Blow it up and start again: How to evolve and not destroy your lead management process (S2, Ep1)

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What are the key considerations for designing a lead to revenue process, whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to refine your existing approach? Funneclocity is back for a new season, and we start with a cracker: Aaron Doherty, Growth Marketing Lead at Pachyderm, and MarketOne’s own Jennifer Comisford join new hosts Mary Kleinsorgen and Gifford Morley-Fletcher in a wide-ranging discussion covering topics such as getting buy-in for the process, maintaining success, the best tech to use, and, of course, measurement. Listen out for a special guest appearance by Mary’s dog Monty…


Mary Kleinsorgen (00:00:00):
Hi everyone and welcome to Funnelocity. The B2B sales and marketing podcast, where we exchange views with some of the top industry experts on what it takes to succeed in global demand generation and elevate the customer experience. We’re your hosts, Gifford Morley-Fletcher, Senior Marketing Strategist, and Mary Kleinsorgen, that’s me, Principal Consultant here at MarketOne. So let’s get to it. This is Funnelocity.

Mary (00:00:36):
Today’s episode dives into key considerations when you’re designing a lead to revenue process. Whether you’re just starting out or perhaps you recognize some challenges within your existing process, and you’re looking to refine them.

Gifford Morley-Fletcher (00:00:51):
So we have two guests with us today. Our first guest is Aaron Doherty, Growth Marketing Leader, Pachyderm. Aaron is a mathematician turned marketer, one of the best kinds, we love our database marketers, and he has over 12 years’ experience in MarTech and analytics. He’s been honored as a top ABM marketer by Sangram Vajre and we’ve had the privilege of working with him last year at MarketOne as a fellow consultant. He’s based in the Boston area, a father of three, outdoorsmen, some say traitor, but award-winning genius. Welcome Aaron.

Aaron Doherty (00:01:25):
Thanks for having me.

Mary (00:01:28):
We’re also joined by Jennifer Comisford, Principal Consultant of customer experience here at MarketOne. She rejoined us after three years with Olive, where she established the marketing ops and analytics team. Jenny brings over 12 years’ experience with data integrity and performance insights. And she’s recently designed a global measurement framework for MarketOne’s clients, focusing on key metrics for measuring and optimizing demand. And when she’s not working, she’s avoiding the alligators in the Everglades and hanging out with her husband and her two terriers Jack and Scarlet. Welcome Jenny.

Jenny Comisford (00:02:03):
Thanks guys.

Mary (00:02:05):
So there’s going to be instances where organizations are just thinking about how to establish that lead to revenue process and still there’s organizations out there that are recognizing those challenges, they see the gaps in those processes. This episode is properly entitled ‘Blow it up and start again: how to evolve and not destroy your lead management process’. And I think the one key question when you start thinking about, okay, well we’ve got something in place or we’re starting from scratch is really, it comes down to how do you really get started with this? So Jenny and Aaron really would love to hear your thoughts on, you know, what are those key considerations when you’re starting to think about implementing a lead to revenue process?

Aaron (00:02:52):
Uh, there are many. I think the first is to manage expectations. I mean, any sort of project that you’re you’re gonna undertake is bound to scare somebody, right? Somebody is really comfortable in the way that they’re working right now. And the first thing you probably want to do is maybe some of those fears and manage expectations of everybody that’s going to be involved. I mean, there’s going to be people who are stakeholders in whatever’s changing and there’s people who are going to be directly affected, the users of the process. Right? If you think about, you know, maybe your sales managers and your actual SDR, they ease, et cetera. You’re going to want to set the expectations that things are going to change, but it’s going to be super easy and your job is going to become, you know, like a day at the spa or something like that.

Jenny (00:03:38):
Yeah. I mean, the internal campaigning that has to be done, can’t be understated for sure. I mean, but honestly, that’s the case with just about any new process that you’re going to be implementing into an organization. I mean, I think the, whatever you can do to sell the value, is going to massively help you in the long run. So, you know, why should sales management get on board with this? Why does marketing leadership need to care or participate? Um, you know, can the salespeople actually be a partner in the design process and actually be engaged. You know, to gain that, buy-in and participation you really have to be able to highlight how it’s actually going to help the organization generate more pipeline. I mean, that is, it’s a lofty statement to make, obviously to say your lead management process is going to do that. But if it’s implemented well and it’s followed, you’re at least gonna recognize more of it in your system, whether or not you actually are producing it. And so I think that you know, you gotta be able to tell that story.

Aaron (00:04:58):
So my mind goes to the same place, the business case, right? Like I want to put the numbers up on the screen and be like, look $0 today, a billion dollars with the new process. And as much as I, like, as much as I can’t not do that, I’m going to do that, right. It’s going to be a slide. It’s going to be the first one in fact. I’ve also learned painfully that that’s not enough for a lot of people. I mean, again, like the users of the process kind of like, okay, well, I’m hitting my commission now with the existing process. So is my commission at risk with maybe at least revenue flow that requires me to do a little bit more documentation as I’m creating opportunities and qualifying them. Right. That to me, I don’t know. The thing about it is that the hardest sell and sometimes it’s one-to-one, hey, it’s going to be okay. And sometimes it’s sort of like through the influence process where you know, you find a champion, so to speak someone who’s willing to like, be an evangelist on the other team and, convert them to your cause and get them to kind of sell it internally.

Jenny (00:06:10):
Yeah. I mean, obviously, like you’re never going to be able to take everybody with you, when you’re trying to implement a change. I think the most important thing is to get management on board. You know, I mean, when I was at DHL, we, for the longest time, like our salespeople were still, like, we would go into pipeline review meetings and they would pull out their notes or like their, you know, their spreadsheet and talk through their opportunities. And you’re logging into Salesforce going, why, where is, where are the notes?

