Taking Your Lead Management to the Next Level in 2023
How does a contact become a lead? What determines whether an individual or company is a high-quality lead? How do lead generation programs separate potential customers from the rest? Finally, what lead management strategies should sellers implement to convert leads into customers?
Once lead generation shows up with new prospects, it’s up to lead management to turn these potential buyers into actual clients. Improving this strategy now is more important than ever, as a crowded market competes to close sales. Lead management can organize prospect lists so sales teams can prioritize urgent and ripe leads. It also means improving the customer experience, which can spur first-time purchasers to become loyal customers over time.
In addition, a well-executed lead management strategy tracks and monitors customer behavior to generate insights. This information can help your sales team formulate data-driven decisions that eventually improve everybody’s performance.
Lead Generation vs Lead Management: What’s the Difference?
Let’s take a moment to go over the basics. A lead is any person or company that showed even the slightest interest in purchasing your company’s products or services. The process of gathering these leads from your database of known contacts is called lead generation. The work to turn these prospects into paying customers is lead management.
What Is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is the process of attracting potential customers who show interest in a company. Typical efforts to generate leads include advertisements, marketing campaigns and promotional activities. If a certain activity or message resonates, consumers can engage further or ask for additional information. They might subscribe to mailing lists, follow social media accounts or join a members-only community.
However, not all prospects who respond positively to lead generation activities end up as customers. While sellers can simply call everybody on their list of leads and hope some place an order, this method is time-consuming and highly inefficient.
Lead generation should also provide a filtering system to enable sales teams to identify which prospects are more likely to become customers. Among the factors to consider are the prospect’s proximity to the seller’s target profiles: industry, business size, customers and budget.
What Is Lead Management?
No matter how big an organization is, the entire sales force has limited resources to sell its products and services. Each salesperson can only use a certain amount of time to call a single customer. So when allotting time for individual clients, sales managers should make sure the leads most likely to purchase go to the top of that list.
What’s more, salespeople assigned to communicate with these priority leads will need more than just a product order form ready. They should also possess the skills that help them keep track of clients, develop a relationship defined by trust and complete their conversion into paying customers. This is where lead management comes in.
If lead generation identifies prospects that have the most potential, lead management makes sure the sales team initiates a conversation with them. Not all initial contacts end up as immediate sales. So, lead management enables the sales team to keep tabs on prospects and resume communications once the situation improves. After all, some leads will require additional follow-ups before responding, while others will ask for more information to make an informed decision. Again, lead management should have a system in place to provide the needed data.
At the same time, the seller shouldn’t have too many people approaching a lead. This lack of coordination can result in multiple parties providing different (and even mismatched) information, which can confuse the buyer. But with a sound lead management strategy in place, clients will communicate with a designated representative. As a result, the sales team can nurture leads more easily and efficiently, until they finally become paying customers.
Why Is Lead Management Important in 2023?
A lead management program isn’t a necessity, but having an efficient strategy in place can maximize your sales teams’ limited time and resources. Lead management isn’t only about converting customers—it’s also a way to keep them engaged. This is essential in today’s uncertain economic climate. Fewer leads come through the sames funnel, so the ones that do come in must become customers if you want to meet your goals.
For instance, your sales team will have gathered enough information to know a prospect’s sales cycles, touchpoints and purchase triggers. Learning when and how to deploy your sales team and take appropriate action can increase their chances of closing the deal.
Here are some additional benefits of lead management:
Sales Teams Can Focus on the Right Leads
Not all leads are created equal. Some are prepared to make a purchase, while others are still canvassing and talking to other sellers. The latter are less likely to commit to a sale, given their desire to look around for the best deal.
Sales teams can’t afford to spend unlimited time with leads until they make a purchase. But by deploying the right lead management strategy, your organization can focus on the right kind of leads at the right time.
This strategy usually involves the marketing department. Sales teams can refer to marketing materials like buyer personas and current market profiles to determine which customer types are ready now and which ones need more time.
Buyer personas in particular can replicate your target market’s urgent requirements, current financial situations and decision-making processes. As a result, sales representatives can prioritize leads that closely match these profiles. This can greatly increase their success rate and win shares.
Your Team Can Create Relevant Content
Today’s generation of buyers know the difference between a sales pitch and a solution. Because they’re adept at conducting their own research, they don’t want long-winded sales presentations that promise everything but offer nothing. At the same time, they avoid catchy pitches that are all hype with no substance.
They want solutions to the problems they have. If they don’t hear the seller recognizing the problem and presenting a solution, then they don’t see them as a likely partner.
Lead management helps sellers look into the buyers’ problems first before coming up with answers. The strategy involves reading into the prospective clients’ situations and designing proposals that seem tailor-made for them.
