming a customer, and you need to implement programs and processes to ensure you don’t give up after the first failed sales attempt.


Exceptions

No model can account for every scenario. Exceptions will happen every time your business has a step-change in growth or your market changes. For example, as a startup scales they may need to handle international leads for the first time – what do you do with them? Who works them? At what cadence?

The easy thing to do is run them half-heartedly through your process but not hold your team accountable because you don’t really know what to do with them yet.

This is not ideal. Exceptions must be dealt with promptly and incorporated into the broader process. In the meantime they should be excluded from measurement and performance analytics.

 
 

YOUR LEAD MODEL MUST BE

Shared

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Today’s lead models are siloed – designed for individual go-to-market approaches, generally defined by Marketing. Your teams sell in multiple ways, with Marketing, Sales, and Revenue Operations all involved at different stages.

The Measurable Lead Model is shared across go-to-market efforts, all revenue impacting teams, and every hand-off in between. These hand-offs will make or break your business

 

You will always have at least one hand-off in your lead funnel: from Marketing to Sales. It’s more likely you have a bunch of different teams working different go-to-market efforts, handing leads forward and backwards across your funnel. Building your funnel model with hand-offs in mind will save you time, increase your ability to measure performance, and drive revenue.

 
 
 
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Leads need different responses at every stage of their journey

Leads are people, and you are going to work them at many different points in their own journey. A lead doesn’t care how your organization sees them, they care that you bring them value – such as information about your product or service, additional information about your industry, etc. Your process should get the lead to a person who is best able to create measurable value as fast as possible.

With traditional linear funnels we can lose sight of the importance of recycling leads. Said in an extreme way: we should try to sell to everyone who is a fit, forever, until they say no or they are no longer a fit. Obviously this should be done with respect for the prospect in a value-add way, in compliance with privacy and spam regulations. 

Most lead models focus only on net-new leads for new business. However, the people who interact with our marketing, inquire about us, or get added to lists may be from organizations you are currently selling to – even your existing customers. Each of these situations should be explored, turned into a process, and implemented into your systems and models.

New business

New business leads are the easiest to handle, as they don’t have an active relationship with your organization. They may have been through a previous lead cycle or sales cycle, but this is a new attempt and should be treated as such. Depending on your scale this could be the bulk of your lead flow.

Existing opportunity

In longer sales cycles, or organizations that sell multiple products, you will get multiple leads within an organization during a sales cycle. Below are some examples of how our customers handle it:

  • At a mid-market SaaS organization selling to mid-market companies, they route all leads in accounts with open opportunities to the sales rep currently running the opportunity. If these leads aren’t part of the purchase process they get dispositioned into a nurture program.

  • At a large enterprise organization selling multiple products into mid-market customers, they have dedicated sales teams for each product. However,  the first sales rep with a pipeline opportunity can consolidate the other products within their deal, and bring in a team of account reps to create a streamlined purchase experience.

Existing customer

Customer engagement in your lead funnel tells you a few important things:

  • If you have new products or features since they became a customer, they may be interested in learning about them and/or purchasing them.

  • If they are nearing the end of their contract term, they may be evaluating new vendors and comparing your outward-facing materials.

  • If they are a large organization, your product could be in use in silos, particularly if you have some self-service or freemium component of your solution – indicating an expansion opportunity.

  • If they are looking to learn more about a specific business problem they have, and if you have a services team, it may be an opportunity for an upsell.

Part of lead management is to deliver value, as soon as possible – the same is true for customer leads, which means you’ll need to create some additional processes:

  • You may not want customer leads going to your sales development team – it can make your team look unorganized and waste cycles for your SDR team.

  • You may want to route customer leads either to the original account executive or the current customer success manager. In either case, all of the SLAs and metrics from a standard lead process should apply.

Depending on your scale this could be the bulk of your lead flow.

 

Leads are worked from inbound, outbound, account-based efforts

It’s likely your team sells in a few ways, working inbound leads, outbound leads, and target accounts.

Some of the metrics can be omitted for specific lead types/teams – for example, pick-up rate doesn’t apply to outbound leads; account coverage doesn’t apply to inbound leads.

Inbound

Inbound leads raise their hand to say yes, I’m interested. These can come from many different sources – forms like a demo request, chat, product-led efforts like free trials, receiving a business card at a trade show, etc.

For inbound leads, your speed to response and ability to show value to a lead matters.

Outbound

Outbound leads are anyone who your organization thinks should be interested, but has not raised their hand to show interest. These can come from many different sources – previous sales attempts; lists from trade shows or third-party services; leads that reach a specific score from demographic, firmographic, or behavioral criteria; product-led efforts; and more.

