We know sales leads create revenue, but does everyone agree that managing sales leads makes a huge difference in revenue? Some companies think sales lead management is a simple two stage process:
1. Get the lead.
2. Give the lead to Sales.
These companies like leads; they think lead generation helps salespeople. They can’t prove or disprove marketing as a benefit, or that revenue actually comes from leads, or how these leads are managed. Their leads are not qualified, and there is no accountability.
And yet overwhelming evidence exists that how you manage the inquiries that turn into leads will make as much as a 300% difference in revenue. In his blog Viewpoint, the Truth about Lead Generation, Dan McDade nails it when he says that handing a lead off to Sales when it is not sales-ready is a waste. And that is the management part of the equation.
Why is it important? Marketing’s job is to find the most qualified leads with an immediate need to buy.
Find out if the lead is sales ready.
Ask the inquirer three questions:
- Are you ready to buy?
- Do you have a budget?
- Do you want to see a sales rep?
Qualify the lead (if they answered Yes).
A positive answer to any of these questions signals a qualified lead that is most likely sales-ready. Some services will want more than these answers, want to nurture the inquirer until they scream “Uncle,” and want to talk immediately to a rep. That’s okay, too.
Hold the lead (if they answered No).
If the answers to all the questions is No, hold the inquiry back, qualify it, and then send it to Sales or kill it. This could take months.
Know when to nurture.
No budget? No time frame? Months before they want to talk to a rep? Send it to the nurture machine. Put it into the marketing automation drip campaign hopper, or through an inside salesperson or specialist who does nothing but nurture.
This school of thought supposes that sales reps probably get more leads than they can follow up and that there is low reporting on the disposition. This situation signals lost sales that are going to competitors because Marketing thinks their job is to create (but not manage) inquiries and leads. It is also the fault of the sales rep who does not follow up on every inquiry.
Marketing’s job is to find the most qualified leads with an immediate need to buy.
Align Sales and Marketing to manage the leads.
The question “Who is going to qualify the leads?” is common because in most companies there is no one to do it. If it can’t be done in-house, via a marketing automation system and inside sales or qualification specialist, then take the process to an outside vendor.
Managing the sales process means managing sales leads. Managing the marketing process means managing the sales leads. Both mean cooperation between Sales and Marketing, and rules for management and follow-up.
Hone your process. Use your CRM.
It means nurturing. It means thinking and determining the process that is right for you. It means finding and using a CRM system to its fullest which so many companies fail to do in the sales lead management process. This is a multistep process that, more than ever, is dictated by the customer and your ability to deliver what they need and whom they need to speak to for each step of their decision making.
And yes, it is all about sales lead management.