Lead management is an essential part of your marketing strategy. It is a methodology whereby marketing generates qualified leads, passes them seamlessly and efficiently to sales, and sales/marketing processes them through to close. It is a combination of people, process, and technology, a shared capability for marketing and sales.
As a part of the lead management process, you should know at any given moment what is in your marketing pipeline, what will convert to sales, and the estimated resulting revenue. You should also know exactly which lead sources provide the most valuable leads (the ones with the highest value and probability to close). How can you do this? Lead management.
In this series of blog posts, we’ll take you through each stage of the lead management process, the barriers and accelerators of each, and what you can do in your firm to increase your lead management capabilities.
Having a good lead management process allows you to:
- Increase revenue
- Decrease cost of sales; close/win more opportunities
- Retain more customers
- Invest ONLY in activities that generate real value for the business
- Have COMPLETE alignment between sales and marketing
- Know lead conversion metrics by level from end to end
- Follow up with an interested prospect quickly
- Enhance the customers’ experience when they are engaging with your organization
There are seven key stages in the lead management process. Each stage builds upon the other. If one stage is poorly managed, the other stages will suffer. We’ll break down each stage for you here so you can understand the big picture of the lead management process. Then, in the following blog posts in this series, we’ll dive deeper into each stage to understand the details.
Stage 1: Reach agreement on the definition of a qualified lead or sales ready lead
At the very beginning of the lead management process, marketing and sales must come to an agreement on what makes a sales qualified lead. Having these definitions ensures that only high quality leads are passed on to sales. A sales ready lead is someone who demonstrates a pre-determined “fit” and buying readiness based on measurable demographic and behavioral attributes that sales and marketing agree on. Demographic attributes include things like contact name, phone number, and email address. Behavioral attributes include a demonstrated interest or need, web page visits, high value form fills, inbound engagement, and so on.
Stage 2: Seek agreement on labels and definitions of customer acquisition/retention statuses
In addition to agreeing on the definition of a sales qualified lead, marketing and sales must agree on labels and definitions of customer acquisition and retention statuses. This enables lead funnel management, captures lead lifecycle in a common language that everyone understands, and allows you to be predictive about revenue based on pipeline.
Stage 3: Optimize prospect process flow using automation
Using automation to optimize your prospect process creates a defined flow for what happens to a lead upon acquisition. This ensures that no lead is left behind and the prospect/customer has a positive experience.
Marketing automation helps you acquire inbound leads via top of the funnel marketing such as website personalization, SEO, landing pages and forms. It then helps you engage your customers. New, hot leads are presented with relevant cross channel content via email, mobile, web, and social channels. At this point you are ready to sell. Leads are scored and dynamically passed to sales. Reps are empowered with synced data, dashboards, and activity. This entire process is optimized because marketing identifies campaigns with positive return and becomes known as a cost center through powerful analytics.
Stage 4: Confirm/document lead routing
Confirming and documenting lead routing ensures that leads are auto-magically routed to the appropriate person when a lead meets qualification criteria. Lead processing begins with the source of the lead. When considering lead processing, you must consider what your best lead sources are. Lead sources include social (for example, LinkedIn, Twitter, Face Book), webcasts, sales sourced, tradeshows, sales sourced, and so on.
Lead processing is the flow by which a lead enters your system and becomes known to your marketing automation process, following through MAP and CRM until it is closed/won. This process needs to be documented, and it should include all the technology systems that contribute data to the contact/account. Ideally, all of these technologies are integrated so that the processing happens faster.
Lead processing matters because it clearly defines what will happen when a qualified lead arrives in your MAP. It helps marketing understand which lead sources are better than others in terms of sourcing leads. It also ensures a fluid process when leads are passed over to sales and back to marketing.
Stage 5: Optimize prospect/customer scoring for automation
Lead scoring, while often the focus of everyone interested in lead management, is only part of the lead management process. Based on a combination of digital behavior and demographic information, lead scoring is built to auto-magically qualify leads.
Lead scoring is a methodology used to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to the organization. The resulting score is used to determine which leads a sales or inside sales associate will engage, in order of priority.
The primary benefits of lead scoring are improved efficiency, effectiveness, and alignment between sales and marketing. Lead scoring focuses sales attention on leads the organization deems most valuable, ensuring that unqualified leads or leads with low value are not sent to sales for engagement. Lead scoring also helps strengthen the relationship between marketing and sales by establishing common definitions for which lead types are ready for prospecting.
Stage 6: Establish and document a comprehensive Service Level Agreement
A Service Level Agreement is a document which captures the roles and responsibilities of sales and marketing throughout the lead management process. It is put into place to achieve better understanding and alignment between the teams. Both sales and marketing must commit to follow the SLA in order to make the lead management process work. The SLA will need to be put into place, monitored, and revised based on results. Ultimately, the SLA is intended to assign joint accountability to sales and marketing for leads generated and to prevent lead funnel leakage.
Stage 7: Establish the Foundation for Customer Management Analytics – from Acquisition to Advocacy
If we broaden the definition of lead management to define a Customer Journey Map process (for example, TPG ONE), then lead management becomes defined as a process methodology whereby a company attracts, acquires, and nurtures prospects until qualified to be passed to sales, and where sales is held accountable for processing those prospects through to close.
Marketing then interacts with customers during their many stages of product adoption and value recognition, encourages their loyalty and advocacy, and ultimately nurtures them back into a new buying cycle and re-qualifies them for sales engagement.The components of the process remain the same, but additional stages beyond the first deal close are included.
In short, we make a shift to viewing the funnel from the buyer’s perspective with a few key considerations.
- The TPG ONE™ – Customer Journey Map is a more accurate reflection of the entire product/service related engagement between a customer or prospect and their vendor/supplier/provider.
- The model aligns all functions of the organization around optimizing the customer experience.
- This model more closely aligns marketing with sales and support and their relationships with customers.
- The model also incorporates customer status fields to reflect when a prospect has become a customer. This puts more structure around program planning and campaign planning for specific solutions and cross-sell/upsell opportunities.
We’ll post more about lead management soon. Our next post will discuss stage one of lead management, reaching an agreement on the definition of a qualified or sales ready lead. In the mean time, head over to our resource hub to learn more about lead management.
Colby Renton is a Senior Marketing Strategist at the Pedowitz Group. Colby consults with global organizations to redefine marketing strategies, drive organizational change, educate on Revenue Marketing processes, and optimize the marketing discipline overall. Previously, she worked for one of the worlds’s premier HR consulting firms for nearly a decade, where she developed her expertise in change management and global marketing strategy.
- Posted by Colby Renton
- On 07/23/2018
- 0 Comments