Every company wants more marketing qualified prospects feeding the Sales team. However, a funny thing can happen with organizations that leverage Salesforce–A Lead can get converted into a Contact and never get seen again, almost like George Clooney in Gravity.
The end result is significant lead leakage and wasted investment as these Contacts can fall out of the funnel. Luckily, Marketo treats these two objects as one to help this process.
Does your company convert Leads into Contacts without adding them to an Opportunity? If so, what are you doing to make sure these prospects are not lost in space? In this post, I’ll cover some of the top lifecycle issues many companies face around this situation and what you can do to bring your prospects back to earth.
The Contact and Lead terminology within Salesforce can be a bit tricky. Remember that Salesforce was founded way back in 1999 back when Napster was founded–heck, we couldn’t figure out the MP3 process, never mind a closed loop marketing and sales system. In Salesforce, a Lead is someone who needs to be worked–a Contact is someone who is known and belongs to an Account (Which may or may not have an Opportunity). The issue is Salesforce treats Leads and Contacts differently, which poses all kinds of tracking and lead flow process issues.
Marketo doesn't care about different objects. A Lead in Marketo can be either a Lead in Salesforce or a Contact in Salesforce. There is a flag that you can use to determine the difference. This is why companies can easily report across Leads and Contacts in Marketo.
Confused yet? The relationship between them all is kind of like the old Abbott & Costello Who’s on First routine.
For a full explanation, see Salesforce MVP Shell Black’s in-depth white board breakout.
The typical situation looks something like this. A person from a major brand like Disney fills out a Marketo form for an eBook and becomes a Lead. The Business Development Representative (BDR) sees that hot activity and then adds that person to the Disney Account as a Contact. This allows the appropriate Account Executive (AE) to manage it accordingly. This process sounds good in theory but it can cause a whole host of issues.
The big disconnect here is that the Contact has no associated Opportunity in Salesforce. Because Marketing tends to measure Leads while Sales tends to measure Opportunities, a Contact without an Opportunity can fall out of vision and that’s not a good thing. Don’t think these numbers are significant? I’ve seen 30% or more Contacts that don’t have Opportunities.
So where do you turn? Let’s dive into a few approaches that can help reduce those Contacts leaking out of your funnel.
Technically, Leads and Contacts are different but this approach treats them the same.
This approach uses a single field that ties both Leads and Contacts together. Let’s call it the Lifecycle field. For companies that work Leads and Contacts in parallel, this process gives more flexibility and better management.
Here, reps and marketing focus on the Lifecycle field to manage prospects through the funnel, ignoring whether or not the person is a Lead or a Contact. Only Contacts can have a Won or Opportunity stage. For example, if a Lead with a Lifecycle status field value of “Sales Accepted” is converted to a Contact, it will still maintain its Lifecycle status value. This will allow the rep to work that Contact just like a Lead.
From a Marketo perspective, the lifecycle is simplified. Marketing can deliver content and run reports against the Lifecycle status in Marketo because those statuses will be consistent across Leads and Contacts. It really doesn’t matter if the person is a Lead or a Contact because the Marketo Lifecycle status treats the person the same. For organizations leveraging the RCA modeler, they can leverage this single field as a trigger for moving people from one stage to another.
The approach still doesn’t fix Saleforce’s lack of management for Lead and Contact processes. Companies must develop strong processes for both Lead AND Contact management in order for consistent data to flow to Marketo.
Additionally, reporting across Leads and Contacts in Salesforce is no easy task unless you have some custom built, cross object reporting. Thankfully, Marketo provides insights into the Unified Salesforce Lead & Contact model by letting companies report on Leads and Contacts holistically.
Marketo not enough? Path to Scale’s Performance model from reports combines lifecycle information of Leads, Contacts and Opportunities in a single Salesforce dashboard. It was developed by Grant Grigorian to fill the reporting gaps that can exist in Marketo and Salesforce.
Related to the Unified Salesforce Lead & Contact Model, Leads and Contacts are always related to some company. However, only Contacts are tied to Accounts in Salesforce. This can cause lead routing issues and lack of email personalization.
I’ll save this subject for another post but know that several companies such as Lean Data,Engagio, Ringlead and others are developing solutions to address some of these challenges with an account-based approach.
There are many shades of grey when it comes to managing Contacts and Leads. A Unified Lead and Contact approach works in many cases but not all. After deciding if the approach works for your organization, that will result in a big process change.
On the Marketo side, you'll need to update your lifecycle campaigns, scoring programs and more to reflect the change if you go that route.
Which approach works best for your organization? What do you think?
A similar version of this post was originally published on RevEngineInsider.
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