9 Replies Latest reply on Jun 30, 2017 9:29 AM by Jeff Coveney

    RCA How do you track Contacts in your Lifecycle?

    Jeff Coveney
      How to manage SF Contacts within a Lead Lifecycle process is a never ending debate.

      There are two modes of thoughts (and probably more). Would love to hear some different ideas on how companies are tracking Contacts. Here are a couple of thoughts to get the conversation going.

      The Challenge
      SF treats Leads and Contacts separately. SF provides some great Lead queue views for reps to manage leads through the lifecycle. However, once that Lead converts to a Contact and isn’t attached to an Opportunity, it can become lost in the process because it is no longer a Lead.
      In theory, the Contact has been validated and now belongs to Sales. In reality, many reps convert Leads to Contacts and those Contacts get lost within an Account.

      Approach 1 – Focus on Leads-Treat Contacts as a Detour
      Under this model, the focus is on the Lead. Once a Lead is converted to a Contact, it is assumed the Sales rep is now responsible for working the Contact. If the Contact is not part of an Opportunity, it drops into the Contact Prospect detour bucket awaiting an Opportunity.

      Pros
      •           Ideal for companies with strong Lead processes.
      •           Focus on Leads as the priority
      Cons
      •           Contacts become a detour until added to an Opportunity
      •           Limited visibility into Contacts progress
      •           Less flexibility for tracking Contacts
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      Approach 2 – Leverage Lifecycle Status Consistently (Lead or Contact is Irrelevant)
      This approach uses a single Lead Lifecycle status field that works independently of the SF Type (Lead or Contact). For companies that work Leads and Contacts in parallel, this process gives more flexibility.  Here, reps and marketing focus on the Lead Lifecycle field, ignoring whether or not the person is a Lead or Contact. Only Contacts can have a Won or Opportunity stage.

      For example, if a Lead with a Lead Lifecycle status field value of “Sales Accepted” is converted to a Contact, it will still maintain its Lead Lifecycle status value. This will allows the reps to work that Contact just like a Lead.  The big caveat is the Lead will no longer be a Lead in the rep’s standard Lead queue meaning the rep needs to manage the Contact using a different process (Like a report).

      Pros
      Complete visibility of a Lead and a Contact within a lead lifecycle
      More control over what happens to a person (Recycle, etc)
      Leads don’t get stuck in the Contact graveyard.

      Cons
      Companies and reps must develop strong processes for both Lead AND Contact management. Otherwise, this approach may fail.

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      The Verdict

      There is no right or wrong answer here and there are many shades of grey.

      Which approach works best for your organization? If your organization is meticulous about only converting Leads into Opportunities, approach 1 may receive more consideration.  If your reps like to work Contacts from an Account perspective, approach 2 should be considered. Keep in mind that if you go with approach 2, you must setup a clear process for working Contacts.

      What do you think?
       
       
        • Re: RCA How do you track Contacts in your Lifecycle?
          I'm definitely an advocate for Approach #2, through you are right that it takes more maturity to execute that Approach #1, which in my opinion is the default position most companies take.

          What I usually do is to align Lead Status with Contact Status and then you can request that Marketo map the Lead Status and Contact Status fields in Salesforce.com to a single Lead Status field in Marketo. This makes tracking the the status in the model agnostic as to whether the lead is a contact or lead in Salesforce.com.

          Here's another way to visualize this. Notice that I have 3 different "models" - one takes a Lead on a success path to a win, the other takes a contact (for a new customer) to a win, and the last takes a contact (for an existing customer) to a win.
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          • Re: RCA How do you track Contacts in your Lifecycle?
            I'm leaning towards approach #2.  It would require creating Contact status and building SLAs around those status to make sure reps continue to move the contact through the flow and they don't get stuck in a "parking lot status" as I like to call it.

            I toyed with the idea of creating a cross object item in salesforce to contain the lead and contact status with MQL, SAL, and SQL counters and timers.  The object can be linked to a lead, contact, and opportunity.
            • Re: RCA How do you track Contacts in your Lifecycle?
              Jeff Coveney
              Grant, your flow chart really tells the story. Thanks for sharing.  How do your reps work with Contact MQLs. Do you have reports setup similar to lead queues? Alerts when a Contact hits MQL? Do Contact MQLs have the same SLAs as Lead MQLs?

              Jessica, it looks like you are a #2 person also. BTW, there are some tricks to capturing date changes and age w MQLs, SALs, etc without doing custom objects. For example, I've created a field called Stage Age that I changed to a lead scoring field type. I then update that field nightly with a +1. If the status changes, the value reverts to 0 and starts over. It's not exact but it's a decent workaround because Marketo doesn't offer a Stage Age. You can also create additional fields like MQL Date and update it when a lead hits MQL.