For outbound leads, your team should be using structured cadences to get these leads interested, responsive, and qualified. Your team needs to add value and prove why a prospect should care.

Account-Based

Account-based marketing and sales is a largely used, often misunderstood method of going to market. Generally account-based efforts are treated as separate from inbound, outbound, or product-left efforts. In our view, account-based efforts are layer over your other go-to-market strategies. Your target accounts will come through inbound and from outbound efforts – the main difference is in execution of plans: the level of personalization, effort, time, and cost that goes into your target accounts. An extreme example would be creating an inbound asset or demand generation program focused on a single lead.

From a measurement and SLA point of view, target accounts should have their own metrics.

 

Leads go across teams — you need hand-offs to manage them

Managing hand-offs – when lead or opportunity ownership transfers between teams – will make or break your sales performance. You will always have at least one hand-off in your lead funnel from marketing to sales. Depending on your structure, these hand-offs can get complicated and create their own cycles.

There are two factors to consider when determining hand-offs: sales specialization and how go-to-market approaches align with your market segments.

Sales specialization

Sales specialization is an important factor to consider as you scale:

  • Should you have different reps focused on managing leads from inbound, outbound, and target-accounts? 

  • Do you have different reps who work on lead development and close deals?

In general, these are vastly different skill sets and personality traits for the reps. At a certain scale, sales specializing is required to service multiple markets well. 

For example, SDRs can take leads through to close for high-velocity deals, while you need SDRs, AEs, and SEs to fully engage and close a target account in a complex enterprise deal. You may want to bypass the SDR process entirely for high-value inbound leads, such as when a C-level exec in a target account requests a demo.

Go-to-market alignment

Hand-offs aren’t a one-size fits-all solution within your own business, depending on your scale. It’s important to align how you assign and work leads to the size of deal and the expectations of the buyer. For example, if you end up with an SDR doing discovery, followed by an AE doing discovery, and its the third call before your prospect even sees a demo you’re going to waste your time, the prospect’s time, and if the deal is small it may not even make you money.

Defining paths leads can take and routing them correctly is critical. Thinking about it as a hand-off can make it easier to determine what your internal deliverable is. 

 
Sales-assisted transactions
Inside Sales
Enterprise Sales
Average contract size
< $5,000
$5,000 – $100,000
> $100,000
Average sales cycle length
< 30 days
30 – 120 days
> 120 days
Average size of buying team
1 person
1-5 people
> 5 people
Hand-offs
No hand-offs, only one rep
Hand-off when discovery is completed
Hand-off when discovery is scheduled
Economically feasible GTM approaches
Inbound
Inbound
Outbound
Inbound
Outbound
Target accounts

Defining a hand-off with SLAs

Service-level agreements (SLAs) are binding contracts between your teams that set expectations. Service-level agreements create a shared reality of facts. Without them, it’s difficult to hold people accountable, accurately compare performance between reps or campaign sources, or troubleshoot problems in your business.

For each hand-off that occurs, your team should:

  • Create entrance and exit criteria, for both positive and negative situations.

  • Create a measurable service-level agreement next steps, i.e. for a new lead that would be your target response time and what a response looks like.

  • Evaluate the time-based nature of this hand-off – for example, after 7 days without a response you may want to automatically close a lead as cold; or you may not want to work a lead for more than 30 days without a response.

Ownership after hand-offs

As leads are handed-off between people and teams, tracking lead ownership is a critical component for future reporting, like performance measurement and for compensation. For example, this would enable you to measure conversion rates by SDR sourced pipeline to closed won, even though the SDR is not the opportunity owner.

There are a few simple ways to do this in Salesforce, the easiest of which is to create dedicated fields for each role who might own the lead at any point their lifecycle, such as:

  • Sales Development Owner

  • Opportunity Owner

  • Customer Success Owner

Then as leads move through the full purchase process and ownership changes, you can copy the original owner field into one of these stages for full attribution down the road.

Hand-off management in the meeting flow

Meetings are a typical hand-off point, but they’re very complicated to manage. A meeting may or may not happen as scheduled, be a waste of time, lead to a great opportunity, or end up endlessly being rescheduled.

