What’s in a name?

definemeLead management is an essential business process – typically owned by Marketing, but impacting the entire organisation.

One thing which strikes me as I speak to sales and marketing superstars across various organisations, is the wide variety of terms and definitions used to describe sales prospects and the stages which they move through as they are qualified. “SQLs”, “suspects”, “prospects”, “opportunities”, “responses”, “conversions” – these terms can all mean different things in different organisations and different CRM systems.

Now – the following baseline is pretty clear:

  • We can’t achieve return on our Marketing investment unless we manage leads effectively.
  • We can’t manage leads effectively unless we have clear definitions.
  • We can’t have clear definitions unless we understand the sales engagement.

“Sales engagement? But – I’m in marketing!”

Let’s face it, we all know we rely on each other, but we often fail at being aligned. If you’re a marketer, when was the last time you listened in to a sales call or a prospect meeting? If you’re in sales, when was the last time you invited your marketing manager to join you at such a meeting? If we follow the musty tradition of ostracising sales and marketing, we are missing a vital trick and one which may well cost us more than revenue dollars (or euros, whatever floats your business boat).

One thing which often strikes me is how frequently Sales and Marketing use the corporate definitions differently. We often have clear guidelines for qualifying a sales lead by using the BANT criteria (Budget, Authority, Need & Timescale) – but what about the stages before that?

See the person behind the lead

Working in marketing, lead management can easily become all about the numbers. We may chase leads through the funnel without necessarily understanding the journey from one stage to another. What is the customer experience of being a ”Stage 1 Lead”, or a ”Prospect” or a ”Highly Qualified Sales Lead”? Does the prospect feel hassled when they’re on an email drip program, for example? Do they get too many sales calls when they’re at a certain stage – and not enough when they’re at another?

Successful lead management requires both sales and marketing to have clarity of the definitions used and provide constant input into the evolution of lead management.

The technology trap

Add then into the mix the various temperaments of The Marketing Automation System. If you have such a system in place, you know that it – or the people who run it – will occasionally fail and produce leads with the wrong definition. This is why it’s fundamentally important that all teams understand the logic and the ethos behind the definitions, so as to not rely on technology to place everything on the right shelf.

So, in summary: Whether you have 15 stages of lead development or just three, make sure that the definitions of those stages are crystal clear to all sales and marketing teams.

Oh – and if you get it wrong from time to time, don’t worry about it.
After all, you’re just like your leads: A human being.


5 lessons in happiness from a cat

In ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped as gods, Chilled out catwhich is something they have never forgotten.

Dear reader, I’ll be the first one to admit that I am a bit of a crazy cat lady. I
have had cats in my life for as long as I can remember. Scrawny farm cats, fluffy half-breeds, half-blind invalids and flamboyant pedigrees… I’ve loved them all and – more importantly – learned from them.

Cats have taught me 5 very important lessons about how to achieve happiness in life. And I’d like to share those lessons with you.

Lesson 1: It’s OK to change your mind.

Anyone who’s ever tried to let a cat out through the door will know that a typical scenario is: the cat hesitates for a long time in front of the open door, thinking about its decision. It then goes out, sits outside for a few moments. It then scratches the door again, wanting to come back inside. This sequence of events is often repeated a few times before the cat finally decides that one particular side of the door is where it wants to stay.

Interpretation: Sometimes you don’t know if a decision is the right one until you try it. And if you don’t like it, there’s no shame in going back to where you were before.

Lesson 2: Forget about decorum.

The average cat owner will through the cat’s lifetime spend more than £100 on cat beds, blankets, cushions and baskets, only to discover that the cat will spend 99% of its time squashed into cardboard boxes, cupboards, suitcases and on top of freshly folded piles of laundry. Why? Because it wants to, that’s why. For some reason, cats don’t do what is expected of them. They won’t sit on the cat bed and complain about how uncomfortable it is. If they prefer sitting on an old jumper, they will go sit on an old jumper.

Interpretation: Do what you’re comfortable with and don’t worry too much about what others expect of you. If you’re comfortable, you’ll be much more fun to be around anyway.

Lesson 3: Everything is a toy.

My friend once made this wonderful comment:

“Dogs love it when you put your shoes on, because it means you’re going outside.
Cats love it when you put your shoes on because hey – shoelaces!”

No matter what age a cat is, it wants to play. In fact, it needs to play. It’s part of the vital stimulation to keep a cat happy and well adjusted. And the cat does not lack in imagination. A wriggly piece of string is a deadly snake. A ball of yarn is a fluffy, evil monster. And your fingers on the computer keyboard are just… irresistible.

Interpretation: Life gets so much more enjoyable when we make time to play. And who says we have to stop playing just because we grow up?

Lesson 4: You are surrounded by idiots.

This may be a tough pill to swallow for some people, but when a cat looks at you – it doesn’t see a superior species. It just sees a two-legged, hairless cat with whom it can’t communicate. As a human, you are never truly the owner of a cat. You are merely the housekeeper and the supplier of cat biscuits. But nevertheless, the cat does not judge you. It will continue to speak to you and try to make you understand what it means, using all its vocabulary and body language to do so. It will even give you affection, although you probably didn’t do very much to deserve it.

