During Salesforce implementation discussions, we often encounter people that struggle with how to use the Salesforce Leads object. This post will give you a framework for thinking about and working with Leads (even if you don’t use Salesforce yet). Note that for the purposes of this post, Leads are defined as individuals that are potential buyers or buying influencers. We are not talking about the use of Leads as it relates to a potential business opportunity, though some businesses also use the word Lead in that way. These type of Leads are dealt with differently and separately than buyer or buying influencer Leads. There are a variety of ways to deal with potential business opportunity Leads, but we will not address those here.

To set the framework for this discussion, here is a matrix you can use to categorize Leads.

The definitions for each quadrant of the matrix are as follows:

Suspect – you are aware of the potential buyer or buying influencer but they don’t know about you. They may have potential or they may not – you don’t know much yet. Your first task is to make contact with them.

Connection – you’ve been in contact – they now know about you and you know them, but you still have work to do to decide if they are a potential buyer or buying influencer for your products or services. You may learn that they fit your profile, but they may not be interested in buying right now. Your task for this stage includes developing their profile so you can decide if they are a potential client.  If they fit your profile, you can educate and engage them with content until they are ready to buy.

Missed Opportunity – these are people that fit your buyer or buying influencer profile. They are interested in products and services that you provide, but they are not aware of you. They may have recently purchased from someone else. Your task when you encounter these people is to get them into a development cycle so you get a shot at future opportunities.

Prospect – you are connected and they are currently interested in what you offer. Your task with them is to qualify for BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline). If they are BANT-qualified, they become an Opportunity in Salesforce.

To further flesh this idea out, you can think about Leads in terms of a development process. Implement a process like the one below to systematically work leads. Leads should never be left unattended for long. Your goal is to categorize Leads quickly and either move them into the development or sales process or mark them as unqualified.

  1. The process starts with obtaining very basic info – a name, company, title, and other profile info. This initial info can come from many sources – marketing events, referrals, web inquiries, social media, etc.
  2. The first thing to do is to develop enough information to decide if the Lead is INTERESTING to you. Do they fit the profile of the people that you usually engage in a sale? Note: they may not be the ultimate decision maker, but they could be a buying influencer that is worth engaging.
  3. Once they make the first cut, there is work to do to make them aware of you and your firm.  Plus, you must make an effort to establish a connection (you need to make contact).
  4. When you have established a connection, there may be some more education required so they understand how you can help them. The work you do here involves getting them INTERESTED in you.
  5. After that, it’s a question of timing – are they ready to consider buying now or is the timing not right? A lot of companies fail here. You can really stand out by maintaining contact and being helpful to people that are potential buyers who, for whatever reason, are just not ready yet. Most companies quit way too soon. Have a plan to stay on top of these buyers that are in the “Not now, but possibly later category”.

To summarize the development process think – Identify > Connect > Interesting To Us > Interested In Us > Qualify > Opportunity.

There is potentially a lot more that you can add to your process of working Leads, but this will get you started and give you a foundation to build upon. Using this framework will help you be more systematic in dealing with Leads. And with that, you’ll get more chances at the plate with qualified buyers while not wasting time with unqualified Leads.

 

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