Getting this right is mission critical if you have SDRs booking meetings for AEs as part of your qualification flow. There are 3 main considerations here:

  • Meeting dispositions

  • Ownership of no-shows

  • Reschedule limits and SLAs

Meeting dispositions

Like leads, meetings should be dispositioned, we suggest within 24 hours of the scheduled meeting time. There are thee statuses meetings can have:

  • Completed - Qualified

  • Completed - Unqualified

  • Not Completed - No Show

This should inform metrics for SDR performance and facilitate work-flows for handling no-shows. Alerts and notifications can be used here to enforce dispositions, reminding the AE with a one-off email alert and escalating to the Sales Manager if its not dispositioned within 24 hours.

“Completed - Qualified” can be split into “Active Pipeline” and “Nurture” if you want to separate out the current buying intent of the prospect. We think the simpler classification makes it easier for reps to disposition the meeting, and puts the burden of the sale onto the AE when there is a hand-off. 

No-Shows

When a lead is a no-show, who is responsible for rescheduling, the SDR who sourced the meeting or the AE? In most cases, the SDR takes over responsibility – but this must be communicated in ownership of the lead and through a notification.

Reschedule Flows

Some prospects are frequent no-shows, or become non-responsive. In these cases, you should provide an SLA for reschedule attempts. Our suggestion is a max of 2 additional no-show meetings before abandoning a lead to nurture, and 5-touches in 7 days to try to re-schedule the meeting.

 

Leads need to be nurtured by everyone

Nurture is often misunderstood and thought of as a marketing-led program that runs in the background to keep leads warm – they get our newsletter, so we’re nurturing leads! This is missing the point of nurture programs. Nurture should be one of the most powerful tools in your lead development arsenal. We need to re-think what nurture is, who owns nurture, and how to structure effective nurture programs.

Rethinking nurture

Nurture can continuously bring leads back into your sales funnel by:

  • Overcoming lead objections through specific types of education, like teaching them how to build a business case

  • Following-up with leads based on specific time frames, like when they’re not in a budget cycle right now

  • Creating value for leads through informative programs

  • Informing leads of changes to your product and service offering

In short, moving a lead from Raw to Assigned is about getting the lead to know who we are. Moving a lead from Nurture to Assigned is about removing their objections through time passing, education, or changes to your business or their business.

Nurture is a sales activity too

There are two types of nurture: marketing nurture and sales nurture. Marketing nurture programs are automated and happen at scale. These are great for abandoned leads, leads without product fit, or where they recently purchased a competitor. Sales nurture programs are 1:1, task driven – they’re extending the working cadence over a very long time period. Sales nurture programs work best when a lead wants to re-engage on a specific time frame, or has a specific set of objections they need to overcome like budget.

Nurture programs should be driven by your nurture reasons. Having a clear, defined disposition for your leads means your program team can design nurture programs to remove objections, and build business cases – not just keep your brand top of mind.

Everyone should be sold to all of the time

One of our customers, a high-growth mid-market SaaS company, runs both nurture and outbound programs on every lead until they opt-out or become a customer. Their programs are structured like this.

After every failed sales attempt leads go into a nurture program, and every 6 months the leads go back into an outbound program for cold outreach.

Remember – this is about polite persistence that adds value. This is not about spamming or harassing your potential prospects with “Want a demo? Want a demo? Want a demo?”

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We need to measure if nurture works

Nurture is typically measured with tactical metrics like open-rates, click-through rates, and sometimes form fills. In the Measurable Lead Model, the goal of nurture is to drive leads to a sales-ready state again. This means nurture program should be measured by how many leads went through this program and were re-assigned to reps to be worked, how long they were in nurture before reactivating, and how many nurture attempts it takes to reactivate a lead.

 
 

YOUR LEAD MODEL MUST BE 

Measurable

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Today’s lead models make it difficult to measure performance, coach your team, or make changes to investments that drive revenue growth. 

As the name implies, the Measurable Lead Model has been designed entirely around measurement: defined stages, service-level agreements, and positive/negative outcomes that can be used to drive revenue.


Peter Drucker said “What gets measured gets managed.”

If effective lead management drives revenue, then we need to start with a measurement framework that helps us manage leads. Here you can see a lead response dashboard in FunnelCake – it’s instantly visible where the SDR team is achieving their metrics and falling behind on target. It’s easy and obvious where to coach the team because everything gets measured.

 
 
 
 

Below we’ll cover the core metrics you can use to manage your leads every day.

 

Assignment

# with Assigned Date in Period

As a metric, assignment is the number of leads assigned to a rep in a given time period. 

Assignment should be logged as  a date/time stamp and start the clock on any SLAs, which we call the Assigned Date. As leads get recycled, the Assigned Date gets replaced and can be stored with snapshots.

Inbound Assignment

For inbound leads, your lead routing system should create the date stamp based on your lead qualification criteria, i.e. lead score, MQL, etc.

