How to Effectively Manage Leads in CRM Software?

Leads are the supporting base for any small, medium or large enterprise. And this is precisely why you have every sales manager examining the sales pipeline time and again to ensure that there are enough leads required to meet the year-end goal. The agenda is simple: Leads, when converted to a customer, generates revenue which sustains an enterprise. But having a high number of leads does not always guarantee complete success.

For any organization to capitalize upon leads, it is essential to capture, respond, and manage incoming leads — the right way. And this is precisely what lead management sums up.

While most organizations spend million dollars on just putting the best marketing campaigns on practice, they choose to ignore the later step. Most of them virtually, do not employ clearly defined lead management practices. What they fail to decipher, is when you don’t have proper lead management processes in place, it leads to a leaky sales funnel, which ultimately translates to low ROI.

How can organizations increase their pipeline, focus on the right leads and analyze what works and what not?

Lay out the definition of a sales-ready lead
To create a solid lead scoring framework, your first step is to lay down a mutually consented lead definition. When I say mutually consented, I refer to the sales and marketing professionals who always have a conflict of opinion: most often sales reps blame the marketing for transferring low-quality leads to them. To shun any such glitches in your organizational process, build the criteria of a sales-ready lead and familiarize your sales and marketing teams with it. Take in the opinions of both the sales and marketing reps and decide the actions that a prospect must take, to get categorized as a sales-ready lead.

The criteria of a sales-ready lead can be divided into following sub-categories: 
1. Lead source. 
2. Geographical location of the lead. 
3. Lead’s company size. 
4. Behavioral traits (recent activities of the lead such as webinar participation, e-book download, fill-up of website contact page). CRM solutions analyze the lead information and determines a lead as sales ready. Other important lead aspects include preferred channels of communication and role in the buying process.

Align Your Marketing and Sales Teams
The real efficiency of sales and marketing teams are realized through two-way communication and collaboration. And the best way to make this possible is through the implementation of CRM software that works as a unified platform for both sales and marketing activities. It serves as the central database for all leads and prospects details along with the relevant collateral, brochures, case studies, and presentations. Consequent to which, sales and marketing reps can collaborate and can use the same platform for growing and managing leads.

CRM software unifies sales and marketing platform that ensures that sales automatically take over where marketing leaves off. Also, CRM will provide more visibility and insight about each lead/prospect which can be utilized by the sales reps for better lead conversion with the help of lead scoring. Recycle the not-ready leads.

In spite of a clear definition of a sales-qualified lead, there are chances that some leads processed to the sales team might not be ready for a ‘now’ purchase. What will your sales reps do? In all likelihood, they will not follow-up with the lead. This is wrong.

Most large organizations (boasting of a strong revenue growth) follow the concept of — lead recycling. According to this terminology — not following up with warm/cold leads tends to make them fall into the black hole — which again is a waste of both the sales and marketing teams’ efforts. Instead, both the teams together can implement a follow-up plan that is automated inside a CRM system.

As per the plan, the not-ready leads can be automatically/manually sent back to the marketing team. Marketing campaigns can be deployed until they can be transferred again to the sales team.

Sidenote: Make sure to set a few parameters which will accelerate definite sales re-engagement. For instance — a change in lead score (from low to high) or a positive behavioral trait can be certain aspects based on which the marketing reps can reprocess a lead as sales-qualified.

Build your relationship with prospects
To increase your chances of lead conversion, it is essential that you track every activity of the leads and their underlying need. From every question they answer in the contact page to every click they make on your website, it will tell volumes about their needs/interests. As a business entrepreneur, you need to ensure that your marketing reps capitalize upon these details. Progressively understanding your leads’ interests/needs can make it easier for your team to lure them effectively.

For instance, your marketing team can deliver contents that precisely target the leads’ interests. These contents integrated with a clear call to actions can showcase your product/service offerings more clearly and explain how these can cater to the prospects’ needs. Significantly improving prospect engagement through CRM is one of the keys to improving lead management in CRM.

Choose a sales automation software
Irrespective of how big and effective your marketing team is, you will need a sales automation software anyway. Today most CRMs render multichannel marketing which simplifies and expands marketing automation module. Starting from e-mail marketing right through SMS & FAX marketing to voice broadcast and social marketing, your marketing reps will find it much easy to carry out their marketing campaigns across different channels in CRM. It is preferable to invest in a CRM suite rather than siloed providers. It will holistically show the impact of your marketing activities and help you identify the right channels to invest in.

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