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4 Steps to Developing a Lead Flow Plan That Works

You’ve heard that marketing automation can improve your lead flow process. You’ve probably also heard plenty about features like lead scoring and grading, lead assignment, lead nurturing, and a number of other phrases that incorporate the word “lead.” That’s all fine and dandy — but what does an optimized lead flow process actually look like?

How do you go about implementing a lead management process that puts your sales and marketing departments on the same team, aligned behind common goals and objectives?

Check out our step-by-step guide to developing a lead flow plan of your own — and if you’d like to learn more about how we’ve aligned our sales and marketing teams at Pardot with a single lead process, register for our webinar on March 26th! You’ll get actionable tips and insight from our own Sr. Sales Manager, Ali Gooch, and Marketing Operations Specialist, Isaac Payne.

Step one. Interrogate your sales team.

I realize the word “interrogate” sounds a little aggressive, but it’s time for both of your teams to get some answers. It’s impossible to assemble a lead flow plan that will work for both marketing and sales if these two teams aren’t on the same page to begin with. For example, how easy is it to pass over a qualified lead without knowing your sales team’s definition of an ideal prospect?

When having this conversation with sales, it’s important to cover topics like:

  • What would you consider a qualified lead? What industry, job title, department, location, etc. factor into your definition of an ideal prospect?
  • What prospect activities typically signal that a lead is sales-ready?
  • What pain points do you frequently see prospects struggling with during the sales process?
  • How many people are typically involved in the buying process?
  • How long does the sales process normally last?

These are just a few starter questions — for a full list, take a look at this guest post by TechnologyAdvice, which discusses six critical questions that marketers should ask their sales teams about the customer.

Step two. Create a unified process for lead qualification.

Okay, now it’s time to get into lead scoring and grading. Once you feel you have a solid understanding of what your sales team is looking for in a lead, you can work together to establish a lead qualification system that is going to identify the hottest leads for follow up.

Start with your lead scoring model. Using what you’ve learned about the activities that sales considers most important, you can begin assigning point values to different prospect actions. Keep in mind that a lead score is going to indicate how interested a prospect is in your product or service, so you’ll want to spend some time customizing your model to your specific needs. Note: many marketing automation tools come with an out-of-the-box scoring model, which provides a great foundation as you begin building out a model of your own.

Second, draw from your conversation with sales to build out a picture of your buyer persona. Your lead grading model is going to be based off of your target buyer, so try to incorporate what you know about the optimal industry, job title, and department of your ideal prospect. Grading will help you pinpoint the leads that best fit this description, so that your sales reps aren’t following up with leads who are only seeking out jobs or doing research on your website.

Get more tips for building out a lead scoring and grading model of your own using our helpful worksheets:

Step three. Develop a lead distribution and follow-up strategy.

So you’re qualifying your leads using scoring and grading, and both sales and marketing are satisfied with the results. Next up — how do you make sure the hottest leads are routed to the appropriate sales reps for more immediate follow up?

Using a marketing automation tool, you can set threshold scores and grades that, when surpassed, will automatically assign your leads to sales reps. Leads can be assigned in a round-robin style to the next available sales rep, or using lead queues within your CRM. Not only does this ensure that leads are active enough to merit additional follow up (let’s say they have a score above 100) — they’re also a great fit for your product (grade = A).

Again, be sure to refer back to your conversation with sales to determine when the right time is for these leads to be passed over.

Looking for more information on the appropriate follow-up strategy to use? Check out this blog post on effective sales follow-ups, and this blog post on eleven different types of nurturing campaigns for all of the different types of leads you might encounter during the selling process.

Step four. Don’t forget to communicate.

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate” — should not be the mantra of your sales and marketing teams as you put a new lead flow process in place. The truth is: the model you develop the first time around is going to need some tweaking. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open between your two teams to determine what’s working and what’s not. In fact, the best thing you can do to ensure the health of your new lead flow process is periodically reevaluate and adjust your approach. Be sure to ask your sales reps about the quality and quantity of leads they’re receiving, and touch base on the nurturing campaigns and content being used throughout the sales process. Then, reiterate and improve!

Want more information on getting this lead process set up? Learn from the experiences of Pardot’s own marketing and sales teams by registering for our March 26th webinar here.

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