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March 2008

Closed Loop Lead Systems = Lead Quality and Lead Management

One of the hot topics in marketing is "how do we get closed loop lead management?" Companies spend millions of dollars generating demand in the form of leads, yet most have little or no idea what really happened to the leads once the went to the sales channels. There is no effective measurement or ROI.

The assumption is that; if you only had the latest SFA system (Siebel, Blue Roads,….. take your pick, you will suddenly have the means to close the loop. Will systems solve your problem? It’s not that easy. Having spent the last 8 years working with Siebel and Blue Roads, the routing / SFA system is essential to routing the leads to the right sales channel in a timely manner. It also provides the medium to reply and update the status of the leads. However with out two additional elements it still won’t work.

The most important elements in getting your sales channel to provide timely and accurate feedback are:

1. The quality of the leads
2. The management process to monitor the lead reporting and establish sales accountability for leads.

Lead Quality:

There is a wide range of what companies categorize as a "Lead" from someone putting a business card in the fishbowl at the trade show to a fully telequalified lead that meets a specific " BANT" type criteria. Most leads as perceived by Sales are "junk" Speaking as someone who spent over 30 years in sales and sales management, I don’t know if I ever got a qualified lead. During those times you had huge direct sales forces and you generated your own leads through sales prospecting. Those mega sales forces are gone, and now it’s critical that marketing help drive sales productivity through qualified leads.

What I do know is that sales people will not waste their time on poor quality leads, about the 5th time they follow up on a bad lead, it is the time that they will not even look at future leads. There is no lead routing system that will get them to provide you closed loop feedback on "Junk" Your direct or indirect sales channels are a very expensive way to qualify leads. They may do it initially, but they will not do it for long. It is marketing’s responsibility to provide quality leads and the sales channels responsibility to follow up on them.

At Avaya, we have developed a sophisticated database driven "Lead Refinery" process, where our marketing inquiries (not leads) are captured in a standard data format, matched and deduplicated and entered into the marketing database. There the inquiry is matched up to other data like Harte Hanks and D&B to enhance the record.. Scoring the inquiry based on its data, we identify it as SMB or Enterprise and put it through the appropriate telequalification process to qualify the lead.

We have various lead quality criteria for both SMB vs. Enterprise leads. For enterprise size leads which are 100% Telequalified, we have been consistently delivering to our direct and indirect channels leads that are graded by the sales force as 70 to 80% qualified. They are not inexpensive, but we have earned the right to expect the sales channel will provide us with accurate and timely closed loop feedback.

For smaller SMB opportunities, the qualification process is shorter and less expensive. However we make sure that even this lower quality lead is classified / graded so the sales channel is fully aware of the lead quality. By insuring the sales channel knows what kind of lead they are getting results in higher lead credibility and sales follow up.

Lead Management Process:

The second element that is required is a lead management process to hold your channel accountable for lead tracking. We have proven that even with great leads and a lead management system, that with out an active management process you still will not get closed loop feedback. I look at the lead routing / SFA systems simply as "pipes", they can deliver the lead but they must be managed effectively to get the closed loop results.

What we found that works well is a condensed reporting view of the lead status that can be easily broken down by the channel organization. We measure direct sales results by regions, sales teams and sales reps or by channel manager channel partner and channel sales rep for the indirect channel

We extract the data from Siebel and Blue Roads, pulling it into a series of Excel pivot tables. Key performance indicators include viewing the % of leads in a "pending" status, "active" status, and % of leads marked as "unqualified". Once leads are in a qualified / active status we then measure the pipeline revenue value assigned to the leads. For full ROI analysis you would then measure the leads as they move through the sales cycle to the ultimate won / loss status with revenue.

We publish these reports out to the channels weekly identifying the 20% that are not updating their leads. The accountability for lead management becomes a channel responsibility to insure that leads are being managed effectively.

With indirect channels it’s important to insure that the partner clearly understands the expectations from the manufacturer. Our policy is that we expect the partner to be able to successfully sell from the leads and provide accurately and timely feedback including win / loss utilizing the lead management system. The consequences are clear; partners that comply should get more leads, for those partners that are not willing / able to sell and report on lead status they will get less leads or be removed from the lead program.

Will it work? It all depends on the lead quality, if you have quality leads that the partners want, this approach works, if the lead quality is not there, no system will fix the problem.

Dennis Head
Avaya North American Marketing
303) 538-3400

What Can You Do For Sales Lead Management Week?

