NetSuite Lead Generation: Tracking Leads to Cash for Greater Revenue

All companies understand the importance of leads in a business and how they are critical for growth.  Any business committed to growth knows that it needs a way to generate a large number of leads where a percentage become sales.  The best companies develop practices to make this a repeatable and profitable operation.  Those committed to superior lead management practices will invest in appropriate business systems because it will drive greater revenue.

Distinctions for Lead Evolution to Cash

Fundamentally, it helps to think about what a lead is and its evolution to cash.  With the following distinctions, my firm often provides orientation to customers who have embraced NetSuite as its CRM and ERP platform:

  1. Lead Suspects: information you have on people that you think may have some interest in your offers but have not been qualified.  Most of your work in Marketing is to produce Suspects.
  2. Lead Prospects: qualified information about supects that indicate interest in your offers.
  3. Opportunities: Now firmly in the domain of sales, you track specific sales conversations so you can forecast revenue and take care of your high quality prospects.
  4. Quotes: Specific offers for goods and services based out of Opportunities. Quotes may be called estimates, proposals or other terms depending on your industry.
  5. Sales: Customer acceptance of you quotes which, in NetSuite terms, is a Sales Order.  Leads are now firmly Customers.
  6. Fulfillment: Delivery of your sales promise to your customer.
  7. Receivable: Customer obligations on promises fulfilled which traditionally is represented by Sales Invoices.
  8. Cash Receipt: Customer satisfaction of their payment obligation.

NetSuite Practices for Lead Management

With the distinctions above, I will focus on Lead Suspects and Lead Prospects and the tools and practices you can use to produce superior tracking and ultimately greater revenue.

Lead Suspect Generation

All that is needed for NetSuite to track Suspects is an email address.  As such, the primary practice is to capture  that email address so they can become a unique Lead Suspect record in the system.  Depending on the nature of the business, this information may be obtained from these example sources:

  • Ecommerce sources: Sign up for a newsletter and or inquiry forms
  • Non-Ecommerce sources: Trade show, cold calling, purchased lists from third parties, blog comments, partner marketing efforts

Depending on the source of the email address, you may begin to categorize the information into meaningful groups so that you can act on it.  The most basic action you can take is a NetSuite email campaign to produce a communication.  In an eCommerce context, you may also know that the Suspect abandoned a shopping cart.  In your communication, you will be able to track if the email address bounces, has been opened, is clicked through, or if it has been replied to.  These actions allow you to produce more information that allows you continue to refine your interpretation about the Suspect.

Lead Prospect Generation

Once you begin to know more about the Lead Suspect, you may then declare that the Lead is a Suspect.  For example, for one of our clients who sells paid subscriptions to marketing news, they will say that a Suspect has become a Prospect if they click through on a targeted email campaign to one of their specifically designed landing web pages.  The point is there is no hard rule; every business needs to assess the meaning of a Suspect vs. a Prospect.  We, at my firm, believe that the best approach to make this distinction occurs when you can design more highly targeted action that is relevant for your Prospect.

Any way you look at it, you are gathering more and more information about the individual behind that email address.¬† Some may call this ‚Äúfilling out the lead record.‚Ä̬† This includes all the traditional kinds of information such as phone number, title, company name, and address.¬† Information gathering practices vary and can become pretty sophisticated.¬† For example, you can measure the number of times that a lead has opened an email or the number of clicks on your web site as an indication of interest.¬† You may also perform intelligent research to find the LinkedIn URL for the target so you can learn who may be in your¬†suspect’s¬†network.¬† The point is that there is a cost to develop better information and you will need to assess if you will get a return for the effort.

Conversion to Opportunities

Once you have Lead Prospect information, NetSuite‚Äôs CRM capacities make it easy to create queues that can be used by Salespeople to outbound phone calls or other communications.¬† The intent is to create a specific Opportunity record that allows us to know the Prospect‚Äôs intent to purchase specific kinds of goods or services over a particular time horizon.¬† Armed with this information, you can organize work so that action is optimized — at the same time, Management will have better insight into overall demand so they may prepare for sufficient capacity (inventory on hand, professional staff, etc.) and ¬†fulfill.

At this point, I will continue the article at a later time to discuss more practices that take the lead all the way to cash.¬† The point though is that NetSuite is there every step of the way.¬† There will be no need to change systems because the lead now becomes an opportunity and / or the customer commits.¬† You will be able to measure the average cycle time to gain customer commitments and learn how much Marketing and Sales effort is required to get orders.¬† This can lead to high quality information and thus superior thinking about how much you can invest to produce a return on your marketing and sales.¬† Using the law of marginal utility, the idea is to keep investing in marketing and sales so long it will produce an acceptable return on customer commitments — i.e., sales!

Do you feel your efforts to capture sales are being thwarted because your systems make you jump through hoops as you work to market and sell?¬† NetSuite is¬†a robust platform — when coupled with good practices, the tool will become a foundational element in how you produce competitive advantages.

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Marty Zigman

Holding all three official certifications, Marty is Southern California's NetSuite expert and leads a team of senior professionals at Prolecto Resources, Inc. He is a former Deloitte & Touche CPA and has held CTO roles. For over 25 years, Marty has produced leadership in ERP, CRM and eCommerce business systems. Contact Marty to set up a conversation.

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| Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Category: CRM, Management, Marketing, NetSuite, Strategy | 6 Comments


  1. Brian
    Posted July 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    How can we get NS to handle leads on an account-centric basis, vs. contact-centric?

  2. Posted July 22, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Hi Brian,

    I may be confused by what you are asking. Leads are effectively a NetSuite entity type that can be “converted” to a Customer. The conversion just changes a flag on the record. There is also a switch to indicate if the Lead is a “Customer” or an “Individual”.

    Can you describe more what is happening in your account?


  3. L
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Hi Marty,

    I’m trying to figure out if NS can track lead referrals to our business partner and if so how to track them. For example… we have a partner in Japan and locally someone contacts us directly. We will refer that customer to our partner. We would like to be able to put this info in NS and then be able to pull a report that shows us how many referrals were sent to each partner over a specific time period.

    Also, it would be nice that when we enter the info in NS that if would send an email to the partner letting them know of the incoming referral. Thanks in advance for your help.


  4. Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Hi Loree,

    That functionality sounds pretty manageable with a custom field related to partner and some script to automatically send an email. We do this kind of thing all the time for clients. Do you have someone who can help you produce it?


  5. Posted November 22, 2014 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    What’s the best way to search for contact records associated with a PROSPECT record. Since Prospect records are essentially companies that have contacts that we have quoted business but not converted to customers it would be nice to go back and identify these contacts and reconnect with them.

  6. Posted December 9, 2014 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Hi Hank,

    This is an interesting question. I suspect I am confused. Are you suggesting that you have multiple prospects that are really part of the same company, but they are independent (not associated) in NetSuite. Then you close business on one of them, that Prospect becomes a Customer, and then you are effectively wanting to link the other Prospect records as contacts against the new customer? Are the email domains the same between these records?


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