The top­ics of closed-loop report­ing for the com­plex sale — that is, tying offline or online leads through to an ulti­mate closed deal in an offline envi­ron­ment — has gen­er­ated inter­est and curios­ity among mar­keters, along with a mea­sure of confusion.

I can eas­ily under­stand the con­fu­sion. Such closed-loop report­ing is not impos­si­ble, but com­pa­nies tra­di­tion­ally do find it quite dif­fi­cult. In fact, one top research and ana­lyst firm has found that less than 12 per­cent of cus­tomers are try­ing to achieve closed loop report­ing, and of that 12 per­cent, very few are suc­cess­ful at mak­ing it happen.

I believe that’s because there are so many ele­ments involved; just hav­ing the right tool to spit out the reports is not enough. You must have the right processes and peo­ple in place to make the report­ing give you the infor­ma­tion you need.

One reader wisely asked exactly what those processes, peo­ple and tools were nec­es­sary for closed-loop reporting.

For the next two posts I’ll out­line the three ele­ments to be suc­cess­ful: exper­tise, processes, and tools.


The per­son han­dling closed-loop report­ing within your orga­ni­za­tion should be some­one who has the abil­ity to be quan­ti­ta­tive and who under­stands the method­olo­gies used to arrive at cam­paign ROI and other metrics.

Most web ana­lysts, experts at ana­lyz­ing data for sites, are not yet qual­i­fied for ana­lyz­ing data all the way through to the closed sale due to a lack of expe­ri­ence with the offline sales process (now, I have met a few that have learned this and do a very good job). He or she should under­stand tech­nol­ogy and ana­lyt­ics, but also mar­ket­ing and sales processes. You should not have to explain to them the def­i­n­i­tion of a raw lead (I define this as some­one who has pro­vided con­tact infor­ma­tion to your orga­ni­za­tion), a sales-ready lead/opportunity (I define this as a meet­ing has been set up with a prospec­tive buyer who has demon­strated inter­est) or a closed deal (although each com­pany needs to go through the process of estab­lish­ing their own tax­on­omy and met­rics through the entire sales funnel).


Before putting the tech­nol­ogy in place to begin a closed-loop report­ing process, mar­ket­ing needs to decide a num­ber of things:

  • Which met­rics are the key met­rics to study?
  • How much will each team com­mit to, in terms of lead generation?

It’s impor­tant that a com­mit­ment is estab­lished between mar­ket­ing, sales and chan­nel part­ners to know what per­cent of sales (through sales-ready leads and raw leads – unqual­i­fied leads) the sales team will source, what per­cent mar­ket­ing will source, etc.

  • Does the mar­ket­ing team have the staff and bud­get to sup­port those goals?

If mar­ket­ing signs up to pro­vide 50 per­cent of all sales-ready leads to ulti­mately source 50 per­cent of all sales, is the fund­ing in place to achieve that? It’s a mat­ter of a sim­ple cal­cu­la­tion to dis­cover the aver­age cost per sales-ready lead/opportunity by prod­uct line and sales divi­sion. Mul­ti­ple that num­ber by the num­ber of sales-ready leads/opportunities mar­ket­ing has com­mit­ted to sup­ply­ing, and it is easy to know how much money you need in order to gen­er­ate that num­ber of leads.

  • Is the fund­ing avail­able in the appro­pri­ate quarter?

If you have a six-month sales cycle and you’re com­mit­ting to gen­er­at­ing sales in the first quar­ter of 2009, your fund­ing will need to be avail­able in early to mid 2008.

A closed-loop report­ing process is not a quick-fix solu­tion that gets put into place a sin­gle time and con­tin­ues to work on its own. It is some­thing that requires ongo­ing refine­ment and man­age­ment, so it is essen­tial to have weekly and/or monthly oper­a­tional meet­ings with key stake­hold­ers in mar­ket­ing, sales and chan­nel mar­ket­ing to refine the process.

I’ll talk about tools in my next post. Stay tuned!

Generate sales leads
Generate sales leads

Great stuff. I just found your blog and love it. Look forward to reading more.