Importing new names to Salesforce – attention to detail is key

As with just about any business-to-business marketing company, lead management is a continuing issue. It is pretty easy to get lists of names and import them as Leads or Contacts in Salesforce, and nearly every client I have helped has similar issues.

Run a report of all Leads and choose All Time for the Range (or just leave the From and To dates blank in a Custom Range). Add a field filter Converted = False and summarize by Lead Status. Whether you have a 1,000 unconverted Leads or 10,000, it is likely that almost half of them are Open, and 25% of those were created over a year ago.

So, this is not necessarily a housekeeping issue, and by that I mean it could be that it makes the most sense to keep these names in the organization as Open Leads. But it does beg the question of what sort of lead management process you want to use for incoming names. The people that are on the phone all day calling new Leads to introduce them to company’s product or service really appreciate a little attention to detail.

First of all, make sure you dedupe the list before you use the Salesforce import feature. In all cases I will do this manually using the Search box because the small companies that I consult with cannot afford the annual subscription price of DemandTools or RingLead – just to name a couple of third party deduping tools.

In the spreadsheet of names, companies, addresses, emails, etc. that you are presented with, add a column called Status or something like that, and put in an L if a Lead already exists in SF, a C for a Contact, and an A if the Company exists as an Account (you will have to take this column out prior to importing the new names). Leave it blank if it is a new name and company to your Salesforce organization (let’s call these the new/new names). Once you have completed that process, and it can take a while if you have a few hundred names, then sort the spreadsheet and deal with the L’s, C’s, and A’s first. Create a Campaign that matches the source of your list, for example, 1Q13 Conference CES. Access the Lead or Contact in SF, and update fields with any new information that is provided (some times you will have conflicting information, and I often use the Description field to note the discrepancy). Then go the the Campaigns Related List, and add the Lead or Contact to the Campaign. In that way you can preserve the original Lead Source while having a notation that the name came in again from a different source.

Once you have updated all of the existing Leads and Contacts that happen to match names from the list (L’s and C’s), then add A’s as new Contacts in the existing Account with the same Lead Source and Lead Source Detail that you are using for all the blanks a.k.a. new/new names.

And then, once you have processed the L’s, C’s and A’s, you can bring in the remaining new/new names with a standard Lead import. Add a new custom field called Import Date to the .CSV file (and the Lead object, of course) so that each import can be unique. This technique has saved me many times when I made a mistake and needed to mass delete the import that I had just completed.

You are almost done. Since you have a a unique import date, you can prepare a SF report called 011413 Conference CES Leads using a report filter called Import Date = 01/14/13. Prepare an email to all the record owners. You will have to add that column to your .CSV file unless you want to be the Record Owner for all the new Leads, or unless you have a Lead Assignment Rule acting on State or some other field. Summarize the stats in your email: how many L’s, C’s, and A’s updated, and how many new/new names as Leads. Attach the spreadsheet that you used to dedupe the names with the Status column, and a link to the SF report that you created.

If you will pay this kind of attention to detail, you will be praised and revered by the sales and marketing people.

iContact for Salesforce – the absolute best email integration with salesforce.com?

I recently stuck my nose into the issue of reputation-based email delivery systems because I have been manually updating the SF Campaign status of members of email-based lead nurturing campaigns based upon whether the recipient opens the email. The email delivery system that my client uses reports on which email addresses open the email and produces a report that I receive in worksheet form. Then I search for the appropriate members in the SF Campaign and change their status to Responded from Sent. That information, of course, is reflected in the Campaign History in the Lead or Contact record. In the course of my search I found a blog entry with high praise for iContact for Salesforce: http://www.convertiv.com/comparing-salesforce-integration-for-popular-email-marketing-platforms/

The client’s marketing manager and I have been doing our own evaluation of iContact for Salesforce, and we are truly impressed. It is the first “native” SF application that I have ever evaluated, and I can’t say enough about how many problems it solves. Suffice it to say that once implemented, I will never have to manually update Campaign status again, and iContact for Salesforce provides much more than that. $99 setup and $99/month for 10,000 messages. Check it out if you are interested, and get it now before they raise the price. Highly valuable and truly outstanding, in my opinion.

CRM systems and the funnel

Salesforce.com, or CRM systems in general, grew up from the need of sales people to manage contacts more effectively. The progression of conceptual thinking was probably something like Contacts should be organized into Accounts; a Contact results from a Lead being “contacted” and indicating an interest in the company’s products or services. Once a sales person believes there is enough interest then s/he “converts” the Lead to a Contact with an Account and optionally an Opportunity if there is sufficient interest. All of the decisions that surround what is a Lead and what criteria is used to convert a Lead to an Account with a Contact results in the definition of a sales process that can be represented in SF. Because there are an order or two of magnitude more Leads that will be entered into SF that should never be converted due to lack of interest, the whole concept of Lead Management and the “funnel” becomes critically important to an efficient marketing-to-sales process.

