Why Inputting Leads in SalesForce Shouldn’t be Your Job

So, you have this powerful CRM system that can house millions of records. All your customer records are in the system, but your prospect records are being entered one at a time, cold call by cold call. Appointment by appointment. And there’s lots of keystroke errors. So what’s the solution? Simple. Buy prospect lists! Buying lead lists offers some key benefits for sales and for other departments in the organization:

  1. Gain more selling time.
  2. Have more information, faster.
  3. More accurate sales forecasting.
  4. Usable contact info.

Gain Selling Time

When most companies start off with Salesforce or other CRM systems, the existing customer records are imported into the system. But for some reason, they think it makes sense to have their most expensive staff – Sales – key enter prospect data. Unless your existing customer base makes up 80% or more of the market, it’s just more efficient to import prospect data as well. You just have to buy it first.

There are tons of data companies out there selling prospect records – InfoUSA, Dun & Bradstreet, Jigsaw and more. Several offer integration to Salesforce.com. Months and months of manual input of thousands of records can be reduced to a few quick hours. Instead of data entry, you can spend this time selling and closing more business.

Have more information, faster

You’ve heard it from your marketing department a thousand times. The prospect records are incomplete. They’re incorrect. They’re unusable. What can we say, where there’s manual data entry, there’s keystroke errors. It’s even harder when you try to enter them from your mobile Salesforce app on your phone. When records are bought, you can pick all the standard fields you want to include on each record, such as;

  • company name,
  • address,
  • phone number,
  • past credit scores,
  • annual sales volumes,
  • and more.

This purchase strategy helps guarantee that every record will be complete with the same data points – data that a prospect wouldn’t dream of telling a salesperson during a cold call. You’ll have accurate and complete records with every import.

More accurate sales forecasting

This paragraph isn’t just for Sales, it’s also for Finance. How are you figuring out annual sales each year? You know, the number that rolls up to management, the board of directors, the owners. Do you simply increase last year’s number by 15-20%? There’s a better way. If you buy prospect records for your industry, and keep them up to date, you can track market movement. You can measure month over month industry growth through prospect records and depending on the fields purchased, you can see where the growth is coming from – SMEs, Enterprise, by specialty, and more. You can get right down to states, counties; cities and specific sales reps. Compare sales penetration rates to prospect trends to predict future growth. Forecasting doesn’t have to be a guess made with a crystal ball. Buy and analyze prospect data to create accurate forecasts that will actually roll down to each rep’s territory through each lead record.

Usable Contact Records

Sales: When you purchase prospect lists, you have the obvious benefit of having complete records with data points of your choice. No missing city. No misspelled business names. You may need to update the records here and there as you may find out about changes before your list provider, but it’s still easier than entering each record from scratch.

But there’s a deeper benefit. You could potentially know which leads are the most profitable and are most likely to stay on long term – important when you think about upfront and monthly commissions. This is where Marketing comes in.

Marketing: Usable contact records aren’t just for cold calling. They’re for segmenting your prospects to help identify which ones are the most valuable and which ones should be prioritized. Plus, complete records let Marketing take some of the contact work from Sales through automated communications customized to each lead.

Marketing could analyze the prospect data to look at trends. Sales cycle time differences by number of contacts, rep seniority, by geographic, by size of business and more. If this info is collected during the prospect phase, the prospect to close conversion analysis becomes more meaningful.

  • Which prospects are most profitable?
  • Which ones have higher retention?
  • Which ones closed the fastest?
  • How many communication contacts to close?
  • How does one of these factors affect the others?

Best of all, you can measure the effectiveness of purchasing leads vs. other lead sources – just don’t forget to create a field for tracking data source!

Authored by Yvette Montague, Director of Salesforce.com Training at SFTC.

SalesForce Training & Consulting is a Salesforce.com training and Salesforce Management consulting firm based in Toronto, with training centers in Boston and Chicago, helping sales teams get the most out of Salesforce.com.

by   Mark Christie