So, we really had to like, campaign with all of the regional and sector sales managers to get them to a point of like, where, if it’s not, you know, don’t come to another pipeline review meeting with a spreadsheet, like pull up your dashboard in Salesforce, show me what’s going on. And if it’s not there, then it doesn’t exist, you know? And you have like, so, I mean, sometimes obviously you don’t want to force where you don’t have to, but it’s got to come from the top down management has to make it a practice.

Aaron (00:07:26):
The stick, right. Not just the carrot, but the stick. But Marketo, I’m sure I’ve told you guys this before, but Marketo, and I, this always sticks to me. I went to a I think it was Inbound conference I mean, circa 2014 or something, and these two marketers from Marketo shared this shared this case study, where they were trying to get sales reps to follow up on leads. And they basically sent an automated reminder to the rep if they hadn’t followed up on the lead in, in an hour. Right. And if they still hadn’t followed up on the lead in 12 hours, they sent a reminder to the rep and their immediate manager. They still hadn’t followed up in 18 hours. The next level up the next level up all the way up to, I don’t remember what they call the CEO’s name of Marketo, but it all the way up to the CEO.

Right, so in theory, there was this stick hanging out there that fortunately they described never having had to use, that you, if you didn’t follow up on your leads, you’d get an email, you know, copied you and the CEO on that. Which of course nobody wants. Right. But I wonder, and they didn’t really get into this, I wonder like how effective really is the stick, as opposed to the carrot? I mean, if you’re forcing somebody to do it, are they going to do it genuinely? Are they just going to write blah, blah, blah, in the notes? And then all of a sudden, maybe you do have notes logged in Salesforce, but it’s, it’s sort of the quality of those notes is not approaching anything helpful in the way that you originally set out to do. I don’t know the answer. I’m just, just sort of wondering.

Mary (00:08:57):
No, I mean, I love the idea and both of you touched on this earlier. But like this idea of like an ambassador program where you get some of your peers and you get different levels that are fully bought into this new process, because they can help triage. So if individuals aren’t following the process, if you don’t, you do start seeing leads that are just starting to age out there, you know, you can have these individuals that are helping to mentor them and, and helping them see the benefit of this. And, you know, I agree with you, Aaron, you know, I’ve tried that in the past where you send the alert out, then you copy in the manager and then it just keeps going up. And then you add a task into the system and really all of that goes ignored. So that’s why it’s, you know, coming back to your, both of your original points is that’s why it’s so important to get this buy-in top down. Because in order for this process to be successful, there needs to be a common goal across all teams. It’s not just a marketing thing. It’s not just a sales thing. It’s across the board in order to be successful.

Aaron (00:10:01):
Agreed, Agreed.

Jenny (00:10:05):
Well, and it’s how do you, yeah. And where I was starting to go is really the relationship between a BDR SDR, team versus your senior sales reps and really thinking through what you actually need from those two parties. Because I may be able to get away with asking the SDRs or the BDRs to check a lot more boxes, click a lot more buttons, add more notes than I’m going to be able to get a senior exec to do. And so, you know, like thinking through, like, what is it you actually need from this person, how is it going to be used? And if you can’t have a really strongly articulated reason for having someone add that note or whatever, then like maybe it’s not something that you really need to ask for. And then the other thing is the whole construct is meant to hold both parties accountable to one another.

So from the start you need to be thinking about like, how are we gonna manage this together? What does that feedback loop need to look like? Because obviously like, if the leads are crap, then that’s why nobody is gonna follow up on them. So there needs, you know, there needs to be a mutual commitment that like we’re going to provide quality and therefore we expect you to actually do something with it. So I think, I mean, that hits on a few different things in terms of just how you actually structure the team in the construct of the process. How do you actually compensate the team? You know, like we had the BDRs and SDRs had portion of their comp that was related to just activity. Like they were, you know, like it’s not just about leads. It’s not just about source pipeline. It’s like on the day to day, are you churning through what you’re supposed to be doing?

Aaron (00:11:57):
That’s the right approach that like, you know, incremental game theory approach, right? Where you, you assign the, the motivation right, comp and in this case, to the thing that the business wants. If the business wants data, put motivation behind data, right. We’re already putting motivation behind closed won deals. And that means if we’re only focused on that, then we’re sort of neglecting anything that’s not a closed won deal. I think, I think what you’re talking about is exactly the right solution. And, I’m still biting my tongue on that leads are crap note and just holding back all my Glengarry Glen Ross references right now.

Jenny (00:12:36):
Yeah. Yeah. Well, right. There’s scenarios when the leads actually are crap. And then there’s a scenarios where they’re are not crap, but sales is just lazy. And then there’s like this perfect world out there, like the north star that almost no one achieves where like the leads are good and sales follows up on them.

Aaron (00:13:05):
Let me know when you find that land.

Mary (00:13:08):
But that goes back to your points earlier around setting expectations too. Like you have to set that expectation that when you get a lead, not everything is going to close, not everything is going to turn into an opportunity. And yeah, I think that’s been, I think I’ve certainly learned that lesson, years ago where, you know, we sent everything over and we created this SLA, the service level agreement with sales that, you know, within 24 hours, you absolutely have to make your first touch on every single lead that’s sent to you. And, um, once they start seeing the quality of a lead and if the quality of lead just doesn’t meet their expectations, then that starts impacting the rest of their process where they like, they lose that confidence in marketing. And that’s where you lose system adoption as well.

Jenny (00:13:57):
There’s gotta be somebody that sits between like, I’m sorry, like handing marketing leads straight to a sales exec is never going to work. Nobody can convince me otherwise. There has to be some level of pre-qualification before it hits the senior executive desk. And like, to me, it’s, it is a, you can try alerts and escalating to leadership and having leader view meetings every week. And you can try whatever you want. Like it’s just.

