Lead generation is a critical part of keeping your pipeline fresh and filled with new prospects.
But 50 percent or more of your leads aren’t going to want to talk to your sales team out of the gate, and many of them never will!
Enter lead management—a strategy for nurturing leads who aren’t ready to buy.
From generating leads through marketing campaigns and capturing their information to filtering and grading your contacts to following up with leads through drip marketing campaigns, lead management is crucial to your sales and customer relationship management (CRM) success.
First, a breakdown: There are essentially five different pieces to the lead management puzzle. The exact system you use will vary depending on your needs and your business, but you can boil it down to the following components:
So what are the benefits of lead management? Here are just a few:
According to Dan McDade, “Companies frequently fail to see the value of long-term sales lead management, instead pursuing short-term, hot leads that often fail to result in sales. Approaching a sale with foresight and focus on prospect development produces better results.”
McDade goes on to argue that there are both good reasons and bad reasons for not pursuing certain leads. If the leads are unfiltered and unqualified, there isn’t much value in following through with them. But just because certain leads don’t immediately respond to your calls doesn’t automatically mean that they aren’t interested in buying.
As it turns out, long-term leads can actually produce more value than short-term leads. McDade notes that you should close a higher percentage of long-term leads compared to short-term ones. According to HubSpot, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent lower cost.
You can’t treat every lead equally—while some are qualified, others aren’t. Some are ready to buy, others aren’t. Some are filtered, and others aren’t.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t communicate with your leads often and early, as some leads reach out to multiple vendors and buy from the one that reaches out to them first. Fortunately, you can leverage marketing automation and autoresponder sequences to ensure timeliness.
But what it does mean is that you need to prioritize. The lead management process makes this possible. With a proper infrastructure in place, your sales reps will only be talking to the most qualified leads.
After all, wouldn’t you rather have your reps talk to people who are ready to buy than those who aren’t? Wouldn’t you rather have them focus on high-value prospects than low-value ones?
Optimizing your sales process means both cost savings and increased revenue, which is a major benefit to your entire organization.
Most companies have several active marketing initiatives at any given time. This only underscores the importance of tracking and understanding what campaigns are yielding the highest quality leads.
Optimizing your campaigns means getting more high-quality leads with future initiatives. By extension, your sales team will be able to spend more time closing, because they won’t have to sift through as many unfiltered, low-quality leads.
According to Salesforce, your marketing and sales teams “should be your company’s quarterback and receiver. They should know the plays before the game even begins. Establish a mutually agreed upon marketing-sales lead response time to work leads efficiently. Allow both teams access to a centralized database of customer contacts and marketing and sales activities. The more visibility and insight each teammate can provide about the customer, the better your chances are of garnering interest and closing.”
The more relevant and timely your sales team can be when reaching out to leads, the better. The problem is, depending on your lead generation process, you may not be collecting the right information to empower your sales team. They may only have a name, email address and phone number.
With a proper lead management system in place, you can generate information—think company name, website URL, number of employees, role, department, social media handles—that enables your sales team to personalize and tailor conversations with prospects. This can have a drastic impact on your conversion rate.
For your sales team, this means increased confidence. For your customers, it means a better buying experience. And better buying experiences inevitably lead to more sales and more word-of-mouth referrals.
The successful implementation of a lead management program is essential to sales and CRM success, and this hinges on adoption and buy-in from your team. Without that, even the best CRM software and sales team won’t yield the results they’re capable of producing.
Learn more about why lead management is critical to sales and CRM success. Download The CMO’s Guide to Sales Enablement and CRM.
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