Sellers who recognize the particular dilemmas of their prospects know better than to talk outside these lines. Instead, they prepare content that suits their individual customers. For each, they can develop a unique presentation that confirms an understanding of the specific problem and offers a solution.
You Provide an Excellent Customer Experience
Lead management also involves getting to know your customers better. Learning about their purchase habits, buying cycles and specific concerns enables you to anticipate their needs, offer timely services and avoid ill-timed follow-ups.
More importantly, your solutions should address their pain points directly. Lead management involves learning about these pain points and developing specific remedies.
For instance, first-time buyers will be delighted to learn you have the answers to their problems. Meanwhile, existing customers will remain appreciative of your solutions’ ability to cover their needs. At this point, both types of clients will have no reason to even consider switching suppliers.
The Stages of Lead Management
Lead management is a process, not a singular answer. There are several stages in lead management that oversee the process from start to finish. However, lead management takes a path that’s more of a continuous cycle than a linear one.
Without lead generation, lead management won’t get off the ground. A seller conducts activities designed to attract potential customers. Once leads signal interest to learn more about the seller’s product, lead generation can help filter the list and determine which prospects are ready to buy. It also identifies which leads need more time and information before they make a purchase decision.
How do lead generation activities attract customers? They make lots of noise. Specifically, they conduct various activities that announces their presence—launching advertising campaigns, conducting marketing events, creating social media buzz and promoting sales activities. During these events, many individuals might voluntarily provide their contact information in exchange for learning more about the product or the seller.
Lead generation can also entail buying lists of prospects. These are often people who share some affinity with your industry, company, brand or product.
Lead Qualification and Segmentation
Not all leads end in successful transactions. But even if they did, which leads deserve to be called by salespeople first? In this stage of lead management, you prioritize your leads.
Many factors determine whether a lead is likely to buy your product at the soonest possible time. One of the most important factors to consider is the lead’s urgent requirements. If they made it clear they need the product ASAP—or that they just want help making a purchase—then make them a priority for your sales reps to service.
Another equally important factor is the lead’s ability to complete a purchase. Sure, anybody can say they want to buy your product, especially if it’s in high demand and supplies are limited. However, any willingness to buy will be always negated by an inability to pay.
As both factors show, there’s a need to qualify leads no matter how good they look on paper. Distinguishing between qualified leads and unqualified ones can save the sales team’s time and effort in contacting prospects.
Sellers should also learn to segment their leads. Qualified leads can originate from various market segments. Sending everybody the same marketing messages may alienate some of them.
Segmenting leads into recognizable categories can ensure you send the right messages and apply the right strategies that fit their category. For example, new and repeat customers need to hear distinctive sales messages. The former won’t understand messages that urge you to reorder. Meanwhile, the latter may be confused about offers for first purchases or an invitation to join a community they’re already part of.
Among your list of leads lies a sizable demographic that likes your product but isn’t yet ready to purchase. Pushing them to close the deal will only cause confusion or annoyance, but ignoring and rejecting them will likely backfire. So, what should the sales team do? The answer is nurturing, a key step in lead management where you stay in touch and support your clients until they’re ready to buy.
When nurturing leads, you’re sustaining their interest levels so they remain informed and engaged with your solution offers. Staying attentive to undecided customers can ultimately elicit a positive response. Compared to a rival seller that abandoned their lead at the first hint of indecision, who do you think they’ll call once they feel confident about making a purchase?
The nurturing process also presents a perfect opportunity to gather insights from your leads. Why are they hesitating on a purchase? What are their additional pain points? What are their objections? Learning more about why customers haven’t yet purchased can help you address these concerns. In many cases, placing important information about the purchase up front during the lead generation process can address many would-be buyers’ hesitations.
Regardless, remember to stay patient when nurturing leads—they have their reasons for holding back. Asking them to proceed without understanding these reasons can alienate them further.
Lead Scoring and Routing
During the nurturing process, some leads might trigger a few touchpoints that could signal a movement toward purchase. It’s important to remain aware of these touchpoints, such as requesting a sample, asking more questions or ordering but ultimately abandoning a cart. If the circumstance dictates your sales team to make a timely offer, then go for it. To determine the best course of action when customers hit one or several touchpoints, adopt lead scoring and routing.
In its most basic form, lead scoring is ranking leads using your own arbitrary scale. To distinguish one lead from another, your lead scoring system should use a point-based scale that assigns a numerical value. Once a lead reaches your assigned threshold scores, you can route them to your sales team for immediate action.