Outbound Assignment

For outbound leads, your systems should create the date stamp based on when the rep begins to work the lead. For example, when a lead is pulled out of a queue and added to an Outreach or Salesloft cadence.

Measuring the consistency and volume of leads each rep assigns themselves per day helps create a consistent outbound program.

A high growth, mid-market B2B SaaS client used outbound assignment metrics with conversion to won to determine that outbound reps should pull 10-15 leads out of the queue every day. Less than 10 or more than 15 results in lower conversion to qualified meetings. Based on this knowledge, their manager is alerted every day when reps don’t pull the correct number of leads from their queues.

Target Account Assignment

Target accounts are slightly more complicated, the individual leads can be inbound or outbound, so the rules you establish above should apply for your account-based metrics.

Target accounts need an additional layer as part of your territory rules:

How many target accounts a rep can own at any given time?

How long can a rep own a target account without working any leads (either through inbound or outbound) before that target account is reassigned or added back into the round robin?

Response time

Date of First Touch - Assigned Date = Response Time

Response time is how many minutes, hours, or days have passed from when the lead is assigned to the rep to when they log their first touchpoint. Response time is a critical metric for managing inbound leads, but is not relevant for outbound teams focused on cold lead activation.

What is a good response time?

Studies have told us that a good response time leads to higher conversion rates and more revenue. The idea being that if someone is doing an action on our website they want to speak with us right away. For the most part, this is true – for actions like a chat, a demo request, a request for pricing. For other inquiries, like downloading a whitepaper, it may not necessarily be the case – which is why you’ll want to segment your SLAs by different lead types.

A common stat thrown around is 5-minutes as a target. This is a great, but unrealistic target for your team. Depending on your lead volume, this 5-minute window can pass when someone is on another call, replying to another lead, or in the bathroom. It also encourages a spray-and-pray type of response where your rep may not have the time to research, qualify, and personalize their response to add value to the prospect – all of which are qualities that are also proven to increase conversion rates as well.

We recommend a target of 2 hours for inbound lead response, and a max of 24 hours, to allow for reps to pick-up leads in case they are in a meeting.

Business hours

Many organizations want to set SLA levels within business hours. On the surface, this makes sense – our reps work 8-6 or 9-5, how can you hold them accountable to a 2-hour response time if they’re not in the office when a lead comes in? They can’t reply to leads while they’re sleeping!

All of this is true, yet we still think you should use calendar hours. Let’s dig a bit deeper into why. If our primary belief is that creating a great prospect experience drives conversion to revenue, and a fast response time creates a great experience, then the prospect doesn’t care if your business is open or not.

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Let’s explore how this could influence rep behavior:

  • Reps have a performance target of 2 hours to respond to a lead

  • Business hours are 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday to Friday, local time to the rep

  • A lead comes in at 3:05pm on a Friday

  • With business hours, the rep can work that lead at 9:04am on Monday and still be within their SLA.

  • Without business hours, it has been 66 hours. If this example happened on a weekday, it would have been 18 hours until the prospect heard from you. That’s a fairly poor experience for the prospect.

If you were measuring actual hours, the likelihood of your rep working that lead at 5, 6, or 7pm would increase substantially.

Off-hours leads need to be managed

Frequently we’ll hear an assumption that off-hours leads are skewing the metrics. The first quest to ask is how many leads are coming in outside of business hours: is it 5% or 20% of your leads? This matters when determining if your lead response times are slow because of capacity, efficiency, or volume issues.

If off-hours lead volume is substantial enough to skew your metrics, and you believe that getting back to prospects fast makes an impact on your ability to generate revenue, shouldn’t you have a dedicated team that works off-hours to assist these leads. This is particularly important if you service markets across time zones and have a centrally located sales organization.

The goal of response time SLAs is to create a measurable improvement in the customer experience, which should translate into an increase of sales. By measuring business hours you turn this into a vanity metric where your team can always meet our metric without creating our desired outcome. These examples show how business hours will skew your team’s incentives, your metrics will be biased towards your team feeling good at the expense of creating a quality experience for your prospect.

Remove automatic touches from response time

Optimizing your prospect experience with automation is awesome. Lead routing systems can help with automatically routing a lead to a reps calendar. Some organizations have an automatic email sent out by sales engagement tools like Salesloft and Outreach. These are great for your lead’s initial experience, but they only work when you have a meeting-centric request that the lead completes.

When these are used, and you don’t get an immediate response from the customer, you should exclude them from your response time metrics, as well as exclude them from touches that would move a lead to working.