As short time ago, an agency friend of mine said, "I like the idea of a week devoted to spotlighting how sales leads are managed; what can I do? I sent him this list. The idea behind this week is that Marketing Managers, Sales Lead Managers, Communications Managers, agencies, and vendors can show how they create wealth through better sales lead management practices.

A few things you could do are:

1. Articles in your newsletter about managing sales leads.

2. An article (still have some time) in other publications.

3. Your Blog. Brag about the wealth you or your agency has created.

4. Have a seminar (live).

5. Give a speech during this week (June 9-13th) or earlier on this subject.

6. Have a webinar, during this week, or in May.

7. Introduce a new product tied to managing responses.

8. Produce a case study.

9. Do a podcast.

10. Encourage your clients to prove the value of their inquiries and leads.

11. Create reports for senior management on the results of inquiries you have generated.

12. Contribute articles to the SLMA.

13. Send your press releases to the SLMA.

14. Add articles and an announcement on your site about the National Sales Lead Week.

15. Billboards.

16. Bumper Stickers: "It’s never too late to do what you should have done: follow up your sales leads."

17. Download the SLMA member logo for your site:

18. Associations should have Inquiry Management Topics for their monthly meeting.

19. Corporations: Speak to your salespeople about sales lead follow-up.

20. Agencies: Speak to your clients about reports that prove the wealth you are creating.

21. Oh yes, join the SLMA.

PointClear Hits Milestone in CenterBeam Relationship with 50,000 Dispositions

PointClear Sales Lead Management Programs Have Resulted in a 12:1 ROI for CenterBeam and Millions of Dollars of Revenue

ATLANTA (March 11, 2008) – Sales and marketing services firm PointClear, LLC, announced today that it has completed 50,000 dispositions with targeted prospects on behalf of its client CenterBeam, a leading provider of outsourced IT services. PointClear delivers high quality sales opportunities, effective and efficient market coverage and actionable market intelligence to help companies increase revenue.

The 50,000 detailed conversations, conducted with targeted CFOs of mid-sized businesses, generated over 2,000 qualified leads that were passed to CenterBeam sales representatives. Leads developed by PointClear have ultimately converted into millions of dollars in closed business. 

“Over 50 percent of our closed new business has come from PointClear leads, with the dollar value of those deals typically twice that of any other lead generation programs we’ve used,” said Kirstin Burke, Vice President of Corporate Communications at CenterBeam. “Our program results and the strong ongoing relationship we’ve developed with PointClear are indicative of their value as a service provider and strategic business partner.”

“PointClear programs have resulted in a 12:1 ROI for CenterBeam to date,” confirmed Dan McDade, President of PointClear. “We’re proud of the important milestone we’ve reached and the success we’ve had in helping CenterBeam to identify and cultivate their higher-value prospects and drive revenue. At the end of the day, our goal is bringing the right message to the right prospects at the right time, and getting them to engage further in CenterBeam’s sales process.”

CenterBeam provides a portfolio of superior, managed IT services that deliver compelling economics and value-add to the midsized market. Its sales efforts are focused on reaching CFOs in target organizations and offering them a persuasive value proposition for CenterBeam services that drives action. PointClear business development associates help CenterBeam identify the top prospects across its core industries, and reach CFOs who are typically on tight schedules and difficult to contact.

PointClear qualifies and prioritizes leads while establishing communication through a variety of “multi-touch” methods – telephone, voicemail, email and direct-mailers – that help build familiarity with Centerbeam services over time.  PointClear associates are highly knowledgeable and work as a seamless extension of the CenterBeam sales team, building rapport with the prospect until he or she is ready to engage in an actual phone conversation or face-to-face meeting with a CenterBeam sales representative.

CenterBeam initially signed up for a three-month pilot program with PointClear in August 2003. Since then, it has continued to work with PointClear for ongoing sales lead qualification and management programs.

Over the course of the relationship, CenterBeam has participated in PointClear webinars and seminars that help other B2B companies improve their lead generation and business development practices. “We’ve found something very good in PointClear and we’ve been happy to share the success of our programs with other companies seeking similar accelerated results,” said CenterBeam’s Kirstin Burke. “We feel that strongly about what they do and just as important, how they do it.”

PointClear has also been named Partner of Year by CenterBeam for the past four consecutive years.  

About CenterBeam, Inc.

