Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20050171859 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/979,631
Publication dateAug 4, 2005
Filing dateNov 2, 2004
Priority dateAug 22, 2003
Also published asUS7539621, US20050044036, WO2005020032A2, WO2005020032A3, WO2005020032A8
Publication number10979631, 979631, US 2005/0171859 A1, US 2005/171859 A1, US 20050171859 A1, US 20050171859A1, US 2005171859 A1, US 2005171859A1, US-A1-20050171859, US-A1-2005171859, US2005/0171859A1, US2005/171859A1, US20050171859 A1, US20050171859A1, US2005171859 A1, US2005171859A1
InventorsGerard Harrington, Greg Daniels, Eugene Wada, Steve Center, Michael Keranen, Suresh Nair, Jim Dudley, John Fulcher, Melveen Fredeluces, Dave Mateer, Roy Nakahira
Original AssigneeHonda Motor Co., Ltd.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Augmentation of lead with attractiveness information from external source
US 20050171859 A1
Abstract
A method of developing a sales lead includes receiving a sales lead from a sales lead source and supplementing it with additional information. The supplemental information may be useful in determining the attractiveness of the sales lead. Attractiveness information may be quantified or otherwise expressed, added to the sales lead, and provided to a sales lead recipient. The sales lead recipient may then quickly and efficiently assess the value of the sales lead.
Images(3)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(20)
1. A method of developing a sales lead, comprising:
receiving a sales lead from a sales lead source, including an identification of a potential customer;
requesting supplemental information from an information database relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase;
receiving the supplemental information from the information database; and
delivering the sales lead to a recipient for follow-up together with attractiveness information relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase based on the supplemental information received from the information database.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein the information database is located remotely from the sales lead source.
3. The method of claim 1 wherein the receiving the sales lead, the requesting the supplemental information, the receiving the supplemental information, and the delivering the sales lead is performed at a location.
4. The method of claim 3 wherein the information database is located remotely from the location.
5. The method of claim 3 wherein the information database is at the location.
6. The method of claim 5 further comprising storing the sales lead in the information database.
7. The method of claim 1 wherein the information database includes information about products that the potential customer has owned and the received supplemental information includes the ownership information.
8. The method of claim 1 wherein the information database includes information about a product that the potential customer currently owns and the receiving the supplemental information includes this ownership information.
9. The method of claim 8 wherein the product that the potential customer currently owns is of the same type as a product that is the subject of the sales lead.
10. The method of claim 1 further comprising calculating a value representing the likelihood that the sales lead would lead to a purchase based at least in part on the supplemental information.
11. The method of claim 10 wherein the attractiveness information that is delivered to the recipient includes the value.
12. The method of claim 1 wherein the lead source comprises an automobile distributor.
13. The method of claim 1 wherein the recipient comprises an automobile dealer.
14. Computer-readable media embodying a program of instructions executable by a computer to perform a method of developing a sales lead, the method comprising:
receiving a sales lead from a sales lead source, including an identification of a potential customer;
requesting supplemental information from an information database relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase;
receiving the supplemental information from the information database; and
delivering the sales lead to a recipient for follow-up together with attractiveness information relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase based on the supplemental information received from the information database.
15. The computer-readable media of claim 14, wherein the method further comprises calculating a value representing the likelihood that the sales lead would lead to a purchase based at least in part on the supplemental information.
16. The computer-readable media of claim 15, wherein the attractiveness information that is delivered to the recipient includes the value.
17. A lead development system, comprising:
an input port configured to receive a sales lead from a sales lead source, including an identification of a potential customer;
a processor configured to request supplemental information from an information database relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase;
the processor further configured to receive the supplemental information from the information database; and
an output port configured to send the sales lead to a recipient for follow-up together with attractiveness information relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase based on the supplemental information received from the information database.
18. The lead development system of claim 17 wherein the processor is further configured to calculate a value representing the likelihood that the sales lead would lead to a purchase based at least in part on the supplemental information.
19. The lead development system of claim 18 wherein the attractiveness information that is delivered to the recipient includes the value.
20. A lead development system, comprising:
means for receiving a sales lead from a sales lead source, including an identification of a potential customer;
means for requesting supplemental information from an information database relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase;
means for receiving the supplemental information from the information database; and
means for delivering the sales lead to a recipient for follow-up together with attractiveness information relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase based on the supplemental information received from the information database.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/872,648, filed Jun. 21, 2004, entitled “Systems and Methods of Distributing Centrally Received Leads” (which claims priority to provisional Ser. No. 60/497,378, filed Aug. 22, 2003, entitled “Lead Distribution and Routing Application (LDRA)”), the contents of both of which are incorporated herein by reference. This application is also related to and claims the benefit of the filing date of U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/547,356, filed Feb. 23, 2004, entitled “Lead Distribution and Routing System Lead Augmentation: Electronic Customer Relations Management (ECRM),” the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to the management and development of sales leads. More specifically, the disclosure relates to methods of augmenting leads with supplemental information useful for developing the leads.