Utilizing lead scoring and routing helps your sales team avoid making random decisions on which leads to contact or follow up with. By using agreed-upon scores, you can ensure your sales team will only receive the hottest leads to work on.
Lead scoring and routing also let you devise a clear set of rules governing the assignment of sales reps to work on a ready customer. Just be sure to provide the reason the lead became hot. This helps the rest of the sales team understand the logic behind the lead nurturing, scoring and routing systems better.
Measurement of Lead Success
Understanding how a generated lead can warrant a sales call requires a similar understanding of the metrics behind it. By not providing the logic behind the lead scoring system or sharing the metrics that determine qualified leads, you risk miscommunication among your team.
Instead of trying to put out fires while they’re burning, come forward earlier and discuss any concerns before they escalate out of control. Here are some metrics that serve as the basis for an increase in lead scores:
Buyer Persona Relatability
This initial metric is actually a yes-or-no question. Simply put, evaluators should have no problems answering whether a lead aligns with any of marketing’s buyer personas. If the answer is yes, then the assigned sales rep should immediately contact the lead and use the buyer persona guide when dealing with the individual.
Is the lead a natural fit for the targeted buyer profile? What industry does the lead work in or belong to? Does the lead also fit the job description of buyer and decision maker? If not, what does this mean for the buyer’s company? While a match in nearly all categories remains the ideal target, creating a new profile based on this lead’s characteristics is also possible—especially if other leads have a similar profile.
The lead’s online behavioral data can serve as additional touchpoints that can quantify their lead worthiness. For instance, does the lead open any emails sent by the seller? Has the person ever visited the company website, downloaded any content or signed up for free newsletters? A higher engagement in all social and online activities can serve as a sign that the lead is getting ready to purchase.
These metrics can give you better insight on whether a lead is hot enough to warrant immediate attention from the sales team. Conversely, low scores on items like demographics and purchase history can mean extending the lead’s status in nurturing mode.
Ensuring Your Existing Lead Management Process Succeeds
Lead management can increase the chances of successfully converting leads into customers. When implemented along with a robust lead generation program, your sales team can enjoy a more efficient way of processing hot leads while nurturing cooler ones.
To ensure the success of your lead management program, follow these best practices:
Strengthen Your Lead Generation Program
The success of your lead management efforts starts with the quality of the leads your sales and marketing programs generated. If sales and marketing generate high-quality leads, you can enjoy a better crop of prospects that show actual interest and engagement with your products and services. In addition, providing clear rules on lead scoring and routing can keep the sales team fully engaged with the program.
Include Feedback from Non-Participants or Anonymous Customers
Not all leads will positively respond to calls or requests to connect. Some might not even respond at all. However, there are ways to track anonymous users’ behavior over your lead management program. This means you can still gather insights on which sections they visited while connected to your website.
In addition, you may want to consider rebuilding your entire lead list if there are far too many anonymous users or non-participants on your site, social pages or apps. This is especially true when they outnumber active subscribers or followers. If this is the case, it might be a good time to revisit your entire lead generation system.
Track Your Wins and Losses
Carefully documenting the results of your lead generation, lead management and lead conversion efforts can help you gain valuable insights in the long run. For instance, during your post-program analysis, you can identify where bottlenecks opened up in the sales funnels. You can also look into the reasons leads drop out or conversions fail to materialize.
How You Can Use Presentations to Capture More Leads
Presentations are an important tool used during lead generation. When sales teams want to communicate with clients, convert leads or supply visitors with additional information, a presentation can provide the answers in an engaging and interactive way.
When your presentation captivates your reader, you have a much greater chance to create an impact or make a conversion. A positive response usually starts with the accessibility of information. If your team can create a well-designed, highly visual presentation, you’ll inform and engage prospects and clients alike.
For example, adding interactivity can increase the viewer’s engagement levels by keeping additional information hidden until it’s triggered. Compared to static presentations where users can already view the entire content, an interactive presentation can provide a clearer and more concise way to deliver messages.
Let Ingage Help You Create Engaging Interactive Presentations
Whether it’s an introductory presentation or a final sales pitch, you can’t go wrong with Ingage. This cloud-based interactive presentation software adds something extra to everyday presentations. For one thing, entire teams can collaborate on a single document via cloud sharing. This way, they can work on a project together and share their ideas and insights with the rest of the team.
Interactivity enables your presentations to be as accommodating of information as possible. For example, interactivity features allow additional text and images to pop up in slides without crowding the layout. In addition, its analytics features mean Ingage can track how long each viewer stayed on each page. Using this information, presentation creators can evaluate each section to determine which ones need improving.
Learn how Ingage can help you craft interactive presentations that make your clients say yes! Leave your information and we’ll set an appointment for a free demonstration.