CenterBeam, Inc. is an award-winning North American-based IT managed services company that delivers more than 140,000 daily services in a SaaS architecture for mid-sized clients with end users working in forty-five countries across six continents. Founded in 1999, CenterBeam pioneered the application of quality management techniques to IT and currently earns a 100% client satisfaction rating as measured by Quality Resource Associates. CenterBeam is headquartered in San Jose, California and can be reached at (408) 750-0500 or

About PointClear

Headquartered in Norcross, Ga., PointClear, the sales and marketing services firm, provides Sales Lead Management solutions that fill client forecasts, not just their pipelines. PointClear's expert sales and marketing professionals provide clients with forecastable sales opportunities, actionable market intelligence and effective market coverage. For more information about PointClear's products and services, go to

CRM Success Is Reduced To The Saleperson’s Acceptance: How Have You Done It And Lived?

This SLMA Blog will be dedicated to asking and seeking the answers to difficult questions. We will challenge you to step up and provide answers, tips and insight to controversial issues.

Our first discussion is: How do you get salespeople to cooperate with a CRM installation? Everybody talks big on the subject but not everyone can deliver.

No matter what software companies use, installed or SaaS; no matter what it is called, CRM, Contact Management, Sales Force Automation or Marketing Automation (everyone says they are a CRM solution), without the full cooperation of the salespeople using it, you will fail.

Many years ago I helped my sales manager make every typical mistake in the introduction of an SFA system. We failed miserably. We were rejected by our 40 salespeople in a medical device company. We did inadequate training on the new computers and even less on the software. We talked big, demanded cooperation, threatened, begged, whined and failed.

Today, we know we have to train; we start and end with "what’s in it for them." But even now I see companies make the same mistakes I made 20 years ago. Just a short time ago I saw a company president take it upon himself to design the process for their CRM system. He created the sales stages (forgot to ask the salespeople how they sold). It didn’t fail completely, but he admitted his mistakes and eventually made several significant changes before the salespeople accepted his version of the sales world. It was a rough start and delayed real implementation by 3-4 months.

My challenge to you is: how do you introduce a new CRM system to your salespeople and do it successfully? Give us the short version. Break it down into the six steps of a successful CRM introduction. How can a company do it? Have you done it successfully?

SLMA members receive a 15% discount on books from

SLMA members receive a 15% discount from Racom Communications on any purchase by :
  • Ordering online at place your order and write "SLMA"  in the Comments Box at closeout.
  • By mail, write "SLMA" on your order
  • By fax, write "SLMA" on your faxed order.
  • By toll-free phone call, mention "SLMA' to the sales rep.


Discounts are a courtesy of Racom Communications.  Questions about book shipments, delivery, discounts, etc., should be directed to Racom Communications.  Racom Communications is a separate corporation and not owned by the Sales Lead Management Association or Sales Leakage Consulting, Inc.

Sales Lead Management Association Declares June 9-13, 2008 to be National Sales Lead Management Week

January 28, 2008--Los Angeles, CA--James W. Obermayer, executive director of the Sales Lead Management Association, announced today that SLMA has declared the week of June 9-13, 2008 as National Sales Lead Management Week. Obermayer said, “Less than 25% of all inquiries are followed up and closed out by salespeople, which leaves both marketing people and the inquirer frustrated. Salespeople who have no inquiry management system, or have inferior systems, are also discouraged.”

Obermayer further stated, “In light of the millions of inquiries and leads which are the result of billions of marketing dollars spent each year on marketing activities, June 9-13 will be dedicated to the subject of properly managing sales leads.” 

SLMA Challenges Corporations and the Press

The Association challenges chief marketing and sales officers and the press to create events and articles around lead management to make marketing ROI a common practice rather than the exception. SLMA co-founder Mark L. Freidman encourages marketers to contemplate how they distribute sales leads, how inquiries are nurtured, and most importantly how marketing measures the return on investment for the inquiries they create.

Friedman added, “There are hundreds of CRM, marketing automation software firms, inquiry management providers and lead nurturing firms that have the expertise to speak up about inadequate sales lead management practices.  Marketing dollars are wasted because of a lack of sales lead follow-up or even the measurement of marketing’s ROI.  I challenge these companies to make the week of June 9-13 memorable as the beginning of a serious ROI measurement effort for their sales inquiries and leads.”

Support for Sales Lead Management Week

“Often, it is not that firms need more leads, it is that they need to be better at managing the leads they have and nurturing them. Small changes in lead management can yield big results in ROI,” said Mike Schultz, Publisher of  and President of Wellesley Hills Group. “In our effort to help firms become better at lead management, we will run a special issue of Rainmaker Report this week, including articles with tips and tools for better lead management.”  

