As there are many, many books on sales management, so there are endless publications, articles and blogs on the subject of lead generation. This article doesn’t touch that subject, but addresses another vital topic: how to handle leads as they’re coming in, and the basics of establishing your lead management.
Inbound and Outbound
As with many companies, our company deals with both inbound and outbound leads. For most companies, inbound leads come from their own website or from social media. Another variety of inbound leads come from paid lead sources.
There is science to be applied to both inbound and outbound leads—and by any stretch, it’s not easy either way. Creating a great flow of inbound leads requires a lot of research and planning. Outbound lead campaigns might be even more involved, and it might take hundreds of calls to make one successful appointment.
I arrived in the U.S. from Austria in 2012 to establish Pipeliner CRM in America. There was certainly no standard text I could turn to and discover, “Here on page 93 it says exactly how to generate leads!” I, like everyone else, had to discover it for myself.
A sales manager should understand that an inbound lead ranks higher than an outbound lead, simply because an inbound is a reach originated by a prospect. The person already has some kind of alignment with what you’re offering.
Inbound leads generally make for faster closes. With outbound leads, since you’re starting from square one of the buying cycle, it can take much longer.
Is It Enough?
But from a lead management standpoint, you do need to establish if you are obtaining enough leads—inbound or outbound—to sustain your sales team. This breaks down even further to: how many leads does each salesperson need in order to close enough business?
With inbound leads, there must be a qualification process. Let’s say you have set up a conservative men’s clothing store in a mall, and people are always coming by and coming in. A young man comes in seeking “hip” fashions, and you have to turn him away as you don’t carry that kind of apparel—in other words, you qualify him out. Or perhaps even a woman comes in, but you don’t carry women’s clothes, so again you must politely turn her away.
Qualifying inbound leads is a constant process. The better your qualifying process is, the more qualified leads you’ll have for your sale team. Sales Development Reps (SDRs) are the ones in a company that pretty much have the job of qualifying inbound leads today.
Doing the Math
Nailing this down is a matter of math. You need to figure out:
- How many leads does a salesperson need to convert to one opportunity?
- How many opportunities does a salesperson need for one close?
Once you have figured these out, you have a statistical number you can work with.
You have to figure these out for yourself, but there are statistics being quoted today that might help you. It is said that only 38 percent of contacts turn into leads. So if you have 200 contacts, 76 of those will turn into leads. Note that they are unqualified leads. From my own operation, 40 percent of those unqualified leads will be successfully qualified, so those 76 would then become 30 qualified leads.
Then it becomes a question of how many qualified leads become sales. In my experience it’s about 25 percent of those 30 qualified leads, which would come out to be 7 or 8 actual possibilities. So 200 contacts, in this case, boil down to 7 or 8 possible sales.
These are, however, only examples. Some percentages may assist you, but your primary focus should be the optimization of your lead process. And that can only be done today through technology. Through technology you can view precise specifics of how your process is progressing. You can then refine it so that it incrementally becomes better, and better, and better. That means that you’re always closing more deals.
An Effective Tool
In my opinion, making lead management truly work comes down to having the exact right tool.
Let’s say you’ve got 500 pictures you need to hang in a house. To get that amount of work done efficiently, you must have the right tool, which is probably a narrow hammer made for pounding small nails. Maybe you could use a heavy ashtray or a brick to drive a nail into the wall, but it certainly wouldn’t be efficient.
Pipeliner CRM is the most effective tool you can have for lead management.
First of all, Pipeliner has an unbelievable reporting system. When you create a profile within Pipeliner, reports can be shared with your entire team. Your SDRs, for example, can see exactly what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. They see how they can get incrementally better. They then increase the velocity of “putting the nails into the walls.”
Pipeliner also, using the cybernetic principle of reducing complexity to simplicity, renders data in a state that it’s no longer overwhelming. It can happen that someone gets overwhelmed by data, maybe even frightened of it, to the point they can’t even see anything in it anymore. For that reason we have created the Pivot Table in Pipeliner CRM, which reduces data to only 2 or 3 indicators which everyone can understand.
We have applied artificial intelligence to our Navigator feature (the first screen seen when logging into Pipeliner), so that a sales manager can put priorities right in front of the sales rep—a cold lead, a warm lead, a hot lead—and they immediately know what to do.
The Lead Engine
So all of this boils down to Pipeliner’s lead engine. Through it you can flexibly visualize, flexibly sort, flexibly create lead processes, and flexibly qualify leads. Lead data is fed to Navigator, and is utilized in Pipeliner’s powerful reports. And Pipeliner’s Performance Insights feature allows you, as a sales manager, to follow the flow of the data and see all the conversation rates, so you can incrementally increase the efficiency of the process.
And finally, Pipeliner is the only CRM solution that can show you precisely when and how leads are being lost, through it’s Archive feature. You can even assign “lost reasons” to any lead that is lost, so that you can tabulate them later and know the major reason for lost leads.