This sounds like a silly question especially after I’ve just published a whole raft of blog posts highlighting the lead generation benefits
that content marketing offers.
But the question is based on the experience of almost 25 years of working in a sales and marketing environment for both small and large companies. In fact at one of those companies I was asked by an irate salesman “why I kept sending over those bloody leads”
I believe there are a number of reasons why issues like this occur and it’s mainly down to lead management processes or the way sales people are rewarded for success. For example;
In smaller companies there may not be a formal sales structure and the owner or a small cross-functional team may be involved in the day-to-day management of sales and marketing efforts. In this situation there can be more of a hunger or indeed a necessity to hunt down every sales lead that comes across a desk.
In larger companies although a more structured approach may exist there can still be a tendency for the sales person to be left to his/her own devices to meet their sales target. There may be a situation where there is no filter system or lead scoring mechanism in place and marketing are passing over too many leads for the sales team to follow up and sales people are making arbitrary decisions regarding the priority of those leads e.g. if it takes me the same amount of effort to sell product X as it does for product Y but product X costs twice as much as product Y, then sales of product Y will suffer because sales people have to sell more to reach their sales target. That is the nature of the beast when sales targets are based solely on revenue.
The generation of a lead is only the first step in the sales process. So perhaps we should ask ourselves the question “What constitutes a sales lead?” Normally a sales lead is just a contact that we have collected from part of our sales and/or marketing efforts and not all leads are warm or ready to buy. What we need to be able to do is to prioritise each lead and move them along the sales process from lead to prospect to sale.
A good sales lead management process or system can help resolve these situations.
Generally, there are 4 ways to handle the management of sales leads
- Through an automated system
- A mix of both above
- None of the above, just pass everything to sales and really hack them off
An automated system is ideal for companies that generate lots of leads and are normally bought in from companies such as Marketo, Eloqua, Silverpop or Hubspot.
A manual system can consist of various in-house systems or databases that have evolved over the years and provide a similar concept to the automated system but are much more labour intensive.
Prioritise through lead scoring
Whatever system you currently use or are working towards, each rely on identifying leads in a priority order, normally through a lead scoring system based on demographic information supplied or available. This can be based on information shared by the prospect at the initial registration and additional information collected through subsequent engagement, reinforced by online behaviour which can indicate which stage of the buying cycle the contact may be at.
Maximise through lead nurturing
The leads deemed to be not yet “sales ready” are moved into the lead nurturing process for follow up normally through an email marketing process. This is where an automated system makes things a little easier. As leads are nurtured over a period of time, additional information is gathered through marketing touch points along the way, helping to identify where the lead is within the buying cycle allowing a decision to be taken once the lead reaches a pre-determined threshold. The lead is then either handed over to sales or goes back into the marketing machine.
The result is a happier sales team as they are only sent leads that have been warmed up along the way and are more likely to result in a sale. There is also a saving in time and effort as sales no longer have to trawl through all of the leads generated hoping for success.
An additional step that can be introduced, depending upon your business model and resources available, is to set up an internal sales team (or person) to qualify the prospect prior to handing over to the external sales person.
In order to generate the lead in the first place you need a hook, a Call to Action that attracts the attention of the viewer and is perceived as worthy of a click and perhaps an exchange of information in return for something of value. This is where great content can be used to help move prospects through the sales funnel.
Lead generation activities targeted at new prospects AND existing customers is vital for business growth but don’t leave it to chance. Lead generation is not the end goal, the end goal is a sales conversion. So get smart, put a demand generation plan together that takes into account the 3 key areas of:
- Lead Generation
- Lead Scoring
- Lead Nurturing
If you take this approach you’ll end up with a happy sales team, more qualified leads and satisfied customers. If you want to have a chat about the best way to improve your current lead management process, give me a call on 01803 413481
PS: Download the latest Rame Marketing ebook, 16 reasons why you should adopt a content marketing approach to your business