Jim LaBelle, the president of LEADTRACK Software, an inquiry management software company said, “The emphasis this week should encourage marketing, sales and executive management to evaluate the effectiveness of their marketing investments.  The common issue in corporations is the lack of a process to manage sales inquiries and measure investments in marketing programs. Without these tools it is impossible to measure how marketing contributes to sales success or how the combined effort contributes to the bottom line.”

Erik Madsen, AdTrack Corporation’s Director of Marketing and Strategic Planning, said, “We believe marketing ROI starts with properly managing sales inquiries, and that means shining a light on this subject which will help everyone be more productive.”

Co-founder Susan Campanale has asked those that will host events in this period, seminars (live or on-line), submit articles for publication, focus their newsletters and blogs on the subject, or create white papers are encouraged to publicize those events on-line at the SLMA by filling out the following form. These events will then be published in a calendar of events. Events do not necessarily have to occur during SLMA week (could occur the month before or after). This week is an open forum for thought leaders who will step up and be heard on this vital subject.

Join the Sales Lead Management Association

Thank you for your interest in the Sales Lead Management Association!

As a member of the Sales Lead Management Association, you will have access to a library of resources that will help you do your job better and be more successful. When you join, there will be no meetings or dues, only access to information and to a panel of experts who can help you solve difficult Sales Lead Management issues you are facing.

Not a member yet? Please take a moment to register to gain free access to all of the member resources.

Authors of Articles on the Sales Lead Management Association Web Site

Robert Bly

Patrick Cahill

Gil Cargil

John M. Coe

Lisa J. Cramer

Al Davidson

John Doerr

Richard Erschik

Mark L. Friedman

Susan Friedmann

Matt Hill

Tom Judge

Russell Kern

Jill Konrath

Jim LaBelle

Robert Lang

Dick Lee

Eric Madsen

Julie Mason

Mac McIntosh

James W. Obermayer

Lisa Cole-Paquin

Sundeep Parsa

Mike Schultz

Howard Sewell

Ruth P. Stevens

Erica Stritech

Ask the Experts

E-mail your questions on Inquiry Management, CRM, Lead Generation, and more to the following experts.

CRM and Related Matters

  Inquiry Management  CRM Integration and Processing  
    Mark Friedman: Expert Bio:
Need a Speaker, Click Here
  CRM World-Wide Applications  
Peter Gillett:
Database Management
    John M. Coe: President, Sales & Marketing Institute:
Need a Speaker, Click Here
    Bernice Grossman:

Inquiry Management, Fulfillment

  Inquiry Management – Consulting 
    M. H. "Mac" McIntosh:,
Need a Speaker, Click Here
    James W. Obermayer: Expert
Need a Speaker, Click Here
  Inquiry Nurturing

Gil Cargill;

    Mark Friedman: Expert Bio:
Need a Speaker, Click Here
  Customer Acquisition Management – ASP Vendor
    Jim La Belle
    Chris Edwards

Lead Generation – Direct Marketing and Telemarketing

  Direct Marketing Lead Generation 
    Lisa Cole-Paquin:
    Tom Judge:
Need a Speaker, Click Here
    Russell Kern:
    Ronald E. Lang:
    Mike Schultz: Expert Bio:
    Howard J. Sewell:
  Telemarketing/Contact Center
    Tom Judge:
Need a Speaker, Click Here
    Tonnia Strand:
  Customer Acquisition and Retention 
    Ruth P. Stevens: Expert
  PR That Generates Response
    Christel K. Hall
Marketing Automation
  Sundeep Parsa:
  Greg Alexander:
Need a Speaker Click Here

Trade Shows - Inquiry Acquisition and Sales Skills Training (qualified lead acquisition)

Trade Show Sales Skill Training  
    Matt Hill:
Need a Speaker, Click Here
  Trade Show Lead Acquisition Systems
John Hasbrouck:

Web Site Optimization

  Site Search Engine Optimization to Generate Qualified Inquiries
    Dave Stoddard;

The Sales Lead Management Association (SLMA) is Looking for Subject Matter Experts

These experts can be vendors or end users.  They criteria is that you contribute at least one article or white paper to the articles section of the SLMA site.  You must be recognized in some manner as an expert in some form of inquiry management. Please send requests to be considered a subject matter expert to 

Please list: 

Area of expertise.  If you don’t see a category, suggest a new one.
Number of years in the area of expertise. 
Name, Title, Company Affiliation, Address, E-mail address. 
Send a 100 word biography.
If you have written articles, speak on the subject of inquiry management or written books on related subjects, please put these qualification in your request.