You can be doing all of the right things to generate leads: publishing articles and case studies, making regular blog posts, launching regular e-mail marketing campaigns, capturing visitor data submitted through your website’s online forms, participating in sales events, engaging in SEO, and taking full advantage of social media, but if you’re not managing your leads properly once you’ve generated them, the results you’re getting are probably only slightly better than those you could get by searching your local phonebook.
Similarly, you can spend your days making first calls and first contacts with leads, but never get the kinds of returns you should be getting from your lead generation and sales efforts if you don’t have solid lead management processes in place.
Lead generation is about much more than increasing your opportunities to make first contacts with leads. While increasing your opportunities to make first contacts is important, it’s not the end goal of lead generation. The end goal is to make more sales. To make more sales, in addition to increasing the number of initial conversations you’re having, you have to track and route leads through your sales funnel smoothly and appropriately.
Lead Qualification and Scoring
Typically, tracking and routing leads not only requires using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, but engaging in lead qualification and lead scoring. By qualifying leads, you can determine whether or not they actually viable; in other words, you can determine whether or not they have a want or need for your product or service and the means to actually make a purchase. By scoring leads, you can determine how ready leads are to make a purchase and how quickly you might to be able to convert leads into sales.
Despite the obvious advantages of qualifying and scoring leads prior to having first conversations, many companies simply don’t have enough resources at their disposal to qualify and score leads effectively. Fortunately, the best lead generation providers do. They make your cold calls and qualify and score leads on your behalf, and then help you to make the most out of your lead data by delivering it to you in a timely manner using the modern technologies and methods that best meet your company’s needs.
Lead nurturing is about determining what it takes to get a lead from point A, the first sales touch point, to point Z, the point of sale. Once leads have been qualified and scored and you’ve had an initial conversation, you should continue to nurture leads that haven’t yet gotten to point Z in different ways. Not all leads are alike, but most of them will fall into a number of identifiable buckets. Put your leads in the appropriate buckets throughout your sales cycle using your CRM tool.
One good lead nurturing tip is to follow up with leads using the same lead generation tools and tactics that turned them into leads in the first place. If leads initially opened your e-blast and clicked through to certain pages on your website, include them in a follow-up e-mail campaign. If leads initially reached out to you via Facebook, comment on their Facebook posts in an effort to keep your name in front of them and maintain a dialog. If leads initially entered information into an online form in order to obtain access to a case study or other piece of intellectual collateral, send them complementary white papers, PowerPoint presentations, or videos on the topics in which they showed an interest.
A big part of nurturing leads is putting them at ease even as you’re taking them out of their comfort zones by introducing new ideas, products, services, and solutions. By making leads comfortable and establishing yourself as a credible and valuable resource, you’ll be able to build their trust and confidence in you, your company, and what it offers—and, ultimately, to make more sales.