If you follow a standard process for managing sales leads, you can generate more leads, make more sales and earn more money. You can achieve scale.
Having an effective Lead Management process in place will help you:
- Generate more leads faster
- Pass better quality leads to Sales, so they don’t waste time chasing someone who has no real interest in your products
- Cut down wasteful spend
Lead Management and sales funnel
Sales development reps (SDRs) at business-to-business (B2B) companies spend a lot of their time trying to identify and obtain the contact details of people who might be interested in their products or services – this is ‘lead generation’. They pass these contacts to colleagues in Sales who pursue them and try to convert them to customers.
But the way companies generate and handover contacts is often badly automated and inefficient, and these contacts are often not processed effectively. Lead Management refers to the specific processes around generating leads and managing them as effectively as possible to drive sales. It can be implemented using a marketing automation system, or in your CRM system, or some combination of both.
What does Lead Management involve?
- Lead Capturing: This is the first step – making sure you record the sales leads you generate in a standard, repeatable way. There are many ways to generate sales leads – you can capture contacts from web pages, run social media campaigns, meet people at tradeshows, try cold calling or use outbound email. But once you have obtained the contact details of a lead people are often inconsistent in how they record them and the subsequent follow-up. That means you lose those leads that your team worked so hard to generate. So it is important to have a clear and simple lead management process that follows the same steps each time. This allows you to keep track of interactions with leads and set follow up reminders, so you don’t let your prospects slip away. Step 1 is lead capture – recording your lead as soon as it is generated.
- Lead Qualification: All leads are not created equal – some are better than others. “Qualifying” sales leads means deciding which ones are worth pursing, and which ones look most likely to be of real interest. You can rank your sales leads using a scoring model. This means figuring out how likely the contact is to become a buyer based on information about their company, their location, how often they come to your website and other online behaviors which you can observe. Leads that are more likely to turn into customers get a higher score and should be prioritized. Leads that look good but have some questions around them can go into a middle category for some kind of automated follow-up e.g. including them in a follow-up email sequence. And leads that do not match your target profile should be removed so you don’t waste the sales team’s time.
- Lead Routing: This is assigning leads to the most appropriate sales representatives. Leads are more likely to turn into customers the quicker they are contacted. You can apply sensible rules about which salesperson should get what lead, you can specify how quickly a lead should be acted upon, and you can provide your sales staff with much richer background information on the contact.
- Lead Nurturing: Your leads will be at different stages in your sales funnel. Some may not be ready to have a sales conversation now, but are still genuinely interested in your product or service. It is important to build and maintain an ongoing relationship with all prospects. The goal is to keep your company ‘front of mind’ with them until they are ready to engage with your sales team. You can define a chain of communications you want to send out to leads and specify the time intervals between each email or call. The communications should be related to their industry sector and specific role to ensure they are relevant. Then you can automate the sequence using an email marketing tool, a marketing automation system or your CRM system.
As companies grow, lead management becomes more difficult. It is easier to manage 100 leads than 1,000. By having a lead management process in place and using automation tools to help, sales reps can identify which sources tend to generate high quality leads, and what kind of leads are more likely to convert to customers; this helps you learn how to spend your sales and marketing budget with greatest effect.
There’s a clear return on investment from automating lead management. A CMO Council Survey estimated that 80% of leads are either lost, ignored or discarded. MarketingSherpa also estimated that around 75% of leads generated by most companies are not followed up if they’re not a short-term opportunity (i.e. going to close in this quarter).
With the average lead costing around $180 or more to generate, that can quickly add up to a lot of money. Or to put it another way – calculate the proportion of your sales budget you spend on lead generation; how much is 80% of that?
So, if you want to scale up your sales, you’ll have to scale up demand generation and that in turn means you should to start looking at automating how you manage leads using a simple, consistent process.