Multiple lead databases don’t allow for a holistic view of a lead. What you can’t see CAN hurt your marketing-to-sales process.

As I continue to talk to prospects about their marketing and sales environments, it has become increasingly apparent to me that most every company’s marketing organization has a similar issue of multiple lead databases. The only real difference seems to be how many different databases of inquiries, suspects and leads they have and how manual their process is to consolidate it – if that’s done at all. Having your leads dispersed among multiple databases is certainly a difficult issue on its own, but what I find most alarming is that these marketing departments don’t have a holistic view of a lead.

To this end, marketers have their email metrics (opens and clicks) in one database, while they may have pages viewed or form-fill information in one or more other databases. So, the question becomes how much is this costing your company? These costs are associated with two areas: One, the cost of manually moving and de-duping leads – work which is, by the way, both arduous and time-consuming. Second, the cost of not seeing a full view of the lead – in other words, not seeing everything the lead did with an email, the pages it visited on your website, forms it filled in, and other lead attributes. Not having a complete picture of this is crippling to marketing and sales efforts.

It’s important to expand on both of these areas in terms of cost. Certainly, marketing people are not flush with extra time to manually move leads among systems. In fact, I’m sure most marketers would be quite pleased to minimize multiple databases and have all leads funnel initially into one database, with “sales ready” leads then moving into a “sales” database. But, this just isn’t reality for most marketing organizations.

Consider this: With the time spent manually moving leads around and consolidating them, how much time is not spent planning, strategizing, creating marketing content and doing other important things? I know a lot of marketers are nodding their heads in agreement as they struggle daily with this unpleasant task. But, what many marketers are not aware of, as a by-product of this issue, is their lack of a 360-degree view of a lead.

Is someone really a lead? Where are they in the buy cycle? What products and/or services are they interested in, and more? To gain an understanding of which leads should be sent to sales and which leads are not ready yet, marketers need to have a full view of the lead. It’s critical to understand not only the demographic and firmographic information but also the lead’s specific behavior. What has that lead told you digitally (via email clicks, pages viewed, time spent on pages, and forms filled-in, etc.) about where they are in the buy cycle, what they are interested in, and how interested they are, really, at that point in time? This goes back to the old adage – just because they clicked the link, it doesn’t mean they are really interested in what you are selling. If they spent 10 seconds on the web page, what does that really indicate versus someone that clicks and leaves within a second or two? Having a more complete view of a lead, including the sum of all of its behaviors, is a first step in answering these key questions.

Sure, it’s important for marketers to minimize tasks such as manually moving leads between databases – but it’s even more vital for them to gain a full view of the lead. Leveraging one primary database for marketing is a necessity for fully understanding the characteristics of your leads so you can optimize the marketing to sales process.

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