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!