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A Bigger Box Isn't The Way To Solve The Sales Lead Management Problem





Some companies think that by getting a bigger box they can solve the sales lead management problem.    A bigger box for some may be more active sheets on a spreadsheet or a word table.   Neither

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Are You a Marketing Quitter, Camper or Climber?

 Marketing Quitters use the words ""Can’t"  "Won't"  "Impossible” and other phrases such as "We’ve always done it this way" "That doesn’t work" "Done that" "Tried that" "Can’t measure that" "Can’t follow-up those leads"  "Salespeople won't use the CRM system"  "Salespeople won't close the loop" "Can’t measure that lead gen program."

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Sales are tied to sales lead performance which is tied to your marketing budget!

While most managers realize that build-and-ship schedules  are tied to sales performance, few understand that sales performance ultimately is tied to sales lead performance and the marketing budget.

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Marketing must spend money on programs that work, and let their competitors spend money on everything else.

SLMA Radio Commentary on  Feb 3rd  to listen go to:

Victor Hugo said, “People do not lack strength, they lack will.”

From an article I wrote for the January 17th BtoB Magazine  entitled “ The Time is Now for Sales and Marketing to Align.”  I said,” Marketing must spend money on programs that work, and let their competitors spend money on everything else.”Obermayer, J. 4x6 036

 A marketing manager will say in response, “Are you stupid?  I want to spend money on things that work.”   And yet I question their sincerity when the tools to decide what works and what doesn’t are available and go unused.  I am speaking about the tools of CRM and Marketing Automation.

CRM is used by 80% of the B2B companies (and yet most are unhappy with the ROI).  Marketing automation is used to varying degrees (I am told) by 15-20% of B2B companies.  

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Starting Down the Path of Lead Management

Author: Lisa Cramer, Co-Founder & President, LeadLife Solutions

We often hear marketers struggle, knowing that they need and desperately want lead management systems and processes, but are worried about their ability to implement one. We are all resource constrained, marketers probably more than most, so how can companies start down the path of lead management without overhauling their entire operation in a 3- 6 month implementation?

Lead management can really be taken in steps – yes, for maximum return you need to implement all components and processes from website to close of sale.  But we’ve found that just taking the first small step can provide some immediate ROI and immediate visibility to all that’s been missing.  One example might be, if a company currently sends an electronic monthly newsletter to prospects, we’ll often suggest starting simply by moving that process to a lead management tool. The process involves importing leads into a lead management system, using the lead management system to more definitively segment and target these prospects.  Set up an email template within the lead management system with dynamic content that can changed based on some basic criteria such as industry and watch the advanced behavior tracking open up your eyes. 

The benefits are immediately obvious.  First, lead management systems provide a very detailed way of segmenting your prospects.  If segmented well (industry, title, size of company, behavior, interests, etc.), then your ability to target messages to the segmented list will be much better and much more effective.  Personalization combined with relevance is one of the most important criteria for successful email conversion. You should see more clicks and better conversions over time as you provide more relevant information to your prospects. And if your lead management system is what it should be rules can easily be created to dynamically change text or images to better suite your targeted recipients.

Download our whitepaper A Quicker, Simpler Path to Lead Management ROI” and learn a step-by-step approach to getting up and running with lead management. Discover how taking small steps can provide immediate ROI and visibility into what’s been missing.

Lisa Cramer is president and co-founder of LeadLife Solutions, a provider of on-demand lead management software that generates, scores, and nurtures leads for B2B marketers. In 2009, Lisa was recognized as one of the top 5 “Most Influential People” in sales lead management. For more information on lead management or best practices call 1-800-680-6292 or email

How does Occam’s Razor Apply to Increasing Sales?

Recently a company president asked, “What is the fastest way to increase sales?”  I countered by asking her if she had heard of Occam’s Razor?    Of course she said, which invited me to go to the simplest answer, but first, a review of Occam’s Razor.

Occam’s Razor, attributed to William Occam, the 14th century theologian and logician Franciscan friar states that when competing hypotheses are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selection of the hypothesis that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities while still sufficiently answering the question.   Simply stated, the simplest idea tends to be the best choice.   Occam's razor is phrased as pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate ("plurality should not be posited without necessity")i

In keeping with my thought to give her the simplest and fastest way to increase sales, my answer to the company president was that all inquiries and sales leads must be followed-up 100%.  The average follow-up varies between 5-25% for most sales organizations.   Ergo, follow-up 100% of the sales inquires and if you have been average up to this point you will get in front of 75% more buyers and close more sales.

Yes, research has shown that nurturing programs can increase the ROI for lead generation programs by 2X-3X.  If marketing jumps in with marketing automation (email and or telemarketing nurturing),in my opinion,  these count as follow-up. 

Having a CRM and Marketing Automation program are key components, no argument.  But the simplest, fastest, surest way to increase sales lies in the hands of sales management and the salespeople.  If 100% follow-up is enforced and not an option, sales will increase in 90-120 days.ii

100% follow-up Rule:  Corporations that have a 100% inquiry follow-up policy will sell more that those that don’t.” iii

So, once again I am in agreement with William Occam, the simplest answer is usually the best.   I knew there was something about those Francisans I liked!


  i. Wikipedia, this explanation is taken virtually verbatim from the Wikipedia definition.

  ii. Obermayer’s opinion is that, “Salespeople assume every corporate rule, procedure, request or dictate is optional until it is repeated at least three times over two months.”

  iii. James Obermayer, Managing Sales Leads: Turning Cold Prospects Into Hot Customers, (Mason, Ohio, Textere an imprint of Thomson/South-Western, 2007), and Racom Books, Page 15.  To order go to Racom.

