Monday, April 27, 2009

'Eat the Elephant One Bite at a Time'

I spoke recently with a prospective client about if/how his company should go about implementing a lead management (lead gen) system. He's unsure where to start as it all seems quite daunting -- how to begin the process, the expense, the resources required and the fear of the unknown are all giving him pause.

I mentioned to him that he should 'eat the elephant one bite at a time'. For a company that has never attempted to deploy some sort of system, I frequently tell them to start small and work your way up. Rather than immediately looking at tools and automation (which I do agree provide the right foundation for a true lead gen model), I suggested to him that he first simplify and brainstorm the ifs and whys of implementing a lead gen strategy. What does the company hope to gain from a strategy (i.e. objectives)? What is the value of such a system? Are the sales and marketing teams aligned as to what each should expect from lead gen? Does sales have the resources/bandwidth to handle lead flows or will new lead follow-up be sporadic and uneven? Does marketing know what a sales-ready lead is, and ensure their hand-offs achieve an agreed threshold? Can sales and marketing communicate and work together if a demand gen policy is in place, working to constantly update and improve the system?

Once these questions have been answered, a basic framework can be created that spells out quantifiable objectives, basic processes and how to collect and measure the lead flows captured, the types of tactics/programs they think would resonate and a means to input results back into the system to improve performance. If the resource isn't already in house, at this stage it may make sense to invest in an outside expert to help you with this framework and ensure you're on the right track. It's not necessary to right out of the gate leap to vetting lead management systems and making huge $$ investments in tools before you have an idea if your company is ready to maximize their value. Find out first if your company is ready to adopt a lead culture and way of thinking.

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