It may be overwhelming for many companies, but lead management is one of the most important steps in the sales process. Before your lead can ever turn into a customer, you’ve got to ensure that you’re developing a frictionless experience from start to finish. Lead management is defined as the process where a lead is acquired, evaluated, nurtured to eventually turn into a customer. While there are various steps along the way, it is essential for companies to score and manage their leads in order to maintain a pulse on the overall health of their sales pipeline.
So, how does one manage leads? While there are many different methodologies, we encourage organizations to work closely with a consultant to ensure the right CRM is in place and fully optimized for every step of the process. It’s not enough to attract the right buyers, you’ve also got to know when they’re ripe to convert into their next phase of the journey. Working off of a weak lead can result in wasted time and most importantly revenue loss. We want to help businesses be successful in all their endeavors, so let’s review some of the keys to successful lead management.
Finding the Best CRM for the Job
When it comes to lead management “best practices” every tool comes with its own set of methods, opinions and roadblocks. If you haven’t already implemented a lead management system such as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, you’ll definitely want to start solidifying your technical marketing capabilities by making the tough, but necessary CRM choice. The CRM solution you make when implementing tech can have drastic implications for your business operations and ultimate success. You’ll also want to ensure you’ve got the knowledge necessary to implement the lead scoring and marketing automation you need.
Our consultants are certified Eloqua and Marketo Engage experts who can help you create a lead management strategy unique to your business model. While Marketo and Eloqua are two of our expert-recommended tools, there are many other products with powerful capabilities that may better fit your budget and business needs. If you’ve already got a tool in place, or are still trying to find the best solution for your budget and needs, we recommend engaging in CRM Integration consulting to help maximize your investment and avoid all sorts of headaches.
Optimize your Lead Generation Efforts
Lead management can only happen after you’ve set up successful lead generation tactics across your website. Keep in mind that only 25% of new leads are sales-ready, so your total lead volume will determine how successful your efforts are. Determine what you want to get out of your existing campaigns and what happens to a lead after they engage before even thinking about a conversion happening. Remember, you want to nurture the lead as much as possible, the idea is that you generate the lead to then build a relationship with the prospect to determine if they are either: MQLs, marketing qualified leads, or SQLs, sales qualified leads. These two different prospect stages require varying levels of nurturing, so make sure your nurture tracks are set up to truly qualify the leads still in research mode and those ripe to make a sale.
Lead management is all about meeting your prospect’s expectations and ensuring your business can deliver what they’re looking for before they even get handed over to sales. Fully understanding what your lead generation efforts aim to achieve and how your team can understand customer needs will facilitate the next step – lead scoring.
Don’t leave your Sales Teams in the Dark
One of the most common mistakes made from a lead management standpoint is not keeping a direct connection between your marketing and sales teams. When your lead generation masterminds can’t determine when a lead is “sales-ready” they start to make inferences. While marketers have data that can back up what the “perfect lead” looks like, nothing can beat input from the sales teams.
Keep an open line of communication between both teams and ensure leadership is staying transparent about the overall business goals. Don’t forget to not just look at behavioral information such as website visits and other vanity metrics, you’ll want to know much more. Demographic information will help you understand who your leads are. Lead source information can also help you build a journey and establish KPIs that can be used to create lead stages. Have they viewed a page more than once that the majority of your existing customers have converted from? Then, they’re likely to be ready to make a purchase compared to a prospect that has just arrived at your website for the first time. This is a top-level example, but you can narrow down your criteria as much as you need to.
Additionally, aligning sales and marketing can help you establish an effective strategy for increasing ad spend when it makes more sense and use messaging to respond to existing customer needs in real-time.
Always Be Scoring
Scoring your leads is an art, but not scoring your leads is a miss. Use behavioral data to create a lead scoring foundation. Once you know what your buying process really looks like, you’ll be able to monitor your lead’s only activity successfully enough to predict – yes, predict behavior before it happens – when they’ll be ripe for a new stage. Lead scoring determines where your buyer is in the sales funnel, but also their level of interest.
Don’t miss the opportunity to track anonymous visitors to progressively gain an understanding of who they are. Just because they haven’t filled out a form to become MQLs, doesn’t mean they can’t become a customer someday. Build a relationship with all of your prospects, learn more about their needs and always be scoring.
Keep track of Return on Investment
Establishing a successful lead management program can be costly, so assigning some to keep track of all activities is absolutely integral. Tie all efforts back to your wing and calculate return on investment. ROI is always the best unit of measurement to determine how your program is performing. Looking at other factors beyond conversion such as follow-ups, responses, and sales team sentiment can help you optimize your program along the way. Some key indicators of successful lead management programs to consider are:
- Follow Up Rate: Nearly 46% of marketers say that sales teams are able to follow up on more than 75% of leads when a successful lead management strategy is in place.
- Cost Per Lead: This one’s a no-brainer, but when your lead management strategy leads optimized results, you’ll not only make twice as many sales, but you’ll also pay about 33% less than non-nurtured prospects.
- Sales Results: You guessed it, more SQLs result in more sales quotas being reached by your sales reps. Organizations with effective lead generation and management strategies yield about a 9.3% sales quota completion rate.
Always know how much money went into your program and track your month-over-month growth to truly understand how your program’s performance is affecting your business.
Don’t Shy Away from Recycling
Recycling is never a bad idea, especially when it comes to leads. While not every lead is able to be re-nurtured, you’ve got to understand that people often forget or get cold feet when it comes to making purchases. It isn’t that they’ve lost interest, but rather that they’ve been distracted. Unless they’ve obviously established a lack of interest through their behavior – they completely go dark or unsubscribe from your emails – there’s always a chance.
Lead re-nurturing is a fine art that should be informed by demographics, behaviors and reinforced by your lead scoring. Don’t forget to create a status for these types of leads, so everyone is aware that they’re not new, just returning. This will help inform the conversations that happen later at the sales stage, so implement some best practices to ensure you’re not letting lead generation money go to waste by losing these viable prospects in the sales shuffle.
Ready, Set, Implement
You’ve got the tools, knowledge, and all the information you need to get started, so don’t let a learning gap stop you. If you’ve got budget concerns or still feel a little confused about all the information above, don’t let that stop you. GNW Consulting experts can help ensure you’re in good hands when it comes to implementing a successful lead management program. Partner with our consultants to optimize your marketing with proven data-driven strategies.