Maximizing the Value of Your Lead Generation Dollars

Pressures are mounting on companies to maximize marketing ROI. In other words, the money spent on lead generation should show a strong return related to sales revenue. This money should be evaluated so it is continually applied to the highest yielding program(s). To do this, marketers must gain visibility into individual programs to determine the number and quality of leads they generate, and how many ultimately transform into closed sales.

But the issue doesn’t stop there. Increasing the value of lead generation dollars also means ensuring the leads being handed to costly sales resources are indeed “sales ready.” According to CSO Insights’ Sales Performance Optimization Study (2008), salespeople are generating 50% of their own leads. That’s an expensive proposition and raises the question – what is marketing doing?

It’s clear marketers must find ways to track and manage leads through the lead life cycle. This requires the ability to evaluate leads, determine when leads are “sales ready,” and when they are not. Additionally, marketers must take responsibility to nurture those leads that aren’t “sales ready” to maximize the value of what they’ve spent on lead generation dollars.

Industry benchmarks suggest that leads must be continuously “touched” before they close. About 80% of leads close after 5 contacts and sometimes it’s closer to 9-11 touches. If you’re assuming the value of lead generation dollars comes from one email blast or a month of AdWords, you’re not on the right track to understanding how to increase value. Nurturing leads (through multiple touches) as part of lead generation programs will increase the return of dollars.

Lisa Cramer is president and co-founder of LeadLife Solutions, a provider of on-demand lead management software that generates, scores, and nurtures leads for B2B marketers. For more information on lead management or best practices call 1-800-680-6292 or email

Why Direct Marketing Causes Executives to Lose Their Marbles

Many marketers, reluctant to miss any avenue of opportunity, define their target as broadly as possible and in so doing miss the chance to convincingly address the most potent prospects. A typical example is a company that perceives its target market to be the Fortune 1,000.  That group is actually comprised of several thousand revenue reporting companies – some with centralized and some with de-centralized decision making.  While is sounds contradictory, I recommend that companies identify the largest, most targeted markets to make sure that they have a tightly defined universe, but with no gaps and then build contacts and contact information around those targets for multi-touch, multi-media and multi-cycle prospect development programs (covered in detail later in this book).

Companies that more quickly see the value proposition of a vendor’s product, whether due to immediate business pains or because they are looking to enhance their own capabilities, respond at higher levels than others.  So it makes sense to identify segments of the market and market to them specifically. Others, though still qualified, may be more hesitant and require different touch strategies and messaging before their sales potential can mature. They are still good sources of revenue, though, and if left behind in the rush to close will most likely end up directing that revenue to a competitor. Recognizing and nurturing all prospect potential is crucial to pipeline development, future revenue and market share.

By applying market intelligence and finely-defined segmentation strategies, I have been successful in increasing sales performance while actually reducing marketing costs.

The most misunderstood aspects of direct marketing involve lists and databases. Executives often feel that lists are a waste of their time; and database issues seem so complex that execs are willing to pay exorbitant sums to the “experts” who deal with them. Big mistakes!

Over 60% of the value of any direct marketing campaign is driven by list and database issues. To understand why, think about marbles.


For most business-to-business marketers there are a number of list choices. Response lists, subscriber lists, controlled circulation publications, compiled files. They each have advantages and disadvantages, but it is important to know that even the best lists are rarely more than 50% accurate.


Ever play marbles? Remember that different types of marbles had different values.

Machine Made Marble Price List
  • Swirls - $.25
  • Stripes - $1.25
  • Flecks - $1.25
  • Loops - $1.25
  • Spirals - $1.25
  • Agates - $5.00

What if I told you that your direct marketing campaigns are run as though you were playing marbles without knowing the difference between a Swirl and a Stripe? Worse, what if improving results was as simple as separating your Swirls from your Agates?

While most executives would not dream of buying a jar of marbles without knowing exactly what was inside, they approve the purchase of lists that contain the equivalent of Swirls, Loops and Agates, often without knowing exactly what they are getting.


Suppose you have a mason jar filled with the following:

100 Swirls - $25.00 100 Flecks - $125.00 100 Agates - $500.00

The average value of each marble in the jar is $2.17. Reach in and grab an Agate for $2.17 and you have cause for celebration. Pay $2.17 for a Swirl and you will feel taken.

When you execute a direct marketing program you make essentially the same choice. You mail, call or otherwise contact individuals based on their potential value to you as a customer. Some names are worth very little (let’s compare these names to Swirls at $.25), some are average in value (say the value of a Fleck at $1.25) and some are high value names (such as an Agate for $5.00).

Is it possible to market to just the high value names? Yes! It is possible to market to the “Agates” and “Flecks”, and skip the “Swirls”, in your market with just a little effort and very little expense.


Here is how:


Just as you can see the difference between a Swirl and an Agate when you look into the jar of marbles, it is possible to calculate the value of names you direct market to in advance by doing a bit of testing prior to rolling out campaigns.

The secret is segmentation. Segmentation breaks large universes of names (multiple lists and/or multiple list segments) into smaller, homogeneous “cubes” or layers of like individuals or companies. Once these “cubes” are identified, response from each “cube” can be separately analyzed. Some differentiating characteristics to use when segmenting names into “cubes” are geography, revenue, number of employees, growth percentages, SIC codes, decision-making levels and/or other data that is commonly available. You should also compare each list or list segment to your customer list and the customers of your competitors to determine how many customers match your prospect lists. The higher the match you find, the better the list.

If you pay $5 for a marble you expect to own an Agate. Think of lists the same way. Find the Agates, and mail more of them than Swirls, and you will enjoy a higher ROI every time. With segmentation, a list is split into distinct strata of names “cubed” by similarities rather than a random “jar of marbles”. Just picture your Swirls, Spirals and Agates all segmented by type and you have the right picture.

The following will help you win all of the marbles (without losing yours):