WHY DOES LEAD MANAGEMENT PLAY A CENTRAL ROLE IN BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL SALES PIPELINE?
Before prospects actually become buyers, many companies are faced with the question of how to set up an effective customer acquisition process. In addition to the important question of whether the marketing activities play on the right lead sources, the most important thing is a sustainable and economical organization of the customer acquisition process!
A well thought-out lead management process does pioneering work, and builds stable bridge pillars to connect the task areas of marketing and sales. The buzzword is inbound marketing, and the objective is to interact with potential buyers on one side of the bridge in a consumer-centric way through marketing activities, to care for and qualify the prospects on their way across the bridge, and to hand them over to the sales team on the other side.
In other words, it is a predefined process in the company that deals with the ongoing capture, processing and exploitation of existing prospect potential with the aim of transforming this anonymous potential into contactable individual prospects - based on the respective requirements and valences. The task of the sales team is subsequently to turn these qualified leads into buyers and passionate brand ambassadors!
THE CORNERSTONES OF THE BRIDGE - THE 4 STAGES OF THE LEAD MANAGEMENT PROCESS!
Foundation Pillar: Lead generation
Analysis and customer understanding is the key to success! The more accurately companies identify their potential prospects, the higher the success rate of transforming prospects into qualified leads, and subsequently into business opportunities.
Companies should address the following question in advance: What lead sources can we use to capture the interest of potential leads? Through which channels (social media channels, search portals, direct B2B communication, websites, etc..) do interested buyers come to our company? Where do our buyers come from, in which areas of life or stages of life are our products relevant, and how should we play out our "response/interest triggering content? Interest
Sweepstakes, whitepapers, special offers, or simply web forms on a landing page or as part of a lead ad campaign on social media platforms are used to gain contact information, and generally two different strategic approaches can be taken at this stage (depending on the product, industry, and objective)::
Quantity approach: the focus is on obtaining as many prospects as possible, with lead quality playing a subordinate role in the first step. (quantity of leads)
Quality approach: The generation process is aimed at obtaining a small number of high-quality leads, which can be converted into opportunities or customers with less effort. (Quality of Leads).
Foundation Pillar:: Lead Nurturing (eng. to nurture = educate, promote, nurture)
Lead nurturing plays a central role in the path across the bridge for the further qualification of leads, and primarily comprises measures - appropriate to the respective phase of the purchase decision - to address a potential prospect with relevant content/information at the right time.
Depending on where the prospect has just positioned himself within the customer journey, the address is often carried out with an automated e-mail marketing campaign in time sequence steps, or added values (white papers, sample reading articles, detailed graphics, e-books, etc.) are offered by the company for the collection of further data from the prospect.
It should be mentioned in passing that lead nurturing can of course also offer many advantages in terms of customer retention and customer recovery, and is also often used in these phases of the customer lifecycle.
Foundation Pillar: Lead Scoring
Lead scoring provides the sales team with leads that the company deems most valuable through a predefined scoring scheme, and thus have the highest probability of closing a sale.
The lead scoring process is designed to filter out interesting (so-called "hot") leads from the uninteresting ones, and to better interpret the interaction with the lead. The scoring value determined in this way subsequently helps sales to make a decision on the sales priority with which a potential customer should be processed further.
Foundation Pillar: Lead Routing
The lead scoring process has created the basis for lead routing through a prioritization sequence, and regulates when and how the leads should be taken over or processed further by sales. Here, too, timing is critical to the success of the handoff, as a premature handoff could result in a bounce or an incorrect offer submission. Only when the level of knowledge about the lead is sufficient, and the lead has expressed interest via various touchpoints, is the handover to the sales team carried out at best!