              To recap a few slightly different flavors of #2:

              2A) Create an equivlient Lead Status field on the Contact level (Contact Status) and map them.  This lets companies keep the same Lead Status field they have been accustomed to in order to reduce process change and workflow rule updates. Reps are already familiar with Lead Status so they don't have to change their behavior too much. They just transfer that same methodology to the Contact level. Probably works better for companies that have good to excellant Sales processes.

              2B) Create a new independant field called Lead Lifecycle (or something similar) on the Lead and Contact levels. Here the Lead Lifecycle field essentially replaces the Lead Status.  This might be a good option for a company that wants to revamp its processes and start fresh with new habits. It forces change for companies that don't have a great lead review process. The message to Sales...."forget about how we did it before, we have a new lead /contact process that will help you close deals by focusing on the the most Sales-Ready Leads (or Contacts)."
              • Re: RCA How do you track Contacts in your Lifecycle?

                     Jeff,

                     Yes, everything is identical between Leads and Contacts: workflow, SLAs, views, reports and dashboards. Just twice of everything.

                     In terms of aging, if you're date stamping the stages you can create another formula field that subtracts two sequential dates and returns # of days in between.  You can then run reports of "average age" from one date to another to get your velocities.

                     The difference between your 2A and 2B seem more related to change process, and less to how it should have been setup in the first place.

                     And speaking of setting things up like this from the start: I almost never do it! When a company is not mature in it's adoption of CRM and Marketing Automation it's enough for it to digest the systematic process once (through Leads), and it's not a good idea to try to mirror it on Contacts right away. Give it the Leads process a chance, and once it's in place introducing the Contacts in an identical way will go down much easier.

                • Re: RCA How do you track Contacts in your Lifecycle?
                  Question for Jessica: why are you toying with a custom object in Salesforce.com when RCA was created specifically to accomplish the same thing?

                  Do you not have RCA or is it not meeting some key requirement?
                  • Re: RCA How do you track Contacts in your Lifecycle?
                    For approach #2 ... By creating a lifecycle for leads & contacts in Salesforce (with a new lifecycle stage field), does this mean that you forego the RCA model approach?

                    I am in the process of defining my lifecycle stages and I realize that I can use the RCA model to create the stages, or create a "lifecycle stage" field in Salesforce for both contacts and leads.  I was planning on not including "nurture" as one of my stages, but pick and choose when/why I want to nurture various prospects.  Seems like I would have more control with the SF field approach and it would include both contacts and leads.

                    Thoughts?

                    Thanks!
                    Kay
                    • Re: RCA How do you track Contacts in your Lifecycle?
                      Jeff Coveney
                      Kay, since originally writing this, my appoach has shifted a little more to the option #2 area. I also suggest date stamping all stage changes (MQL Date, SQL date, etc) so you have the flexability to analyize the data in either SF or Marketo.

                      Does this approach replace RCA? No, but it certainly lessens the reliance on it for certain reports if you find the model building too difficult or don't have RCA. The date stamping helps detemine days in stage, etc. so you can expose that information directly within SF dashboards and reports.
                      • Re: RCA How do you track Contacts in your Lifecycle?

                        Hi everyone,

                        You guys seem to be discussing something similar to my situation so I thought i'd just throw this out there any see if anyone can help me

                        We have microsoft dynamics crm and we do not use the lead side of it, just contacts, and we don't use opportunities either... SO, i am faced with the struggle of finding a way to track the lead lifecycle so i'd like to propose some options to sales and IT on how to do it easily and painlessly for sales. Everyone becomes a contact, all new leads automatically go in as a contact. The only differentiator we have is a field called contact status and the two options are lead or agent (we are an insurance marketing organization). So the only data i can pull to see if our marketing has done anything or if leads we are bringing in are good, is pulling off that field seeing if it has changed and if they have also interacted with our marketing.

                        My initial idea is to have a field with options of Not Qualified, Qualified, Working etc... something along those lines... and then if it's not qualified there would be another field where you could select why... I thought this might be at least a good start to seeing if the external vendors we use are giving us good leads or not, as well as starting to see how long the process for converting a lead takes, and also so we can start excluding the not qualified leads from marketing and put the working leads into nurture campaigns etc...

                        I have a tough road ahead because i feel im the only one who sees this as important so i'd like to do a really good job presenting this. Any help would be greatly appreciated Thanks!

                          • Re: RCA How do you track Contacts in your Lifecycle?
                            Jeff Coveney

                            Katie, sounds like you are on the right track. Developing a measurable lead lifeycycle is a challenge but it's great to see you take the initiative. Yes, there are technical challenges but the bigger obstacle is changing internal mindset. What you are experiencing internally is normal. Just keep plugging away providing value and explaining how a lifecycle process will help bring Sales and Marketing together. Build alignment one steps at a time to get buy-in. Research Sales and Marketing alignment to get some tips. Good luck and feel free to reach out to me individually.