In our continuing series on the pain points of sales management, we have explored the categories of sales management, the primary pain point of being a sales manager, the technology required by sales management, the vital subject of management, and specific pain points of sales management at a new company (part 1 and part 2). Most recently we took up a very crucial subject for sales managers: sales forecasting.
Now let’s look at that which a sales force cannot do without: a lead machine.
If you go back 10 years or more, you’ll see that leads were a considerably different game. It was simple: a salesperson obtained leads and followed them up. A prospect normally knew very little about the salesperson’s product and relied on the rep for information about it. Similarly they also relied on the salesperson’s competitors.
Because of the advent of the internet, today lead generation has radically changed. Information on your product or service–and that of your competitors also–is freely available. It is extremely easy for your prospects to compare products. For this reason 60 to 70 percent of the decision making in B2B sales is made before the decision maker approaches the supplier
All of this has a profound influence on lead generation. This doesn’t mean all of your tried and true lead generation methods and selling techniques are obsolete—many certainly still work. They just need to be adjusted to take the new buyer role into account.
This fundamental change has given life to an entirely new industry: Inbound marketing. Along with Inbound marketing came a whole new universe–that of social media.
In Inbound Marketing, the prospects are qualifying you first, instead of the other way around.
Sticking to SaaS (Software as a Service)
Lead machines can vary widely from industry to industry. My company is in the SaaS business, as are many of our prospects and clients. For that reasons let’s stick to how a successful lead machine operates in that industry.
In SaaS, the web site is the center of everything. If you liken the web site to a solar system’s sun, you’ll see that everything (like the solar system’s planets) revolves around it. All of the “orbiting” elements, such as Google AdWords, banner ads, articles, blogs, press releases, product reviews, white papers, and many more, feed leads back to the web site. These elements must convince those seeking your type of solution that yours is one to take into serious consideration.
Taking care of all of these inbound channels, providing them content and making sure they are current and performing, is considerable work, and is never-ending.
Qualifying leads,in Inbound marketing, is a healthy part of the job. As we have already mentioned, your prospects are qualifying you before they arrive at your virtual door. But at the same time, you must always qualify them, too, so that you know they are a proper customer fit for your company.
The New Sales Model
Here is how one leading sales company demonstrates the organization of today’s inbound:
- Marketing creates and executes campaigns, which cause an influx of marketing-qualified leads
- Sales Development Reps take these leads and further qualify them, setting appointments for Account Executives
- Account Executives close orders
- The Customer Success Manager takes care of customers following purchase, making sure they’re happy and interested in further products or services from your company.
Technology for Lead Management
Since lead management is so vitally important, the CRM solution chosen must be more than adequate to that task. CRM must provide for rapid and easy entry of leads into the system. Once leads have been entered, qualifying must happen as quickly as possible, and the lead must then be moved into the next pipeline stage, or sent back to Marketing. Pipeliner CRM makes management of leads–as well as the management of opportunities that leads turn into–totally and visually easy and flexible.
Why So Important?
I strongly believe if you have a predictable and efficient lead generation machine, you can practically screw up everything else and still do well. You will always have business.
Taking another analogy, you can have a rocket that is unbelievably well-built. But with no rocket fuel, it will remain firmly on the ground. Look at your sales force as the rocket–leads are their rocket fuel, and without them, they will get nowhere.
So make sure you’ve got your lead machine in working order. Because unlike other factors—yes, folks, this is rocket science!
Pipeliner CRM makes lead management a total snap. Try it today.