Worrying about how to attract and handle leads?
Though it is a simple question, very few have a definite answer. There is no process in place for generating and managing leads from awareness (stage1) to purchase (Stage5) of marketing funnel. In case if a process exists, it leads to inefficient communications and prospects at hand will be lost.
Here are 8 steps we should take to improve our lead generation and management process:
1. Align Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and Product Teams
Ask Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and Product Development teams to come up with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that commits them to:
- Agreement on definitions and criteria such as what is a lead, opportunity, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified a lead, sales accepted lead, upsell opportunity, customer, retention opportunity, etc.
- Give a brief about lead management process.
- Discuss clearly KPIs, benchmarks, and goals for Sales, Marketing and Customer Service and Product Development teams for every quarterly or annually.
- Discuss the type of reporting or dashboards each team should follow and how they should communicate those reports to stakeholders.
2. Automation in Marketing and Integration in CRM
We need to use the latest sales and marketing technology to keep the process in place and make it run. While aligning the process, respective teams need to agree for using the latest tools to capture and manage the day to day leads and customers. The best solution is to use and incorporate every aspect of inbound marketing, including:
- CRM integration (seamless, bi-directional transfer of lead data, KPIs and communications)
- Marketing automation (email marketing, list segmentation, lead scoring, lead management workflows)
- Lead conversion (landing pages, forms, and calls-to-action)
- Enterprise application integration (customer service apps, e-commerce, business intelligence systems)
- Lead nurturing (drip campaigns, personalized content)
- Content creation and promotion (blogs, social media)
- Website content management system
3. Lead Generation
Use high-quality content, targeted inbound marketing and demand generation to capture qualified sales leads:
- Inbound marketing— calls-to-action, landing pages, blogging, blog syndication, blogger outreach, guest blogging, social media engagement, premium content (eBooks, infographics, videos, and webinars), social media updates, SEO on-page optimization.
- Demand generation— personal networking, tradeshows, email marketing, print ads, native ads, banner ads, paid search (PPC), speaking engagements, social media ads, direct mail, media ads.
4. Gather Intelligence About Leads
To establish key criteria for lead segmentation and scoring, marketing and sales teams work together. By now a list of buyer personas should be created, if they are not created earlier, create list of buyer and detailed buyer journey for each persona. Using progressive profiling approach, capture list of buyer and detailed buyer journey information through landing pages or forms so that conversion rates are kept high. Collect relevant pages and events that, if visited or triggered allows them to update lead profiles during the buyer journey. Access sites like LinkedIn, Data.com, Hoovers and other business data sites where cross-reference leads can be utilized and further build their profiles.
5. Segment Leads
Create marketing automation workflows to segregate leads and segment them into lists using criteria discussed in step one of this article. Use those lists for lead nurturing with valid content and personalized emails. We can also use that list for targeted campaigns and for segmenting leads with a role/title/industry/market segment.
6. Lead Scoring & Lead Nurturing
Set criteria for lead scoring to update lifecycle stages of the lead, shift those leads to CRM at an appropriate time and run marketing automation workflows. Positive scores will be assigned to leads for their behavior and demographics.
For example: Persona—title, revenues, industry, company size, role.
Engagement—repeat visits, blog comments, social media mentions, inbound links, number of visits, unique page views, form conversions, email opens and clicks.
Buyer stage — clicks and conversions on specific content indicating a lead lifecycle change, such as mid-funnel and bottom-funnel offers
Velocity — Volume and timing of events indicating an imminent intent to buy, recency of engagement.
Negative scores will be assigned to leads for answers or behaviors such as Non-company email address, Competitor Company or low budget. Observe and influence the progress of leads with the help of sales funnel by sending them suitable content. Use drip email campaigns or direct integration for sharing the content.
7. Transferring and Assigning Leads to the Sales Team
Automate the process of moving inbound leads to CRM using workflows and allocate them to appropriate sales representatives when lead score reach threshold level or trigger specific behavior, such as requesting a free trial or demo. In step one; plan carefully the process of allocating leads to an appropriate sales representative using segmentation rules.
8. Nurturing, Closing sales and Customer Service
By following the alignment process mentioned in step one; every sales representative should have knowledge on how to use the CRM and other lead intelligence tools. They should evaluate sales qualified leads to reach out quickly. Lead intelligence provides information to sales representatives to come up with a strategy for engaging with prospects, to gain their interest and trust, and develop a healthy relationship with leads to close a deal. This entire process is known as sales nurturing. All the representatives need to update the CRM to keep lead status up-to-date and make sure that the marketing team will not process for sales with inappropriate content. Once the deal is closed, terms and conditions of our customer service should be notified through the CRM and take the responsibility of managing the account. Representatives also need to set automated reminders for following up with their customers and sending new product updates. Marketing and Product Development teams also need to support in sending, customer-oriented content to educate a customer on best practices and upcoming releases.
Integrating it all together
Most of the companies that give attention to each of the above-mentioned steps, especially in the early planning stages by allocating the best resources and budget, tend to perform better than the competitors. The entire process isn’t that simple as explained, nut ignoring any of these steps can lead to disastrous outcomes. Building a lead generation and management process will lead to sustained growth and profitability.