This is likely one of the most inane, boring topics in B2B marketing, so please bear with me. It’s also a topic that no one really has written much about. That said, it’s foundational in lead management and everything from data management, measurement, and reporting, to scoring and routing leads is based on this one boring decision that no one talks about. So, what’s this shunned topic? It’s an organization’s lead management method. If you have thought about this before and have a firm opinion on it, you are a martech Yoda.

What is a lead management method?

It comes down to defining what a lead is and how it is represented and processed within an organization’s CRM. For example, let’s assume you have both a CRM and marketing automation. When a person goes to your website and submits an online registration form, that lead goes into your marketing automation platform. The marketing automation platform then sends it to your CRM. In the CRM, where do you go to see and access this new lead and how or do the lead recipients convert it into different CRM objects (e.g. lead object, contact object, account object, etc.)? The answer to these questions gives you the information about your lead management method.

There are three primary lead management methods found in B2B SaaS, which govern how leads/responses from marketing efforts are entered into a CRM. They are: point of interest, hybrid, and unique.

 
Point of Interest (POI) Lead Management

In this method, every time there is a marketing response (e.g. form submit) a new lead is generated in the CRM.

Example:
If Bob Smith at Acme Company submitted four registration forms over a week, four leads would be created in the CRM regardless of whether he already exists as a lead, exists as a contact, or is not in the CRM at all.

Where it fits:
First I want to point out that this approach is used very infrequently in B2B SaaS and I’ve only come across it a few times. This approach tends to be used the most in:

  • Channel lead. Organizations that drive the majority of their sales through the channel and not through a direct sales organization.
  • Transactional product aligned. Direct sales organizations with highly transitional sales where typically a rep can only sell one product line and not all of an organization’s offerings.
  • Legacy marketing. Organizations that take a much more “old school” approach to marketing and have underinvested in marketing and sales infrastructure (technology and process). As an example, these are organizations that really do not do lead nurturing nor have gated high value assets on their websites. They are organizations where an online registration form is primarily a mechanism to request a sales follow-up.


Hybrid Lead Management

In this approach, a new lead is created for a marketing response if one does not currently exist within the CRM system for the person in question. In the CRM, should a contact (versus a lead) for the person in question exist, a new lead is created. If a lead for the person in question already exists, a new lead is not created. In this approach after a lead is engaged, the rep is typically expected to convert the lead into a contact or apply the lead to the individual’s existing contact record.

Examples:

  • If not currently in the CRM. If Bob Smith at Acme Company submitted four registration forms over a week and didn’t exist anywhere in the CRM a new lead would be created in the CRM for the first form submission. The next three form submissions (assuming no one followed up with him) would be applied to his lead record (in the form of a campaign association).
  • If already a lead. If Bob Smith at Acme Company submitted four registration forms over a week and he already existed as a lead in the CRM, all of the submissions would be applied to his lead record.
  • If already a contact. If Bob Smith at Acme Company submitted four registration forms over a week and he already existed as a contact in the CRM, a new lead would be created in the CRM for the first form submission. The next three form submissions (assuming no one followed up with him) would be applied to his lead record (in the form of a campaign association).

Where it fits:
In my experience, the companies that benefit from this approach are more transactional in nature, where the product/solution/service is not purchased by a buying center (leads tend to preclude one’s ability to measure buying center or organizational engagement). Organizations that are HEAVILY leads centric, where sales management has been conditioned that sales reps only work on the “leads” object, also tend to use this approach.


Unique Lead Management

A new lead is only created if a lead or contact for the person in question does not exist in the CRM system.

Examples:

  • If not currently in the CRM. If Bob Smith at Acme Company submitted four registration forms over a week and didn’t exist anywhere in the CRM, a new lead would be created in the CRM for the first form submission. The next three form submissions (assuming no one followed up with him) would be applied to his lead record (in the form of a campaign association).
  • If already a lead. If Bob Smith at Acme Company submitted four registration forms over a week and he already existed as a lead in the CRM, all of the submissions would be applied to his lead record.
  • If already a contact. If Bob Smith at Acme Company submitted four registration forms over a week and he already existed as a contact in the CRM, all form submissions (assuming no one followed up with him) would be applied to his contact record (in the form of a campaign association).

Where it fits:
B2B organizations selling into a buying center with ASP of +$50K and multi month pipelines benefit from this approach. Organizations that are religious about measurement and look at marketing and sales infrastructure as enablers (not a cost center) and are very invested in lead nurture also tend to follow this approach.

In my next post, I’ll talk about Why Marketing Converts Hates POI and Dislikes Hybrid.

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Jay Famico

Jay Famico

Co-Founder and Editor

Prior to co-founding Marketing Converts, Jay led SiriusDecisions’ Technology and Services practice, where he oversaw SiriusDecisions’marketing and sales technology and service coverage. He also launched and chaired the SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange (TechX). He is a widely regarded expert on marketing automation technologies, and how to rationalize an ever-growing martech stack into a competitive differentiator.

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