The topic of Lead Management

After helping several companies now with their salesforce.com (SF) implementations, the topic that I am most interested in is Lead Management and the use of SF and third-party applications integrated with SF to help companies manage their leads more effectively. Every company that has engaged me has implemented HubSpot (HS) in addition to SF, and it is clear that there is a significant learning curve to make sense of the analytics in HS and how to integrate HS information successfully with SF.

Creating a Lead Source hierarchy in salesforce.com

The reporting of Leads by Lead Source has to serve at lease two masters in a typical business organization. Executive Management generally wants just a higher-level summary while Marketing and Sales want at least two levels. At two different companies now, I have developed what I call a Lead Source hierarchy using the standard Lead Source pick list field plus two custom fields – Lead Source Detail and Lead Source Detail – Other. Lead Source Detail is a dependent field with Lead Source being the controlling field. The Lead Source picklist will have values like Conference or Trade Show and Website. And it will in turn control dependent pick list values like Consumer Electronics 2012 for Trade Show and Request for Info for Website. Using this kind of hierarchy, Executive Management can get a report showing the number of historical and newly-created leads for Conference, Website, Referral, and Other, for example, while Marketing and Sales can get a report that shows the number of leads from a specific trade show or document downloaded from the website. Lead Source Detail – Other is a text field for write-ins. For example, if Lead Source is Other, and Lead Source Detail is Partner, then Lead Source Detail – Other could contain the specific Partner.

Tracking marketing touches in salesforce.com

http://www.convertiv.com/comparing-salesforce-integration-for-popular-email-marketing-platforms/

I ran across this post looking into the integration capabilities of Constant Contact with salesforce.com. What we are trying to do at the simplest level is track marketing touches in the Lead and Contact records in salesforce.com. The way I have set this up is to create a Campaign in SF every time we send an email newsletter, invitation, or nurturing message. The email list becomes Sent members in the Campaign, and then if we have a webcast registration or an “open” of a nurturing message, I update the Campaign member status to responded. So at the very least our sales development rep that emails or calls the Lead has an idea of how many times the person has been “touched” and whether the person has responded in any manner.

Importing webcast lists into salesforce.com – resolution

Since I could not reproduce the email invitation list for the 0811 Webcast (before my contract started), what we decided to do was mark the webcast registrants as Sent in the Campaign and the attendees as Responded. For the 1011 Webcast, it was my task to create the invitation list from Leads and Contacts, and we decided to mark the invitees as Sent and the registrants as Responded. The way that is done is to take the registration list available from Webex after the event and manually update the names as Responded in the Campaign member list. In that way no names are ever imported into SF, and therefore you do not run the risk of creating duplicate names.

Importing webcast registration/attendance lists into salesforce.com – be careful

On my first day, I met with the marketing director and the marketing manager responsible for email and website, and they wanted to figure out if we could track a webcast invitation, registration, and attendance in SF. They were emailing out of Constant Contact so adding the invitation to the Activity History was not feasible. A webcast had already occurred so I decided to import the list of webcast-registered names into SF as Leads, and add them to a Campaign called 0811 Webcast. Since the invitation email list had been exported from SF as Leads and Contacts, this resulted in creating duplicate Leads and also Leads duplicated with Contacts. I merged the duplicate Leads and converted and merged the Leads duplicated with Contacts. I also became responsible for generating the monthly lead metrics for marketing to present at the executive review, and the mistake that I unknowingly made became evident. Because they had been measuring new Leads and also Leads converted to Contacts as an indicator of lead quality, the 50+ Leads that I converted and merged into existing Contacts were essentially double counting. In other words the names can’t be new Leads if they already exist as Contacts in SF. Fortunately that measurement anomaly has receded into history.

Contract with Boston technology company – Fall ’11

In the process of attempting to help a friend get an interview at a Boston technology company, I ended up getting a consulting contract to help them maintain their salesforce.com instance. Their product manager had maintained SF for them, but he had left the company a few months before. He had been doing some maintenance for them on an as-needed basis, but they were looking for someone with SF expertise to help them out on a short-term, part-time basis. With a phone conversation, an in-person meeting, and a great reference by the VP Marketing at the New England software company, I was able to sign an agreement to help them out for 25 hours/month for three months. The statement of work is as follows:

Develop marketing- and sales-related reports in Salesforce.com as requested by the client that show key marketing and sales measurements.

Make modifications to Salesforce.com fields as needed to support marketing and sales requirements.

Work with the marketing team to enhance integration between Salesforce.com and third party applications so that the marketing-sales process is fully automated.

Following marketing‐related events, import lists of new leads into Salesforce.com.

New England software company – Spring ’11

After a long dry spell, I landed another consulting contract helping out a an early stage startup re-implement salesforce.com. They had used SF from 2007-2010 but found that it did not fit with their content and level of marketing and sales activity. It therefore became a costly contact manager for them so they decided to go with Highrise – an inexpensive CRM application that is focused on contact management. After about a year of Highrise, the company had grown and changed marketing and sales strategies, and SF became the right fit for them. So I invested 5-10 hours per week from April through July to get their sales and marketing process set up properly in SF, clean up the database, and move over whatever contact information I could from Highrise. The workload really ramped down in August and ongoing maintenance was assumed by their existing director of marketing.