2. Description of Related Art

Many businesses involved in sales attempt to generate and utilize leads in order to create new business and increase sales. Leads can be generated in many different ways. For example, a customer of the business might refer a new customer, resulting in a lead for that new customer. Or, potential customer might request information from the company, resulting in a lead for that potential customer. Often, lists of people and associated demographic data are purchased from business that assemble and sell such lists, and the information is used to develop potential leads for would-be customers. As is well-understood in the business world, leads can manifest in a variety of different forms, and can be valuable tools for new business generation if used effectively.

Unfortunately, very large companies with multiple points of distribution and sales are faced with difficulties in harnessing and utilizing their leads. Although large expenditures of time and money are often incurred to generate and develop leads, effective use and implementation of the leads has proven to be a formidable task. For example, the need for a large company to distribute leads to many different sales points each having their own lead management requirements often results in universally formatted leads that are limited in the amount and type of content that they can include. Thus, sales leads generally include only very basic information, such as identification of a potential customer and identification of a product or service that the customer may be likely to purchase. The limitation of lead information due to the common constraint of having to create universally formatted sales leads makes it difficult for the ultimate recipients of the sales leads to fully develop the leads and make a sale. Also, it causes recipients to spend equal amounts of time on all sales leads, irrespective of whether some of those leads are more likely than others to lead to actual sales. Thus, sales lead recipients may waste valuable time following-up on unlikely sales leads, when the time would be better spent on sales leads with greater potential, unbeknownst to the recipient of those sales leads.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the various problems discussed above, there is a need for a method of and system for developing sales leads that includes the inclusion of additional useful information within the sales leads themselves.

In one aspect of the present invention, a method of developing a sales lead includes receiving a sales lead from a sales lead source, including an identification of a potential customer, requesting supplemental information from an information database relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase, receiving the supplemental information from the information database, and delivering the sales lead to a recipient for follow-up together with attractiveness information relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase based on the supplemental information received from the information database.

In another aspect of the present invention, computer-readable media embodying a program of instructions is executable by a computer to perform a method of developing a sales lead. The method includes receiving a sales lead from a sales lead source, including an identification of a potential customer, requesting supplemental information from an information database relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase, receiving the supplemental information from the information database, and delivering the sales lead to a recipient for follow-up together with attractiveness information relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase based on the supplemental information received from the information database.

In yet another aspect of the present invention, a lead development system includes an input port configured to receive a sales lead from a sales lead source, including an identification of a potential customer, a processor configured to request supplemental information from an information database relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase, the processor further configured to receive the supplemental information from the information database, and an output port configured to send the sales lead to a recipient for follow-up together with attractiveness information relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase based on the supplemental information received from the information database.

In a further aspect of the present invention, a lead development system includes means for receiving a sales lead from a sales lead source, including an identification of a potential customer, means for requesting supplemental information from an information database relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase, means for receiving the supplemental information from the information database, and means for delivering the sales lead to a recipient for follow-up together with attractiveness information relevant to the likelihood that the potential customer will make a purchase based on the supplemental information received from the information database.

It is understood that other embodiments of the present invention will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, wherein it is shown and described only exemplary embodiments of the invention by way of illustration. As will be realized, the invention is capable of other and different embodiments and its several details are capable of modification in various other respects, all without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Accordingly, the drawings and detailed description are to be regarded as illustrative in nature and not as restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Aspects of the present invention are illustrated by way of example, and not by way of limitation, in the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates components of a system for developing a sales lead;

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram illustrating a method of developing a sales lead;

FIG. 3 is a flow diagram illustrating an additional method of developing a sales lead; and

FIG. 4 illustrates computer readable media embodying a program of instructions executable by a computer to perform a method of developing a sales lead.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS

The detailed description set forth below in connection with the appended drawings is intended as a description of exemplary embodiments of the present invention and is not intended to represent the only embodiments in which the present invention can be practiced. The term “exemplary” used throughout this description means “serving as an example, instance, or illustration,” and should not necessarily be construed as preferred or advantageous over other embodiments. The detailed description includes specific details for the purpose of providing a thorough understanding of the present invention. However, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In some instances, well-known structures and devices are shown in block diagram form in order to avoid obscuring the concepts of the present invention.