Aaron (00:14:28):
So, what is that quality? Right? Cause I think there there’s some weird trends happening right now. Like, I think the BDR role is kind of, you know, standard sort of sales practice. There’s been a lot of more recently last 5, 10 years has been more of the, MDR role, the marketing development rep. So like a BDR who actually sits on the marketing team. And then there’s some weird questions about like, how does their process get defined? And you still kind of reach that, you know, that, there’s nobody between, you know, standpoint, cause the MDR is kind of like rooting for the marketing team in some weird sense. So, how do you make that happen? I mean, how do you make that real sort of, I mean, not even like a transition, but just like a seamless one to the next sort of thing. How, how does that work?

Gifford (00:15:19):
Funnily enough, I was talking about this this morning. And it’s something that we do within MarketOne, which is one way to do it. So, we call it the warm lead handoff. And that’s when your qualifier sets up the call and attends the call along with sales. And, so there’s a very smooth handoff at that point. So, you know, there’s a proper transition for the person you’re selling to in the middle. When we were talking about this, I was actually discussing kind of lead management process. And we actually got to a point where we were asking, and this is a bit extreme, we were actually asking whether a status of SQL was necessary at all. Because you could get, if you’ve got relatively good qualification and you have that, that moment, that conversation that one lead handoff meeting, the sales person yes they could decide that they need to do a bit more work on it, or it could almost go straight from a TQL or a TGL to an opportunity with nothing in between. Now that that may be extreme, but it you’re absolutely right to ask the question and to think about that moment of transition.

Mary (00:16:34):
And I do like that process too, though. It sounds like it’s a much more efficient transition because usually if the BDR takes the call, they’re going to set up a task for the account executive and then they just kind of hands off from there. And there’s no conversation that takes place between the BDR closing that initial qualification call. And then the AE picking it up.

Aaron (00:16:57):
And having that initial phone call, you force that, well, you don’t force that conversation, you encourage that conversation, right. And it’s kind of like you set up the BDR, the SDR who, you know, may or may not be like a more junior salesperson than the AE, but you kind of set them up in a place where they’re doing a bit of show and tell in real time and that, you know, just people being people and that sort of encourages them to make sure that the things that they’re showing and telling is a good thing, is the thing that other people want to see. It probably only takes one or two times presenting a bad opportunity to an AE before they get that sort of that shame, that motivational shame.

Jenny (00:17:34):
That’s my thing is how often do these AEs get off that intro call and they’re like, well, that was crap. There was no, you know, like I.

Aaron (00:17:43):
We actually use the SAL, I’m sure I’m gonna get a lot of hate mail for saying that, but we actually use the SAL and it turned out to be a super productive, means of making the transition from marketing all the way through to the AEs, with the SDRs kind of bridging that gap. And essentially an MQL is when it gets passed to the SDRs. The SDRs do their work, they have a status of qualified. So from MQL to qualified, qualified creates the opportunity. And then from qualified to SAL is actually the point of which the AE can come in and sort of get to like veto the opportunity, right? So the AE will then accept the opportunity, which moves the lead, the individual status to SAL, and then sort of the comp structure is tied that way. And, going back to what you’re saying before, it really puts the motivation around the thing that we want each sort of person in that assembly one to do, so far it’s working pretty well.

Jenny (00:18:40):
Absolutely have to comp based on accepted lead for sure. And whether it’s an SAL or it’s some type of status that they set in the CRM, like we, you have to have a formal action that the sales rep has to take to say, I am accepting this lead from marketing. I don’t know if Aaron to your earlier question, like my head kind of went in a few different places because I have been responsible for MDRs before. And then I’ve also worked in, you know, like in organizations where there was a lot of experimentation between should SDRs report to marketing, should they report to sales? Like, should there be some weird dotted-line thing going on? And I, the one thing that I can say is reps that handle inbound leads are not the same animal as reps that do outbound.

And I don’t know that it necessarily makes sense for those folks to be separated, like for one, to sit on marketing and one to sit on sales. But I think it is absolutely important to recognize that you’re hiring for two different beasts there. Obviously the benefit of having them report is the inbound folks to report into marketing is that there’s better likelihood that the inbound rep is going to get the context of, you know, what campaigns are we running? What did this person engage with? You know, that type of thing, you know, you have to try a little harder if, if they sit in sales. But I know it’s a question that everybody asks about where they should sit. And I don’t know that I have like a, you know, a solid one way response on that, but I think it just has to be, there has to be a mutual commitment to, to following the process, to providing the feedback and really that, you know, accountability.

The other thing that I wanted to raise too, in terms of what that qualification looks like is one thing I’ve noticed is a lot of variation in what, how quality is defined from a lead quality standpoint. So, you know, early in my career, it was BANT and, you know, it was basically like the account executive wouldn’t take the lead until it was, you know, we call them silver platter leads. Like they’ve got budget approved, they’re the decision maker, they, you know, are planning on doing the project in the next three months. Like, you know, tie it up with a little bow and like hand it over. At Olive we used Champ.

Aaron (00:21:40):
Yeah. I’ve seen the Medic and BANT and all those, although I haven’t seen Champ.

Jenny (00:21:44):
Yeah. So we used Champ for the SDR qualification and then the sales reps actually use Medic for opportunity qualification. But Champ is, it’s basically like a softer version of BANT. It’s Challenge with Authority Money Priority. So the, they have to have a challenge that you believe you can solve as the vendor.

Aaron (00:22:12):
That’s Camp. Hold on. Challenge, authority, money and priority. That’s Camp.

Jenny (00:22:18):
Champ with the H. Challenge. C-H.

Aaron (00:22:22):
You know there’s a marketer behind that somewhere.

