Editor’s note: Daryl Toor, who has worked in marketing and public relations for more than 20 years, is founder of Atlanta-based “Attention.” He writes a regular column on Mondays about trends in marketing and communication.Too many enterprises confuse the strategic demands of lead management planning with simple tactical lead generation.

Lead generation programs are typically established by an enterprise’s marketing organization, which determines annual or quarterly lead generation goals based on marketing objectives and sales targets. These efforts are typically driven by overall budgets and by sales quotas set by individual lines of business with little, if any, enterprise-wide coordination.

By contrast, enterprises that excel at lead management are likely to treat related planning as an ongoing cross-functional business process. Successful lead management planning requires the involvement of key constituents from the affected internal organizations (such as finance, marketing, sales and customer service) across all business units that share common customer segments, as well as the participation of representatives of external partners (such as suppliers, marketing service providers and distributors).

Best practices in lead management planning place a strong emphasis on determining how lead generation and fulfillment capabilities can best be aligned with the associated capacity constraints. The fundamental aim of effective lead management planning is to ensure that the proper resources are available to respond to demand. This requires the use of associated business logic that guides and prioritizes the use of resources at various levels: enterprise, business unit, functional area and external partner.

Enterprises’ marketing organizations have historically been responsible for generating market demand, with the result that marketers are mostly focused on, and measured by, their ability to generate leads. The fundamental problem with this approach is that marketers typically do not display adequate regard for the quality of leads, or for the enterprise’s ability to derive revenue from those leads. (These are generally viewed as sales responsibilities.) This problem is intensified by marketing’s limited control over execution, particularly in channels such as branch and retail outlets, contact centers and intermediaries. The result is that lead generation programs are often disconnected from lead fulfillment capabilities. Lack of coordination … with lead fulfillment capacity underused at times, yet exceeded at others … is also commonplace. Effective management of lead fulfillment capacity is the essential quality that differentiates enterprises with proven lead management efforts.

Lead generation best practices highlight the importance of a thorough and up-to-date understanding of lead fulfillment capacity and capabilities. This understanding can be used to coordinate the timing and extent of lead generation efforts, through all their subprocesses

Analysis

This subprocess involves ongoing analysis of market, prospect and customer information, as well as detailed source and response analysis, to enable the refinement of the enterprise’s lead generation efforts. The primary goals of analysis are performance assessment and enhanced understanding of market and operational opportunities and constraints as a means of guiding lead generation efforts.

The most common challenges to effective lead generation analysis include: proper data preparation, determination of propensity to purchase, opportunity value assessment, event trigger detection and response attribution.

Segmentation

Lead generation efforts must be categorized on the basis of the current and potential value of the customer or prospect, and segmented based on prospect life cycle analysis. The goal is to properly segment prospects based on the associated value of the opportunity for the enterprise, as well as the likely appeal to the prospect.

Prioritization

Lead generation efforts must also be prioritized, to accommodate capacity constraints, as well as corporate and campaign objectives. The goal is to match appropriate resources to the associated value of the opportunities, and then allocate resources based on expected results, as well as customer contact and product preferences.

Trigger Action

To ensure optimal timing of lead generation efforts, enterprises must identify and deploy lead generation activities based on identified action triggers that correspond to a specific opportunity and are monitored on an ongoing basis. These triggers may be based on prospect or customer life cycle events (such as the birth of a child) or interactions with the enterprise (such as an extraordinary transaction or inquiry). Effective lead generation action triggers have been shown to deliver response rates two to 20 times those of overall lead generation efforts.

Leads sometimes come in the form of referrals from internal sources, such as other business units or other internal functions, as well as from external sources, such as customers and distribution channel partners. Such referrals are, however, frequently tied to specific lines of business or communications channels. Best practices call for the standardization of data formats and processes, to enable the distribution of any lead or type of lead to the most appropriate entity or individual within the enterprise, or even beyond the enterprise. Enterprises must strive to have the capability to route leads from one channel to another. For example, an enterprise may drive high-value leads to interaction channels that may make it possible to establish a better relationship and gather more information (such as a contact center or a branch location) while driving lower-value prospects to lower-cost channels (such as Web-based self-service).

Lead generation metrics and incentives must take into account lead utilization and lead close rates, not simply the sheer volume of leads generated. This approach provides the necessary guidance and rewards for marketing’s collaboration with the necessary internal organizations and external partners. The ability to assess the success of lead generation efforts … not only as measured by volume of leads generated, but also in terms of the quality of the leads and their impact on customer value … is critical.

Timing is another significant consideration. Lead generation efforts intended to take advantage of available lead fulfillment capacity should be highly automated, to ensure optimal utilization of available resources. This may, for example, enable the enterprise to determine when contact center resources are available for outbound telemarketing for qualification purposes.

Such capacity management becomes particularly challenging within the context of deployment of action triggers, because it requires that the enterprise anticipate capacity requirements in order to respond rapidly and effectively to high-value opportunities.

Bottom Line

Lead management planning must precede lead generation as an enterprise-wide strategic requirement, not a tactical issue. Best practices in lead management demand a cross-functional approach that focuses not just on generating leads, but also on determining their quality and value to the enterprise … and how they can be used and acted on most effectively.

Attention: www.attentiongroup.com