Walk into any active sales room, and it’s easy to tell how time-intensive most sales operations are. To make the hours spent worthwhile, it’s important to ensure that your sales team is only talking to the most qualified leads. Lead management is a strategy and set of corresponding tools that help companies filter out unqualified leads and better understand the buying cycle of their good leads. When executed well, lead management makes your marketing team more effective, your sales team more precise, and your leads happier. Lead management programs vary from company to company, but here are several important components to consider.
For B2B companies, lead management should actually begin before a lead ever fills out a form. Individual website visitors who are still in the browsing stage can actually tell you a great deal about what content is attracting them to your company. By using prospect tracking software, which reports on the IP address associated with site visitors, you can understand which types of companies are visiting your site. Connecting company activity on your site with a certain type of content or topic can help you better prepare your sales team for when a lead from that company later converts on your site.
When someone converts on your website by completing a form or downloading a piece of content, the relationship with that lead begins. By using analytics to keep tabs of the content leads view and the interactions they have with your company, you can build a more relevant, personalized experience for each lead. Lead intelligence begins by developing a profile for your lead with the information provided and creating a place to store all future interactions and data on that lead. After you have that profile created, you can begin to segment your leads based on their interests and send emails and other communications that are targeted and relevant to them.
The good news about inbound marketing is that it can attract high volumes of leads. The challenge then becomes, how do you separate the good, quality leads from the people who are just looking around? That’s where lead scoring comes in. With lead scoring, you can attach values to each of your leads based on their professional information and the behavior they’ve displayed on your website. Get started by meeting with your sales team and coming to an agreement about what makes a quality lead. What types of pages viewed or content downloaded indicate that the lead is getting close to a decision point? What lead activities do you want to prioritize? After you've come to an agreement on quality indicators, you can use a lead scoring app like HubSpot's Lead Grader to assign custom scores to each activity so your most qualified leads float to the top.
Customer Relationship Management
Another key component of successful lead management is the integration of your marketing software and your customer relationship management (CRM) software. Too often, there is a divide between marketing efforts and the revenue that those efforts drive. Connecting your marketing software to your CRM system enables you to bridge that gap and get a complete view of your marketing funnel, from the campaigns and channels that first brought customers into to your company to their most recent point of sale. Marketers call this kind of end-to-end view "closed-loop reporting." Closed-loop reporting can help you understand which marketing efforts resulted in actual purchases so you know how to invest your marketing budget more strategically. To get started, make sure you have a marketing platform and a CRM system that have the ability to integrate through APIs.
Lead nurturing is all about understanding the nuances of your leads’ timing and needs. Basic lead nurturing involves a tightly connected series of emails with a coherent purpose and an abundance of useful, relevant content. Lead nurturing campaigns are typically kicked off in a scheduled cadence after someone takes a specific action on your site, like requesting a trial or signing up for a webinar, and they reflect the action taken. Alternately, behavior-based lead nurturing, often called marketing automation, enables a company to trigger communications based on real-time customer behavior.
Warming leads up over time through helpful, educational emails will help them get to a decision point more quickly. To set up your first lead nurturing campaign, think about the typical buying cycle of your leads. Design related emails that address the goals of each of these stages (for example: education, comparison shopping, cost-assessment). Remember, lead nurturing emails should be designed to help your leads, not push an immediate sale. Use a lead nurturing program to time these communications appropriately throughout the buying cycle.
The Complete Picture
Customer relationships take time. Research from Gleanster suggests that even when it comes to qualified leads, more than 50% aren’t ready to buy on the day they first convert on your site. You’ve put a lot of work into attracting leads, and often, it's how you manage them after the conversion that will determine if your time was well spent. The power of lead management comes in adapting your communications to reflect a comprehensive understanding of your leads' needs and timeline so that when you hand them over to your sales team, all parties are informed and ready to move forward.
To learn more about how to get started with lead management, download our free ebook, Lead Management Made Simple.
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