Successful organisations today have developed clear processes for lead generation. These will include the traditional marketing techniques commonly now known as “off line” marketing and combining them with internet or “online” marketing. The combination of traditional marketing and technology such as websites and CRM software solutions is enabling forward thinking marketers to take a major role in lead generation and lead nurturing.
However, to maximize the lead generation process there are some key processes that need to be developed so that both sales and marketing have a clear understanding of their roles. Defining whether a new contact is a suspect, prospect, or a real lead is the first step. For example, how do you deal with an attendee at a tradeshow or webinar. What about someone who subscribes to a white paper download, E-Book, or a series of educational material downloads? Do you treat a web site enquiry or a traditional referral differently?
Sales staff should be dealing with real prospects that are in the buying cycle however long that might be. Marketing must capture or generate a contact and nurture it from being a suspect to a prospect before handing over to sales.
For success, you should consider a lead scoring process that makes it clear how you will deal with a contact. The keys to maximizsing the sales lead process are to:
Develop a common definition of a lead. Until certain criteria are met, the contact stays with marketing and is not passed to sales.
Develop a marketing communications map for contacts and align with buying cycles.
Automate a lead nurturing process using your communications map.
Keep records of every contact interaction using a CRM software solution as input to scoring your leads.
Score leads and assign priorities for each contact and move them through the cycle.
Route the leads through to sales at the right time, after your measurement and scoring points have been reached and ensure sales follow up.
Your lead definition may well depend on the action that the contact takes. The majority of people who come across your marketing efforts are not yet ready to buy, so assuming that they are leads gives the business a false sense of your sales pipeline. Analysing your web statistics is a quick way to understand this. Consider your website visitor rate and compare new visitors to returning visitors, then review how many actions are taken - information downloads and contact forms. Then review how many leads are in your sales pipeline and your closure rates.
In its purist form, a lead can be defined as someone who has a problem and needs to solve it in a defined period. At the same time, they have a budget that is allocated and best of all would be that your contact has the authority to purchase. You might find the odd bluebird that meets these criteria immediately. However, normally, finding all this information takes time as most people are not willing to hand you the keys immediately. It therefore requires you to build your marketing relationship with that contact by providing them compelling material on a regular basis so that you are top of their mind when they are in a position to do something.
The primary tips are therefore:
Ensure that you have a constant stream of good educational material that you can send to your database of contacts.
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