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Leads – The Junk Drawer of CRM

Everyone has them. Some are good and some are bad—or worse. What are they? They’re leads. Leads by their very nature are suspect—right? We don’t know enough about them to rightly refer to them as legitimate sales opportunities. Therefore, lead data is highly suspect as well. Let’s face it. A lot of leads are garbage to begin with, e.g., bad mailing lists, hotmail email addresses, solicitations left on your web form, the business card thrown into the fishbowl in hopes of winning a prize, competitors going at your PPC ad with a pogo stick, friends of cousin Edna, etc.

Exhibit A: What am I supposed to do with this?

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Is it any wonder that over time the average lead database begins to resemble a junk drawer—a hodgepodge of stuff that we think we’re going need, don’t dare throw out, yet lacking any organizing principle or order?

The truth is the majority of your leads suck and will not result in new customers. Not exactly news. However, that’s not to say we don’t need to treat our lead data with respect. Some leads will prove worthy of our time and attention—potential sales that fit the profile of our established customers. And looking at it from a management perspective, we’ve got a considerable amount of time and money invested acquiring leads from conferences, PPC campaigns, seminars, email automation and so on.

Data governance is always an issue if you want to maintain a healthy CRM system. Nowhere is this dictum borne out or made more obvious as in our leads bucket. We can get careless about the way we manage leads. It doesn’t need to be this way. By following some basic rules and guidelines leads can look more like a nice kitchen cabinet and less like an old junk drawer.

Let’s start from the beginning. Prior to inputting leads think about how they will travel through your CRM system, how you’ll use them and how you’ll segment them. In addition to the basics like first name, last name, email, phone—think about what data is important to track throughout the nurture and sales cycle for segmentation and reporting purposes. Consider attributes such as the following (leans B2B):

Mandatory Fields (for me anyway)

· Lead source

· Industry

· Headcount

· Area of CRM interest

· Campaign

· Annual revenue

· Geo

· Rating (hot/warm/cold)

· Lead creation date

This data should populate the lead record from the start, so that means import templates need to be set up properly and mapped to your lead form. If records are being entered by users, make sure they are trained to collect and input these (or whatever you decide) essentials. Granted, you won’t always be able to get reliable data on headcount and revenue, but do your best. And data that is entered by the lead themselves is completely out of your control so you’ll just have to deal with it (see Exhibit A). Do some detective work on the Internet or social to fill in required fields, or use a lead enrichment service like InsideView. Later on, when you’re actually working with the data, querying the lead data to create marketing or call down lists, you’ll be happy you took the time to collect these attributes.

Import Templates

Setting up your import templates is not rocket science. It’s user-level stuff from a technical standpoint. Marketing and Sales should get together beforehand and figure out what data is important to have to begin the lead nurture and qualification portion of your sales process. Keep in mind we can fill in data as we engage and learn more about the lead. Let’s start with some of the data mentioned above. Here’s what a simple template looks like:

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Nothing special right? Just make sure that the data in your rows and columns are aligned properly. After import your lead form will look something like this:

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Segmenting Leads

Now you can query your database to pull the right leads. In this example, we’re looking for open leads created in 2018 targeted for our nurture campaign. Here’s what that looks like:

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Partner

That’s all there is to it. Your leads don’t have to be a junk drawer. Just set some parameters around how they are imported, entered, and managed. Train users the right way to do things and check in from time to time to monitor things. You’ll have a cleaner more manageable lead database and get a lot more out of your marketing and sales automation investment.

If you have questions or need help, contact Mark Abes/Vice President Sales & Marketing of Dyn365Pros, Microsoft Dynamics Partner based in San Diego County, Southern California.