Lead Management: Background
B2B Lead Management is the practice of triaging, prioritizing and developing sales leads that originate from a variety of sources. Through a combination of marketing strategy, integrated sales systems and advertising practices, sales teams generate new potential business clientele that supports the growth of an organization. The general proliferation of lead management has allowed countless organizations around the world to nurture potential leads through a systemized process.
A typical process of lead management follows along these steps:
- Business engages in a variety of lead generation strategies like advertising, marketing, influencer outreach, public relations, digital marketing and general sales tactics.
- Those exposed to the lead generation respond, become interested in the message and create an inquiry and become a sales lead.
- The inquiring consumer’s information is captured via a salesperson, website or a program.
- The information is compared against a large variety of criteria to determine the validity of the prospect.
- Those leads are then triaged, scored and prioritized, from the highest business potential to the lowest.
- The leads are routed to appropriate lead response resources across the marketing and sales departments.
- The leads are contacted by the appropriate member of an organization or through an automated response program.
- Contacted and uncontacted leads are entered into personal and automated follow-up systems to further develop, nurture and qualify them.
- End result is a new business sale or a potential future sale, and a possible referral.
As lead management has developed into an integral business practice, business people have begun searching for easier ways to track and engage their leads to improve profit, productivity and sales. The Internet and other information systems technology has assisted with the development of lead management software that shifts much of the workload from manual labor to automated programs. This type of software creates an organized structure for managing business inquiries and data that’s distributed throughout the many stages of the sales process. It serves as an effective lead management tool, producing new business revenue, boosting visibility and improving the overall attitude of a potential client and the general public for future business development.
With each wave of digital marketing innovations, new waves of leads – also known as digital hand raisers – have to be tracked, prioritized, scored and followed up with. With the development of new technology always comes new and improved ways to capture and develop new business leads.
Many research studies have identified that the majority of B2B buyers are now educating themselves with Internet search before they ever engage with a sales person. Most of these studies suggest that more than 60 percent of the B2B sales cycle occurs before the customer ever wants to engage with a sales person. The fact that a large portion of buyers are completing a lot more pre-purchase research online before reaching out to a supplier may not be news to some. But what’s most startling is that very few suppliers have taken direct and focused actions in changing their go-to-market models to address this shift. This means that more and more people that sell anything in today’s digitally-dominated market are leveraging search marketing as a key tactic to capture the digital footprints of their potential customers.
Utilizing Search Marketing to Improve Lead Management
Search marketing – when used in conjunction with related marketing practices, such as paid advertising, brand development, PR, email, content and even word of mouth – has become a critical component of lead management. With the growth of digital marketing and automation platforms, more and more business people have started employing lead management software to simplify processes and improve efficiency when reaching potential leads. Big investments are being made in generating and capturing digital hand raisers, and it’s largely because lead management software automates and simplifies the effort to get leads triaged and followed up on.
Digital marketing has become a common tool for businesses looking to increase inbound sales of their products and services. Many people in today’s marketplace have leveraged search marketing as a tactic in capturing the digital footprints of their potential customers due to the volume of visits they receive to their website. Digital marketing has grown to become a main aspect of the marketing mix within the past fifteen years as consumers become more and more powerful and businesses look for new resources to capture leads.
Whether you’re using social media, content marketing or blogging to gain inbound leads, digital marketing is a powerful new marketing tool and can bring in an influx of requests for business. Lead quality will vary with an inbound strategy of course, meaning anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of leads may never become qualified in any fashion. If that is the norm, then the need for a lead management software solution becomes all the more crucial to stay on-track.
By aggregating digital advertising, social media, SEO, content marketing, SEM data and more, regular business owners and employees can now take control of their sales process with lead management software. It makes it quick and easy to automate the scoring, evaluation and distribution of leads for proper follow up with potential prospects. So how are companies implementing this tool?
How Companies Use Lead Management Software
Companies across various industries are starting to use lead management software as a main component of their sales systems. As the trend shifts further away from traditional outbound efforts and leverages inbound digital marketing, the need for easy-to-understand, real-time, data-driven insights becomes more and more urgent. Organizations that have invested heavily in content marketing and digital ad campaigns need to have some type of lead management system in place. Without it, the volume of lead follow ups surpasses their ability to viably pursue each lead with their sales teams.