Jenny (00:22:23):
I didn’t make this stuff up. And it’s funny because the sales guy that the sales VP that introduced that concept, like would get irritated with me because I would always say, this is like a lower, this is a softer version of BANT. Like he, in his mind, it was like the same level of quality that we were trying to drive for. And I was like, it’s not. Like who BANT, well, and what’s interesting too is then when we actually, um, when we transitioned to a full account-based marketing approach where we were only targeting about 270 accounts in north America, we, the sales reps didn’t want Champ. They wanted Chop. They said, give us somebody with a challenge that we can solve and the authority to make a decision and we’ll take it from there. They were like, give me a meeting and that’s all I want. So, I mean, it’s an example of, of how that line can move over time based on your, your business strategy. And also the importance of just that communication with sales of like, what that an agreed upon line, wherever it, wherever it’s gonna sit.

Gifford (00:23:46):
Surely it’s also going to affect whether you’re going for Champ or BANT or what have you go for affects, should we say the experience of your SDRs, as opposed to, as to say, I mean, if you’re looking for BANT, then a lot more work is going to be done before.

Jenny (00:24:08):
Yeah. The SDR is going to hang on to that lead for six months potentially. And they’re going to have to put a lot of effort in over time.

Gifford (00:24:18):
And sales is going to have a lovely closing conversation and ride off into the sunset on a horse.

Jenny (00:24:23):
Yes with their commission. Well, I mean, to be fair, I, you know, I obviously have worked in several businesses where the sales, where it was, you know, enterprise SAAS sales, you’re looking at, you know, the buying committees and very long sales cycles. And certainly there’s still a lot of work left to be done just to get through procurement and legal and, and all of that. But, yes, and always think that the SDRs that had to produce the BANT leads were well, and it kind of drove bad behavior too, because nobody really wants to actually work on a lead for six months. So just give me the contact us inquiries that have already, you know, defined everything that they need, that I can just convert and handle.

Aaron (00:25:21):
That’s what it goes back to you. Right. I mean, like any sort of funnel operations project is really the, you know, we say like people process technology, but it’s really like people process technology. Because you do have, you do have these, you know, apes in clothing and funny hats and stuff on the other side of the process that you’re building and they’re just emotional, you know, sometimes scared, sometimes happy sometimes just animals, like in the, in the best sense of the term, uh, on the other end, just, just trying to get through their day, you know, and we sit here sort of arms hair, quarterback, well, this is the best way to do it. And, you know, we’re going to increase profits by 1.5% if we do this and so on and so forth.

And it just like, I think sometimes the, the people get lost on the other side of that. And you end up with situations exactly like you’re describing where there’s like not bad behavior, but sort of human behavior that sort of wasn’t accounted for in the planning stages, right? The lowest, the easiest possible way to, to hit the goals. And that’s, you know, I think marketers kind of know that from top of funnel campaigns, that if you, if you put out this really complex message and your display ads, or, you know, you focus all your search dollars on really obscure, long tail keywords. You get this sort of, diminishing returns in the sense that maybe somebody’s going to click on it, just to see what it means, but then over time, it’s not going to perform as well as the one punchy, you know, sort of value where that really has nothing to do with your product, but just kind of gets people in the door in that sense. Right. We’re really just figuring out motivational structures to get humans to do the things that we want them to do, without us having to stand over their shoulders and say, do the thing, do the thing, do the thing, you know, it’s fantastic challenge.

Jenny (00:27:23):
Absolutely have to understand the motivation. You have to understand the motivations of the individuals that you are trying to influence, but it’s funny. Like I might, where my head always goes is performance management strategy. You got to make sure that the goal that the way that you goal people and comp people is going to drive the behavior that you are seeking.

Aaron (00:27:49):
What about marketers? I mean we’ve been talking a lot about sales here, and if sales are comp, let’s say, let’s say we’re in that magical land where sales are comp on all the right behaviors, despite whether they drive opportunity, where their comp structure is tied to opportunities. What about marketers? Like where I think marketers kind of divide the world and the somewhat variable comp somewhat, you know, base salary. I think the complaint from sales is that marketing doesn’t have any skin in the game. So they’re just throwing over garbage leads to hit their lead number, et cetera, et cetera. I mean, what do you, what do you think about marketers being on that, that sort of motivational comp structure as well?

Jenny (00:28:29):
Yeah, I mean, I think what’s typically most successful is if you can comp based on the metrics that they can most likely influence. You know, it’s interesting. I have a client right now who it’s so funny. Like, you know, primary customers, the demands in our operations team that oversees campaigns and campaign operations, and they are complaining that digital isn’t getting on board and like digital owns the paid media budget, particularly search, and they’re not running ads, they’re not running campaigns that aligned like the global campaign themes that the global campaigns team is putting together. And they’re trying to get digital to get on board. And digital is basically like, Hmm, no, because digital is comped on form fills and new contacts. And they’re like, I can run very like product specific keyword ad campaigns. And I get people that are searching specific, know that they need something search for it, find it, fill out the form. And that’s going to be way better than me trying to do any kind of long tail solution-based, you know, campaign like campaigns that are going to align to the more complex solution selling that the global campaigns team are trying to achieve.

Aaron (00:30:08):
Right, so quantity goes up, everybody hits their number and quality takes a nose dive.

Jenny (00:30:13):
It’s so interesting, but what’s interesting to me is there’s a lot of organizations that don’t actually even comp marketing. And I think that is a mistake. But yeah, you do have to really think through what is the right metric and how do they actually al. If you set it up correctly, whatever the marketers driving and comped on is going to have a direct, positive impact on the next person down the chain, you know what I’m saying? So like, yeah.

