Okay, you bought in. You’ve read the post on the benefits of taking a contacts only approach to CRM, the one on challenges you’ll need to work through if you don’t use leads, and my last post on mechanizing a contacts-only CRM strategy. This post is about how to assess your current lead management process and how to make the case for only using contacts in your CRM. You’re think that this approach may make the most sense for your company. If you’re like 99.88% of the companies I’ve worked with, you’re likely right. So, what’s the next step?

Assess what needs to change in order to only use contacts in your CRM

The next thing to do is review all your lead management processes, and marketing and sales reporting (specifically) attribution. Don’t do this in a vacuum; lead management goes beyond just one department. Be sure to conduct interviews and understand the lead management processes and how leads, contacts, accounts, opportunities, and the like are used by other functions including:

  • Marketing – Programs/demand generation
  • Marketing – Marketing Operations
  • Marketing – Leadership
  • Sales – Sales Operations
  • Sales – Tele prospecting/Inside Sales
  • Sales – Direct Sales
  • Sales – Global Accounts/Strategic
  • Sales – Leadership
  • Services and support

In performing this readiness assessment, realize that in our experience, larger organizations (especially companies with $1B+ in revenue; multiple subsidiaries; multiple region organizations with net new, established, and legacy product lines) tend to have more than one singular end-to-end lead management process. This isn’t bad, because frequently, a one-size-fits-all lead management process is not recommended for companies of this size and complexity. For example, in one part of the business tele prospecting may create opportunities when a meeting is scheduled, and in a different part of the business tele prospecting may pass leads to quota bearing sales reps where they may only create opportunities when a pipeline deal is identified.

What should you do if you’re a large, complex organization? Assess the lead management method that is most commonly utilized at your company to establish a base point. Then, after you do the analysis and obtain initial buy in, review and evaluate the other lead management processes in your company.

On the other extreme, if you’re a smaller company, you don’t need to do nine (or more) structured interviews. Just make sure you speak to each group or function that uses the CRM and make sure you have a clear understanding of how and why they use leads, and what would need to change if they didn’t. If you’re a really small company this could just be the equivalent of talking to one or two other people.

Two areas to specifically call out in this review are data duplication reports and dashboards.

Data duplication. Evaluate the duplication rate of and between leads, contacts, and accounts and the level that data between them is consistent or non-aligned. As an example, if there are two Bob Smith records for Acme Corp with the same email address (aka a tight match) does Bob Smith have the same title in both records and is he assigned to the same account owner? Progressively quantify (from most strict to fuzzy matching) the number of records that fall into each match criteria and the merging logic to be used (i.e. duplicate records that are owned by two different individuals, how to determine who the owner will be).

Reports and dashboards. Evaluate the reports and dashboards that are currently utilized by your company and the degree to which they are dependent on the leads object and/or lead-to-contact conversion. While doing this evaluation it is also recommended to identify which reports/dashboards may be archived or otherwise purged from the system as the time to do so will be minimal.

I didn’t call out auditing a “leads” journey explicitly, conversion points, assignment rules, handoffs, service level agreements, activity and task utilization. All of this is CRITICAL, again CRITICAL, it’s just that data duplication and the impact of leads on reports and dashboards are two areas I frequently see neglected.

The output you want to generate from this assessment is a synopsis along with a write-up that outlines:

  • The existing lead management processes that need to be updated
  • How the processes need to be updated along with why the change needs to occur
  • The new lead management processes that need to be put into place
  • Why the processes need to be put into place and why it wasn’t necessary before

Getting buy in for only using contacts in your CRM

Marketing can’t make the case to take a contacts only approach to CRM alone. I’ve seen that done before, several times in fact, and each time it went incredibly poorly. It also goes badly when one doesn’t recognize that marketing and sales hold two distinct groups, end users and operations teams, and what they are interested in and how you need to communicate to each group is different.

To help secure their buy in (and to structure your thinking, too) make a pitch deck that summarizes the value to your company and the changes this shift entails. Give respect to the fact that it’s a journey and not a quick pivot over a few days. The deck should be somewhere between 8 to 15 slides and the key slides to include are:

  • Proposal. Description and outline of moving from “leads” to “contacts and accounts.”
  • End benefits. Overall value proposition of only using contacts in your CRM.
  • Phased benefits. Specification of when your company will obtain each benefit and/or the degree of each benefit relative to a timeline and/or step in the project plan.
  • Areas impacted. Definition of the existing lead management processes impacted by this project and the degree of each required change.
    • Up to four appendix slides to provide more description on the recommended changes.
  • Teams impacted and required players. Specification of the teams which will be impacted by the project and the players required to successfully move the project forward. Use a continuum of 1-5 to display the critical level of team impact and player involvement.
  • Project plan. Outline of the major phases and milestones of the project plan.
  • Dependencies and assumptions. Definition of the primary assumptions and dependencies on which the project and project plan are based.
  • Next steps. If approved, outline the initiative’s next steps.

Best of luck making the pitch and if you would like a second set of eyes to look at your deck, we’re happy to spend an hour with a fellow convert.