Here is this week’s “One Good Practice”…
To improve lead management, have lead statuses that are active!
Lead management is a huge challenge for many companies.I’m not sure why, because it doesn’t have to be. Anyway, there are a lot of ways to manage lead flow and certainly many different philosophies for it. I have talked with thousands of sales reps and one of the most common comments/criticisms of their old or even current CRM is that it’s hard to find things and hard to know what to do with them. Why this was a problem stumped me. I mean, this seems like it should be priority number one – after all, if the sales reps can’t find stuff, they can’t sell stuff. Honestly, it just seemed a bit ridiculous that I heard that feedback so often. But after hearing it so many times and looking a bit closer, I began to understand why…
There are two main reasons I see this challenge occurring with sales teams…
1) The people who design and implement and manage their CRM are out of touch with reality. They either don’t understand sales and the world of the sales rep, or they don’t care because they somehow know better.
2) The system is designed based on recommendations and requirements set only by sales management.
What results from the two items I just listed is that sales reps have CRMs that require they bend their habits to fit the ideas and comfort of someone else. While there will always be some of this in any system as stakeholders all need to work within it, we believe that the largest burden of the system is put on the sales rep and that your highest return will always be interfaces, functionality, and processes that are as simple and friendly as possible for the sales rep. Unfortunately, sales management often gets to design stuff that fits their paradigm and a management style of thinking.
What ultimately occurs is that lead statuses, list views, search features, and other “finding” and “management” tools are confusing, not helpful, and work against the way a rep actually thinks about their work. Not good.
ONE GOOD PRACTICE
So, the one simple good practice that I can recommend to improve lead management and to win with your sales reps is this: Have lead statuses that are ACTIVE!
Often I see lead statuses that tell what has already happened with a lead – for instance, “Contacted”. This is helpful because it tells us that the lead has been contacted. But who cares about that? Management. Managers in a lot of sales organizations tend to focus more on what has happened than what is happening and what still needs to happen – it’s a “managed activity” approach. While I understand that, I disagree with it. Sales reps we talked to (especially new ones), look at a “contacted” status and then wonder what comes next. It doesn’t tell them anything about where the lead is now or what they need to do with the lead, which is what all Sales people really want to know. If you think about it, the status is already out of date! Trust me, this is an issue with many sales teams. Sales reps almost always want to find leads and work them based on what they need to do with them, not what they already did.
So, change that status to an active one: Qualifying. Isn’t that basically the next step? You contacted them and now you are trying to qualify them – do we have an opportunity to do business with them? Qualifying, as a status, tells a rep something about where the lead is at and what they need to do with it now. And, it also tells managers that I already contacted them, fulfilling the need of the manager to know. This kind of active status keeps the rep looking and moving forward!
I know this seems like a simple and trivial thing, but you can trust that simple changes and thoughts like this can transform your sales team’s attitude and even ability to adopt the software. Also, it helps you begin to consider the end user’s context. If you design for the management team, you are designing away from one of the largest and best business intelligence gathering forces your company has. Frankly, managers are the much smaller group and don’t spend near as much time entering data, etc. Your biggest opportunity for saving time and effort in your teams is with those who spend the most time and effort…duh, right?! It’s true.