Aaron (00:30:49):
Yeah. And I feel like that that perspective gets missed off then there’s no, I think the weird thing about the sales and marketing sort of, well it was formally sort of these characterized, these siblings, butting heads. I think that we’ll kind of move past that in the, I mean, at least in the U S anyways, what sort of hasn’t changed is that there’s no, as you were talking about earlier, there’s no sort of like overarching funnel owner that kind of sees end to end sees the behaviors that we’re looking for at the top of the funnel, the behaviors that we’re looking for from the team at the, at the mid funnel and at the bottom funnel and kind of architects the process to align them.

Jenny (00:31:33):
Isn’t that the Chief revenue officer, Aaron? Aren’t they supposed to be over marketing and sales?

Aaron (00:31:39):

Jenny (00:31:40):
So they’re just salespeople that ended up getting a CRO title, but that’s a whole nother, that’s another topic

Aaron (00:31:48):
I know. And that’s the funny thing is like titles kind of like, are all over the place, right? Like marketing ops, sales ops, revenue ops, right? I mean, like, it’s tough when this, I think of this stuff is the most important thing that an organization could be spending their time on because it’s, if you know, if we’re talking about building a product, this is your sort of core code base that ultimately keeps your product functioning when users are out there doing all the fancy stuff, right? This sort of funnel operations, if we, just kind of like put a term on it, is the most important core code that is going to keep your sales and marketing and revenue, whatever teams you have that are affected by the generation of new customers. It’s going to keep that group running in a seamless, scalable, in a reportable way. Such that, you know, some Exec can look at the dashboard and say, oh, this is happening. We to do more of this. Or a product manager can look at the dashboard and say, oh, this product selling more than this other one. Well, let’s do more of that product. Right.

Jenny (00:32:58):
Or how much is coming down the pipe so that I can prepare. Like, if you’ve got an implementation team, you know, onboarding, like it’s really important to be able to forecast accurately. But don’t you think, so honestly, like even the whole concept of lead to revenue, and even what we’re talking about is a little, could be claimed as a little dated. I mean, it might be just a little. I mean, honestly, like is, cause as soon as you start getting into account-based anything, which let’s be honest, that’s how salespeople sell. They kind of, you know, if it falls apart a little bit, like I almost, I don’t know. It gets you into the conversations of like, should you even be using the lead object in CRM anymore?
Mary, Mary I know you love this topic. Well, no, like literally let’s talk about what, like next gen lead to rev looks like for a hot minute. Because I mean, we had to set it up at Olive and again, the same client that I was talking about earlier, they’re trying to get away from the MQL altogether. Not like not, not to not have MQL anymore, but that, that not be the KPI. That, again, back to like, let’s drive the behaviors that are actually gonna result in the best business outcome, which they’re essentially trying to make the case that like the MQL is not that anymore. Anyways, Mary thoughts on use of the lead. Okay. She’s like, damnit I didn’t want to go here.

Mary (00:34:49):
Well, I think, but I think it serves a very distinct purpose because, you know, going back to the point earlier, not everything is going to close. And if you eliminate that, that lead process, that lead function, now you could potentially be inflating pipeline unless you create some sort of process for being able to track leads that maybe it’s like a pre pipeline status, but still like most CRMs are not built in that manner. Most CRMs are a lead can be anything, a lead doesn’t need to be someone filled out a form or someone, you know, attended event. It could be, Hey, I got a name. Like, I was just chatting with some dude at Starbucks and there’s a potential opportunity here. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to add them as a new opportunity in your CRM, because again, it could go nowhere. There needs to be some sort of qualification process that takes place.

And I think that’s where the lead serves its purpose at, in the CRM, because you have that option, the CRMs are built in that manner to qualify that lead, to disposition that lead appropriately, and then to integrate that back into marketing so that marketing can continue to nurture or do what marketing does best. But yeah, I mean, if you have this scenario and I’ve had a couple of clients who have attempted to completely eliminate the concept of the lead, like everything is an opportunity. And what happens is you have to basically hack your CRM and your processes so that everyone is working out of the same area within CRM, and you’re using the CRM in a method that it wasn’t built to you know to deliver us. So I humbly pushed back and the lead is not dead.

Aaron (00:36:39):
Well, let me, let me give you a counter example. Right? So I, there was a client that I was working with a while ago. I won’t mention the name. And they, so they use a lead object. They are very, very focused on using the lead object and they really doubled down on, on exactly the I’m going to kind of give this a little bit of a hyperbole here when you’re just describing the lead as a throwaway object, right? It’s something to just sort of record. There might be some potential there, and then if there isn’t that no harm, no foul. And if there is then great, you know, moving on to contact and create an opportunity, et cetera. So this, this particular client was using the lead object in a way that seemed, that seemed, really shortsighted in the sense that they were creating a new lead every time a contact took a qualifying action, such that a given contact in MAP could have multiple leads open in CRM at the same time.

Right? So I request demo. I attend demo. I talk with somebody on chat, right? Those are all three qualifying actions. And then I now have three leads in CRM for, and this was their major problem, that were being sent to various reps to follow up with. So on their experience side, right, customers were getting followed up with on from four different angles. And there was no way to sort of do dupe once it came, once it became a lead object, because there were intentionally creating these duplicates. And I’ll just summarize by saying the lead object has its place. It’s not right for everybody. It’s very right for some processes. And it’s kind of like, oh, you go this way or that way on some, and you know, the other portion is a no leads, no leads.

Jenny (00:38:31):
Yeah. I mean, you know, the one thing to keep mind, and this is, I, you know, I was not a part of Salesforce when Salesforce became Salesforce, but you know, my understanding is the lead, the lead object is meant to like the contact database is meant to be your, let’s say gold standard in CRM. Like the contact data is supposed to represent real humans that are actually out there and have their real clean, complete data and information against that record. Lead database can have a lot of junk in it. You want to protect the contact database, let the junk sit in the lead database. So I think that that concept still remains true. I think where the variable is when do you convert? Because I have had different scenario, you know, like I’ve been in different business scenarios where, you know, you don’t convert until BANT is achieved.