If you count automated touches as working a lead you run the risk of reps not seeing all of their assigned leads and many leads only ever getting one automated touchpoint and becoming abandoned.

Escalating SLA violations

All teams will miss their performance goals – as you scale and run short on resources, vacations pile up, or other situations. Managing SLA violations with an SLA is a tool many organizations implement to ensure any of these edge cases are found and manged early. There are two main considerations for escalation: re-assignment and notifications.

Re-assignment

As a method of incentivizing fast response time, an organization may choose to add a “max response time” SLA – such as 24 hours after a lead comes in. After such a time, the lead is re-assigned to the next available rep. This could be within a territory, through a round robin, or in the form of a queue.

Notifications

Notifications should go out to sales managers, and possibly higher up, if leads pass this max response time. An example of this is a “clean your room” email that goes out to sales managers every morning with the leads outside the response time SLA.

 

Pick-up rate

# Worked / # Assigned = Pick-Up Rate

Pick-up rate is measured as the percentage of leads worked out of the number of leads assigned in a given time period. This is important to understand if an individual rep is working all of the leads that are assigned to them. You can also break this down at a campaign/source or team level to understand how reps working the leads may be impacting the revenue performance for that campaign/source or team.

Bypassing the working stage

Some leads skip the working stage and go straight to nurture or unqualified. These leads should be considered “picked up” because the rep has dispositioned the lead but not be counted towards the response time (since there is no response by your team, and in many cases this could be minutes). The ratio and reasons for dispositioning leads without a touchpoint should be carefully monitored to make sure reps aren’t gaming the system to artificially improve their metrics.

Cherry-picking by campaign or source

A common issue we see is reps cherry-picking which leads they will work. Either ignoring, or bulk unqualifying/nurturing leads from a specific source they don’t want to work. An extreme example of this: a $75M revenue business spent $350,000 on a tradeshow, getting a list of 300 qualified leads. The reps marked every lead as unqualified an hour after they were uploaded into Salesforce without ever logging a single touchpoint.

The importance of pre-qualification

At this stage, it’s important to establish pre-qualification criteria that allows the rep to bypass working the lead and immediately disposition it as unqualified or nurture. Without implementing these gates, you can end up with reps dispositioning leads they don’t want to work, which is subjective, not scalable.

Cadence compliance

Cadences are pre-defined sets of interactions you want your sales reps to have with prospects. Cadences are best implemented with sales engagement systems like Salesloft, Outreach, HubSpot, or Salesforce’s new cadence tool.

Think of a cadence as the full set of interactions you want your rep to do in the case that a lead doesn’t reply to them immediately. How much effort do you want them to put in, and what does that effort look like?

Cadence structures

As an example, cadences can be fairly short – like 5 touches in the week after a demo request – or fairly long – like 21 touches in 30 days for an outbound lead in a target account. These cadences should be designed with an understanding of your market; utilizing the right mix of channels like email, phone, social, and physical; and measured for effectiveness.

There are many great resources online for how to design and structure cadences, but every market and every buyer has a different tolerance for outreach. Our advice is to test what structures deliver the best conversion to pipeline, not the best response rates (though they’re likely similar). You may be hesitant to push the boundaries of polite persistence, but it’s important to test frequency and duration. As a general rule, someone will always complain about any amount of outreach. When many people start complaining you’ve gone too far. 

Falling behind cadences

Sales engagement systems rely on the sales rep to complete the action manually (even if its sending out a templated email without customization). This leads to two ways reps can get out of compliance with cadences, which disrupts the quality of experience for your leads and consistency for measurement.

The first is by missing or significantly delaying cadence steps. The second is by not ending a cadence or dispositioning a lead when there is no response from the lead. These issues might not seem important at an individual lead level, but when your team is working hundreds or thousands of leads per month the consistency matters.

 

Cadence steps

Cadence steps can be measured very similar to stage conversion in your funnel. There are four possible states for each step:

  • Positive response: The lead positively responded and left the cadence, i.e. booked a meeting.

  • Negative response: The lead negatively responded and left the cadence i.e. no interest, unsubscribe.

  • No response: The rep completed the action, and the lead moved onto the next step of the cadence.

  • Not completed: The rep did not complete the action required for this step of the cadence.

By knowing these data points you can answer any question you want about cadence performance, like:

  • How many steps does it take until you see diminishing returns on your effort?

  • How many steps on average does it take to qualify a lead?

  • How many leads make it to step X in our process, and how does that compare to the data points above?

Without this data, it’s very difficult to determine if your cadences are good or bad.

