Business owners and sales people are always preoccupied with getting more sales leads – whether it’s from online lead generation (email marketing, SEO, PPC ads, etc.) or traditional outbound lead generation tactics like cold-calling and direct mail.Your business needs a constant influx of fresh business leads in order to survive. Your company has invested lots of time and money to find those new sales leads and lay the groundwork for a future sale – sales leads are a valuable commodity.
So even though we all agree that sales leads are valuable and important, why do so many companies treat their sales leads so carelessly? At many companies, sales leads fall through the cracks – whether it’s poor organization or bad follow-up, there are many sales leads that never result in a sale, and it’s often because the sales team or the company management isn’t doing a good enough job of managing sales leads.
Here are a few key reasons why sales leads tend to fall through the cracks:
1. No Initial Lead Qualifying
This happens so often that it might shock you, but it’s true – often when companies get new sales leads, they don’t have any initial process in place to qualify the new leads by asking questions and finding out more about how ready the buyers are to make a purchase. Instead, they just hand the leads off to the sales team. This is a terrible mistake, because you’re not getting any real insights into these new prospective customers – you don’t know what they need, you don’t know how urgent their situation is, and you don’t have any basis for starting a real sales conversation. As a result, too many bad sales leads get mixed in with the“good” ones, your sales team gets overwhelmed by chasing bad leads, and the good opportunities get lost in the clutter.
2. Lack of Lead Nurturing
By the same token,many companies might have an initial lead qualifying process, and they do a decent job of separating the wheat from the chaff to sort out the good sales leads, but then they are too eager to follow up only with the “good” sales leads that are urgently ready to buy. As a result, the long-term sales leads that would benefit from more extensive follow-up and relationship building get ignored – when instead they could have built a long-term pipeline by nurturing these leads for several months until they’re ready to buy. Don’t focus only on low-hanging fruit – be ready to invest in building a longer-term dialogue with sales leads.
3. Disorganized Sales Processes
Some companies have a disorganized sales process. We’ve all seen this in our own lives as consumers or as buyers for our businesses – have you ever gotten 4 different follow-up phone calls from 3 different sales people? Have you ever had your doctor’s office ask you the reason for your visit 3 times, even though you were just there last week? Sometimes at sales organizations, there is bad information sharing behind the scenes, and the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Avoid this by utilizing a good customer relationship management (CRM) system and take regular notes about the results of each customer contact.
Managing sales leads is a long-term, never-ending effort of communicating, listening, building trust and establishing credibility. If your company can change just a few simple things about the way you handle your sales leads – by putting in additional effort on the front end or back end of the process, or by re-examining how you track and share information about your sales leads – you’ll be more likely to win customers’ trust and close more sales!
4. Communicate with prospects effectively
Communicate with your qualified inquiries often and keep your brand at the forefront. Send pertinent messages related to where your prospect is in the buying cycle offering them information to help move them from one stage to the next. Online marketing(such as search engine optimization and Pay Per Click) works best for inbound marketing. Direct marketing, (such as email, e-newsletters and telemarketing)is ideal for outbound efforts.
5. Communicate with leads in time
Too many companies lose business because of lack of timely follow up on leads. Save time by using marketing automation software that incorporates lead management, inclusive of crucial activities such as lead scoring and lead nurturing.
Following up on both high and low probability prospects through manual methods (phone, e-mail or in person)is time consuming and creates inefficient and inconsistent processes for‘eyeballing’ a lead to determine if it’s ‘hot’ and leaving it up to personal discretion as to who is followed up with and in what manner.
Automation sifts through leads, qualifies them and keeps them in follow up mode until they move forward or drop from the buying cycle. By clarifying your list, automation targets prospects based on demographics, activity history and online behavioral triggers allowing your sales team to follow up on the highest-potential leads first, while allowing marketing to nurture the rest.
6. Communicate within your company
Studies shows sales opportunities increase by 20% with nurtured leads versus non-nurtured.
But, for effective lead nurturing, marketing and sales must agree on the process of lead qualification.To be sure both are on the same page, ask these questions about closed leads: How long were their sales cycles? When during their buying cycles did, they enter the marketing funnel? What kind of offerings did they respond to?
To fill cracks in the system, marketers need to shift from a sole focus of lead generation to a dual focus of generation and management. Efforts need to go beyond just getting the lead to fostering a relationship until that lead is ready to hand over to sales. Then sales can complete the cycle.
With 7 out of 10 of leads eventually making a purchase, there is no reason they shouldn’t be purchasing from you. Establish a well-planned lead management process to increase your lead-to-close ratio and decrease the number of leads you’re losing to your competitors.
Followup CRM is a great tool for team communication, lead nurturing, and project management. With our software, you’ll never have to worry about leads falling through the cracks. Interested in learning more about our construction CRM? Click here to watch a live demo.