And so the SDR is working this lead record for months, or I’ve been in ABM scenarios where once we’ve confirmed that the leads data is clean and accurate, and that they belong to an account that we are pursuing, it gets converted. Not converted with an opportunity but converted and added to that account so that it’s being worked from, from within the confines of the account record. So I think there’s a little bit of dependent, you know, variables there on like, when is the conversion, but yes I knew I would hit a hot button with this one on with Mary, because she was like, don’t duplicate leads.

Aaron (00:40:30):
At Salsify we did AQL. I was at a start up a while ago called Salsify out of Boston. And they’re, you know, they’ve gone on to be huge with, you know, a little bit of help from years truly. The point of the story is they use the AQL right? So, at one point they were using, they’re using leads and converting leads to contacts in an MQL fashion. So, map was fully synced to leads and every time an MQL hit would change the status of a lead. And then the reps would work the lead from there and convert, you know, based on opportunity creation. It was a real, it was something that they ended up hiring a huge sales team to process because the volume of leads that we’re sending over doing like 1500 MQLs in a month, right. Was just too great for their small BDR to process. So they ended up with this huge BDR team and kind of came to this, this decision point, like, well, if we keep exponentially scaling leads, we’re going to have to accidentally scale the BDR team, but we’re going to get to a point where this just isn’t going to work.

Jenny (00:41:29):
You’re hiring high-speed data processors at that point.

Aaron (00:41:32):
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, no. And, you know, it goes to the duplication problem where you just, you have one rep from one team working with one contact at the same account as another rep from another team, and they’re not talking to each other and they’re setting different expectations. And then when those two people at the one account talk to each other, you kind of create this dissonance of sales messaging, which we all know kind of runs in the wild, wild west of you know, things we we’re never putting in an ad or an email. But the point of this story is we got to the AQL project and it’s simplified, and actually created more space, more time for reps to qualify multiple, leads at a given account, create the opportunity. And then as you just said, work, send the account, send the AQL with the opportunity to AEs, to be worked as a sort of collective body so that the BDRs went from qualifying individuals to qualifying several individuals at the same account, associating them to the opportunity in the right roles.

And then kind of having this package, very well-researched package, right and you know, hand it off to the AE. And we found that our close times dropped very quickly once we made the shift to ABM and that, you know, everybody had a little bit more freedom to not be focused on thousands of dials and emails a day, and more focused on generating that quality stuff.

Jenny (00:42:58):
Did you guys have any kind of lead to account matching going on so that while they’re working, those AQLs they could still have visibility into who all at the account was being worked?

Aaron (00:43:09):
Yeah. Custom code. I forget what we used, but essentially we duplicated so you can associate leads with accounts, but we used a like fuzzy match for the account name in the company field on the lead object. Right. So you could see the relationship there, but it wasn’t permanently associated. So if a lead turned out to be a junk lead or someone that, you know, wasn’t relevant or something like that, they didn’t have to associate it with the account.

Gifford (00:43:43):
So, so guys, I mean, shut me down if it’s irrelevant, but we’re seeing more and more, the appearance of sales engagement platforms where your leads are being worked. Just as a question, is there an argument, the, you know, the CRM, actually, I’m not saying it’s dead, but it’s role is changing and actually your, your CRM ends up sitting there only for opportunities and everything else is going on in your SEP. Is that a direction? Is that relevant?

Aaron (00:44:13):
That’s a scary question. Yes.

Jenny (00:44:15):
I mean, so I only, I have experience. Yeah.
Yeah. Well, I know where Mary’s, head’s going, which is that there needs to be full visibility of the engagements occurring with any given contact and account and that needs, and therefore that needs to sit in a single repository. Whether it be CRM or CDP, or you go build some fancy view of the customer dashboard that integrates a bunch of different stuff. But I would you know, most people do the CRM route, practically speaking. Organizations that I’ve been in part of that have used SEPs, they integrated the SEP fully with CRM. So the leads would sit in CRM, but be worked out of the SEP, but then any activity or data that was being inputted into the SEP would make its way into CRM. And maybe you’re saying maybe that’s a waste of, you know, data moving around and being stored in multiple places. But that’s the setup that I’ve seen.

Aaron (00:45:36):
Let me ask you a question from a different direction. Cause yeah, cause I think you’re about to say right, like custom implementation, right? Like some, some version of custom implementation required. And I think if you ask, if you ask this question as, the CRM, as we know it was designed 20, 25, 30 years ago, the whole concept of a CRM, as we know it today is really before all of the modern innovations of sales and marketing a funnel customer journey. Like when the CRM was first designed customer journey, like that concept didn’t even exist. The SiriusDecisions demand waterfall, as we know it right now, wasn’t even an idea. Right.

Mary (00:46:16):
I want to bring this back to metrics because we’ve touched on it, we’ve sprinkled and thrown up on it a little bit all throughout this conversation around performance. And we’ve talked about performance at a couple of different levels. So we’ve talked about executive dashboards about performance at the BDR level and so easily when organizations think about, okay, well, how are we going to measure success? It is so easy to get into this analysis paralysis, where everyone is trying to measure everything every single point. And then at the end of the day, you have various different roles looking at these reports and they can’t make sense of them because it just doesn’t, you know, it doesn’t resonate with them. So when we start breaking that up a little bit, you know, what are, what are some key metrics that you guys would think about and think about it across different roles from, you know the BDR perspective, from an account manager perspective, and then at the executive tier. So what are some of those key metrics that, you know, maybe one, maybe three that, that people would want to consider even just starting out, let’s not talk about the whole roadmap, just starting out. What do you need to focus on?

