Highly successful business owners understand the importance of the buyer’s journey. Managing and optimizing the process by which a potential buyer becomes a loyal customer is a part of running an efficient sales cycle. We’ve looked before at the utility of a well-defined sales process. However, in this post, we’ll explore a closely-related but distinct topic—the importance of an effective lead process.
The lead process, also called lead management, firmly links to the sales process. After all, a good sales process involves generating and qualifying leads. So then why not just lump lead management in with the sales process?
The lead management process doesn’t end at the qualifying stage. It tracks and manages your company’s relationship with a potential client all the way from initial contact to sale conversion. But it then continues on to the development of a long-term relationship. It happens in tandem with the sales process and bridges the gap between the marketing and sales teams. Ultimately, a good lead management process commands better lead generation and increased sales.
Elements of a Strong Lead Process
1. Who Are Your Leads?
The answer to this question lays the foundation for the entire lead management process. Without a clear and detailed understanding of your potential buyers, your lead process will fall short of fulfilling its potential.
Your marketing team should focus on appealing to your target audience; that’s no secret. But is your understanding of your target audience comprehensive enough? Dig deep when identifying your ideal customers. In addition to basic information, consider the following:
How do they first come into contact with your company? Is it through social media, a Google search, or are they reading in-depth white papers?
Emotions have an enormous impact on buying decisions. Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman says that 95% of a buying decision happens in the subconscious mind. Understanding how to appeal to the emotions of your ideal buyers will help you better communicate the value of your product or service.
Guiding sales principles:
What characterizes the kinds of companies that are your ideal clients and that you want to do business with? Do they believe in win-win relationships? Do they want you to make a fair profit so that you’ll stay in business to serve them for the long haul? In addition to knowing who your target clients are, knowing how they behave (and their values) is equally important.
2. Collecting Data
Which types of content are speaking to your leads? What are they interacting with and how are they finding you? This information is invaluable in identifying the wants, needs, and interests of your prospective clients.
Data collection doesn’t happen unless you make it happen. You can create amazing content and earn the attention of throngs of interested customers. But unless you set up the tools to measure those interactions, you’re missing out on a lot of crucial data.
In addition to investing in marketing analytics tools, well-placed lead-capture forms are effective ways to learn about the people interested in your product or service. Placing premium content such as webinars or free-trials behind a lead-capture form will provide you with valuable lead information.
3. Lead Scoring
Use lead scoring for a more accurate measure of a lead’s potential interest in your product or service. Leads build positive scores for demographic and behavioral data that correspond with those of the ideal buyer.
Lead scores are useful to the sales and marketing teams because they show how close a lead is to converting-to-sale. The higher a lead’s score, the more likely they are to convert. Things like inactivity and low budget may signal that a lead is a poor fit and will lower the score. Use lead statuses to prioritize the efforts of your sales team.
4. Lead Nurturing
From the results of your lead scoring, you can determine appropriate lead nurture campaigns. As your leads progress through the sales funnel, use relevant content to track and influence their journey. You would use their lead scores as benchmarks to show where they are in the sales funnel.
For leads closer to the top of the funnel and not quite ready to make a buying decision, content designed to educate and demonstrate the value of your product or service is most relevant.
We can also note here that unqualified or cold leads don’t have to be thrown away. For these, you could Implement an appropriate lead nurturing campaign to move them along in the sales cycle.
Moving Leads to Sales
This is where marketing automation comes in. Lead scores can be used to automatically direct leads to the appropriate spot in the sales process. Leads with low scores will automatically enter the relevant nurturing campaign, and leads with a high enough score will be passed off to sales. Even existing customers can benefit from marketing automation. It can keep them engaged and offer upselling opportunities.
The lead nurturing aspect of lead management is essential for maximizing return on lead generation efforts. When done well, it can also play a key role in developing customer relationships by providing personalized content.
The Pursuit of Perfection
Having a lead process that works for your company is the first step, but it isn’t worth much if it doesn’t grow with your business. The key to any successful component of your business is that it is consistently optimized to meet your needs as they change. Only by closely monitoring each stage of your lead process can you tune it to maximum efficiency.
It takes time to work out the best system for your business, but it’s worth it. Companies that invest in getting their lead management process to work for them consistently outperform those that don’t.
So, what does your lead process look like?
We Can Help Your Team with a Lead Process
To expedite meeting and exceeding your sales goals, it might be time to call in reinforcements. Schedule your free consultation here to find out how we help sales teams break sales records.