FunnelCake's cadence compliance report
 

Cadence completion

Based on our analysis, most reps abandon leads early – after 1-3 attempts at outreach. Most leads that haven’t immediately responded will take 7-12 outreach attempts to respond to you.

Much like measuring each step is critical, you need to know how many leads made it to the end of the full cadence. For example, if metrics are showing that a specific campaign or lead source converts at a lower rate than another, but the reps give up after 1 touchpoint for those leads – is that lead source bad? You can’t accurately answer the question.

At the end of a cadence the lead should be dispositioned to nurture with a status of no response. Ideally, you should keep a record of the originating lead source that drove them to be assigned so that can inform the content of the nurture program or future outbound efforts.

Why nurture over unqualified? Something told your team that this lead was a fit, and that you should invest time and resources into trying to get this lead to get back to you – perhaps for as long as 30 days. If this lead is never going to buy from you, why did you do all the work of a cadence in the first place instead of marking them unqualified from the start?

Design your cadences by lead type

Your sales team has limited bandwidth to put their best effort on the right leads. This means cadences should be structured based on the effort you want to put in for that type of lead. This can vary for inbound or outbound, SMB or Enterprise, etc. The complexity you implement will depend on the bandwidth your team has for creating, maintaining, and executing well structured cadences. It’s easy to overbuild, so start small – like a high-touch cadence for ideal leads, and low-touch cadence for opportunistic leads, i.e. in an international market.

 

Qualified rate

# Qualified / # Worked = Qualified Rate

Qualified rate is the percent of leads qualified out of leads worked. We evaluate qualified/working instead of qualified/assigned – you can’t tell quality of a lead that was never worked.

It’s certainly important if the qualified/assigned rate is low – but if the pick-up rate is also low, that is a bigger problem than the quality of the leads. In the Measurable Lead Model model, if leads are truly unqualified they get dispositioned, which counts them in the working stage.

That is why qualified/working ensures you’re getting the complete picture.

What does qualified mean?

The question of what a qualified lead is depends entirely on your go-to-market teams, if/when hand-offs occur, and how much of the qualification is done by sales development before a hand-off to account executives. Below are the most common examples we’ve seen in our customer base.

Meetings Scheduled

The SDR completes a prospecting call and books a discovery calls or demo with the account executive. Typically this is Stage 1 of the opportunity lifecycle.

Meetings Completed

The SDR completes a prospecting call and books a demo with the AE. The lead is qualified after that meeting is completed and the AE marks the meeting as qualified. Typically this is Stage 2 of the opportunity lifecycle and the area most SDRs are compensated for delivering.

Pipeline Generated

The discovery call or demo is completed by the Account Executive and they decide to continue pursuing this as pipeline. Typically is Stage 3 of the opportunity lifecycle.

When to create an opportunity

We strongly recommend creating an opportunity as soon as the first meeting happens, either with the SDR or AE. This gives you a few benefits:

  • Better visibility by everyone into the full funnel – it’s really hard to see this at a lead/contact level.

  • Better conversion rate tracking because you’ll have a full picture in one object.

  • Better stage velocity and sales-cycle metrics for your full sales cycle.

  • It prevents sandbagging and surprise deals that are managed outside of the CRM.

The only real downside is if your leadership team, particularly CEO, looks at every opportunity as if it is pipeline and begins hounding the reps. We suggest creating a “pipeline stage,” like Stage 3, and anything above that is filtered out of reports that discuss pipeline.


SDR-Specific Metrics

Activity metrics have been the standard for managing SDR teams for years now, monitoring inputs – like the volume of calls, emails, connect rates, and meetings on a daily or hourly basis. These are very important daily metrics, but we believe they need to be compared against the full funnel to prevent “spray-and-pray” approaches and ensure qualified meetings are happening with leads that will convert to revenue.

There are two outputs that show contribution to revenue: pipeline and conversion rates.

Pipeline generated

Pipeline generated is the deal size volume sourced by the SDR in a particular period. This should  be evaluated against the pipeline stage for your opportunity cycle – so if that begins at stage 3, those are the values that should be counted. This is useful to identify if the rep is sourcing opportunities that are appropriate for your segment and ICP, or going after low-hanging fruit to meet activity and meeting metrics.

SDR Conversion Rates to Revenue

Conversion rate

All SDRs should be measured on their conversion rate to closed won, cohort by create date.

You can view this by volume or by deal size. As you’ll see above, it’s easy to find stage-specific drop-off and loss rates to identify where the rep is having issues. Here you can see the rep is sourcing a high volume of opportunities every month, 10–15.  Yet in the last 6 months only 1/82 opportunities sourced by this SDR converted to won. Worse still, almost all the rest are lost.