FIG. 1 illustrates components of a system for developing a sales lead. A sales lead source 100 may interact with people, collect information from them, and generate sales leads relating to those people. The sales leads may be collected for the purpose of generating sales by eventual recipients of the leads. For example, a sales lead based on information collected from a person 102 may indicate to an eventual recipient 104 of the sales lead, which products or services the person 102 may be likely to purchase from the recipient. The sales lead may include identification information to assist the recipient 104 in locating the person 102 to whom the sales lead relates. In one embodiment, the sales lead may comprise software code describing the identification information. The software code may be organized into various fields that contain data representing the identification information. It will be recognized by those skilled in the art that the software code may be written in numerous different programming languages, and that the teachings herein are not limited to any particular software type. The identification information may include, for example, location information, basic demographic information, contact information and the like. The sales lead may also include product identification information related to the product or service that the person 104 may be likely to purchase. The sales lead source 100 may be, for example, data collection agency, a product manufacturer or a retailer. The recipient 104 may be, for example, a retailer or direct seller of products or services to people such as the person 102.

A sales lead development system including a computing system 106 may be used to perform a method of developing the sales lead that was obtained by the sales lead source 100. The computing system 106 may be in communication with an information database 108. The information database 108 may comprise, for example, an SQL server, though it will be recognized by those skilled in the art that other databases may also be implemented in accordance with the teachings herein. The information database 108 and computing system 106 may be a single entity or two or more individual entities communicatively operated to each other. The information database 108 may be at the same location as the computing system 106, as indicated by box 110. Alternatively, the information database 108 may be at a location that is remote to the computing system 106, as indicated by dividing line 112.

Information for populating the information database 108 may be obtained, for example, from third party service providers or other sources of public information that may be relevant to targeted product sales. Information may also be obtained, for example, from proprietary sources such as from product retailers themselves. Proprietary information may include information regarding contact made between a retailer or sales lead source and potential consumers, such as telephone inquiries by a potential consumer, brochure requests, marketing campaign mailing lists, and the like. Proprietary information may also include data regarding sales history of previous customers, for example. Such proprietary information may be collected from customers or potential customers at the time of a sale or sales pitch, or via post-sales surveys, then retained for use in the information database 108 for developing future leads, as will be described in further detail below. The information database 108 may also include information regarding the location of particular lead recipients, which can be matched to location information of a person identified in a sales lead in order to direct a lead to the most appropriately or conveniently located recipient. Moreover, the information database 108 may include relationship information regarding particular lead recipients and their known customers, which can also be matched to location information of a person identified in a sales lead in order to direct a lead to recipients with whom a customer has had previous contact. Additionally, the information database may include data indicative of a previous customer's perceived experience with a particular lead recipients, so that sales leads can be directed to recipients with whom an identified person had a positive experience, and diverted from recipients with whom an identified person had a negative experience.

The information database 108 may include supplemental information such as information about the products or services offered by the recipient 104, information about the person 102, or information about other details relevant to developing the sales lead. For example, the information database 108 may include statistical information indicative of how demographic information relates to the probability of a particular person consummating a sale. The information database 108 may also include information regarding purchase histories of past customers of the recipient 104, such as which products or services a past customer has purchased, the frequency with which such purchases have been made, the most recent date of such a purchase, and other related statistical information. The information database 108 may also include current ownership information, such as which products the person 102 currently owns. Such information may indicate whether the person 102 owns products sold by the recipient 104, or similar products sold by competitors of the recipient 104. The information database 108 may also include information such as decision factors important to the person 102 when making purchase decisions, financial attributes of the person 102, and other purchase potential indicia. The information database 108 may also include information indicative of the person's ongoing contact with a lead recipient 104, such as post-purchase service calls and the like. It will be recognized by those skilled in the art that many other types of supplemental information may be useful for evaluating the sales lead, and that the examples discussed above are illustrative but not exhaustive.

