March 19, 2018 // Jeff Harsh
Have you ever thought about what happens to the various leads that come into your organization? Where do they go? Who follows up on them? Is the process defined and consistent? What are the results of each of them? What is your best lead source?
Now, ask yourself these questions answering not with… “What should the answer be…?”, but rather, “What actually is the answer…?”
Many companies are uncertain or have no means of tracking what happens to leads that come in via their website, trade shows, marketing campaigns, etc. At Concept, when it comes to lead management, we believe effective lead management is ensuring that every lead that enters your organization is handled and followed-up using a consistent, proven system and approach. This means not just making an initial follow up call but managing a lead through the entire process and developing a plan to continue nurturing it over the next 30, 60, 90 days and throughout the lead’s life cycle.
With this belief in mind, we work to help companies achieve this level of management. Throughout this journey, we have identified what we believe to be four of the most common pitfalls companies struggle with surrounding lead management and solutions on how to prevent them within your organization below:
Pitfall #1 – Leads Not Being Qualified
Generating leads is always a rewarding feeling. However, leads that are not qualified correctly can potentially be doing more harm than good. When leads are not qualified, it can put a sour taste into the mind of those tasked with following up on them. Having a sales team that isn’t bought in is the quickest way for any lead generation initiative to fail.
Solution: Determine and develop a lead qualification/scoring process. A common one is BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe) Scoring, but there are many options out there. Determine the scoring model that works best for your organization or develop your own criteria and hold your marketing/lead generation team responsible for qualifying all leads, through all lead sources, to this qualification/scoring standard.
Pitfall #2 – Leads Not Being Tracked Effectively
Once you have your scoring/qualification process in place, it’s important to be able to report on the leads that you have and track them through the qualification and sales process.
The most common issue that we see here is when companies attempt to manage each of their various lead sources through multiple people, processes, and departments. As a result, leads are often managed through phone and email with no process or CRM system in place as the common vein throughout the company. As a result, visibility is lost as to what happened with the lead making it nearly impossible to determine if the lead was qualified, effectively managed, nurtured, and ultimately resulted in closed business.
Solution: Equip your sales/marketing team with a CRM system that allows for you to have visibility to the entire process post lead generation. This is a vital component and a necessary first step to any effective lead management strategy.
For those that do not have a CRM system, working with a partner who specializes in CRM Design & Implementation or Lead Management to help provide the system and visibility to this process can be another alternative.
Pitfall #3 – No Initial Lead Follow Up
Following up on a NEW hot lead is the number one priority of any lead generation program. However, if your process is designed in such a way that NEW hot leads are routed to a sales team, immediate follow up may not be their number one priority. Sales reps have current customer and account management demands that take their time and attention. They have current deals they are trying to close that often take priority. Following up on that inbound lead isn’t always a top priority for your sales rep.
Timely follow up can be the difference between a closed deal and a lost opportunity. Prompt lead follow-up is often the first impression a prospect has with your organization. Many companies assume and believe their sales reps are promptly following up on leads. Don’t assume or guess when it comes to lead follow-up. Take the time to find out exactly what is happening in your organization.
Solution: Determine who is the best recipient of a new lead.
If Leads are Being Routed to Sales Team Directly:
Set responsibilities, expectations, and a process for timely lead follow up. Make sure the sales team understands the urgency of lead follow-up in a timely manner. Make sure they are all managing all leads consistently from one rep to the next to ensure a consistent experience for your prospect. Make sure the sales team is accurately logging their conversation and follow up in CRM to allow for visibility downstream to what is working and what is not in the process.
For those organizations that do not have a CRM, routing leads directly to a sales team is not a recommended best practice. Without a proper CRM tool, managing which sales rep is assigned to each lead and what the sales rep is doing to progress the lead is difficult, especially as the number of reps receiving leads and lead volume increase.
If Leads are Being Routed to Internal Team Initially:
Our experience shows that the most successful lead management programs are managed and executed by a dedicated team, which is not the sales reps. This team is designed to follow up with leads immediately when they are generated, ensure the lead is qualified to the quality score established, and then appropriately route to the appropriate sales rep. Whether this is done with a dedicated internal team or through the use of a partner specializing in inbound lead management strategy.
Pitfall #4 – Leads Not Being Nurtured
Not all leads are ready to sign on the dotted line when you initially reach out to them. The prospect may simply be gathering information, they may be looking for potential vendors, they may not even be a fit for your organization. The prospect needs to be qualified, they have questions that need to be answered. They need to be nurtured. Nurturing a lead can often take months, perhaps even years. Closing a sale in one thing, qualifying and nurturing a lead or potential buyer is another. Not often do you make a call and the prospect on the other end has a check in hand and ready to buy. There is a process involved to stay in front of them, be able to differentiate your product/service from your competition, earn their trust and then eventually win their business. An effective process of staying in front of the prospect, demonstrating how your organization is different from all the other competition in the market is what often drives a successful sales organization.
Having a sales team that is not equipped to do this ongoing nurturing can have a very negative impact on overall future sales. An effective lead nurturing process is what generates new business from new customers.
Solution: Honestly identify if your sales team/structure is set up to effectively and efficiently follow-up on leads. Is your organization set up to track this type of activity so you can make educated decisions regarding lead sources and where future marketing dollars should be allocated? If you are spending marketing dollars now but not able to accurately track the results and not converting leads into sales, this could be more expensive than implementing a dedicated resource to follow-up on leads which will result in sales.
Once you identify that you have the appropriate team in place to follow-up on leads, make sure that everyone is on the same page with what the organization’s expectations are for ongoing lead nurturing is. If the team believes that leads should be producing immediate sales-ready opportunities, but the program was designed to create that “open door” to create relationships, there is a disconnect that will result in a program that doesn’t meet expectations for the prospect or the sales team. For more insight on ways to ensure your sales team is on board with your marketing and lead generation goals, see 5 Ways to Effectively Implement a Lead Program with Sales Reps.
Not managing the key pitfalls above can have a negative impact on any lead generation effort making it difficult to accurately assess whether the campaign itself was not effective or if it was the management downstream that caused the issue.
In extreme cases, we have seen these pitfalls result in the shutting down of lead sources that were, in fact, producing exactly what the organization was looking for and set out to achieve, but their inability to manage downstream resulted in what appeared to be no results. Inbound leads should be accurately tracked, scored and reported on so you know where to spend marketing dollars.
If your organization is experiencing any of these issues, subscribe to our Blog for more on ways to help better manage and generate leads or let us connect with you to have a discussion on ways we can help.