This post has been contributed by SoftwareSuggest.
Without leads, your business will definitely fail. But, if you play your cards well, leads will graduate to customers who in turn become fierce ambassadors of your brand. If you don’t qualify your leads, you might pass over unbaked leads to your ambitious sales team. Again, your failure to nurture and route leads efficiently through the sales pipeline means valuable leads might fall through the cracks.
What happens to efforts, time and cash you spend chasing wind?
You are going to lose – big time.
Let’s briefly take a closer look at lead management process, its vital processes, and how adopting this strategy will win you the loyalty of newly acquired leads.
Lead management process
Lead management is “a sales process through which marketers identifies, qualifies, nurtures and passes off sales-ready leads to the sales team.”
Generally lead management system consists of four activities: lead identification which helps you determine buyer types you’re after, lead generation, lead tracking, and lead processing.
HubSpot defines the lead generation as “the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service.”
Lead generation begins with lead prospecting, where marketing teams use marketing tools and systems to organize and store leads.
But, landing a good lead it’s not as easy as browsing the yellow pages for contacts and making random calls here and there. It takes time and efforts. According to a study conducted by International Data Group, 61% of marketers revealed that generating high-quality leads is the biggest challenge they face.
There are various ways brands use to generate quality leads. For example, a blogger may provide compelling content in exchange for their audience’s contact information. Also, when you fill in a form with your primary contact information – you become a lead.
There are two forms of types of lead generation strategies:
- Inbound lead generation— which involves activities like blogging, blogger outreach, SEO on-page optimization, guest blogging, blog syndication, social media updates, social media engagement, webinars, and development of premium content including eBooks, videos, calls-to-action, infographics, and landing pages.
- Outbound lead generation – has to do with social media ads, the paid search (PPC), banner ads, direct mail native ads, media ads, email marketing, print ads, tradeshows, personal networking, and speaking engagements.
2. Lead tracking
Thanks to lead tracking, marketing, and sales departments can easily work together to provide better customer experience and land more qualified leads that lead to more sales deals.
Lead tracking enables marketers to monitor the leads all the way from the source until they exit the sales pipeline. The process also involves monitoring the specific actions performed by each lead and then qualifies it to move one stage to the next stage of the sales funnel.
With effective lead management system, your marketing team can easily determine the source of the leads, the best outreach methods that yield better conversions and contact channels that responded well.
As a result, a marketer will discover the best campaigns that promise to deliver quality leads. Once the leads are qualified and sales-ready, they are passed to the sales departments for final action – closing the sale.
Here are the generally accepted stages of the sales and marketing funnel:
- Stage1: Inquiry – Involves a general visitor or user whose interaction demonstrates a potential interest in product or service.
- Stage 2: Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) – At this point, the lead’s interaction with the provided marketing material indicates sales potential.
- Stage 3: Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) – This an MQL that sales department has accepted as a potential lead.
- Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): Sales-ready lead.
- Closed Sale – The lead bought the service or product.
3. Lead processing
Lead processing rotates about lead scoring and qualification, key processes that help filter, organize and prioritize leads by their potential value. Leads behave differently. There are those that close immediately or and those that take time to mature into a sales opportunity.
According to Jim Obermayer’ Rule of 45, 45% of qualified leads will make a purchase within one year. While the statement might sound too generalized and not reflecting on the current business environment, it provides a vital benchmark that can help marketers put things into perspective. That way, you won’t expect your lead management system to deliver sales-ready leads overnight.
4. Lead nurturing and scoring
With lead nurturing, the marketing team builds relationships with potential clients who may not be ready to buy your product or service. In this case, the marketing department takes care of the leads along its pipeline. Using a supplementary technique, lead scoring, the marketer ranks the leads within the sales funnel. Lead scoring gives priority to high-ranking leads giving the team a better understanding of where the prospect stands on the sales cycle. When the lead makes a decision that qualifies it sales sales-ready, the marketing team passes the lead to the specialized Sales Development Reps (SDRs).
You need leads to remain in business. However, for you to grow your leads from the source until they close to a sell, you need to adopt an efficient lead management system. You need a system that helps you map out the whole customer journey, enables you to generate, track, qualify and score your leads along the sales funnel.
However, some businesses fail to allocate sufficient resource of lead qualification. As a result, the marketers will resort to ‘obscure’ methods that will cost your business best leads, give you bad publicity and most importantly lead to wastage of time resource.
About the Author: Nilam Oswal is a Software Analyst at SoftwareSuggest. When she’s not hard at work, she can be found wandering, reading and just generally having a good time in life. Follow Nilam on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.