If you and your reports are having a rocky relationship, maybe it’s time for date night! Applying dating to your lead and contact records can be a big help.
Measuring demand funnel velocity has always been challenging to do without performing periodic data snapshots and some SQL data crunching outside of Salesforce. That’s also true of measuring how many leads reach certain funnel stages within a specific period because directly in Salesforce you can only report on the lead’s current status. For example, answering a seemingly simple question like “how many leads were Marketing Qualified last month?” is often a struggle because some of the leads that did qualify now have moved either forward or backward.
Fortunately, we have various solutions to measure stage velocity and volume, from simple to more sophisticated approaches.
The simple approach is to create several date fields on the Lead, Contact and Opportunity objects. Leads and Contact objects will typically have date fields that represent the top of the funnel. For example, if your Demand Funnel taxonomy includes top-of-funnel stages Inquiry, Marketing Qualified and Sales Accepted, date fields for Inquiry Date, MQL Date, and SAL Date will be created on the Lead and Contact objects respectively. Salesforce Workflows or Process Builder will need to be created to date stamp these fields as Leads or Contacts move through the different stages. The Opportunity object, besides having the top-of-funnel date fields which are populated from Lead Conversion, will also have additional Date fields for the bottom of the funnel.
This simple approach is good because it is easy enough to set up and will give Marketing additional metrics that they didn’t have, or that they didn’t have to jump through hoops to get. Is it perfect? No, it is not, and nothing will ever be. For the leads that take a straight path, this approach suffices.
We all know, that some leads move forward and back several times before they reach Sales Qualification. Using the simple approach of stage date stamping on the Lead and Contact objects, if a Lead became Marketing Qualified last month, then Recycled, and became Marketing Qualified again today, the MQL Date on the Lead record will show today’s date. If you were to run a report on the number of leads that were Marketing Qualified last month, this lead would not be counted because the MQL Date has been overwritten with today’s date. Technically, Marketing should be credited for qualifying this lead last month and this month.
So, you should consider the other approach for measuring volume and velocity: utilizing a Salesforce custom object that will have a many-to-one relationship to the Lead and Contact records. The many-to-one relationship represents the one OR many times that the person started a journey through the funnel. One example of this approach is DemandGen’s Demand Funnel Reporting (DFR) solution. With DFR, if a Lead or Contact became Marketing Qualified in the last two years because it was recycled the first two times it qualified and then moved further along when it qualified the third time, then all three funnel journeys are logged as three different records that are related to the Lead. MQL volume for different date ranges will be more accurate. In addition, velocity will be more accurate since entry and exit dates are tracked for each stage of each funnel journey. This kind of data will not always be accurate using the simple approach, for example with leads that qualified, were accepted, were nurtured, and then qualified again, because a more recent date will be shown for the MQL Date than the SAL Date.
Outside technology, a dating expert I am not! But I know that it takes a leap of faith and that the outcome can cover a wide range: love, hate, and anywhere in between. Luckily, with dating your funnel, the risk is low. Although accuracy is dependent on your method’s level of sophistication, applying any dating typically results in improved funnel reporting.
Augusto Bisda is a DemandGen Solutions Architect with extensive knowledge of application development and best-in-class solutions. As an expert Salesforce developer, Augusto sets a high quality for excellence and continues to exceed that bar on a day-by-day basis.