If you increase automation in Marketing, you can generate more sales leads, make more sales and earn more money. You can achieve scale. In this post I look at Marketing Automation, and at one specific example of automation known as Lead Management.
Lead Management and sales funnel
Marketing units in business-to-business 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 Sales who pursue them and try to convert them to customers.
But the way Marketing units generate and handover contacts is often badly automated and inefficient, and these contacts are often not processed effectively. Business-to-business Marketing Automation is a broad term referring to the use of technology to improve the generation of demand for products and services and the subsequent management of that demand to increase sales and revenue. Lead Management refers to the specific processes around generating leads and managing them as effectively as possible to drive sales. (Other areas in Marketing Automation include Campaign Management, Marketing Resource Management and Customer Analytics).
But how can you automate marketing? Isn’t it all golf umbrellas, brochures, t-shirts, and tradeshows? Well, there is a creative and branding element, but a lot of business-to-business marketing can be made more structured. For example, to generate a contact, you can use traditional methods like tradeshows and telemarketing, but now we also have contacts coming in over company web-sites, through Google pay-per-click ads and from email marketing campaigns.
Once these contacts have been captured, you can automate a lot of what happens next:
- Qualification, which means figuring out how likely the contact is to become a buyer based on information about her company, her location, how often she’s come to our web-site, other online behaviours we can observe etc.
- Routing to sales: you can apply sensible rules about which sales guy 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.
- Monitoring: you can see 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 marketing money with greatest effect.
Using this kind of automation 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
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 about $100 to generate, that can quickly add up to a lot of money. Or to put it another way – calculate the proportion of your marketing 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 marketing automation technologies. Luckily, there are a lot of technologies becoming available, most of them delivered as software-as-a-service, with low entry costs and no installation or desktop deployments necessary.