Beyond Lead Assignments: Managing the Salesforce Customer Lifecycle Process

One of U2’s more popular songs talks about a search that leads to climbing the highest mountains, running through the fields, and scaling city walls only to come to the realization “But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” That’s not a path you want to follow in Salesforce when assigning or reassigning Leads.

An assignment does not just occur when a prospective customer enters a company’s pipeline. The customer lifecycle management process contains many points where: — an assignment or re-assignment of a Lead, a Campaign Member, an Opportunity, an Account, a Contact, and even a Custom Salesforce Object — needs to happen.

Part 1: Initial Contact with Prospect

Customer lifecycle management starts with a prospect taking action to make that first contact with the company. Salesforce Lead assignment rules create a Lead record and then assigns it. The assignment likely depends on the source of the Lead and company sales coverage policies.

Here are some possible Lead sources:

  • Inbound Lead from the company website, inbound call, or email
  • Lead referred by partner
  • List of Leads uploaded in batch after an event
  • Purchased list of Leads

Here are several examples of sales coverage policies:

  • Round Robin Lead assignment with Load Balancing
  • Geo-based Routing
  • Skills-based Lead assignment
  • Account owner (Account-Based Selling assignment)

Once a Lead comes in, it could go to a sales rep, account manager, a partner, or through a qualification process. In some cases, the Lead assignment process may assign Leads to a secondary user such as a product or alliance manager, in addition to the primary owner.

Part 2: Send Follow-up Marketing Campaigns

When someone responds to a marketing campaign, assignment rules in Salesforce create a Campaign Member record tied to an existing Lead for prospects or a Contact for existing or former customers. Campaign Member records don’t have an Owner field in Salesforce, so it is not always obvious who should follow up.

Here are a couple of scenarios that illustrate not so obvious ways of following up with Leads responding to Campaigns:

  • A prospect who has been dormant for months is parked in a “nurture” queue without an Owner. One day, out of the blue, the prospect responds to a Campaign. When this happens, the Lead should be reassigned to a sales rep, possibly using Round Robin or Load Balancing, and the Lead status updated.
  • A product manager wants to assign members of his team to track selected high-value Campaign responses. Rather than arbitrarily assigning these responses, the product manager may want to assign each team member a set number of open Campaign responses to track.

Customers have unique needs and preferences. Campaign Member assignments show how these varied needs can add complexity that is difficult to implement and manage in Salesforce.

Part 3: Convert the Lead

When a Lead converts, Salesforce creates an Opportunity record as well as Account and Contact records, if they did not exist previously. The Opportunity may need to be assigned to multiple people such as a sales rep, sales engineer, and, for Account Based Selling assignments (ABS assignments), an overall account manager.

At this stage, a prospect tends to require expertise and support from someone in addition to a sales rep.

Part 4: Close the Opportunity

Depending on the company’s needs, when an Opportunity is closed, the now new customer may need to be reassigned to a customer success manager or renewals rep. A relationship with a customer doesn’t end after a purchase. The company stays in touch to ensure that a customer succeeds and for upselling opportunities.

For example, a branch manager may want her team to contact existing customers who showed interest in new products. She may want the existing Accounts’ relationship managers — not sales reps — to do the follow-up assignments. Without tools that complement Salesforce, these types of assignments will need to be done manually or with complex coding. Using a tool like Decisions on Demand the branch manager can easily assign follow-up to the relationship managers in charge of existing accounts.

Retaining customers is cheaper than finding new ones. Assigning new customers to appropriate marketing Campaigns can increase retention rates and create upsell and cross-sell Opportunities.

Just like in Part 2, customers may need new assignments post-sales to match the right Campaign for each customer’s profile and history.

Part 5: Reorganization and Growth

As a Lead moves through the buyer’s journey, Salesforce converts it to an Opportunity, Account, and Contact. An assignment must occur with each. And this can become a problem when larger or high growth companies reorganize coverage or add new sales reps and territories.

When a reorganization occurs, it requires massive Lead, Opportunity, Account and Contact re-assignments. out-of-the-box features for Lead assignment in Salesforce, this is a mostly manual, error-prone, time-consuming process.

For example, a company reorganizing sales coverage from geo-based territories to Account-Based Selling territories may no longer be able to rely on a Lead’s “State” field. Instead, it needs to match between a Lead “Company” field and an Account “Account Name” field. Yet, the name of the company on the Lead will not always match the name of the company in the Account.

Do you want to re-assign Leads based on a customer’s profile and history? Do you want to be able to create your own custom objects and assignment activities and ownership based on that custom object? Do you want Leads, Opportunities, Accounts, and Contacts assigned based on Account-Based Marketing and Sales territory coverage?

Find what you’re looking for with Decisions on Demand, an AppExchange App. It boosts Salesforce’s Lead assignment features by simplifying them into easy to understand decision tables, so a non-technical user can manage them, and by extending assignments beyond Leads to Campaign membership, Opportunities, Accounts, Contacts and custom Salesforce Objects.

Learn more about automating and creating flexible lead assignment rules or schedule a personalized demo at a time that works for you.