We have come a long way over the past few years with the adoption of CRM.  We understand the need to manage our Contacts, Accounts and Opportunities through CRM, and the value that it can bring to the organisation.  We can now answer questions like:

1)      What are my top accounts and key contacts?

2)      How much revenue do I have in my pipeline?

3)      How likely are my opportunities to close?

This is great and is a huge help to the organisation.  But now that we can easily get answers to these questions through CRM, we are seeing the business start to ask deeper questions.  Questions like:

1)      What is driving my pipeline?

2)      What are the needs/concerns of my key accounts?

3)      What did we do as an organisation to influence that opportunity?

Can you answer these questions?  If you can – great – you are ahead of the game.  If not, then you might want to look at the missing piece in Account Management today.  Here is our current landscape – we manage our contacts/accounts, and our opportunities:

But how are those opportunities generated, and what as an organisation can we do to influence those potential customers to buy from us, rather than the competition.  That brings me to the missing link – the lead.  A well-defined lead management process can help you in many ways:

1)      Understand who your buyers are and how close they are to making a decision by tracking their digital body language (Digital Profiling)

2)      Become a thought leader in your particular discipline by delivering relevant, personalized content to the right person at the right time (Content Marketing and Lead Nurturing)

3)      Provide valuable insight to Sales on what their clients and prospects are interested in, so that they don’t have to follow-up cold. (Sales Enablement)

The image below shows our new landscape – one that includes a process around leads, one that leverages technology to automate many of the details, and one that provides a new set of data that we can use to gain important business insight.

For most organisations, this is a change in philosophy and process and requires sales and marketing to work together to be effective.  But, at the end of the day, by managing our leads more effectively we can get better at predicting our pipeline, understand what activities influence revenue, and ultimately refine the process to bring more revenue in the door.