Depending on the structure and size of your organization, lead management may be a task of marketing or sales or both. Whichever the case, managing leads is crucial to the success of any business. Leads come in and you have to make the most out of them. Besides, as Mark Cuban famously said, without sales nothing matters.
According to Gleanster Research, only 25 per cent of leads are sales-ready. Out of the rest, another 25 per cent isn’t qualified enough to be pursued. What’s left is just half of the lot, needing the right type of approach to develop into sales-ready leads.
The answer is effective lead management.
What is lead management?
Lead management is the process of handling leads with the interest of moving them closer to being sales-ready.
Included in the process is
- capturing and attracting leads,
- nurturing leads that are not ready to buy yet,
- assess and score leads to identify which ones are sales ready and which ones are not quite there yet,
- distributing leads to the right personnel for appropriate handling, and
- Evaluating leads by category and batch to get a grasp on the quality of leads.
An effective lead management process means a steady influx of sales-ready leads, well-informed buyers, and a better understanding of what your audience needs, wants and would respond the most to. Of course, it all leads to more sales.
Want to step up your lead management game? Take a look at these 10 tips.
Ten tips for effective lead management
1. Seek to continuously improve your understanding of prospects’ needs
Sales in today’s business climate mean building relationships with your audience. And as you know, when building relationships, you should constantly be getting to know their needs and interests. In each campaign you launch, prospects will reveal more of their interests and needs.
Every interaction they have with you and your website will give you a peek into their decision-making process. You should structure your lead nurturing process and your lead management efforts as a whole in a way that you get more information about your prospect as they continue to engage with you. Avoid asking for something twice–always aim to get the information you don’t already know.
2. Track all lead-related activities
Track all interactions with prospects. This is critical to understanding which efforts work and which don’t.
Do you have a grasp on which campaigns and programs directly contributed to closed sales? Which lead source gets the highest quality leads?
It’s never enough to just do your best in closing leads. You have to add to your knowledge about which efforts should be pushed more, and which factors will contribute to getting more sales-ready leads. You need to be on top of all the campaigns and programs.
3. Keep tab of anonymous visitors and once opted-in, pull up their history
A simple line of code on your website will help you keep track of your prospects both anonymous and marked. Making sure this is in place will tell you which companies and particular prospects are taking interest in your product.
When a new prospect fills out a form or provides information on any lead opt-in, you should have a process in place to attribute all previous visits to that lead. Why? You should know what content and information they have interacted with. Knowing the history of your prospect will help you push them further into the sales cycle.
4. Be strict against dirty data
We can collect data from prospects easier than ever before. Analyzing our audience is key in any sales process–and now with the ease of data collection and management, there’s no excuse for keeping this information organized. In many CRM software solutions, this step is easy to ensure. However, there still has to be vigilance for duplication of touches with prospects and even their information. Auto-complete and tracking make it easier not to mess up the data to make sure you set up these features with precision.
Bad data into your sales cycle can only produce bad results.
5. Establish a lead scoring system
Lead scoring helps sales teams prioritize their efforts by identifying which leads are closer to purchasing. Together with the marketing team, it’s important to build a solid lead scoring system to make sure everyone is on the same page when handling leads.
A lead scoring system does its work through these functions:
Identifying leads that need further nurturing
Leads that get a low score need further nurturing to build their interest and engagement. Most marketing and sales automation software will have a built-in function that helps you segment your leads depending on scores. From there, you can use appropriate lead nurturing campaigns that fit the score of your leads.
Drawing out and testing assumptions about your sales process
When you have a lead scoring system, you can better track and understand the behaviour of your customers and what leads them closer to purchase. Think of lead scoring like using a predictive model to forecast results and test those against actual data. If accurate, you can project your future results and refine your lead management system better.
Identifying your loyal fans and net promoters
Lead scoring helps you track the engagement of your clients and prospects over time. You can pinpoint which ones are the ambassadors–your highly-engaged clients and prospects. These leads and clients are ready to recommend you to others when given the chance. I say leads as well because even those who haven’t made a purchase can definitely be an evangelist for your company.
Maintaining a standard for objective discussion and evaluation of leads
When sales and marketing can agree on a set system in scoring leads, they are also united in using the same language when discussing the development and management of these prospects. When there’s a numerical value assigned to the quality and sales-readiness of a lead, sales and marketing can align smoothly and adjust their approach depending on the score.
6. Review lead scoring criteria constantly
Sales and marketing teams should work together in creating scoring criteria for leads. Assigned values and criteria should be agreed upon by both teams.
When that’s done, analyzing and scoring leads on each level is important.
- Did leads scored as sales-ready perform as expected?
- Do you need to adjust your lead scoring criteria?
- Are there changes in the product or business conditions that require the adjustment of your lead scoring criteria?
- Are follow-ups factored in when scoring leads?
- What is the process involved in recycling leads unclosed after deeming them sales-ready?
These are questions you should be ready to answer.
7. Be an expert
Lead nurturing isn’t as simple as just sending a monthly email and you’re done. Nor is it calling prospects every few weeks to check on them if they’re ready to close the deal.
B2b contracts are as complex as it gets. B2b buyers need to be assured and guided throughout the sales process. They’re making a big decision that will have changes cascading in their own workforce and processes.
If you’re able to command respect and trust by establishing yourself as a thought leader and expert, you will have more meaningful discussions with your prospects. These meaningful conversations are the building blocks that lead to closed deals in b2b sales.
Buyers need to understand and believe that your company has their best interest at heart. Most of all, they have to see you as competent and knowledgable–able to provide an effective solution to the particular problem you’re addressing with your product.
8. Nurture leads with the whole sales cycle in mind
Lead nurturing is the process of using different channels to build relationships with your leads and prospects. Through your website, email, phone, social media and other fronts, you must bring prospects what they’re looking for especially at this point that they’re still in research mode.
Your content offers should include thought leadership pieces, guides, tips (such as this), industry research, and other pieces of content that help them solve their daily pains and addresses the particular problem you’re targeting with your product.
When nurturing leads, sales reps and marketers need to keep in mind that the goal is to move them further the sales process and shorten the sales cycle. This could be done only by continuously improving your understanding of prospects and building better relationships with them.
9. Maintain seamless customer experience
When sending leads from sales to marketing, don’t just pass on the information and move on. Make sure the marketing team (or whoever qualified the lead) passes on all important data that will help sales to close the deal.
- Marketing materials and activities the prospect has engaged with
- Which product the prospect is most interested in purchasing
- Script support created around prior communication with the lead
- Content offers the prospect has downloaded
10. Score and manage leads using implicit behavioural data
Data-driven sales forces and marketing departments win first. However, it’s not all about analyzing numbers. In today’s business world where customers are at the helm, it’s important to use the tools you have to interpret interest and intent. You need to build the skill that enables you to spot pivot and turning points where prospects decide to move on to the next part of your sales cycle.
Lead scoring as a tool for understanding your prospects and leads should be used to gauge their interest level not only through what they blatantly offer and say but through analysis of their engagement with you. It’s cliche but very true in sales and marketing–actions speak louder than words.
Flexibility is the key
In sales and marketing, being flexible and not relying on cheat sheets and done-for-you evaluations is a major key to winning big. If your team is able to build up the skills to be able to take implied assumptions and test them against real data, you’re moving closer and closer to that lead nirvana where no sales lead is wasted.
About the Author
Brooke Harper is a seasoned writer and sales consultant and has written hundreds of articles and white papers covering all aspects of B2B sales, phone marketing, and advanced sales strategy. Brooke is one of the top writers on Quora in B2B and her answers get over 100K views a month and growing.