When do I "Convert" my Lead into an Account and Contact? What should be my Lead Status and Opportunity Stages? How many steps should I have in my sales process? When is a Lead "Qualified"? What are Sales Activities?
I have yet to find a company that sells exactly like another. I know it sounds like a cop-out, but all the questions above do depend on how your organization sells and what it sells, and even how it recognizes revenue! A sales process could take days or years. Some companies can make a sale with one phone call, others have sales processes are extremely complicated that involve partners and legal contracts.
If you haven’t sat down to evaluate and define your sales process recently, now would be a good time! You’ll need how you sell clearly outlined before you configure Salesforce. The good news is that Salesforce.com can accommodate any sales process.
Here’s a tip – make your selling stages in Salesforce are self evident. Avoid "fuzzy" stages that cannot be defined by specific activities. You might want to have one an initial status as simple as "New" – that tells me the Lead is virgin and untouched. At this point no sales activities have occurred.
You might have a stage that says that you’re actively working a Lead – sales activities might be attempts to make contact, or including them in marketing campaigns in an attempt to get a response from the individual.
Some people have a Lead status when they make contact and a Lead is being qualified. Once you’ve found out the Lead is a qualified prospect you can start thinking about Converting the Lead How you defined "qualified" depends on your organization. For example, qualified might mean they have a budget or they have purchased a competitor’s product in the past. Qualified might mean the company down-loaded a trial version of your software, asked for a free estimate or called in response to your late night infomercial. The activity of qualifying might be to see if they are a "fit" (the target audience) from your company’s products or services.
When a customer expresses some level of interest in your product or service, then you’re moving from Qualifying into Selling. You probably have a whole different level of sales effort with "hot" or qualified sales leads. If there is an opportunity to sell them something, then you might want to create an opportunity as well.
When you get into active selling with activities such as webinars, product demos, needs assessments, sending quotes, providing trials to software.
What do you do with an unqualified lead?
If you are selling assisted living to seniors, when you discover the Lead is 25 years old, you need a status to move them off the active prospect list. You can then delete these Leads or simply leave them in Salesforce as long as they are not proving to be a storage burden ($).
For additional reading, check out our blog post on establishing a good Lead process.
For more on this topic, see our ShellBlack Whiteboard episode – Lead Management – Lead Status, Qualification and Conversion.