Monday, May 18, 2009

Lead Scoring - the Importance of Clawbacks

Much of the discussion around lead scoring is focused on the passing of the lead in one direction; from marketing to sales. However, equally important when scoring leads is to consider what happens when a lead is passed to sales and there is no appropriate follow-up from sales. Assuming that a good job has been done on understanding the buyer and his or her buying process, the lead that was passed to sales can be assumed to be a good lead.

If sales does not follow up with the lead in an appropriate amount of time, there is a good chance that your opportunity for connecting with that lead will disappear or diminish. When this happens, you want to ensure that the lead does not slip through the cracks to become a dead lead. Significant investment has been made in getting the lead to that point, and losing that investment through inattention is an undesirable outcome.
One of the best options is to implement a “clawback” system with sales whereby a lead is clawed back from them if they do not act on the lead within a defined amount of time. Defining this “service level agreement” with sales is a topic for another day, but a key tenet of it is the idea that if sales does not begin to work with a lead within a certain amount of time (2 or 3 days is ideal), marketing will pull the lead back from them.

Activity can be defined in a number of ways. You will want to automate this process, and your leads will likely be in your CRM system by this point, so the two most accessible options for defining activity are:

a) Sales activity logged against the lead record in the CRM system
b) A change in the status of the lead or opportunity

If activity is not seen in the predefined amount of time, the lead should be clawed back. When it is clawed back, one of three things can happen to the lead:

1) The lead can be passed to another sales rep in the field
2) The lead can be added to a lead pool with a “first-come-first-served” system of allocation whereby the sales team can compete for it
3) The lead can be passed to a partner channel
4) The lead can be re-added to a nurture program until indications of buying interest resurface at a later date

The addition of a claw-back process after you have scored and handed off your leads to sales provides an encouragement to sales to work the leads quickly. However, this overall process relies on the leads being well scored and ready to purchase in order for the sales team to remain motivated to follow up. Furthermore, it relies on there being an agreement between sales and marketing as to what a qualified lead should look like, what lead score defines a lead as being sales-ready, and what timeframe sales has for follow-up.

With those criteria in place, the hand-off between marketing and sales becomes significantly more efficient due to the competitive dynamics of the overall system.

This question is one of 8 critical lead scoring questions to consider when thinking about a lead scoring system.
Many of the topics on this blog are discussed in more detail in my book Digital Body Language
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Tim Wilson said...

There was a similar take on this on the Bulldog Solutions blog a while back -- not the "clawback" terminology, but it did recognize leads that were actively rejected by Sales ("I contacted this lead and it's a nonstarter") versus passively rejected ("I didn't even contact this lead"):

It seems like you could combine this with the four different possible treatments and come up with a pretty powerful set of ways to keep working those leads.

Steven Woods said...

Tim, you're bang on as usual... I actually have a post written up for next week about exactly that - sales options. I wasn't aware of the Bulldog post, but thanks, that's a good one.