A report published by Software Advice looked at reasons why companies are looking to invest in Marketing Automation Software. It found that a large percentage of businesses in the study were being overwhelmed with managing clients, contacts, and leads (nice problem to have) and are primarily seeking software to improve lead management.
The study looked at small companies in the US with a turnover less than $50 million, a majority of which had small staff teams. So, at least from these findings, it is clear that there is a growing need for lead management at the SME level. If the same research was carried out in the UK, I suspect the results wouldn't be too dissimilar.
But what about organisations that have a 'more defined business development/lead follow up' process? This is particularly true for companies in the technology sector, whose sales cycles tend to be lengthy and complex in nature. Are they any different to small companies with a high volume of leads and customers to process? In our experience, the answer is - NO!
Purchasing decisions take time. In fact, research from Gleanster suggests that even when it comes to qualified leads, more than 50% of leads aren’t ready to buy on the day they first convert on your site. Having put in the hard work attracting leads; how you manage them after the conversion will determine if that time was well spent.
Lead management spans the entire customer lifecycle, from first interaction to the most recent purchase and beyond. We all want to increase sales and retain customers, and lead management processes will achieve just that by:
- Making your sales team more efficient and effective
- Making your marketing smarter and more cost-efficient
- Creating a better experience for prospects and leads
So what are the key lead management processes that we suggest you adopt?
- Prospect Intelligence
- Lead Intelligence
- Lead Scoring
- CRM Integration
- Lead Nurturing
Prospect Intelligence - Lead management for B2B companies, should actually begin before a lead fills out a form. This is not a job for sales OR marketing to do: a joint effort is required. Sales teams will have targeted strategic accounts that they will want to pursue, so gathering intelligence on these companies and the sectors using prospect tracking software will be highly beneficial. These will provide reports on the IP address of site visitors, which helps by matching up seemingly anonymous visitors with their company name.
Sales can use this intelligence to learn when prospects from ideal target companies are visiting your website, whilst marketing can utilise this information to realise what content is attracting the most prospects. For the lucky ones using Hubspot CRM, this functionality and intelligence is right at the end of your fingertips, so there is easy access for sales and marketing.
Lead Intelligence - This is all about developing a profile for your lead: noting what makes them tick and using that information to determine the lead quality. Profiles can be developed based on a vast range of data from what forms a lead has completed and what pages they’ve read, to which emails they’ve opened and what video's they’ve watched. This enables your sales team to invest their time with only the most qualified buyers; working against a timeline that will focus your entire lead management strategy and sales follow up processes.
Lead Scoring - Inbound marketing can attract high volumes of leads. The challenge then becomes; how do you separate the good quality leads from the people who are just browsing? That’s where lead scoring comes in. Lead scoring allows you to attach values to each of your leads, based on their personal and demographic information and the behaviour they’ve displayed on your website. Lead scoring also works well for companies with more modest, but high quality lead volumes.
Lead scoring requires detailed knowledge of your business operations to be implemented. However, once that’s in place, it shouldn’t take much day-to-day management. Ultimately, this is developed to help you regulate when leads are ready to talk to a sales person.
CRM integration - Why does this matter so much? Having a CRM that is integrated with your marketing automation system enables you to bridge the gap between marketing and sales, to achieve closed-loop reporting.
Having a view of your entire marketing funnel; from the campaigns and channels that first brought prospects to your company to their most recent point of sale, will cement the all-important alignment between sales and marketing.
Companies who have good sales and marketing alignment achieve:
32% annual revenue growth rate Aberdeen Group
36% higher customer retention rates
38% higher sales with rates Marketing Profs/MathMarketing
(In comparison with companies who do not have good alignment).
Achieving a closed loop view is important for marketers, because it tells them which of their efforts resulted in customer acquisition - a critical metric to making future marketing investments. For sales, it enables them to see a lead’s full history of interactions and interests before talking to them. This proves highly valuable as it significantly warms up the sales call.
Lead Nurturing - Basic lead nurturing involves delivering a tightly connected series of emails, with a coherent purpose and an abundance of useful, relevant content. In a world of inbox overload, relevance is key. That’s why targeted lead nurturing emails tend to be more effective than typical email campaign.
On a basic level, you can monitor leads using clicks and see what content pieces resonate best with your recipients. This will allow you to improve your lead nurturing campaigns. Then, to really drive lead management behaviour, lead nurturing can be used to automatically trigger an email, alert or other communication based on real-time customer behaviour.
This kind of monitoring surpasses the form-completion triggers of basic lead nurturing, to encompass page views and other online interactions with your company both on and off your website.
The goal of behaviour-based lead nurturing is to respond to leads and customers as their needs arise and change. The characteristics of a behaviour-based lead nurturing system includes:
- Customer Determined Timing - Email sends are dependent on the lead and his or her completion of certain actions.
- Segmentation based on behaviour - This groups recipients by their interests, as determined by the content they view and the actions they take. You can then create segments of highly engaged leads, leads interested in topic X, leads with high social media activity, and so on.
- Multi-channel - Behaviour-driven tools, like HubSpot, can bring in related lead activity from social media. So not only can you email someone when they download an eBook, you can also thank them for mentioning it on Twitter and alert your sales team when they do.
- Triggers on positive and negative interactions - Unlike basic lead nurturing, behaviour-based lead nurturing or marketing automation can also trigger emails based on actions that a lead did not take. For example, if a lead downloaded your eBook and viewed your pricing page, but has NOT yet requested a demo.
Whether you’re starting a basic or a behaviour-based lead nurturing campaign, you need to consider which tools you’re going to use and what assistance you may need to get started.
As a HubSpot partner, Intellegentia uses HubSpot lead nurturing software to help clients increase their pipelines, improve sales conversions and achieve revenue growth. HubSpot lead nurturing software is a core part of all our inbound marketing processes; making it a simplistic yet powerful option for lead management.
Conclusion: Doing lead management right requires the right mix of skill and technology.
Lead management should be the common thread that runs throughout your marketing and sales program.
Implemented correctly; lead management not only speeds up your sales process (helping move leads through your marketing funnel), but also makes the experience personalised and relevant to each individual prospect.
To that end, look for a lead management system that is fully integrated into all of your other marketing tools, from your top-of-the-funnel lead generation activities to your marketing analytics and CRM systems.
Keep in mind that technology is only part of the picture. Even with the best lead management software systems, getting the experience right for your leads and customer’s involves a combination of skill and technology. Before taking on the expense of a software system then, make sure that it works with your overall marketing strategy, particularly when it comes to educating and nurturing leads over time. Without a clear lead management strategy, your technology may under perform.