Aaron (00:47:24):
Yeah. So, okay. So let me take a stab at this here. So, the thing, I mean, Pachyderm is a very interesting company in terms of the product they offer. I think what makes them special from a startup perspective is the team and the team culture, right? Any, any company I think is only going to be successful so far, with a product. And it really comes down to the team being able to work together and to execute on a plan and to execute on whatever process or something like that. So I don’t know the exact metric that comes to mind, but something that captures the effectiveness of working together right. Of contributing your part. If we think about the funnel as a, an assembly line or as a sort of, synchronization dance or something like that, we’re all doing water polo dance at the same time. Some sort of metric that shows the, the unity of action. And I don’t really have a thing for that, but if there was something that could capture that sort of looked across all of these individual stage conversions and how many of this did I create and how many that did they create? I feel like that’s missing the forest for the trees. What you’re really looking for is something that shows that cooperation. Are we doing the thing that we set out to do and are we doing it well?

Jenny (00:48:46):
You went in a completely different direction than my head was going. Although maybe not entirely. But the comment that I was going to make is that KPIs are what you report out to the business, but where the opportunity to really manage in partnership and optimize comes in the rates like the conversion rates. Like you have to understand out of this universe that we’re working in, like how successful are we at getting them from point A to point B to point C and in my mind, that’s what you need to manage against is the conversion rates between stages teams, funnels, whatever, you know, whatever it is like, like that’s, I think where the, you know, more of the focus should be. I think Aaron, what you’re talking about almost makes me think of honestly, like account scoring, account engagement scoring. So especially if you have a sales activity component to that model, or some way to distinguish between accounts that are marketing engaged, versus sales engaged, versus both.

And how successful, you know, like what percentage of those are actually turning into pipeline versus ones that are not. You know, might be, I mean, I know like when we implemented account engagement scoring at Olive the sales reps got super excited. Like it was like the first time that I’ve ever had salespeople say, I love this give me more, you know. Like when we built out dashboards for it. But I think Mary to your point, you know, my guess is Aaron probably at Pachyderm like there’s a little bit more of an appetite for data than in some other organizations. So I think that is a factor too, of like the culture of the organization and how data centric or data driven they are, is going to somewhat dictate the, you know, the metrics and how many of them you would actually come up with.

But I mean, Mary, I don’t know, there’s so many there’s, there’s so many potential metrics that could be included in this conversation. You know, I think first, like the sales management, like senior sales management that I’ve worked with, you know, they obviously want to understand pipeline, but they want to understand movement within the pipeline. So, you know, from last quarter to this quarter, how much, not just how much have we sold, but how much forward momentum do we have? And are we refilling the pipeline? You know, like, okay, so we’re going to have a great quarter this quarter, but is there enough pipeline to actually, you know, sustain us over the next quarters and then velocity, obviously with that pipeline as well? I think the, I mean, acceptance rate of leads is going to be a big one. Cause it’s cause

Aaron (00:52:24):
Crosses a couple of teams there.

Jenny (00:52:28):
Yeah. I think obviously with BDRs, aging is going to be a big one.

Aaron (00:52:36):
What about, uh, like if you were able to, let’s say you work it out in a market where you could get some pretty accurate sizing on the TAM, like what about market penetration? I mean, if you can track market penetration quarter to quarter, you may, I mean, that might be the, the sort of, because you’re not talking about revenue, you’re not talking about opportunity you’re not even talking about stage creation, which to be honest, it’s going to change from year to year. You’re you get this sort of like the 30,000 foot view of is the team doing the thing. And I always like, whenever I think of it, this is kind of weird here, but I was thinking about Netflix. Netflix, supposedly, and I don’t know anybody there, I don’t know how real this is, but supposedly has this culture where they encourage their managers to think about, other people on their team as will this person, drive success six months from now.

And they have this really harsh sort of view on that. And if the answer is no, or maybe, or I don’t know, then they, you know, obviously invite that person to move on and hire somebody new. It seems like a really, really negative way to go. And I do like the idea of that team culture collaboration thing. And I wonder, you know, as we grew up in the dark here for a metric that hits the nail on the head, cause I think what you’re saying is very aligned with what, with what I’m thinking about here. Change conversion really is the best that we have at this point to say, you know, is the, is the assembly line working in the way that we think it is? You know.

Mary (00:54:06):
So Aaron, I think that’s how we determined that you were leaving MarketOne is we went through that same approach.

Aaron (00:54:13):
Ah, ha ooh.

Jenny (00:54:19):
I love how you said that, ‘invite them to move on’, that this is very, yeah. I don’t know Mary, what are your thoughts on the right metrics?

Mary (00:54:44):
Yeah, I’m gonna kind of go with the governance aspect too. Like I, you know I appreciate the sales management executive type dashboards. You know, at the BDR level, we want to look at the, the volume coming in, but then, you know, I always come back to the process and the system adoption, and that always leads me to governance. So I want to understand if this process is real, is truly working. So I want to understand, you know, how many steps is it taking to actually contact or reach out to a prospect and qualify them and move them to that next stage? Or how many, um, even call attempts, is it going to take, to reach out to them?

And then how many clicks is it taking? Like even down to that level, how many clicks is it taking to convert lead? How many clicks has it taken to qualify lead it every single time? Because in the end, the only way that this process is going to be successful is if you make the tech and the process and the functions within your tech, easy enough for your users to onboard onto that process, but then also maintain. If you make it as complex as possible, no one’s going to adopt it. And, you know, in the end marketing and sales, we need to track our metrics, but if you’re not making the systems, you know, complimentary to their qualification process, they’ll never embrace it. So I always go towards the governance. And in the end, I just want to make sure that the platform is optimized, not customized optimized, you know, based on what the BDR and, the account managers processes are.

