Sales leads are a product of the marketing engine that identifies new customers and new opportunity. They represent future revenue and growth for your company.
Your marketing team develops programs that target prospects, generate interest and produce leads. Prospects demonstrate interest by actively responding to an overture from your company or by positively responding to a telemarketing or service inquiry. However, when a lead that is handed off to the field sales team is ignored or otherwise left to go stale, sales and marketing managers get frustrated. With just a little effort before the hand-off, sales representatives will embrace sales leads as the valuable source of new business that they are.
Companies whose sales reps effectively follow up on their sales leads manage the process from start to finish. You can do this too. Incorporate leads and lead management into your sales processes, making it easy for your sales representatives to follow up on leads. Build upon the resources your company already has in place, especially your customer relationship management (CRM) system, such as SalesForce.com, Siebel, Sage or Act! It’s important to create a process that gathers as much qualifying information as possible and as quickly as possible before sending the lead to the field. This increases the likelihood that your sales representatives will follow up on the leads quickly and reduces the amount of time the field is asked to spend on potentially unproductive work.
You also want to develop your lead management system so that it becomes very difficult for your sales reps to ignore leads or allow them to become stale.
The four stages of lead management are:
Over the next few articles, I’ll discuss the stages of lead management and what you can do at each stage to improve your lead management system.
Leads are generated through many channels. Marketing programs produce leads that can come through telemarketing, direct mail, email, trade shows, blogs, social networking, pay-per-click advertising, SEO (search engine optimization) marketing, bingo cards or any number of other tactics. Leads are also generated through attentive customer service reps or other customer-facing personnel such as accounts receivable reps or equipment installers.
It’s best to funnel all your leads through a single lead management function within your organization. Create a single point of entry. Ideally, this will be in your marketing department. By having a single point of entry for leads, you’ll have better control of the evaluation, assignment, tracking and following up of leads. With a single point of entry (and a single point of responsibility), you can also better measure the ROI of various marketing and advertising campaigns.
All marketing collateral, advertising, public relations releases and marketing campaigns should refer to a single contact number, URL and postal/email address for information. This information delivers new business prospects directly to your marketing group responsible for managing new leads.
Encourage other departments to forward leads to your marketing department when they uncover opportunities. Encouragement may be formal such as an incentive program. With an incentive program, you pay employees a fixed dollar amount for leads they deliver. To encourage qualified leads, pay more but only for leads that become closed deals. Some companies build their corporate culture to encourage customer service and lead generation. Every employee is trained to identify opportunities for the company to deliver additional services to its customers.
When your marketing department receives leads, it should “register” the leads, whether they come from employees or external marketing programs. By registering leads, the marketing department can ensure that all leads are identified and followed up on appropriately. This also allows you to measure the total effectiveness of your marketing programs.
Once leads have been received and registered, they need to be qualified. Look for this topic in my next blog posting.
For more information, contact Wallace Management Group at (203) 834-0143 or email David Wallace.
© 2009, David P. Wallace
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