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What is the chain of Custody in Lead Generation and Management?

IStock_000016302989Small BagIn law enforcement and medical fields, there are things called “chain of Evidence” and/or  “chain of custody.”   The chain of custody begins when evidence is collected, and the chain is maintained until the evidence is disposed of. The chain of custody assures continuous accountability. This accountability is important because, if not properly maintained, an item may be inadmissible. If not admissible the case is lost.

Unfortunately, in the fields of lead generation and management there is an unspoken agreement that sales leads should be “in a chain of custody” to be sure there is a 100% accountability (follow-up); but no one takes the chain of custody mandate seriously.   Marketing looks at this issue as a "hand-off" compliance problem.  

When the chain of custody is broken no one is well served; the lead generation people don’t know what happened, the salesperson fails, and marketing can’t say that the money they spent on lead generation is measurable. If this were a court of law, the judge would rule that in most companies the chain of custody is broken when:

1. Follow-up fails
2. Salespeople fail to record the results.

In legal and medical circles there are forms created that go with the “evidence” and each person that takes possession signs the form which proves that no one lost or tainted the evidence.  In our industry, the CRM system is used as the “Chain of Custody” recording device. The recording device doesn’t fail, the people with the responsibility of contacting the prospect and recording the results fail. What is supposed to be a straight pathway turns into a people-dependent sloppily-recorded process fraught with failure.

• The prospects ask for information about the company’s product.
• The need is recorded in the CRM System.
• Maybe the inquiry or lead is given to the sales person. Maybe not.
• The CRM system may be connected to a marketing automation system that delivers content to the prospect. This may also include a telemarketing call.
• Marketing automation follows up and makes up for salespeople who fail to contact the prospect.
• Marketing automation work-flow processes notify the salesperson when the prospect is interested (sales ready?).
• The sales rep down-loads the lead and 75% of the time ignores the prospect (many reasons given, none justified unless the prospect has died in the meantime). Excuses include:
    o No phone number.
    o No email address.
    o gmail or Hotmail or similar free email address.
    o Sales Rep doesn’t have a quota on the product.
    o Prospect inquired before and didn’t buy.
    o Prospect is not geographically desirable to the sales rep.
• The sales rep may or may not record the sales in the CRM (chain of evidence recording device).
• Marketing cannot measure the ROI to C-Level managers.
• Marketing cannot decide on evidence which lead generation program worked or didn’t work.

IStock_000015969477Small Tracking
We have heard for years that sales inquiries and leads are not followed-up. The “chain of evidence” is broken. Unless of course you insist that there are no breaks. This is an enforceable decision.

• Sales management enforces a rule for 100% follow-up of all inquiries and sales leads.
• Marketing starts the “chain of custody” by capturing the inquirer, putting the name and qualifying information into a CRM system plus, manage nurturing.
• Sales reps close out all inquirers as won or lost.
• Marketing runs reports showing the ROI of all leads generated.
Those who keep the chain of custody win. Those who break the chain of custody fail 75% of the time.
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