Most businesses would not exist without positive cash flow, and that cash comes from people and organisations you convince to spend money with your company. Lead management is, therefore, a crucial part of just about any business, even if the scale can vary greatly depending on your products, services and market share. On a basic level, the process goes from the acquisition of leads to their conversion, at which point the business gets paid, and everyone goes on their way. However, it is rarely this simple. Not all leads will convert immediately, and some will be ideally suited for ongoing work in the future. A lead is a valuable thing, and it makes sense to make the most of every possible opportunity. If you are responsible for or interact with leads, you should see it as a personal goal to manage them effectively, and the following tips will aid you in doing precisely that.
1. Aim to Continually Improve Your Perception of the Ideal Lead
While the practical outcomes differ, a standard business tactic is to put together an avatar of sorts to represent the ideal customer. The more leads you get, the more opportunities you will have to meet their needs and requirements. While that is great for profitability, it also represents an opportunity for your version of the ideal customer to evolve. See what they ask on the phone and what they read on your website, and build on the information they seek at every opportunity.
2. Track Everything
Every phone call and email to a lead should be recorded, along with the most pertinent factors of any discussions. This can give valuable insight into what works and what does not. The chances are you do not run or work for a company that does something the same way because that is how they have always done it, and lead conversion should always involve evolution, if not revolution.
3. Make Use of Anonymous Statistics
The nature of web browsing means that you will build up quite the overview of visitors and their habits, even if you do not know exactly who it was. Crucially, this information is still valuable as processes are improved when you know why a lead did not convert. 100% conversion is virtually unheard of, but ensure that you monitor where anonymous visitors drop out of the process and think about what could have avoided such a result.
4. Keep Your Data Clean
Lead management is data-driven, so you need to ensure that the data you use is clean and accurate. Things can happen that lead to duplication or errors, and you should consider the implementation of processes that automatically remove these duplicates and flag up any inconsistencies. The best decisions are made when you know all the facts, and your thoughts are only as good as the data on which they are based.
5. Assign Leads a Rating
In smaller businesses, the goal may be to convert every potential lead into a client. In larger organisations, it is impossible or at least cost-ineffective to chase every potential lead. When a lead does enter your system, assign it a score based on how easy it will be to convert, and direct your sales and marketing efforts towards them. If they score high and are close to conversion, they will be worth the same as the more difficult leads with far less effort.
6. Add Steps Between Lead and Conversion
Not every lead will appreciate a hard sell, and there should be a stage between initial contact and conversion that does not involve sending out a member of the sales team. Stay visible to the lead through regular communications and nurture a relationship to ensure that if and when the time comes to make a purchase decision, you are at the forefront of their mind.
7. Experiment with the Sales Process
A common opinion in business is that if you are not moving forward, you are going backwards and there is no such thing as standing still. If you can count on two leads from every 10 converting into clients, experiment with the process to see how you can improve this number to 3 or 4. In some cases, you can carry out this experiment in the real environment. If not, then consider models and forecasts to see how you can continually refine the system.
8. Take Care of External Lead Generators
Colleagues and employees will generate leads because that’s their job. If someone outside the business generates leads for you through word of mouth or anything else, it is best to remain on their good side – if they switch to a competitor, they will probably take other clients with them without any specific intention to undermine your business. Be proactive in addressing their needs and place them at the top of the list for support and response times.
9. Standardise Scoring and Rankings
Data is at its best when it can be easily analysed and compared, and this requires whoever controls the data to remain consistent. If you score a lead on a scale of 1-10, make it clear exactly what constitutes which score so that it does not always fall on your shoulders to rank a lead, especially when it has been passed on to other parts of the business. You should be willing to refine the score at any stage in the process too based on the most recent communications.
10. Be Flexible
Your business sells certain products or services, and your ideal lead demonstrates specific characteristics. This can encourage you to follow the same plan each time. In the real world, potential clients will have different needs and varied perceptions, and you need to be flexible enough to meet those requirements at every stage. The worst thing you can say to a potential client is that their way is the wrong way – it is easier to change your offering than to change their opinion.