Interpretation: Nobody will ever understand you the way you understand yourself. So don’t expect everyone around you to know what you’re going through. Take time to show them, try to communicate. If they still don’t get it, walk away with your tail held high.

Lesson 5: Stand your ground.

Last summer I witnessed an amazing display of courage. My cat Bobo, an adult tom cat, was sitting in the bushes at the bottom of the garden, when the neighbour’s dog, a fully grown Rhodesian ridgeback, snuck through the fence and into our garden. There she proceeded to do her business – of the number one variety. I watched Bobo watching the dog, and suddenly he darted out from the bushes with his back and tail arched in full attack mode. He ran up to the dog, who was ten times bigger than him, swiped at her face. She just yelped in fear. She did make a feeble attempt at biting back but soon ran out from the garden and has never come near it since. I was bursting with pride of my cat’s courage, defending his turf. It was as if he could tolerate a visitor, but when they started taking liberties, he showed them who’s boss.

Interpretation: Don’t let anyone pee in your garden. Respect other people, but remember to protect what’s your own territory and keep it safe.

And there you have it – the five lessons in happiness my cats have taught me.

I hope this post leaves you feline good about yourself. Nobody’s purr-fect, but if I can help you be a bit more paw-sitive, then my work here is done.

I should just stop right meow.

The Gift of Failure

“I am such a failure.”

If you are anything like me, there have been times when you have said those words to yourself. Maybe not in public, maybe not out loud, but in your mind’s voice.

You didn’t get that promotion. You forgot that important meeting. You managed to burn the family’s Christmas turkey. Failure comes in many shapes and sizes. And sometimes your failure isn’t even obvious to other people – just to yourself.

I want to share some thoughts on how we are shaped to think around failure and how that thinking can actually stop us from accepting the gift it can be. Secondly, I’ll be revealing how failure can actually turn into a success when we least expect it.

  1. So – what does it mean to fail?
    Society today is so focussed on success and achievement, that failing at a task can make us feel like a failure as a person. We forget that behind what we call success there is very often hard work and a long series of failed attempts at succeeding. We forget that all those little stumbles we make on the path towards achievement hold the opportunity to grow and learn and better ourselves and try harder, work smarter, try new things, grow as a person.When we’re afraid of failing, we can sometimes be tricked into not even trying. Because if we don’t try, at least we can’t fail – right?

    Fear of failure can be crippling. It can prevent us from realising our own potential. Imagine, for example, that Lisa and Tony both dream of climbing Mount Everest. Lisa decides to make an attempt, but Tony is afraid of not being able to do it, so he stays home. Lisa starts the climb, but only two days in she sprains her wrist and is forced to leave the expedition. She feels incredibly disappointed in having to go home without achieving your goal. But something’s happened. Something has changed in her. The experience has made her braver – AND more likely to succeed next time. Because now she knows exactly what the climate is like, what the pitfalls are, how to prepare. The threshold has been lowered. But for Tony, the fear is still there, because he hasn’t seen it. He doesn’t know what it’s like. So instead of taking his first few baby steps, he stays where he is.

    It’s like the old Chinese proverb: If you don’t climb mountain, mountain climbs you. (Actually, that’s not a real Chinese proverb. I made it up. But it helps get the message across).

  2. Now to my second point: The potential of failure.
    How many of you have heard of a gentleman called Spencer Silver? He was an engineer who worked at 3M in 1968, trying to develop super strong adhesives for use in the aerospace industry. But he didn’t do very well. In fact – instead of a super strong adhesive, he accidentally managed to create an incredibly weak and pressure sensitive glue, which went on to become the glue component of the famous Post-It Note.This is possibly one of the best examples of how one failed innovation can spark another, very useful, one. In fact, it turned out to become one of the most successful innovations in modern stationery. It’s today used by millions of people on a daily basis. What does that tell you about failure?Another person, with maybe a more familiar name, is Dale Carnegie. He was one of the most successful business lecturers of the last century. One of his most famous quotes is “Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”What he’s saying is that failure is not just something random that will come and go; he’s saying that failure is an essential part of becoming successful.

    In summary: Failure is something that we should welcome with open arms. We should embrace the opportunity to learn how NOT to do something – because it means that we improve the success rate when we try again.

For example – think of a 10 month old baby. A cute, clumsy, curious baby. How many times every day does it try to do something, and fails completely? It drops things, it falls, it hits people by mistake. A baby’s failure rate is astonishingly high. But – how quickly does a baby develop? How much progress does it make in a year, six months, even just one month? What does that tell you? It should tell you that failure is good – it means you are testing your boundaries, stretching your abilities. Growing and growing.

If you’re battling feelings of being a failure, I have three suggestions for you.

  • Focus on gratitude. Look at what you do have, look at your strengths, appreciate yourself and be grateful for what you have achieved so far.
  • See every attempt as a building block of success. Sometimes to build a strong foundation, you need lay down plenty of blocks to build on.
  • Keep smiling. You can’t win if you’re a victim. Don’t let failure get you down, but use it as a motivator. Keep trying.

You are not a failure.