This blog was written before Pardot was renamed to Marketing Cloud Account Engagement. You can read more about the name change and what it means here.
The term lead management’ has many meanings. Lead management is how you communicate to your leads and when. It’s also how you score and grade your leads so you have a clear idea of which are qualified, as well as the process you use for sending sales-ready leads to your sales reps.
A mistake many businesses make is focusing on the initial win of capturing a lead, more so than what happens once that lead enters Pardot.
You don’t need me to tell you that what happens with your leads once they enter your marketing automation software is just as important as getting them there in the first place.
Without a strong management plan for leads in Pardot, you run the risk of alienating leads with irrelevant, infrequent, or too frequent communications.
Your Pardot account can end up full of unorganised data that is hard to interpret and inaccurate for reporting.
In the worst case, you can end up losing track of leads, having your sales team contact the wrong leads, or missing opportunities to close the right leads.
In short, your Pardot account can quickly descend into chaos without proactive lead management.
With this in mind, my biggest piece of advice is to document a lead management plan as part of the implementation of Pardot.
What a good lead management plan should include
When planning your lead management, I find it easiest to divide into four sections:
- Qualifying new leads - scoring and grading
- Lead assignment - rules for different types of leads
- Lead nurture - how you communicate with different segments of lead data
- Internal processes - responsibilities within your team and rules for passing leads to sales
Let’s go through each one-by-one.
Qualifying new leads in Pardot
When somebody enters Pardot, you may automatically classify them as a lead but the question you need to ask is, are they really?
How does this new person compare to your ideal buyer or your buyer personas?
Is this person likely to actually buy from you now or in the future?
This is where lead scoring and grading is essential.
Lead grading uses a letter grade from A-F to rank how well a lead matches your criteria for your business’ ideal customer profile. This is based on the demographic information the lead gives you when they submit a form i.e. location, job function, job title, industry, and so on.
Lead scoring, on the other hand, takes into account the behaviour of the lead and whether their interactions with your business indicate an interest or intent in buying from you.
For example, leads may accrue a score based on whether they open or click an email, or visit a particular page on your website, such as the pricing page.
Your lead plan should include your lead grading and scoring model, which I’ve written in more detail about in this post about lead scoring best practices.
The most obvious use case for assigning a lead is when they reach the lead score you’ve preset to indicate that they are ready for sales contact.
Assigning leads is useful in more ways than this though. For example, you may have more than one team who market to and monitor leads, so lead assignment can help you to notify a particular group when a new lead enters the system or has fulfilled some other criteria, such as completing an automation.
To assign leads to users in Pardot, you have the option of doing this manually or automating based on rules that you enter. Naturally, I recommend the latter as the most efficient process!
Pardot has a more detailed article about lead assignment on their blog.
You might be wondering why lead nurture is part of your lead management plan, considering the nature of marketing automation software is to automate lead nurturing. Why would you invest in Pardot and not have a plan for using it to nurture your leads? One might ask.
Well, lead nurture is about more than setting up a series of emails for your leads.
To consider lead nurture within your lead management plan is to ask the questions:
- How should I segment my leads so I can create the most relevant communication content for each?
- What are the criteria for a lead entering an automation?
- How do I avoid overlap and over-saturation for leads within multiple automations?
- When should a lead be excluded or removed from an automation?
Whilst your lead nurture strategy might cover some of this, your lead management plan is your opportunity to really consider the potential journey of your leads and how these can be safeguarded to avoid any negative experience.
Last but not least, your plan for leads should consider the internal processes you need to make sure all that need it are followed up by the right person, at the right time, and in the right way.
When and how should sales-ready leads be shared with your sales team?
If you’re using Salesforce CRM, lead assignment can help to automate this.
If you don’t have a CRM yet, will your sales team be created as users and assigned leads this way, or will you share via email? If it’s the latter, what data protection processes need to be used to ensure compliance?
Ultimately, every person in your team that touches leads or Pardot should know what their responsibility is when it comes to data management and this part of your lead management document should communicate this clearly.
I can’t stress enough how many hours and headaches can be saved by just taking a bit of time upfront to pull together your lead management plan for Pardot. Hopefully, this quick guide has convinced you to do so and given you enough to get started. As always, any questions or for help implementing Pardot, get in touch!