by Susan Raisanen, Profit Finder Pro Software, President
“How do I manage leads successfully?” Do you find yourself asking this question?
There’s not one totally perfect way to manage leads, and if you knew the complete answer, you’d be on your yacht sailing on the big, blue ocean…or something like that! Putting together a lead management system does not have to be complicated, but it does have to be well thought out. Business owners and managers, if you spend money on marketing, distribute leads, and are NOT tracking, you are losing money.
The following article contains some thoughts behind what goes into successful lead management.
If You Are a Business Owner Who Spends Money on Marketing, But Does Not Track, You Are Losing Money!
I think I stated the obvious, and understanding this is the most important step of all. If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it. You are reading this because you realize you need to manage leads. Why has it been so difficult then for business owners and managers to realize this? Probably because there is a weird fear of accountability. There’s the old saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” Well, we can all put on our rose-colored glasses…until we go to the bank and find there’s nothing there!
When you put a lead management system in place, you are allowing yourself and your company to become accountable. It is a proven fact that successful business owners are tracking and managing certain aspects of their business in order to run and grow profitably. (In fact, it not only happens in business, but in other areas of our lives as well. Checkbooks, bank accounts, weight, sports, and anything we’re trying to accomplish.)
There are other reasons, too, that proper lead management systems have not been instituted. Many business owners realize the importance of it, but like many other business owners, they have so many tasks to do, and the last thing they want to think about is implementing new systems. In their minds, it becomes complicated, time-consuming, and expensive.
So, again, understanding the need for a lead management system is the number one item in Successful Lead Management.
Lead Management Includes Both Sales and Marketing
It is not uncommon for sales and marketing to be on opposite sides of the building, so to speak. Marketing decides what kind of advertising to do, and sales just sits there with their hands open, receiving whatever leads come as a result of that marketing. This is very one-sided, and it won’t work long term. In order for you to have a successful lead management program, your sales and marketing need to be talking to each other on a continuous basis, examining real data and revising plans along the way. Your lead management system must provide data-driven marketing, and your marketing is driven by your sales and salesperson activities.
Who Goes First, Sales or Marketing?
This is similar to the question, ‘What comes first, the chicken or the egg?’ You need sales to bring in money to cover the advertising, but you need advertising to get the leads to make the sales. In many businesses, the reins are held rather tightly on the marketing budget, and it can be pretty slim until sales come in. It is very common for the reins to be held tight simply because business owners and managers are all too familiar with spending large amounts of money on different types of advertising and not knowing exactly what is working or not working for them, and at what cost to the bottom line. Regardless of how slim a budget is, there has to be a way to generate leads for your salespeople to sell. Once the salespeople are selling, the marketing budget can grow, but now it will grow in direct response to the specific advertising that generates the leads that are converting to sales. It reaches a point of the ball going back and forth constantly in sales and marketing. Marketing tries this, sales does that. Sales tries this, marketing does that.
What Do Sales and Marketing Talk About?
Once you start to have a management history, and are able to see trends, whether they are positive or negative, you can start talking. For example, if marketing put out an advertisement in a magazine or on a radio station, and it brought in leads which converted to sales, they are going to want to continue that same type of advertising. If they put out an advertisement, and it brought in a bunch of leads, but no one was able to close a sale, regardless of the fact that leads came in, marketing will not want to continue that advertising if the leads are not converting to sales. Something needs to change. When marketing listens to the salespeople, they’ll start to hear the message of why it did not work, and the message could be one of many, including something as simple as the wrong demographics of people getting that particular advertisement.
On the other hand, if you have one salesperson who is selling those leads and the others are not, you can take a little closer look at your sales team and what and how they are trying to sell. Obviously they cannot blame the quality of the leads, because someone is closing them. What is it that person is doing differently to make a sale? Is it something that can be learned by the others? These are only a couple of the numerous things that can be talked about by sales and marketing. Once you start to create a history of the lead management process, the topics of discussion will begin to present themselves.
What is a Qualified Lead?
It’s up to you, the manager or owner, to define this for your company, but typically a qualified lead is an opportunity to make a sale. If you put out an advertisement for your service-related business, and someone calls the office requesting a visit by one of your reps, it is not at all out of line to have a little discussion to find out what it is the prospect is wanting, and determine from there whether or not this is something that you have a possibility of providing for them. In the interest of valuing everyone’s time, you want to know that what you are going to be spending time on is indeed a qualified lead. Once it has been determined that one of your sales reps will meet to offer a service to a prospect, it should then be considered a qualified lead.
If the management and salespeople are on the same wavelength, then regardless of what kinds of leads come in or how they are distributed, leads are consistently qualified through a similar process, and your salespeople are on an even basis at that point. When you have a system in place, you are able to get a more accurate picture of the entire lead, sales and marketing process.
The Sales Cycle
Another part of successful lead management is knowing your sales cycle. Often the sales from one month get carried into fulfillment for another month. If there is a lag in the sales cycle, there will be a lag in a month or so in the fulfillment, and subsequently billings and receivables. The dip in revenues that is looming ahead can be seen before it even happens. When sales and marketing are working together, they are able to be more proactive to do all that is necessary , and possibly avoid those dips by finding ways to market to for faster selling, faster fulfilling services for that time period.
There are so many aspects of lead management that can help a business and its salespeople to increase sales and grow revenues, but the most important is to just get going on your tracking. Once you start to develop the tracking history for a period of time, even within 30 days, you will start to have real data that can then be used to make further decisions for your sales and marketing. The best part of tracking is that when you have tracking data, the decisions you make are not made on gut feelings, but rather true information.
Who Should Be in Charge of Finding a Lead Management System?
Who cares most about the “bottom line”? It’s uncanny how such an important part of the business management is left to one who never sees the bottom line, and therefore has little or no understanding of how the lead management system chosen can directly affect gross revenues. Owners, it’s your pockets that are being affected! Why would you not be the one looking for a system that has such a great impact on your business?
It’s time for you to get out there to find a lead management system that will enable your marketing and salespeople to do a great job, thus allowing your business to thrive!
If you’d like to see more about how lead, sales and marketing tracking will increase revenues in your business, please call Susan at 1-800-972-6952 or email her at susan@ProfitFinderPro.com.