In most B2B sales and marketing organizations the CRM system tends to be the primary repository for the outbound prospecting team, as it tends to bring together the most information about current and prospective clients. With that said, knowing what to track within the system so as not to overwhelm the team — while still feeding the most important data back into the system — is always a challenge for any outbound prospecting managers.

In my experience working with expansion-stage software and internet companies there are a few important concepts that are key to helping the outbound prospecting manager drive performance from the outbound prospecting team. Understanding these concepts will help you implement the right fields in your CRM system so that you can manage you team effectively.

Activity

Keeping track of the number of calls, conversations, and emails that your team sends on a regular basis is probably the first and most basic indicator of productivity. Having a base line for those three metrics will help you understand what it takes for each rep to hit their targets, especially as the team scales. Pure activity will almost always be a leading indicator to performance. In order to track this effectively it works best if you have your email and phone system integrated with the CRM system, but this is not always practical or cost effective. If you don’t have those two systems integrated make sure your reps are logging their activities manually. While it does require a bit of additional admin work on their part it is the only way you and they will be able to keep track of what activity has gone into each lead that they are calling.

Tips:

  1. Make sure that you have customized the “Type” field to include at least these three basic pick list values: Calls, Conversations, and Email
  2. Make “Due Date” and “Type” required fields
  3. Provide standard guidelines for subject lines so it’s easier to read reports

Productivity

For the purpose of this post, I am defining productivity as the results driven from the activity. At the end of the day, the purpose of outbound prospecting is to deliver some clearly defined metric. Whether that is a qualified lead, appointment, opportunity, or demo, this is something that can and should be tracked in salesforce.com. In addition, it is important to track what results are generated from those metrics. Depending on what your team is delivering there are a number of different ways the desired output can be tracked. For tracking appointments, demos, or discovery calls, using “Tasks” or “Events” is probably the best way to do it. However, for tracking opportunities or sales-ready leads using the opportunity record or a status, check box, and date on the lead is probably a the best way to do it.

Tips:

  1. To track sales-ready leads set up a workflow that updates a custom “Sales Ready” check box and “Sales Ready Date” when the lead is changed to “Sales Ready” or “Qualified” depending on what lingo is used at your organization.
  2. If you take the Qualified Lead/ Sales Ready Lead status approach make sure those fields also exist on the Contact records in case a lead already exists as a contact in your database.
  3. If your outbound prospectors are going to be creating opportunities make sure that your qualification criteria is a bit further along in the sales process so that you aren’t just filling the pipeline with very early prospects. This can have a negative impact your win rate and actually slow things down.

Process Flow

Process flow allows you to track how many leads are going through your team’s outbound prospecting process at any given point in time. This is the top of funnel equivalent of the sales pipeline. What leads are in which status for which reps. Of the three concepts mentioned here this is typically the most difficult to track in salesfore.com and varies depending on maturity of the marketing team. In my experience, I have seen two primary approaches to tracking the lead management process:

1) For outbound prospecting teams that have little or no support from marketing, use a very simple process that lets you track which new leads have not been hit yet, and which leads are in the outbound prospecting funnel. This is an old-school approach, but it works well, and it’s great for getting started at building out your house list.

  1. Open
  2. In Progress
  3. Contacted
  4. Qualified
  5. Unqualified
  6. Nurture

2) For outbound prospecting teams that have a more mature marketing team that provides support with list and content generation you will need to use a more mature process that allows you to not only manage the current list you are going after, but also helps you manage existing leads and contacts that may be popping up from marketing activity. This type of process is typically more sophisticated and calls for a lot of cooperation with marketing. This slide share presentation made by Jep Castelein of the LeadSloth is a great example of what this type of process should look like. This type of process is more holistic to the entire marketing process, and hence requires a more mature marketing team.

  1. Inquiries
  2. MQLs
  3. Sales Accepted Leads
  4. Sales Qualified Leads (Opportunity)

If you are missing one of these concepts, then there is a good chance you are missing out on some key data that can tell you a lot about your outbound prospecting team’s performance.

photo by: Ed Townend

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