Sales Operations: The Importance of Lead Source

Focus on selling. That’s the mantra of basically every sales team.  Make calls, send emails, and close deals. That means you’re spending your time doing exactly what you’re paid to do. But, if the sales team is not accurately assigning lead source, are they performing to the level they could be?

In this post, we’ll examine why assigning an accurate lead source is so important and how it can benefit your sales strategy.

What is lead source?

Lead source is a CRM value that should be assigned as soon as the lead is created. It is the source of the lead. Determine what your lead source is by looking at the channel from which the lead originated. These channels can vary from company to company, but typically have values such as Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Trade Show, Partner Referral, and Website.

The values are relatively generic because you do not want an infinite number of options. If you do not have a defined list, you risk being unable to derive insights from your reports. For example, without a specific drop down of values, a free text field could result in multiple variations for the same lead source, poor or wordy descriptions, misspellings, or confusing abbreviations.

The source of the lead cannot, and should not, change over time. While the lead may download additional white papers, attend webinars, or meet you in person at a show, they were still brought into the system for the first time by one action in one, specific channel.

That is your lead source.

How sales operations should use lead source

The role of sales operations is to make sales run smoothly. One way this can be done is by developing a successful sales strategy that ensures your sales reps are spending their time where they’re most likely to be effective.

But what does that look like?

Create a finite list of source values

Work with the marketing operations team to determine a list of values. It’s important that sales operations and marketing work together in this effort so both sides are equally represented in their efforts.

The list should be between 10-15 values and cover all your lead generation efforts across everything from marketing and sales to partner channels. Get a little granular, such as specifying your paid social channels, but save specific partner names, trade show names, or sales rep names for another field. If you don’t currently do paid campaigns on Facebook, but think you may in the future, go ahead and add it.

However, keep the list as short as you can. While you can add more over time, the values should not be an ever-growing, ever-expanding list. The more values you have, the less likely you’ll be able to report effectively.

lead source reports
Workplace with notebook on black background

Develop opportunity reports

Ideally, you have a CRM with at least basic reporting functionality. This allows you to create opportunity reports broken down by lead source. Use these reports to understand what leads are converting and where they are coming from.

Don’t just focus on Lead to Opportunity conversion. While this is an important metric, you also need to create reports to understand which lead sources are becoming closed won deals and which enter the pipeline but become closed lost.

Look for patterns. Perhaps leads with a source of “Asset Download” become opportunities at an extremely high rate, but then never result in a closed won deal. Alternatively, perhaps leads coming from PPC convert to an opportunity at a lower rate but result in closed won at an extremely high rate.

Create your sales strategy

Now that you have your reports and trends identified, you can create your sales strategy. Enable reps to understand where their deals are coming from and where their time is wasted.

Present them with a clear plan for lead follow-up. It may be easiest to tier the leads as part of a lead scoring model.

Sales reps can then spend their time on qualified leads most likely to convert and close, which will increase the sales pipeline and subsequently revenue.

Talk with Marketing

Don’t keep this information to yourself. Work with marketing to help them understand what you’re seeing and how your sales reps are using that information.

If you’re a marketer, you can take this information and use it to adjust your marketing strategy and spend. The sales team should spend their time reaching out to the leads most likely to become customers. But, as a marketer, you need to look at creating lead generation plans that will bring in prospects that more closely match that profile.

The more qualified leads you bring in, the more qualified leads sales will have. More deals will be close, more revenue will come in, and everyone will be happy.

Want to know how you can clean up your database and derive these insights? We can help. Just drop us a line to get started.