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Archive for May, 2008

The 5 Keys to Making Lead Management Software Work For You

Monday, May 12th, 2008

This post is all about the little things that must happen to make lead management work to its fullest potential. Because we provide software to so many clients we have learned what our most successful clients do to help ease a sales force into using lead management. Like any new investment a new client wants to get into using their lead management system as soon as possible. It’s like any new toy; the first thing that you want to do is start playing with it, completely disregarding the instructions. This goes for MP3 players, bikes, and even software.

Lead management software should be designed to make for the best possible user experience. For any new software, adoption is one of the most significant milestones to success. Without user adoption, sales will continue down the same path or even take a turn for the worse. A piece of software that is easy to use and easy to adopt will often have a bigger impact on a business than a superior program which is either difficult to use or difficult to adopt.

In working with dozens of clients across multiple industries, training managers and branches, and having used various business platforms myself I have found these keys to adoption and success with new software to be universal:

1. Simplify

Befuddling a sales agents with tech-jargon is the fastest way to stalling an implementation. When training clients I always emphasize that a balance is needed between feature reliance and simplicity of use.

The best lead management for a sales agent is the one that requires the least work for them to maintain. With that in mind, keep anything they do not need to see off their plates. For example, if your lead management solution allows users to export leads but you do not want your sales team to have this option, take the option away if at all possible.

2. Manage Expectations

Why are you implementing new software? How much time do you expect sales people to be in it? What is the learning curve? These are all questions you should have answered and, equally important, be prepared to answer to your staff before implementing a change to their process. Fortunately, these may be easily answered:

Why the new software? The obvious answer to this is to increase profits. Usually that is enough, but streamlining work so your sales team can focus on sales, to get a 360-degree view of leads and user activity, and to better understand and track workflow are all good ones, too. But if you boil it down to “common cents,” the sales team will usually fall in line.

Let the sales team know exactly what is expected, including how to use the new software. With that form of direction, you equip them to succeed.

3. Optimize and Refine

Workflow, the process of moving a lead from New to Sold, must be optimized to match what your sales force is capable of. This is the most difficult key time-wise, but the most straight-forward. Before showing lead management software to a sales team, try to have it match your ideal sales process while keeping all variations of the best case scenario and worst case scenario in mind.

For instance, how many/which actions should be available in a given status? The correct answer is however many they can take: no more, no less. Only make available the options that your sales force needs at each step in the sales process. If you have a one-shot-one-kill sales team then by all means, make sure they only need to take one step in lead management to complete their notation of a job well done. If, however, your process requires verification or follow-up, do not include the option of a completed deal at the beginning of the sales cycle. Make sure that at every point sales can do what sales is supposed to and should be able to do. No more, no less.

4. Feedback

One to two weeks into your lead management software rollout, sit down with some sales reps and ask what they want. If you wait much more than two weeks bad habits and a shortcut mentality will set in. Ask before then, they will not have had time to formulate educated opinions. Make sure the actions fit the statuses. Make sure the statuses fit the workflow. Make sure they understand the tools available to them. Your own employees are a valuable resource in optimization, so take advantage of them!

5. Power Users!

This is the most ambiguous point and intentionally so. Make sure that your power users, users that understand and utilize the lead management solution well, train new employees, instead of just the person that happens to sit next to the trainee. Your power user may or may not be someone who uses leads well (i.e. possibly not your best sales representative), rather it is someone who understands how to use the lead management solution as you would like them to use it. It is a manager’s duty to prevent bad habits from being passed from one user to the next by checking on usage through built-in reports.

By being aware of the potential pitfalls of software adoption, you can sidestep the land mines. No one likes taking a broken toy back to the store only to find out that it was their own avoidable mistake that prompted the visit. Just remember that with your lead management software, keep it simple, keep it on point, keep users involved, and keep working your leads.