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram illustrating an exemplary method of developing a sales lead. The method may be performed by a computing system, such as one having the components illustrated in FIG. 1. In the exemplary method, at block 200 a computing system receives a sales lead from a sales lead source. At block 202, the computing system may request supplemental information from the information database 202. The request may be formatted as a query to the information database. Multiple requests may be submitted by the computing system, and programming logic to manage a queue of requests may be implemented in accordance with the teachings herein. Requests may be initialized in real-time, such as by a computing system configured to enhance sales leads as they are received. Alternatively, requests may be submitted in batch processes, such as at certain pre-programmed times of the day. As discussed above, the supplemental information may be relevant to the person, product, service or other subject of the sales lead. A database management system may identify information in the information database that is relevant to the sales lead, and return the identified supplemental information to the computing system. At block 204, the computing system receives the supplemental information, which it may then use to evaluate and develop the sales lead.

At block 206, the computing system may determine “attractiveness information” for the sales lead, based upon the received supplemental information. As used herein, the term “attractiveness information” refers to information indicative of the likelihood or probability that a sales lead can be developed into an actual sale. For example, attractiveness information may include a rating of the sales lead as compared to other sales leads, a calculated probability that a given sales lead can be developed into an actual sale, or other indicia of the value of the sales lead. Because the supplemental information is relevant to the person, products or other aspects of the sales lead, and because it may be indicative of the probability that the sales lead will result in an eventual sale, the supplemental information can be utilized to determine how likely it is that the person identified in the sales lead will make a purchase. This determination may constitute attractiveness information for the sales lead.

As an example, a received sales lead may include information about a person and information about a product he is interested in purchasing. The personal information may include the person's name, basic demographic information, address, and contact telephone number. The product information may include a type of consumer product that the person is in the market to purchase. After the computing system receives this particular sales lead, it may formulate a relevant query, with which it may request supplemental information about the person or the, product from an information database. The information database may contain, for example, data related to which versions of the product type identified in the sales lead are most popular in the demographics that are identified in the sales lead. This supplemental “popularity” information may be sent back to the computing system, which can in turn use the information to assess how attractive the sales lead is for the given person and product. For example, if the identified product type is not very popular in the identified demographic, the lead may not be likely to result in a sale and may thus be an unattractive lead. If, on the other hand, the identified product type is prevalent among members of the identified demographic, the lead may be more likely to result in a sale and may thus be considered an attractive lead. This determination constitutes attractiveness information that can be quantified and added to the sales lead in order to supplement its contents and make them more useful to the eventual recipient, as will be discussed in further detail below. It is to be understood that the foregoing example is only one type of attractiveness information that can be assessed, and uses only one type of supplemental information that may be useful in determining attractiveness information.

Once the attractiveness information is determined, it may be added to the sales lead, as indicated at block 208. For example, the sales lead may be formatted as a data object having various fields for personal identification information, product identification, and the like. A separate field may be included in the sales lead to contain attractiveness information where available. Thus, when attractiveness information may be determined as explained above, the information may be inserted into the field, thereby modifying the sales lead by including the new information. The modified sales lead thus enhanced, as it includes both the original information and the newly determined attractiveness information. As such, the modified sales lead is more useful to an eventual recipient, because it includes not just the basic sales lead information, but also information that can assist the recipient in quickly and efficiently determining the value of the sales lead as a potential sale generator. By knowing whether or not a particular lead is attractive, a sales lead recipient may, for example, classify numerous received leads in order of priority, such that greater priority is given to the attractive leads, and fewer efforts are spent on the leads that have been determined to be unattractive.

FIG. 3 is a flow diagram illustrating an additional method of developing a sales lead. The additional method is applicable to the method illustrated in FIG. 2, in which supplemental information may be requested and retrieved from an informational database. This is indicated at arrow 300. After the supplemental information is received at block 302, as described above, the computing system may use it to calculate a value for the sales lead, as indicated at block 304. The value may be a numerical measure of the attractiveness of the lead. For example, after the computing system determines based on the supplemental information whether the sales lead is attractive or unattractive, it may assign a low value to an unattractive lead and a high value to a very attractive lead. It will be recognized by those skilled in the art that numerous scoring mechanisms are possible and that various types of values may be calculated according to the various types of supplemental information that are available for sales leads. At block 306, the calculated value is added to the sales lead. Finally, at block 308 the sales lead is delivered along with the value to the lead recipient. The recipient may access the value from the sales lead in order to quickly evaluate the potential of the lead to generate an actual sale.

