No Stinking Lead Module!

Three years ago, when I decided to build another CRM system and company from scratch I made a promise to myself that X2Engine CRM would be different from the rest. Having started in this industry in 1992 at an Atlanta-based CRM company called Brock Control Systems through five more CRM companies including starting SugarCRM from my garage in late 2003, I wanted to build something completely different. I was unafraid to break some glass you could say and the traditional CRM Lead Module was my first target.

From Brock, to Siebel, to Salesforce one thing all of these sales force applications have in common is a Lead Module. But over the years, the one module that I found most people complain about most is the Lead Module, or to put it another way – why do we have a Lead Module at all? Well for one in the early days of CRM vendors were scrambling to build as many CRM modules as possible, mostly in my opinion so they had more to demo in sales calls. I was a Sales Engineer back then, and I really enjoyed traveling the world doing six-hour, end to end CRM demos to major corporate buyer teams.

The second reason for the Lead module and a better reason for it, is that Marketers want to track multiple lead sources to one contact. Makes sense, you have several marketing campaigns running at the time or over time. The ability to track the effectiveness and cost of individual leads provides Marketing executives with the knowledge to more closely align marketing efforts with the best demand generating activities.

So what’s wrong with the Leads Module? Nothing, but at the same time I have found most small businesses do not need the complexity this module adds. Why should you have to create such a complicated process just to capture a lead? A lead comes in, it’s entered in the Leads Module, then a Contact is created assigned the lead, an Account is created assigned to the Contact and an Opportunity tied to the account or contact once the Lead is qualified. Wow…that’s a lot of steps for a sales representative to go through just to accept a simple lead from Marketing.

With X2Engine CRM, our design goal from day one is to keep the system as compact as possible. Fast and compact, and if the module does not meet this criteria we left it out – like the Lead Module. Instead we combined the Lead Module into the Contacts Module. Yes, it is more difficult to track multiple leads per one contact, but I have found even the best Marketing executives are ok with this. What they really want is the most effective Lead Generation and Routing Tool they can find. In this case simplifying and speeding up Lead throughput is a better, faster and a more flexible approach. Sales reps like it better because it saves them time from what seems like duplicate data entry and the additional step of having to link multiple (lead, contact, account, opportunity) modules together.

I couldn’t help but laugh the other day when a partner told me the reason he used Salesforces.com’s $5.00 per month edition was precisely because it did NOT have a lead module. Paying more for complexity is ok sometimes, but I always value transaction throughput over data capture 100% of the time. X2Engine CRM is all about speed and compactness, we’ll leave the complexity and high user costs to the traditional CRM vendors.

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Kathy Eckel