Apr 10, 2003
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In many companies, there is often a bit of friction between sales and marketing. Marketers get frustrated that sales reps waste leads, and reps complain that the leads are not good enough.
One problem is that most sales tracking systems do not assign leads a quality-rating, and do not track the leads through the sales cycle and out the other end. Another is getting sales reps to actually give back any data on whether or not a lead was effective. Reps hate paperwork.
For the past five years, UPS has been developing and using its own in-house 'LINK' system to get around these two problems.
The LINK system connects UPS sales reps in the field with both the sales management and the marketing department. The idea is to share information back and forth between everyone, avoiding points of friction by offering the same data to both marketing and sales.
Step 1: Marketing generates and filters leads
Everything starts with one massive, shared database.
Every single sales lead UPS' marketing team generates gets fed into the same universal tracking system no matter what channel, online or off, it originally came in on. Leads even come in from UPS drivers who see packages waiting to be picked up by a competitor.
Customer satisfaction and account data is also fed into the same system. "It could be a customer we've had for ten years and we're looking to retain their business or penetrate into a new area of the customer's business." Either way, the information is put in the database.
Then an in-house filtering system gives each prospective account (or up-sell opportunity) a ranking of worthiness for dedicated sales attention.
"It starts with the quality of the leads," explains Dale Hayes, UPS' VP US Sales. "Once you have the leads, you still need to scrub them, screen and filter them, and see that they're good qualified leads."
Step 2: The hand off
Near the end of each day, the best new leads are sent electronically to sales reps in the field, so they can use this information to plan the next day's sales calls.
"When the lead is sent to the sales person the clock starts ticking and we measure how long it's been sitting there," Hayes says. Sales reps are expected to make first contact with a lead within 48 hours.
Step 3: Sales collects data
When they make that contact, they bring their laptops with them. All UPS reps have laptops.
"UPS sales reps love using computers," Hayes says. "They take out laptops during sales calls and take notes during the whole process. This makes sending the info to UPS every evening a lot less time consuming."
Each evening, reps use these laptops to send their notes directly to the main LINK database on everything discussed during that day's sales calls, such as:
- details on the customer's business,
- what products were discussed,
- revenue potential,
- if subsidiaries need to be brought in,
- what the sales rep's next step will be,
- when a follow-up is planned,
- and whether or not rates are already being discussed.
Step 4: Both sides, sales and marketing, analyze results
This wealth of data is immediately available for everyone on both the sales management and the marketing side, who is associated with the account or territory, to analyze and learn from.
"A sales rep can only access information about their customers," Hayes notes. "Or if it's a large national or global account, like IBM, only people on that team can access the information. What's important is that the same information is visible to both sales and marketing."
Next UPS uses "sophisticated operational techniques" to review the new data on a weekly basis. Marketing learns what percent of their total leads generated had high potential, which did not pan out, and which lead to sales.
This information is then used to scrub and filter new leads. The more the database is fed by sales reps, the better chance marketing has at delivering qualified leads. Which makes everyone's job a lot easier over time.