Wilco Blog

Transforming Your Lead-to-Cash in a Crisis

As the now-infamous saying goes, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” What that means is, most crises present an opportunity to make an improvement, implement a new approach, or innovate in some way. 

For sales teams specifically, a crisis can expose areas in the sales process most ripe for growth and reveal points along the customer purchase journey that can be improved or streamlined. This is true whether the team is experiencing a sudden spike in demand and needs to figure out how to scale operations, or if they are having to reinvent after an unexpected decline in the marketplace. 

The best place to spot these opportunities is to examine your organization’s lead-to-cash process flow, which charts the entire path from the customer’s intent to the point at which your company realizes revenue from product sales. Most organizations tend to discover data, application, and workflow silos, as well as redundant or manual processes that have been creating inefficiencies and ultimately impacting the customer experience. 

Depending on the severity, these issues will often be felt most during a time of crisis. Whether you’re currently in recovery mode or working proactively to avoid future disruption, here are the critical sub-processes of lead-to-cash to examine when undergoing a transformation and the technology that can be used to support it:

Contact to lead 

This is typically the part of the process in which the marketing team creates and launches a campaign or series of campaigns to generate awareness for a product or service. The goal is to turn existing or new contacts into qualified leads. To do that, they need to have mechanisms in place to 1) target the right customers at the right time and with the right message, and 2) attach lead scores to customers based on their interactions. Doing this accurately, efficiently, and at scale, requires the right technology. It could signal an area of opportunity if you don’t have the following capabilities within your current tech stack:

  • AI and machine learning to improve segmentation, targeting, and personalization
  • Automatic identity, engagement, and consent data collection to support with lead scoring
  • Automated campaign triggers based on the customer’s interactions
  • Integrations with your CRM to allow for a single source of truth for customer information

Salesforce technology that could be involved in this sub-process: Pardot and Sales Cloud

Lead to opportunity 

Not all leads will be ready to act right away. Many will require nurturing or re-targeting to keep them engaged. Analytics tools are advantageous at this point in the process to help assess whether the lead is worth pursuing and at what point they should be delivered to the sales team. Examine whether your lead nurturing program is set up correctly based on the right triggers and is fully automated to avoid leads from slipping out of the funnel. Your marketing technology should also seamlessly integrate with your sales tool for an easy handoff to the sales team. 

Salesforce technology that could be involved in this sub-process: Pardot and Sales Cloud

Opportunity to quote 

At this point in the process, the sales representative should be able to accurately determine the readiness and viability of an opportunity to not only help them prioritize their outreach efforts but also signal when to act. Do they have a comprehensive view of the customer (access to intent and engagement data, the marketing message that the customer has received, etc.)? Do they have access to lead scoring data? Do they have the right tools to be able to quickly configure a quote and even identify appropriate cross-sell and up-sell recommendations? This might mean access to a dynamic database with detailed product information or collaborative tools that enable them to interact in real-time or near real-time with the right product expert. 

Salesforce technology that could be involved in this sub-process: Sales Cloud and CPQ

Quote to order 

Once a quote is provided to the customer, they typically negotiate or accept and sign. With the right technology, this process can be completely automated –– whether capturing customer feedback on the quote or triggering a signed document and creating a sales order –– delivering a seamless experience for the customer. When standardized processes and automation is absent from this process, there tend to be inconsistencies in quotes being provided in an effort to close the deal, or delays in the process particularly if multiple reviews and approvals are required. If this is the case in your organization, this could reveal another improvement opportunity.  

Salesforce technology that could be involved in this sub-process: CPQ

Order to cash 

In some organizations, this can be the most complicated part of the process flow, particularly if the order has to be split based on the product type. For instance, some orders may require a sales order, service order, and a subscription order that will go to different departments such as fulfillment, management, or directly to billing. Automation is key at this point to maintain accuracy, efficiency, and a quality customer experience. 

Salesforce technology that could be involved in this sub-process: CPQ and Service Cloud

Ultimately, the goal with a lead-to-cash transformation –– crisis or not –– is to create a 360-degree view of the customer and a “one team” culture across your marketing, sales, and customer success departments. When these come together, it improves operational efficiency, but more importantly, supports a great customer experience. Thus, true transformation will require not just the right technology stack, but also process improvement and culture shifts. 

As author Dave Pelzer once said, “Something good comes out of every crisis.”