Closing the Sales Loop at Nortel Networks

By putting in place procedures and technologies to enforce accountability in its lead management program, Nortel Networks proved that the old maxim of "measuring to improve" certainly applies to the sales process.


Not that the rollout has been without its challenges. Early in the deployment, Nortel Networks did get some pushback from its own salespeople and from its channel partners against moving to what Pierret calls "true accountability." With the system requiring feedback on pulled leads, reps have had to learn how to live under something of a microscope. "People weren't used to having that bright light on them," Pierret explains. "[Previously] a lead program would come through, and maybe one month I'd have the time to really devote the energy to it, but next month I'd let it drop. And by the time that [management] figured it out, it'd be six months later and we'd be on the next program of the month. [Now] the spotlight is on. You let a lead expire, you don't provide feedback, or you close a lead and say the customer wasn't interested, and then that customer calls back and says he hasn't been called — that's not good. Those are the sales reps that we took out of the system.

"And it helped to resolve the age-old issue of the perception that marketing is throwing leads over the walls and that sales never provides feedback. Neither of those is entirely true, and if you have the data, it helps to clear up the finger-pointing that normally arises. So now when someone closes a lead as a false lead in our system and says that this person wasn't really looking for a Nortel Networks product, then it's hard to argue that, yes, that really wasn't that good of a lead."

Pierret declined to reveal Nortel Networks' total investment in the BlueRoads project, but the provider prices its solution based on the platform and whatever additional modules that a client needs to install. Pierret does not hesitate to say, however, that he believes the system has allowed Nortel Networks to better manage its sales processes. He concludes: "The communications that are built into the system help close the loop. It helps to ensure that there is no change in direction based upon gray, anecdotal information. It's the facts. This is what has happened, this is the person who has either dropped the ball or made a slam dunk and closed the deal. And so we're going to give more leads to the guy who made the slam dunk, and the guy who dropped the ball, sorry, you may get a trickle, or maybe none."

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