FIG. 4 illustrates computer readable media embodying a program of instructions executable by a computer to perform a method of developing a sales lead. A computing system 106 may be the same computing system described above with reference to FIG. 1. The computing system 106 may include input and output ports configured to receive sales lead and supplemental data and transmit queries and modified sales leads, respectively. The computing system 106 may instead include a combined input/output port for this purpose. The computing system 106 may include a memory system having a hard drive, or may include a memory drive such as a CD Rom, disc drive or other type of drive, to receive computer readable media 400. The computer readable media 400 may embody a program of instructions that is executable by the computing system 106 to perform the methods described above, or any portion thereof.

The previous description of the disclosed embodiments is provided to enable any person skilled in the art to make or use the present invention. Various modifications to these embodiments will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, and the generic principles defined herein may be applied to other embodiments without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. Thus, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiments shown herein but is to be accorded the widest scope consistent with the principles and novel features disclosed herein.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US20020103577 *Jan 30, 2001Aug 1, 2002Newport Archie L.Integrated vehicle information system
Non-Patent Citations
Reference
1 *Daniels, Chris. "Start them up: why first-time car buyers are on the road to being loyal Mazda customers". Marketing Magazine. 105.42, Oct. 23, 2000: 10
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7778885Dec 4, 2006Aug 17, 2010Lower My Bills, Inc.System and method of enhancing leads
US7962402 *Sep 29, 2005Jun 14, 2011Lev EydelmanOn-line system for buyer seller matching and negotiation
US8027871Feb 5, 2007Sep 27, 2011Experian Marketing Solutions, Inc.Systems and methods for scoring sales leads
US8135607Feb 5, 2007Mar 13, 2012Experian Marketing Solutions, Inc.System and method of enhancing leads by determining contactability scores
US8219464Apr 6, 2011Jul 10, 2012Truecar, Inc.System and method for sales generation in conjunction with a vehicle data system
US8255270Jan 9, 2008Aug 28, 2012Autobytel Inc.Systems and methods relating to a lead distribution engine that accommodates internal and imported destination relationships
US8271313Sep 26, 2011Sep 18, 2012Experian Marketing Solutions, Inc.Systems and methods of enhancing leads by determining propensity scores
US8285656Mar 28, 2008Oct 9, 2012Consumerinfo.Com, Inc.Systems and methods for data verification
US8321256Jan 9, 2008Nov 27, 2012Autobytel Inc.Systems and methods relating to an opportunity distribution engine and distribution simulation
US8326676Jan 9, 2008Dec 4, 2012Autobytel Inc.Systems and methods relating to a lead distribution engine that uses margin scores
US8352306Jan 9, 2008Jan 8, 2013Autobytel Inc.Systems and methods relating to a lead distribution engine with quality assessment of lead sources
US8484067 *Jun 30, 2009Jul 9, 2013Adp, Inc.System, process, and computer program product for evaluating leads
US8515817 *Dec 31, 2007Aug 20, 2013Truecar, Inc.Systems and methods of matching purchase requests with consummated sales
US8521615Jun 15, 2012Aug 27, 2013Truecar, Inc.System and method for sales generation in conjunction with a vehicle data system
US8589250Dec 30, 2009Nov 19, 2013Truecar, Inc.System, method and computer program product for predicting value of lead
US8626563Sep 10, 2012Jan 7, 2014Experian Marketing Solutions, Inc.Enhancing sales leads with business specific customized statistical propensity models
US20090171761 *Dec 31, 2007Jul 2, 2009Zag.Com, Inc., A Delaware CorporationSystems and Methods of Matching Purchase Requests with Consummated Sales
US20100332291 *Jun 30, 2009Dec 30, 2010Adp, Inc.System, process, and computer program product for evaluating leads
US20130066677 *Sep 11, 2012Mar 14, 2013Scott William KillohSystem and method for media and commerce management
Classifications
U.S. Classification705/26.1
International ClassificationG06Q10/00
Cooperative ClassificationG06Q40/00, G06Q30/0234, G06Q10/10, G06Q30/0601, G06Q40/025
European ClassificationG06Q10/10, G06Q30/0234, G06Q40/00, G06Q40/025, G06Q30/0601
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 5, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HARRINGTON, GERARD;DANIELS, GREG;WADA, EUGENE;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:015862/0282;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050210 TO 20050328