Aaron (00:56:14):
I love that. I think that’s really powerful. And I was sort of thinking, as you were, you were saying like, again, is there a sort of false expectations set by looking at how many clicks to up to a lead or how many touches to an opportunity or et cetera like that. And the false expectation being that you could optimize that number down to one for every stage. And I wonder for some businesses, it’s probably always going to be some unattainable asymptote of 3 or 7 or whatever it is but setting the context around like this is what we’re headed towards, right? It’s such a Meta metric that it really doesn’t say anything specific about tactics or about budget allocations or about who’s on your team. It really creates this sort of very defined end point that allows teams to sort of self organize against. I really, really like that. I think it’s solid. Now the attribution framework to measure it all accurately.

Gifford (00:57:23):
That’s a whole podcast in itself. I think, I think so.

Mary (00:57:26):
All right. Well, go ahead Giff. Oh my God. My dog just fell over. What the hell Monty. Are you okay? Goodness. He’s all right. He likes to, he likes to take in the sun the morning sun. So he usually just, you know, gently, cause he’s an old guy now he’s almost eight. Gently just tries to lay down by the door. But this time he just like threw himself down and like his paws slammed on the door and yeah.

Jenny (00:58:00):
What were you going to say Giff?

Gifford (00:58:02):
I wanted to add something left field as a metric. It’s simple, but the fact that you guys talk to us about, you know, you can’t just build a process regardless of the people. So the people themselves and their, their level of happiness. I know it’s kind of a soft KPI almost, but if there was some way to, you know, I mean it’s part of adoption and governance.

Jenny (00:58:24):
An NPS for lead management process, oh God. That would be uh.

Gifford (00:58:28):
I know, I know it might be a bit much, but it’s just thinking about, you know, you, you’ve got these people delivering against this process, you know, are they happy delivering against this process? I mean, I suppose the answer is, are they getting comped or not? It may be that simple, but.

Jenny (00:58:47):
I know what you’re saying. You know, if you’re going to put the heavy resource and effort into getting a group of people to adopt a change, then monitoring their satisfaction with it over time might be a good way to like measure whether your efforts are making any difference.

Gifford (00:59:16):
They’re the guys using it on aren’t they, you know. You’ve designed it, but you know that they’re the guys using it.

Jenny (00:59:21):
I think you just have to be, you’d have to be like, I’m just envisioning like a survey being distributed every six months or something. You’d have to be very thoughtful about how you ask the question. Well, yeah, but I’m almost wondering, like, because asking the question of on a scale of zero to 10, how likely are you to promote this to a friend? Versus asking a question like, do you believe this process has value? Like it could be very different, you know what I’m saying? So I think you have to think about the right questions ask.

Aaron (00:59:58):
Well, I mean keeping with the net promoter framework it’s probably 1 to 10 would you advocate for continuing this process or shifting to something new? Some unknown new, right. And you might get, you might get a little bit of a false positive with people’s fear reaction to anything new. But I do kind of like that Giff I do, and we’ve actually just started doing this at Pachyderm and I’m thinking about the funnel. And so I run the ops team and thinking about the funnel itself as the product that the ops team delivers. And so to use an NPS score, as you’ve described is, I mean, that’s right on target. That makes, that makes a hundred percent sense. And you’d sort of balance it out with, you know, sending it all to everybody up and down the funnel. I mean, you’d send it to, you probably send it to the execs, you’d send it to the manager, she’d send it to the ICs all along the funnel and you’d, you would get some people that say, yeah, I’m not happy because I’m not hitting my commission number, but you get other people to say I’m really happy because I’m hitting my commission number. I wonder. I’m gonna, I’m gonna test that out.

Mary (01:01:12):
Alright. We’re just trying to wrap this up. Like the first part is getting that buy-in so sharing a common goal across the organization and really showing the organization the benefit of this change. How is this going to impact their current process in a positive manner? You know, Aaron, you touched on dollar growth. So if we were to do this, then this is how we’re going to expand, but it could also be growth in, you know, time and resource efficiencies as well. We touched on as you start establishing what that new process is going to look like, but keeping up that adoption rate by continuing to show them the benefit, like creating this ambassador program where we’re, um, you know, continuing to show them, you know, here’s, I don’t know, more efficient ways that, that you can be, leveraging the system or qualifying your leads.

We also touched on maintaining that success by creating this positive impact through shared goals and a comp plan as well. So basing that comp plan based on the metrics that they can influence. We talked about the tech as well. It always comes down to the tech. We touched on CRMs on SEPs as well, but really in the end, it’s about making this seamless for your users. So no matter if they’re using multiple systems or one system, primarily, they’re going to be focused on selling and not the administration aspect. And we kind of brought all this back together with measuring success. So if we think about those key areas that we want to measure, so we want to measure conversions, just starting out conversions between stages between the teams throughout the funnel. We touched on governance as well. So, making sure that, you know, what we’re implementing is, is actually working, but, you know, Aaron, you touched on something very early on that I wrote down that I thought was great. So it kind of brings us all back to where this all started and really why the organization is deciding to design or maybe redesign their lead to revenue process. But, you know, Aaron, the way you phrase it is, are we doing the thing we set out to do and are we doing it right?

Aaron (01:03:24):
Awesome. Let me say a quick, thank you to my team at Pachyderm Joey Zwicker our COO and co-founder, Joe Doliner our CEO and co-founder, and my partners, my fantastic partners on the sales team, Jackson and Maura really, really grateful to be working with you both.

Gifford (01:03:39):
It only remains for us to thank Jenny Comisford and Aaron Doherty for such an enlightening conversation. And if you want to find out more about the podcast that we have, more about MarketOne, or of course more about lead management, you can always just visit us at