Pursuing lead management

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As pressure mounts to grow the bottom line, b-to-b publishers are making lead generation and lead management systems a priority in 2005, developing programs to improve not only their own lead generation and lead management efforts but to help their advertiser clients do so as well.

Lead management systems are normally part of complete customer relationship management (CRM) software systems, providing benefits such lead identification, tracking and reporting. For example, Maximizer Enterprise 8, a CRM package that costs $489 a seat, lets salespeople enter leads, identify qualified prospects, assign leads to account managers, send automatic e-mail alerts, track a lead's status and report on sales conversion.

"Lead generation is the hottest thing going," said Mike Rogers, VP-strategic accounts, licensing and electronics group, Reed Business Information. "Publishers are embracing lead generation more widely than they were a year ago, and they are looking at ways to grow and manage leads."

Reed uses a CRM system from Onyx Software to manage its own leads, but it is also developing lead generation programs for its advertisers. Rogers declined to give specifics about the program for competitive reasons.

"Across the 80-plus publications that Reed has, there is clearly momentum to satisfy advertisers' and marketers' needs to generate leads, and publications are using it to generate incremental revenue," he said.

Ziff Davis Media has been using CRM software from Pivotal Corp. for about four years, but it only began using the lead management module about a year ago, said Jasmine Alexander, senior VP-technology and sales operations at Ziff Davis. "Our organization wasn't ready to have a lead management process," Alexander said. "Because all of the other processes were automated, people got more comfortable with it," she said, referring to the Pivotal CRM software.

Alexander said the most important factor in implementing a lead management system is senior management buy-in. "You have to have a fairly detailed and well-defined process," Alexander said. "Ideally it is driven by sales management, because they want the results, but they have to work in conjunction with the marketing department and IT."

Ziff uses a wide variety of marketing efforts, including advertising, events, Web sites and e-mail, to generate leads that are fed into the Pivotal system. In some cases the leads are generated automatically, for instance through the Web site, but for offline marketing, such as events, leads have to be physically entered into the system.

"Right now, that part is not as well defined as we'd like," Alexander said.

She said Ziff has increased sales and added new advertisers as a result of using the lead management system.

Another publisher, IEEE, uses CRM software from Maximizer for lead management. The publisher has only been using the system for about six months, said Marion Delaney, associate publisher-sales director at IEEE. "The biggest issue is introducing a new sales management system to the sales force," Delaney said.

Because IEEE uses independent sales reps, the challenge is even greater, she said.

To facilitate the implementation, IEEE holds monthly meetings to train salespeople on the new system and uses Maximizer's online tutorial.

IEEE uses a combination of marketing programs-including events, e-mail and online advertising-to generate leads. It also does competitive research using Hoover's Online, a database service offered by Dun & Bradstreet. "We take our top advertisers and generate information on competitive sets," Delaney said. "Once you have an established database, you can add leads and do real-time monitoring." 

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