More companies than ever are using lead management software to use rules-based automation for the routing of high volumes of digital leads. With the help of software, every prospects’ information, monthly goals, campaign results and measurement reports are all contained in one place, making it easier for sales and marketing teams to align on leads. And by automating the routing of high volumes of digital leads, companies can spend more time pursuing the high-priority leads that are sales-ready, instead of manually organizing data, and investing resources in leads that are not ready yet.
Manually organizing data can negatively affect a sales process by exposing the numbers to human error. Inaccurately entering data, or worse not entering it at all, can be costly, leading to prospect attrition, reputational damage and reduced conversion rates. With an automated program, data enters automatically, is always accurate, easy to understand, and businesses can better determine the effectiveness and weaknesses of sales and marketing efforts.
A good lead management system also saves a lot of time and effort for salespeople and in turn saves a lot of man hours for an organization. Most lead management systems will have some intelligent methodology for filtering, assessing and organizing lead data into meaningful categories. There are countless methods to successfully implementing a lead program.
Why Lead Management Software is Important
In today’s time-compressed world that most businesses operate in, organizations are implementing dedicated prospecting teams with new roles called sales development representatives (SDR) to offload the increasing effort required to engage with prospects. Even with this new SDR role, many of those sales development representatives on the sales force don’t have time to follow up on every digital lead that comes in. As such, it’s very important that some form of lead scoring and triage system exist to only serve up sales-ready opportunities to sales people. After all, why would a salesperson want to waste his precious time pursuing a lead that ultimately doesn’t want to make a purchase?
Examples of proper lead scoring and triage processes, assisted by lead management software:
- Immediately following up: A “contact us now” form from a website should be routed immediately to an SDR that can contact the inquiring person right away. These prospects sought out the business, navigated to the special form on the website and filled it out with their personal information because they want to speak with someone. The quicker an SDR can get in touch with them, the quicker they can be developed into a sale.
- Digitally nurturing leads: With the initial download of a white paper that’s in regard to a thought-leadership topic. Depending on how much information there is on the contact (e.g. name, title, company, zip code, address, email, phone number, etc.), these leads should probably be digitally nurtured rather than routed immediately to a sales rep for follow up. These people are searching for information that relates to a certain brand and are most likely at the top of the lead funnel. Light sales touches over time will assist in building this lead into a more valuable prospect.
- Lead should have immediate follow up by a sales development representative: When a contact opts in for a product demonstration, they are likely interested in learning more. These leads should most likely be triaged by an inbound sales development rep to make sure the lead is part of an account that is a good fit and that there is an affirmed need for the product they want demonstrated to them.
According to the Bridge Group, the average number of attempts to actually reach a prospect has increased from 4.7 in 2010 to 8.2 in 2016. With that level of pursuit and effort, it takes far too much time for salespeople to get in touch with prospects that it’s impossible for every digital hand raiser to be followed up with. This creates gaps in the sales processes and lowers overall business opportunities.
Not every lead is ready to be sold, but when companies are not responsive to digital hand raisers, they leave an impression that they are not important. Having a system that evaluates every lead and automatically routes it into an email lead nurturing program, or an inbound sales development representative or immediately to the appropriate sales person, is incredibly important in maximizing sales revenue.
How OppSource Works
As the top lead management software, OppSource PursuitPro has built-in lead management capabilities that make it easy for routing inbound leads to sales development representatives for immediate follow up. PursuitPro has a concept called “Moment-of-Interest” that automatically prioritizes scored inbound leads to the top of an SDR’s follow up queue. It’s incredibly important to act immediately when a prospect shows interest, as connection rates improve by up to nine times.
Further, PursuitPro lets SDRs put leads that are not quite ready into a Lead Development TouchPlan that automatically sequences a series of SDR lead pursuit steps including email, social media, telephone calls and voicemails. Once an SDR has pursued a lead through a minimum set of follow up touch points, it can be routed back to the Marketing Automation platform and put into a more broad based email only lead nurturing campaign.
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