Frustrated customers, a low close rate % and disharmony between your sales and marketing department are all issues any good scientific organisation wants to avoid.
But mismanage your leads and these are just some of the inevitable consequences.
This blog will look at how your team can effectively manage your leads, so you not only avoid these issues but optimise your overall lead management to a level that enables your marketing and sales departments to prosper.
The different types of leads
Before we can understand how to better manage our leads, it’s important to differentiate between the various types of lead.
Not all leads are created equal, so marketers need to have a process in place to nurture them depending on where they are in the customer journey.
Only 3% of webiste visitors are identified sales qualified leads
At AZoNetwork we use the following process.
Subscriber or social follower - AWARENESS
This type of lead is aware of our organisation and has shown a level of interest that has meant that they subscribe to the blog or follow/engage with us on social media.
At this stage the lead has not expressed any interest in making a purchase but has shown some indication that they want to learn more and engage with our content.
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) - INTEREST
An MQL will be showing more interest and is willing to engage on a higher level. They may have downloaded our latest eBook or registered for a webinar. They haven’t shown any buying intent yet but are becoming more and more engaged with our content.
They will also fit our ideal customer profile (ICP) or buyer persona and if nurtured correctly can become a Sales Qualified Lead.
Qualified Lead (SQL) – INTENT
An MQL becomes a SQL once the lead matches our ICP, has engaged reguarly with our content (usually over an extended period) and has shown some level of buying intent such as ‘booking a demo’ or ‘requesting information’.
The optimal outcome at this stage is that the lead is already well educated about the organisation and the value we can provide them before they start their conversations with the sales team.
Opportunity – PURCHASE
If we have put care and attention into nurturing our leads, then we position ourselves as the first or natural choice when they are (eventually) ready to buy.
By this stage the lead has been identified as in a position to buy and all the key decision makers are involved.
This is now time for the sales team to secure the business and close the deal.
Taking the lead through this journey should ensure that your sales team are talking with a lead that is far more likely to make the purchase, which should result in a much higher close rate %.
Of course, not all leads will follow this process. Here are some examples of when they follow a different journey:
- A prospect will be ready to buy during their first visit to the site
- The nurture period could be over a number of years
- They may never be in a financial position to make a purchase
- They may never have any interest in our services and remain part of the subscriber list but never move down the funnel
With this in mind it is important to have your site optimised for conversions so you can convert your prospect when they are ready to take the next step.
The key is to stay ‘top of mind’ throughout the buying journey.
What is your current lead management process?
Now we’ve got an idea of the different types of lead and where they appear in the customer journey, we can look at how you can effectively nurture those leads through that journey.
Start off by looking at what you are currently doing as you may already have part of the process in place.
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How to nurture your leads effectively
Understand your customers
As with any marketing process, start off with having a deep understanding of your ICP or buying persona.
Example: Eric the Engineer
||Private oil company
||Masters in Engineering, MBA
||Pipeline Maintenance, Quality Control, Looking for mechanical faults and flow rates
|Social Media Sites
Eric the engineer has always been very analytical and detail oriented. He stays up to date with industry trends on LinkedIn and uses his tablet when he is in the field. Content written for Eric needs to focus on his key challenges and helping him do his job more efficiently.
Read More: What is a Buyer Persona?
You can be create your ICP or buying persona by looking at your historical customer data or through market research if you are targeting a new market.
Develop their digital profile
Part of your ICP should be understanding their digital behaviours. Ask yourself which type of content they engage with and where they normally engage with it.
If we look again at Eric the Engineer, we can see he uses LinkedIn on a tablet for keeping up to date with industry trends.
To develop a more detailed digital profile, we also want to know more about the type of content that they are viewing on our site so we can share existing content or create new content that would appeal to them.
Other data points like knowing which social media channels they use in their personal life can assist with our paid social media advertising strategy.
Implement lead scoring
Lead scoring is a process that enables you to assign a score to your leads based on their explicit characteristic data, such as location, size of company and their intrinsic behavioural data, such as how they have engaged with our content.
The more commercial intent their behaviour shows the more points they would score.
So, if they clicked ‘book a demo’ then this would score more points than if they downloaded an eBook.
Both are important factors in the buying journey but booking a demo shows a much higher level of intent and indicates to us that there may be an imminent sales opportunity.
Having an automated system in place to lead score will speed up the entire process and is particularly useful if you are working across multiple time zones or have a smaller sized team.
Nurture your leads
The digital profile that you have developed for your ICP will now determine the type of content and the channels you use to nurture your leads.
You will likely put in place a multi-channel strategy across email, organic social media, paid ads, etc. and utilise a mixture of educational content like blog pieces, video, etc. to attract and generate brand awareness.
You can continue to nurture your content with more educational content like eBooks and webinars and more bottom of the funnel content like testimonials and case studies when they are closer to becoming sales ready.
Are they sales ready?
Does your lead fit your ICP? Have they shown a level of intent that indicates they are ready to discuss a purchase? If so, then you can now pass the lead onto the sales team.
Having an automated lead scoring system integrated with your CRM, will alert your sales team, once a prospect has reached a score that you determined as indicating sales readiness.
What about once they are a customer?
Once they are a customer it is then up to your sales, marketing, account managers and customer service teams etc. to build the relationships and ensure the life-time value of the customer is as high as possible.
You can do this by continuing the nurture process. Providing new content that continues to offer value and education will help you to build long-lasting and profitable client relationships.
Building strong client relationships will also help turn our customers into advocates of your business and provide the content for case studies and testimonials.
Having a process in place to manage your leads is the best way to ensure that you have a slick sales and marketing operation.
Consistently providing valuable content throughout the customer journey helps your prospects to become more informed and builds the level of trust required to secure their business.
This is the optimal way for your sales and marketing teams to work together and is the best way to ensure a higher close rate %.
Happy customers, happy sales team, happy marketing department. Job done.
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AZoIntel from AZoNetwork on Vimeo.