One of our high-growth clients used this approach to compare two SDRs. One, shown above, qualified around 15 leads every month, hitting activity metrics with a “spray-and-pray” approach. From a traditional SDR metrics point of view they were a rockstar.

The other SDR qualified fewer leads every month, around 6–7, and missing their activity target. However, this rep had a 90% win rate.


Account-Based Metrics

Account-based metrics do not need to be complicated – you can simply take the metrics used for the rest of your lead funnel and apply them to an account.

By replacing the word “Lead” with “Accounts” you can see how easily the model maps over.

  • How many accounts are you assigned?

  • How many accounts are you working?

  • Are these accounts in a buying cycle now, not now, or never?

  • How many of your assigned accounts have you worked, qualified, and won?


This helps give clarity and a shared view of the world to all of your teams.

Account-based metrics should not be viewed as account-based strategies, which are very different from traditional demand generation tactics.

Having said that, there are two account-specific metrics we recommend you look at to determine the health of an account.

Account coverage

Account coverage is about the depth of our knowledge and engagement within the account.

  • How many contacts do we know?

  • Do they cover the right personas we need in our purchase process?

Account engagement

Account engagement maps the frequency and recency of activities to those leads within an account.

  • How many leads are you interacting with within an account?

  • Where do they sit in our lead funnel?

  • Are they engaging with your Marketing or Sales programs?

You can map account coverage and account engagement to quickly determine what the next-steps within an account are.

Account engagement vs account coverage

Identify

You have a lack of knowledge within the account, and need to identify what the organization looks like and where they are in the buying cycle.

Expand Reach

You have good engagement with a small amount of leads, and you need to develop access to the rest of the buying team.

Engage

You have a good understanding of the players within an account, and you need to engage them through Marketing or Sales efforts.

Win

You have good engagement across the entire account, identified they are in a buying cycle, and you need to win the deal.

 
 

 Other Considerations

THE EBOOK WAS ALREADY TOO LONG,
BUT WE STILL HAVE A FEW MORE THINGS TO SAY

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Lead management is huge, and we briefly want to touch on three core areas that will influence how you implement this model:

  • Compensation

  • Attribution

  • Salesforce Implementation


SDR Compensation

Compensation comes down to one question: what are you trying to incentivize your SDR team to deliver and what’s in their control to achieve?

For SDRs, the main compensation targets we’ve seen are:

  • Meetings booked or completed

  • Pipeline created

  • Conversion to closed won

The volume for any of these targets should be based on your GTM approach. For example, a high-velocity sale will generate substantially more meetings than an enterprise sale – evaluate benchmarks accordingly.

There’s ongoing debate on compensating SDRs for closed-won pipeline, either for the business as a whole or for their sourced opportunities.

One side argues if the SDR doesn’t care about closed-won business, they can superficially meet their target and still make their number. This helps the SDR make their goal, but not the business.

The other school of thought is that the SDR doesn’t have an influence on what the AE does, or if the sales cycle is very long, how can they be held accountable to a revenue metric?

There is truth to both statements, and there really isn’t a right answer – it comes back to the behavior you want to incentivize and how well you can measure your GTM approach.

For us? We believe SDRs should be compensated on meetings completed, and offering SPIFs for specific metrics you want to push the organization forward on. In our case, we measure the conversion rate from SDR sourced meetings to revenue. Conversion to won by created date is a great way to validate SDR performance over the long-term and prevent any unsavory behaviors that could game the compensation system.


Marketing Attribution

The perennial Marketing question is marketing attribution – and it would feel wrong to create a Measurable Lead Model but not discuss attribution. Briefly, we believe marketing attribution comes down to the question you are trying to answer:  the efficacy of all campaigns across the buying cycle (multi-touch), what influenced the lead to become assigned and start this cycle (last-touch).

If you agree with us that leads are time-based, move in cycles, and need to be sold to across multiple attempts, then the full picture for marketing attribution is quite difficult to measure today.

The truth is that there is no golden path that every lead takes to become a customer. Instead, we should measure if campaigns are meeting their goals – is a campaign’s goal to create awareness and build our database of known contacts, to generate leads ready to be worked by the sales team, or to enable reps to accelerate a specific stage of the funnel?

By measuring campaigns by a specific outcome you can focus and measure marketing efforts on the full funnel.  If we only had one metric to look at it would be pipeline stage conversion by campaign interaction: how far down the funnel, and how fast do leads make it there, if they interact with a specific campaign during their lifecycle; and how does that compare to a similar cohort that did not interact with that campaign.

