Managing sales leads the right way

Leads are one of the most important determinants of your future sales. While most businesses recognize the importance of generating leads, few are fully tapping the leads that are generated through various marketing campaigns. Unless you build a proper approach to your sales pipeline, you could end up wasting precious marketing dollars without having a lot of sales growth to back up the spending. In this post, I will cover the various steps to manage the leads the right way.

Invest in a good CRM

Are you still using Excel and Outlook to track your customers? You might be wasting a lot of leads if you use those generic tools. Lead management requires a specialized setup that lets you tag the sources of the leads, group leads into different buckets – hot, warm and cold, and follow up with the prospects quickly.

Develop a consensus on what is a lead

The term lead is a very broad term and varies from organization to organization. It could mean a contact your randomly picked up from a phone book, or it could be prospect who responded positively to your marketing campaign. In big enterprises there could be a disconnect here as the sales guys might define a lead different from the marketing guys. This could waste a lot of potential leads who get caught between the two departments. To avoid this, build a common consensus in your organization to define who is a lead and how they have to be categorized.

Filter the leads to weed out the chaff

If your ad campaigns are broadly targeting the market, it is very possible that majority of the leads are duds. For instance, if you rented a million member email list from a third party, it is quite possible that 99.99% of the list is useless to your sales team. Use the CRM tools and data analysis tools to weed out the irrelevant leads and keep only the quality leads in your pipeline. For instance, if a cold lead has not responded in a week after the first call, it doesn’t make sense to have him in the lead list. The filtering and targeting could help you focus your attention on the right people.

Respond immediately and appropriately

If a lead responds to you and asks for a clarification, respond as soon as possible with the most relevant answer. There is a high probability of sale conversion if the response happens within the first 48 hours. However, if you delay the response, the prospect might lose interest in the sale or worse, might go with a competitor. Avoid providing canned responses, and take time to respond with some detail to the serious enquiries.

Follow up and nurture

After you have responded to your customer’s enquiry you could wait for a week to follow up with him/her to understand what is holding up their purchase. You could let him/her know about your new offers and attempt to clarify their doubts. If they need more time to make up their mind regarding the purchase, you could ask them to subscribe to your periodic newsletter. However, don’t overdo the follow up part by constant pestering. That will only irritate a prospect and damage both the current sales and the brand in the long term.

Measure everything

There is a popular adage that goes like – “You can’t improve, what you don’t measure”. You have to track the different sources of leads and analyze the conversion rates. Based on the conversion rates, you have to fine tune your lead generation process. For instance, if your Google adwords campaigns are generating higher conversions at lower costs than your email campaigns, you should put more marketing dollars on the former. You could also track conversion rates of different demographics based on gender and region, and other metrics, such as time to respond, communication channel used (phone, social media, mail) etc.

Balaji Viswanathan

Balaji Viswanathan is the founder of Agni Innovation Labs that helps startups and small businesses with their marketing and management strategy. He has been blogging for the past 8 years on technology, finance and business related topics.