Imagine a classroom full of toddlers. The teacher can’t treat few of them as favorites & not give any attention to others. They all are expected to be treated equally with undivided attention by the teacher. This is similar to the problem most growing businesses face, when they start receiving more leads that they can handle. They fail in managing all their leads equally which ultimately causes loss of control on lead acquisition & engagement. This is where lead management comes into picture!
Lead management is the process of managing leads, constantly & equally. Since leads are the lifeblood of any business & converting these leads to loyal customers is what it takes to stay in business & thrive.
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It’s imperative that your sales funnel should be filled 24/7. Your sales cycle can turn inconsistent & unreliable without a steady stream of leads in the pipeline. Your firm will be better positioned for efficient & sustainable growth with consistency. Lead management strategies play an important role in all this & also in helping to reduce the cost & decrease time spent in the sales funnel. Most of the time referred to as customer acquisition management or contact management, lead management generally encompasses of the following:
Lead generation: The process of invigorating interest in a product or service to convert prospects for the purpose of developing sales pipeline. Marketers use different tactics which includes emails, blog posts, advertisements, white papers, social media, events, and PR campaigns for lead generation.
Customer inquiry and capture: The data of the prospects who positively responds to marketing are recorded in this process which creates sales leads.
Filtering, grading, distribution, and contact: This is the part which determines data that can be turned to a lead. The data is sorted by the validity of the request, prioritized on the basis of the likelihood of becoming a customer & then dispersed to sales reps to be contacted. A lot of work will go into defining how to categorize individual leads accurately, depending upon the size of the marketing program.
Lead nurturing: Constant communication is needed to develop relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel & through every step of the buyer’s journey. It helps in understanding the needs of the process & providing the information and answers they need.
If everything is followed as per the books, the process is likely to end with a sale and the lead has emerged as a customer. But the work doesn’t end there as the leads turn to customers, businesses must continue to nurture the relationships. Regular follow up is critical for maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction & sales efficiency.
Lead management is important because it helps businesses to identify which tactics bring in the best leads, which will help in optimizing sales strategies to be more effective & efficient. Since it help’s in documenting the full history of the person’s interactions & experiences with the company, you can easily analyze exactly how a person got converted from a prospect, to a lead & finally to a customer.
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The best practices in Lead management are ever-changing. We have jotted down the best 5 lead management practices that you can apply to enhance your sales leads:
- Lead Qualification:
Not every prospect who enquires about your brand can turn out to be a qualified lead. Sales people’s time is valuable. The time & effort that is put into can result in wastage if the prospect doesn’t have the necessary qualifications. By asking the right questions to the prospects, sales reps can understand whether it’s worth spending their time on the prospects or not. The questions should be regarding the prospects:
- Budget to purchase the particular product
- Authority to make the purchase decision
- Specific needs they have
- Timescale regarding the need
Once unqualified leads are identified, assign them accordingly so that they can be contacted in future.
- Keeping clean data:
Marketing data is one of the most valuable assets that a company can hold. But how much ever effort you have put, there is always the chance that the data will get dirty primarily because of prospects’ job changes, human error, duplicate or incomplete submissions etc. Also, many of the prospects who enter info into your landing pages, sign up for promotions, fill out cards at tradeshows etc. don’t always provide all the information you ask for.
This will result in your attempts to reach out to leads & customers ending in failure. Since lead generation is an ongoing process, data is constantly in need of cleaning up. It’s better to connect with professionals in this field for achieving better results regarding clean data.
- Practicing the method of lead scoring:
Lead scoring is an effective technique to determine whether the prospect is a potential buyer or not. It is a great way for the sales team to realize how input & time is needed to spend after a prospect. Lead scoring criteria & points-awarded system should be set-up to update lead lifecycle stages, move leads to CRM when timing is right & trigger notifications using marketing automation workflows. Positive score can be accumulated for behavior & demographics.
- Persona which can be industry, title, role, company size, revenues.
- Engagement which includes number of visits, unique page views, repeat visits, form conversions, email opens and clicks, blog comments, social media mentions, inbound links.
- Buyer stage which can be identified by clicks & conversions on specific content indicating a lead lifecycle change, such as mid-funnel and bottom-funnel offers.
- Velocity which is recency of engagement, volume & timing of events which indicates imminent interest to buy.
Applying negative scoring for form answers that would designate leads as poor fit, also works.
- Integration of Marketing automation & CRM:
In today’s fast moving corporate world, you need sales & marketing technology to put process in place & get it running. As part of the alignment process, the teams need to agree on tools that are committed to using every day to capture & manage leads & customers. The best solutions are easy to use & should incorporate all aspects of inbound marketing, including:
- Website content management system(CMS)
- Creation and promotion of content(blogs, social media)
- Lead conversion (landing pages, forms and calls-to-action)
- Lead nurturing (drip campaigns, personalized content)
- Marketing automation (email marketing, list segmentation, lead scoring, lead management workflows)
- CRM integration (seamless, bi-directional transfer of lead data, KPIs and communications)
- Enterprise application integration (customer service apps, e-commerce, business intelligence systems)
- Rating your Lead management process
After sales team is done with all the lead management processes, it’s important that you start calculating the performance rate throughout the sales cycle. It will help you to assess the cost & time that took to nurture the leads, which leads incurred higher cost & higher profit. Even the performance level of marketing & sales team can be understood. The reps who are cost generators can also be identified, for whom training sessions can be provided.
Boiling it down
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An effective lead management program is necessary to help you create better relationships with your buyers, better understanding of their requirements which will lead to lesser time in converting prospects to sales leads. The process ain’t simple & ignoring these steps can lead to poor outcomes but building an awesome process integrating all these steps can lead to sustained growth & profitability.