“Inbound leads” is a very generalized term meaning those sales leads that make their way “in” to your company (hence the term). It can be a good thing; it means somebody somewhere became interested in your product or service and inquired about it.
Many companies fail to take the time to precisely analyze inbound leads as to their sources, and what is happening to them when they arrive. But if you ever want to take control of managing sales leads so as to improve lead quantity and quality, that kind of analysis is the first step.
Where Are They Coming From?
Inbound leads don’t magically happen. They are the result of marketing and PR efforts: advertising, press releases, presentations, webinars, social media, trade shows and more.
Inbound leads have many sources, but can be grouped into 2 primary categories:
- Call-in: These are often the most valuable, as someone was interested enough to pick up a phone.
- Internet: Someone connects to your website from somewhere else online, and signs up for a demo or takes other action which then qualifies them as a lead.
Of these two primary sources, today the lion’s share will come in through the second one. That is why there is so much attention given today to websites; it is the website that is going to convert that visitor to a lead—or not.
Companies often go through periods in which leads are low, scramble to get them back up anyway they can—but then fail to actually find out what caused the inbound leads to drop. Conversely, there might be a sudden influx of leads, which of course thrills the sales force and everyone involved no end. But not precisely nailing down the reasons for that surge means that you can’t proactively make it happen again.
The only way to get totally on top of creating a strong flow of inbound sales leads and managing them correctly, is to analyze their sources as precisely as possible. It begins with attaching codes to them so that when a lead arrives it can be properly sourced, and that source strengthened.
Although call-in can be hardest to track, finding ways to do so (such as a receptionist or the inside sales rep always asking “Where did you hear of us?”) is effort well spent.
Thankfully managing sales leads from the internet—of which there are so many more—is easier than phone-in leads. There are many automated methods to do so, and they should be fully utilized. It should be made as easy as possible for Marketing to create reports based on lead sources to fully view what these are.
Precisely Managing Sales Leads Categories
It should be mentioned that simply labeling a lead “trade show” or “banner ad” is the way to drive Marketing totally insane. Which trade show and when? Which banner ad runs on what site or sites? Without exact information managing sales leads and tracking them is going to be more guesswork than data.
In addition to precise tracking of leads very careful records of all of your various promotional and public relations actions must be maintained. There is a very good reason for this: it can often happen that a surge in leads can be attributed to more than one event happening at around the same time. For example, your CEO gave a keynote address at a prominent trade show which went out on YouTube; at the same time, a particular banner ad promoting a limited-time offer was posted on several key sites. People may very well have seen the address and then responded to the banner ad—but without exact sourcing as well as careful records of which promotional action occurred when you’re not going to know the whole story.
Tracking the Lead to Sale
Should inbound lead tracking end with precise sourcing? Hardly. Once those leads made it over to the sales force, how valuable were they? How many converted to sales and how quickly? What issues were encountered as these leads made their way along the various stages of the sales pipeline? The only way you’ll know that is with a leading edge CRM solution that allows rating leads as to their quality and tracking them all the way through the close and customer service/support.
Want to create more and higher quality leads? Get fully on top of managing sales leads: precisely track where they’re coming from.
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