I am about to take the MB2-719 certification, this certification covers the Dynamics 365 for Marketing Application. I plan to create a series of blog posts that collectively should help anyone preparing for this exam. In this post I’ll look at the basic concepts around lead management.
The section of the skills measured statement that mentions leads is shown below. Up to 15% of the exam could be focused on leads, so understanding their purpose in the context of marketing is a significant portion of the exam.
What is a lead?
A lead is considered an “expression of interest”. Within Dynamics 365 for Marketing they help us identify potential sales of any product or service being promoted.
If you are familiar with the Dynamics 365 for Sales module you will know that within it we can have a lead without an associated contact. However in Dynamics 365 for Marketing all interactions are with contacts …. meaning in this context leads and contacts are always linked. Each lead is an expression of interest for a given contact. Plus each contact could express an interest in multiple products / services, resulting in the potential for multiple leads per contact.
Leads maybe scored, this process helps us assess the sales readiness of a lead. This will be an important concept to help support the transition from marketing into sales.
Lead Life Cycle
Leads will follow a process! This “journey” is described as the lead life cycle which takes the lead from creation into nurturing then eventually to an opportunity and hopefully a sale. During this journey leads (and their associated contact) will potentially be handled by different teams within your organisation. Including;
Marketing Team – In the early stages the marketing team will help generate the leads and start the nurturing process.
Telesales Team – A telesales team maybe used to contact and qualify leads. (Possibly after a number of marketing messages generated by the marketing team.)
Sales Team – Eventually the lead will be considered sales ready. This might happen automatically based on repeated activity by the marketing team. Or the telesales team may have qualified the lead and manually flagged it as sales ready. Once a lead is “ready” the sales team would take over. They would progress the lead into an opportunity and hopefully a sale.
Whenever someone submits a marketing page (form) that is set up to create contacts and leads Dynamics 365 for Marketing will create a new contact and lead. (or match to an existing contact / leads if a matching record already exists.)
Once the lead (and contact) has been created we wouldn’t typically consider them as sales ready. Often they will undergo a marketing led nurturing campaign before being tele prospecting or sales ready.
Tip: Leads can also be created via LinkedIn Lead Generation forms. I touched on this in an earlier post covering integrations with Dynamics 365 for Marketing. You can view that post here.
Another Tip: As we are using Dynamics 365 for Marketing it will be common to automatically create leads from marketing pages, LinkedIn integrations or customer journeys. But you should also be aware that leads can be manually generated or imported as required. (Using “standard” Dynamics 365 functionality!) However, for marketing purposes if you manually create a lead you will need to remember to link the lead to a contact.
Below you can see the out of the box business process flow associated with leads. My lead has been created via a marketing page and is currently in the Inquiry stage.
I will describe the stages in the out of the box marketing lead business process flow below. In the “real world” you are likely to adjust this to reflect each organisations actual processes. For example, out of the box we are going to assume a telesales team will conduct tele prospecting activities. This maybe common but wouldn’t always be the case. (Hence, in my opinion, most organisations will tweak this process!)
Inquiry Stage – the initial stage a lead enters when first created. Typically at this stage a corresponding contact will exist. Importantly if you view the details tab of the lead you will be able to see its source. (Which could be a customer journey, email, marketing page or marketing form.)
Automated Marketing Qualification Stage – Leads can be scored automatically based on marketing activities. These nurturing activities can result in the lead automatically becoming sales ready.
Tele Prospecting Acceptance Stage – Assuming you wish to target the lead via a tele prospecting function the lead can be accepted by telesales.
Tele Prospecting Qualification Stage – qualification will involve recording the purchase timeframe, budget, purchase need and more. Additionally, if not already automatically flagged as sales ready, the telesales agent could manually flag the lead as sales ready.
Sales Acceptance Stage – Sales acceptance stage is when the lead will be handed over to the sales team. From a Dynamics 365 for Marketing point of view, the sales team will simply flag that the lead has been accepted. Your sales team will probably be using Dynamics 365 for Sales! Meaning I would commonly expect them to now switch the business process flow to the sales lead to opportunity flow. That would then support them in further qualifying the lead, converting to an opportunity and then developing / proposing a solution. Plus hopefully successfully closing the opportunity as won.
Note: I am going to assume that the business process from Dynamics 365 for Sales is not within the scope of the Dynamics 365 for Marketing exam. However I have referenced it above as whilst not core to the exam I believe having an appreciation of the full end to end life cycle is important. I documented the sales process when I prepared for the MB2-717 (Sales) exam, you can therefore read more about the sales process here.
Below you can see the marketing information section of the details tab. Here we can see the source of the lead and if it is tele prospecting or sales ready.
I hope you now appreciate that each contact can have multiple leads from multiple sources. If a company sells multiple products I could have expressed an interest in multiple product lines at the same time. Possibly as a result of entering my details into different marketing pages sent via different customer journeys. I could be considered sales ready for one of those products but may “need” more nurturing before others become applicable.
I hope this post has given you a good introduction into the concept of leads and their associated life cycle. I have referenced lead scoring a few time! I will expand on this concept in a future post. As part of your MB2-719 revision I suggest you create a marketing form and marketing page that will generate leads. (That may take some effort but will be fantastic practice!) You can then start to generate leads which can be scored. Enjoy.