The right questions to ask about campaigns

We think modern attribution looks at the wrong question: it’s trying to defend marketing spend by allocating some portion of won revenue to each program.

This doesn’t look at how programs are impacting the funnel. There are really only four things a marketing program can do to impact revenue – create a higher volume of leads, help those leads convert at a higher rate, move faster, or at a larger deal size.

To that end, we think you should measure programs based on the following questions:

  • What stage were prospects in when they interacted with this campaign?

  • Did interacting with this campaign cause those prospects to behave differently than a similar cohort that did not interact with this campaign?

  • Did they have a better stage-to-stage conversion rate, or higher total win rate?

  • Did they exit that stage faster, or have a faster total sales cycle length?

  • Did the deal size change, or were the deal sizes measurably larger?

  • Was there a higher volume from this campaign than another campaign?


Salesforce

Your lead model needs to be fully aligned with your Salesforce implementation. Without this:

Your team isn’t going to know which leads to work, what status they are in.

  • Your systems aren’t going to be able to effectively monitor the status of leads and route them correctly, either to nurture programs, sales engagement tools, or lead routing systems.

  • You aren’t going to be able to report on your core metrics.

In implementing Salesforce, your goal is to balance day-to-day work-flows for your reps, systems management, and ease of reporting and planning. This is a trade-off, as optimizing rep workflow can come at the expense of reporting.

We always suggest optimizing the day-to-day workflow for sales reps first: they’re the front-line for your team,  the largest number of humans, and optimizing their work improves the capacity for the organization – which means it should have the largest impact.

Leads vs Contacts in Salesforce

The Salesforce object model creates challenges for managing leads that don’t buy from you on the first sales attempt, or when you’re targeting a group of people within a specific account. A lead must  be converted into a contact to be associated with an account or opportunity.

 
 

If an opportunity is lost, the Lead is now a Contact and can’t be a Lead again. This means in the next cycle you’re working a Contact – which means you need to duplicate the views, reports, and work-flows required in Salesforce.

When you use both leads and contacts, it’s easier to lose track of everything you own and should be working. As a sales manager, it becomes near impossible to see everything your team is responsible for. For operations and systems it adds a lot of overhead.

At a minimum, we recommend copying all of your Lead fields onto the Contact – like status, assigned date, and nurture/unqualified reasons.

Now, whether you should continue to use Leads or convert everything into a Contact becomes a question of how you sell. If you have a high-velocity, high-volume funnel working Leads will be a very clean way for your team to separate top-of-funnel and real pipeline. For everyone else we suggest going Contact-only.

FunnelCake natively supports Leads and Contacts from Salesforce in a unified view, smoothing out this issue for day-to-management of leads.

Salesforce object model
 
 

Date stamping

Use history tracking for Assigned Dates to help manage reporting across multiple lead cycles. External systems like FunnelCake can rebuild these snapshots if you are past your field history limits.

Keep a record of ownership

As discussed in the section on hand-offs, passing leads between teams means record owners will change and responsibilities change. Make sure to reassign all open records to new owners when associated contacts change. Changing Account owners doesn’t always mean contacts, activities and opportunities change as well.

Re-assigning ownership happens before, during, and after a sale. Handoffs are easy to track in a linear method but difficult to report on historically. Capture important people in separate fields and track edits to those fields for when recycling happens. 

 
 
 

Conclusion

Lead management is an operations process that needs to be implemented with clear, shared, measurable stages that take into account the full customer lifecycle. Leads are time-based – they may not buy from you today, so you need to determine if they are buying now, not now, or never. And finally, leads must be dispositioned so your process can begin again – once a lead is assigned you must decide if a lead is ready to buy now, not now, or never will be and work them accordingly.

The ultimate goal of lead management is to scale revenue growth and efficiency for your business. To do that you need to be expedient, value-focused, and respectful of your leads.

With operational rigor you can measure our business to identify where you are doing well and need to improve. You can create consistency and scale to predict our growth and have confidence in our investments. And you can make a better experience for our customers and employees while growing your revenue.

Measurable lead management is a win-win for everyone involved.

 
 

Stop the acronyms.
Start scaling.

Book a 30-minute demo and we’ll show you how FunnelCake powers this entire lead model. You’ll get actionable alerts, easy-to-read-dashboards, and drive real change for your business.

 
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Work every lead to their full potential with FunnelCake.

FunnelCake’s lead response system holds SDRs accountable to pick-up rates, response times, cadence completion – and more, across leads, contacts, and accounts in Salesforce.

Learn more at getfunnelcake.com

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