Using CRM to Know the Score Before the Super Bowl

This week, experts and amateurs alike will try to predict the score of the Super Bowl. Maybe your CRM system can't tell you whether the 49ers or Ravens will win, but it can help you gain the same insight into customer relationships so you know the score before you take the field and try to close a deal.

By David Taber
Mon, January 28, 2013

CIO — Getting beyond the basics of using CRM— tracking the evolution of the customer relationship—means using the system to improve time management close rates and customer satisfaction. In the real world, that means playing the probabilities and using the system to prioritize your team's efforts.

A wide range of business decisions in marketing, sales, services and even engineering should be guided with inferences from CRM data:

  • Which social network or advertising medium is going to have the best yield?
  • Which leads should be sent directly to reps, and which should be held back for nurturing?
  • Which prospect deserves an on-site sales call or a pre-sales engineer?
  • Which sales territory should get that loaner equipment for a demo?
  • Which deal is worth the investment of a proof of concept?
  • Which deals will close this quarter, and which will get pushed out?
  • Which customer is most at risk of cancelling?
  • Which features and bugs will have the biggest payoff?
  • Which customers are most likely to buy again…and when?

We all have to make these decisions with incomplete information. Even the Harvard Business School characterizes management success as the ability to make better bets.

You don't have to have a fancy MBA to increase your odds—but you do need to have a better way of knowing the score. (Before we start, though, it's important to understand that there's no single score: There's a different score for each CRM use-case, and the scores should be changing on a monthly, if not weekly or even daily, basis.)

First Quarter: Using CRM for Pre-Pipeline Scoring

This is the noisiest area of innovation at the moment, as everyone in the social CRM and marketing automation markets races toward El Dorado. Most of the scoring work focuses on four things:

  1. Lead prioritization (which leads need to be worked right now)
  2. Routing (whether the lead should be handled by the inside development team, inside sales or the field)
  3. Nurturing (which vertical marketing campaigns it should be part of)
  4. Qualification (which leads have matured to MQL status).

How-to: Use Social CRM for Revenue Production and Support and Services

To that end, there are four main scoring mechanisms for scoring and managing leads:

  • Profile (explicit criteria). Who is this person? In particular, does he work for a company that's already a customer? This score changes only when you are using progressive registration and external data enrichment, both of which are best practices.
  • Behavior (implicit criteria). What has this person done? What has she responded to? In particular, has she personally purchased from us before? This score changes almost any time the lead takes an action. Having a carefully documented and measured scoring algorithm is a best practice here.
  • Temporal (decay criteria). How long has it been since the last action? In many U.S. market sectors, this is an amazingly important factor, as lead interest is highly perishable. In markets suffering less from ADHD, the time factors can be calibrated in weeks rather than hours.
  • Social criteria. Who does this person influence, and who influences her? If you're lucky enough to have access to detailed communication network patterns, there is significant predictive value here. This is an area of truly Black Magic, so watch out for overselling from vendors and consultants alike.

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