In my experience, the most neglected and inefficiently utilized part of the direct-mail loop among even the most sophisticated marketing companies is the lead management phase.
Why, I don't really know. But after spending tens of thousands of dollars to get leads, many companies tend to treat the leads as so much dross instead of attractive veins of pure gold just waiting to be mined.
Here's a handy little checklist/scorecard quiz that, when completed, tells you if you're on target with your lead management program or not.
1. Has your sales force been apprised of and continually sold on your lead generation program? Y_____ N_____
2a. Do you process inquiries so requested information is mailed within 72 hours of receipt (note: preferably within 24 hours)?
2b. Or do you rely instead on your sales force to do the fulfillment?
3. Do you have an instant fax capability for "need info immediately" requests to be handled?
4. If you offer an in-bound 800 number as an option in direct mail and advertising (and you should!), do you make sure the telephone answerers are trained to elicit from callers key information such as time frame of anticipated purchase, budget and special options?
5. Is this same, in-bound information stored in a database and sent off to sales people?
6. Do you have a similarly trained staff of telephone people available to call back and qualify inquirers before such leads are given to the field sales force?
7. Are sales reports generated monthly on the leads received by territory, district or nationally? Y_____ N_____
8. Does management demand monthly promotional effectiveness reports showing lead sources and product interest? Y_____ N_____
9. Tracking leads by source (DM, trade shows, telemarketing, PR, ads, etc.) is often difficult, but does your company establish the value of leads by category in terms of sales volume and profits? Y_____ N_____
10. Do you maintain an up-to-date database? Y_____ N_____
11. Is it referred to continually as a management tool to evaluate both sales people and promotions? Y_____ N_____
12. Have you established your marketing strategy so that it's a closed loop in that all phases flow smoothly and regenerate themselves? Y_____ N_____
Give yourself ten points for each question you answered "yes" to, except for 2b, which should be answered "no." If you score 100 points or more, your company is in the top echelon of marketers. If you scored under 100 points, you need to tighten up your inquiry fulfillment system to make sure you get more than your share of the "pure gold."