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Submitted by Guest Blogger, Ashley Furness,  Software Advice market analyst

Every company wants high leads volume – but skimping on lead management and prioritization can kill your chances to capitalize on the best ones.

In this two-part video series, VisionEdge Marketing President Laura Patterson shares her tips for crafting an effective opportunity scoring system. First, she shows how to use “fit” and “behavior” metrics for lead management. Then, she demonstrates how you turn those scores into sales and marketing action.

Use these tips to refine your sales funnel and never let a great lead fall through the cracks again.

sales lead funnel

Image  courtesy of Beth Kanter


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Yep – I am astonished by the lack of what we should know but don’t. Every day, businesses are cranking out tons of sales calls that Real-time lead management dataseem to fall short of gaining any real intellectual knowledge, despite all the effort. I was chatting with an Inside Sales manager a few weeks back, and he shared some of his data. Big dialing effort, decent connects and good sales. As I quizzed him about improvements that could be made, I felt I was enveloped in emptiness. It was the emptiness of failure–failure to gain any knowledge from the stalled attempts to sell. Read the rest of this entry »

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Several months back I wrote a post titled, “VoIP – Choosing the Right Provider for Your Inside Sales Team.” The post not only turned out to be popular, but actually generated quite a bit of traffic for one of the companies I referred to. The popularity of the post, the feedback I received from it, and what I learned while I was researching and writing it got me thinking more about VoIP, new features and how they can play more deeply into a company’s selling strategy.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Several times a week, we hear from people who are either searching for call center software or looking to upgrade their existing platform. I am often surprised that they have done little or no due diligence to identify their desired outcome. Are they looking to move calls more fluidly through their maze of departments and personnel? Or, are they looking to boost sales? In my experience, their questions often revolve around buzz terms like “IVR” and “metric tracking” (wait time, call time etc.). All of this makes great sense if they are truly a call center fielding inbound calls. However, many of these are not call centers at all. They are sales centers focused on outbound selling. And that, my friend, is the big surprise. So the question begging to be answered is this: Read the rest of this entry »

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Yep!  I used the words “art” and “cold calling” in the same sentence. We sponsored a webinar last week by our good friend Wendy Weiss, “The Queen of Cold Calling.” Pretty much anyone who uses the phone as a selling tool knows Wendy. If you don’t, you really need to jump on her next webinar. Wendy covered quite a bit of ground and offered us some great tips. I want to take this opportunity to provide some of the highlights as well as my own thoughts on cold calling. At the end of this post I will provide a link so you can replay the webinar and get Wendy’s expertise first hand. Read the rest of this entry »

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Recently, I started writing a new post about some of our best features which we think are underutilized by our customers. As I thought about several customers, knowing what I know about their business, I had a “Wow!” moment. These folks have no clue that VanillaSoft has these features baked in. With this new knowledge, and a desire to see how much I know about the platforms which I use everyday, I put myself to the test. Yep – you guessed it. I was clueless about many of the great features in some of the software platforms I use. Some were not too exciting, while many were not only exciting, they were time savers and money makers. Read the rest of this entry »

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It has been said that a man who promotes his competitors on his own site is a man who soon will find another line of work. I have always believed, and made it the policy of VanillaSoft, that getting people into the right product is more important than selling your product to the wrong person. For my older readers, you will recall that Santa did the same in the classic film, “Miracle on 34th Street.” Macy’s became famous for sending people to their archrival, Gimbals. If it is good enough for Santa…

The truth is that no one product can satisfy the needs of everyone. From time to time I find a new product or service that I like to write about and recommend. Don’t get me wrong. If you need lead management, I want you to look at VanillaSoft first. However, if you are looking to manage prospects and contacts without letting anything slip through the cracks, and you want to do it through traditional e-mail, than I think you should take a look at Contactually.

Simple and smart, Contactually automatically prioritizes your email contacts and helps you reconnect with the most important people at the right time. When they see a high-priority contact start to slip off your radar, they will send you a quick reminder to follow up. 

Beyond taking action with contacts in your network, Contactually also gathers and adds information from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (along with 20+ other social networks) to each person in your address book. You can easily find the latest updates on everyone in your network, and share it with other folks on your team.

Contactually is a great solution for anyone who sends a lot of emails, particularly people in sales, business development, or professional services (like consulting or financial management. Contactually works with any IMAP email account – including Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo, and AOL.  

So, if you have been looking to better manage your e-mail, contacts and opportunities, plug a few holes of lost opportunities, and are not ready for traditional CRM or lead management software, then Contactually may be worth the look.  To grab a free trial of Contactually visit them at

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 It is that time of the year again when we all set our goals for next year. We pour over this year’s numbers looking for the trends, the openings for growth, where we fell short and so on. We drive a flag into 2011 and declare success or stick a fork in it and say it is done. Many of the wins were in our control and many of the losses were well out of our control. Or, that is the story we peddle to ourselves. All we know is that next year needs to be better. We need more. We want success. The nagging question placed at our feet is defining success. 

“I have chosen the path less traveled when it comes to defining success.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Lauren Carlson, CRM Market Analyst over at Marketing Automation Software Guide, shared a post and video link that I think clearly outlined and clarified some of the confusion around lead management and demand generation. As a provider of Lead Management Software, we see it all of the time.

Lauren shared that “demand generation” and “lead management” are two terms that are well known but are often times confused and thought to be the same thing. Lauren posted a great two-part whiteboard session with Carlos Hidalgo, CEO of Annuitas Group and Executive Director of the Marketing Automation Institute.

In the video, Carlos defines both terms and explains how companies should view them not as separate entities, but a dual proposition. I like the simple but elegant explanation Carlos gives.

I encourage you to take a look.  Vist Lauren’s Blog here to watch the video.



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Have you ever stood behind your outbound sales people and really paid attention after they complete a sales call? It can be quite the learning experience. Whether they are the high-paid closers or the entry level prospectors, many, if not most, will kill quite a bit of time before saddling up and making the next call. As a sales manager or business owner, this loss of productivity can be the difference between OK performance or harnessing a high-powered sales team. Read the rest of this entry »

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