Every company must invest some time and money into marketing to get customers. You can’t do business without it. The investment is usually about 7-8% of the projected gross revenue for a small business. How a company uses the money is critical to its success. The ONLY way to know if the investment is getting a return is to collect and track specific sales and marketing data.
One area that many companies get tripped up on is how to manage the data effectively. Without well-defined systems and processes, a contact database, filled with customers and potential customers, becomes more of a risky liability than an asset.
Data can be complex, but we try to keep it simple for our clients. There are five essential fields we recommend that indicate whether the prospects and leads that sellers and marketers engage are valuable to the company, or if a course change is required. They are:
- Contact Type
- Lifecycle Stage
- Lead Status
- Lead Source
- Lead Source Details
The first essential field is Contact Type. Contacts that come into your database include a variety of people such as:
Companies should customize this field to their unique needs and situation.
The second essential CRM field is Lifecycle Stage.
The contacts in your database are at varying stages of the buyer’s journey. Some may have just learned about you, and others may be ready to close a deal. Where your contacts lie along the continuum is a key performance indicator of sales and marketing effectiveness - and return on investment. To track this data, we use a Lifecycle Stage field with the following options:
Subscriber – A contact that is interested in your content, but not ready to engage.
Lead – A contact that filled out a form on your website or otherwise expressed that they are considering a purchase.
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) – A Subscriber or Lead that meets the criteria for your ideal profitable customer or has met milestones that indicate they are actively evaluating your company as a potential solution.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) – A contact that a salesperson or other company representative is pursuing to create an opportunity or deal.
Opportunity – A contact that has explicitly expressed interest in evaluating your company as a potential vendor or for other types of business relationships. Contacts in the Opportunity stage get added to the sales forecast projections.
Customer – A contact that is currently doing or has ever done business with you.
Other – A contact in your database that doesn’t fit the other categories.
Of course, companies can create their own definitions for their unique needs. The main point is to develop standard Lifecycle Stage definitions for your company that indicate where contacts are in the sales pipeline.
The third field every CRM should have is Lead Status. It indicates the validity of the contact. Here are a couple of examples:
- Contact Type = Prospect
- Lifecycle Stage = Opportunity
- Lead Status = In Progress
- Contact Type = Prospect
- Lifecycle Stage = Lead
- Lead Status = Unqualified
Some standard Lead Status types include:
Open- A contact that has never interacted with a person at your company. Examples:
- Contact filled out a form on your website, got input into the database, and never contacted by anyone.
- Contact was imported from a list and never contacted by anyone.
In progress – A contact that is being actively pursued or is otherwise actively working or partnering with your organization.
Unqualified – A contact that is not qualified to be your customer.
Nurture- A contact that explicitly expressed interest in your organization but is not ready to move into the sales process.
Dropped – A contact that a salesperson or other company representative pursued but couldn’t reach. For example, a salesperson followed up on a lead, called and emailed numerous times, but never got a response. The salesperson takes the contact off their pursuit list. The contact is:
- Contact Type = Prospect
- Lifecycle Stage = Sales Qualified Lead
- Lead Status = Dropped
Not a Prospect – This is a good catch-all option for contacts that don’t fit the other statuses. An example is:
- Contact Type = Vendor
- Lifecycle Stage = Other
- Lead Status = Not a Prospect
Not Decision Maker – A contact that is part of a company in the database, but not part of the sales process. For example, a company has an associated Owner, VP, Director, and Manager. The salesperson has a relationship with the VP but has never talked to the others; they are not part of the sales conversation. In this case, the Owner, Director, and Manager would be labeled “Not Decision Maker.”
No Longer There – People change jobs - a lot. If it’s discovered that a contact is no longer with their associated company, they are labeled “No Longer There.” These contacts can be reviewed to determine if they should be purged from the database or researched to find their current position.
And last but not least, the Lead Source and Lead Source Detail fields tell you where your contacts came from, which is essential for assessing sales and marketing ROI. Common sources include:
- Word of Mouth
- Paid Advertising
- Trade Show
- Speaking Event
The Lead Source Details field describes the specifics, such as who referred to the company, the campaign name, or the specific trade show. For example:
The Lead Source is referral, and the Lead Source Detail is John Smith, or the Lead Source is Trade Show, and the Lead Source Detail is Consumer Electronics Show 2020.
The ability to analyze sales and marketing ROI depends on having a clear vision into who is in your database, what your relationship is with them (how they align with your company), and where they came from. Taking time to track this essential data will set you on the path to success.