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Marketing

Lead Management

by
Nathan Cenovski
on
Aug 24, 2017

Lead management is a general marketing term that describes the process of optimizing lead-based marketing activities. Most of these marketing activities typically entail modern, inbound strategies for producing sales leads or “hot” prospects.

While “lead generation” is more likely to be a marketing objective for B2B versus B2C companies, nearly any company focused on selling high-value products and services will likely become familiar with lead-based marketing practices, tools, and or management systems. In fact, companies that are most active with lead generation marketing strategies are also very likely to prioritize leads and assign them to sales teams for follow-ups (which are also important steps throughout the customer acquisition journey).

Similar to “lead management”, “customer acquisition management” is another term that is used to describe this sales and marketing process. While “customer acquisition management” is less common than “lead management”, some could argue it more accurately describes the second phase following acquisition marketing or lead generation. Either way, regardless of the term used to describe managing and acquiring leads, the important part to realize is that purchase decisions can take a long time (i.e. “long purchase cycle”) which is why many marketers refer to this timeline as “the funnel”.

Who needs a lead management solution?

If your company sells products or services which typically entail a long purchase cycle, you will probably benefit significantly from implementing tools, processes and systems that are optimized specifically for your business model. Having all of these workflows in place generally results in a greater number of conversions and more insight about which marketing strategies are most effective. In fact, some could argue that this type of marketing data is the biggest catalyst behind an increase in sales or customer “conversions”. After all, when you have the ability to track how each lead was generated and then identify personal information, such as their industry or company name, marketing plans can be optimized accordingly.

What to look for in lead management solutions?

A good lead management solution should provide the following features and benefits:

1. Automated, Customizable Reporting

Lead capture notifications should be triggered and immediately sent to the appropriate sales rep to ensure timely responsiveness.

2. Relevant Data to Improve Sales Calls

Providing background info on the prospect, such as their company and a timeline of their marketing interactions, will make it easier for a rep to have an intelligent conversation on that critical first call. Moreover, tracking each call in a lead management CRM can also help sales reps close and even up-sell (money down the line).

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3. Marketing Attribution Data

Do you know where your marketing dollars go and what return on investment they generate? An overwhelming number of companies play a glorified guessing game when determining ROI. Or, some companies will use tools that almost invariably assign all ROI to the first or last marketing touch point they can track, which is grossly inaccurate – especially for a long purchase cycle. This single point of attribution process is madness and it doesn’t have to be this way. With a great lead management solution, you can track every marketing interaction and essentially paint a more realistic picture of the whole purchase lifecycle, and gauge how marketing impacted it.

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For example, having the ability to centrally view and compare results for digital marketing campaigns helps you scientifically calculate your true ROI or total cost-per-acquisition for all touch points - not just the first or last. This real-time data can help you make better marketing decisions on the fly. Or you can keep playing a guessing game and get the results that a guessing game will get you.

4. “Hidden” Leads

A good lead identification and management system should make your sales team more prolific by uncovering leads they didn’t know even existed. For example, your system should report who is toying around your website even if the leads do not take action (this still indicates some form of interest). After all, if your sales team doesn’t know that “hidden” leads exist, or if no one gives these prospects an occasional nudge, there is a good chance you are losing valuable sales opportunities. Therefore, if you uncover these mysterious leads on your site, you can begin engaging them with popups, chat boxes, and other forms of thoughtful marketing designed to move the needle and get more deals through the door.

How to choose the best lead management software?

Like most major software decisions, you will need to assess your goals, priorities, requirements, and of course, a budget range you can afford. To do this, some companies prefer to consult a smart procurement professional whereas others prefer to handle the process internally. Either way, this process will generally entail a thorough evaluation of requirements first before contacting any vendors.

When considering your requirements, take some time to review your lead sources and think about how they enter and exit the funnel, as your funnel may have leaks.  If you are manually tracking your lead sources, there will be some imperfect data but this is still better than a blind guess.

Then you should consider what could make your lead-gen activities and funnel retention stronger – and remember to think BIG. Dream up an ideal solution and then create a budget you can think you can afford to execute it. From there, you can begin contacting vendors for proposals and demos. Or, you will at least be ready to start a conversation with a vendor about what they offer.

"Dream up an ideal solution and then create a budget you can think you can afford to execute it."

When speaking to vendors, you will want to be as precise and thorough as possible. You will find that this is an industry where vague language and jargon rule the day. Beware of dreaded marketing buzzwords as they could lead you to believe that the software you are reviewing will solve all of life’s ills.

Once you narrow your vendor list down to 2 or 3 options, you’ll probably want to move forward with demos and free trials. This will be where the wheat really gets separated from the chaff. If any vendor refuses a trial, scratch them off your list as they are obviously hiding something.

On the demo, prepare detailed questions regarding your needs. Don’t let the rep steer you into a pretty feature you don’t need. Stick to your guns and make sure you get a good review of whether this tool will solve your problems and not. Sometimes vendors can distract you with lots of dazzling, beautiful and useless reports that you only use once and then never look at them again. Remember that you are in charge; it is your approval the rep needs and not the other way around. Therefore, don’t be afraid to hammer a particular point that you really need.

All that being said, a healthy dose of realistic expectations can come in handy as with anything in life. Some “big name” systems cost $20K+ a year, or over a million for enterprise level companies. Most small to medium businesses cannot feasibly have champagne tastes when they’re on a Kool-Aid budget. Therefore, you have to know what are “needs”, what are “wants”, what are “nice bells and whistles” without making your CFO have a nervous breakdown. In fact, if you take a look around, there are many options that probably fit what you need. In fact, I may know a guy who could help you out with presenting one of the more affordable and powerful options in the market. Contact me, and I’ll let you know.

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