Apr 24, 2020

Want More B2B Customers? 3 Ways to Improve Lead Management

By: Ash Hoffman

Inbound Marketing

In case you haven’t heard/seen/felt it, these are weird times we’re currently living in. Depending on your business, your active pipeline may have dried up and your leads may have gone seemingly stagnant.

That doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, we’re here to tell you not to let that be the case. Instead, this is the perfect opportunity to revisit your lead management process and identify the gaps in your pipeline.

Because yes, things will get back to up and running again. And even if the new “business as usual” looks different than it did in 2019, we’re willing to bet you’ll still need to close all those leads you’ve generated.

So, without further ado, let’s break down our three top tips for improving your lead management process.

Read Next: Generate The Right Leads. Build Trust. Achieve Breakthrough Growth.

1. Create a Lead Management Document

The first step to creating a unified and successful process is to...well, determine what it is and have everyone agree.

Decide on an Approach

Before diving into the lead management document, the sales and marketing teams must sit down and walk through how they each manage leads. 

It may be tempting to dictate how your team manages your precious leads, but doing so may negate anything in your current process that is working. 

Have each member of the sales team walk through their typical approach to leads, identifying any variables based on where the lead source is from (e.g. referrals may be handled differently than web-based leads).

Then, do the same with the marketing team. Once everyone has shared their perspective, work to fit the pieces together and have everyone agree upon what that lifecycle looks like from a new lead all the way through to customer and even evangelist.

This brings me to the last point: agree upon definitions. We’ve worked with clients before where a marketer’s idea of a “Marketing Qualified Lead” is different from the sales team’s idea of one. And...let’s just say it led to quite a bit of confusion.

As you work to define your lead definitions, here are a few resources to consider:

Set The Rules

What happens when a qualified lead suddenly becomes unqualified? What should you do if a contact no longer wants to receive emails — delete them from the database altogether or keep them and hope they resubscribe? 

Questions like these actually come up more often than you might think. And if there were no rules for how to answer them, your CRM will end up like the wild west.

Decide upon rules that each team must follow when managing their leads. Here are a few we typically recommend for our clients:

  1. Only move lifecycles forward
  2. Do not delete contacts
  3. Opt out of email, don’t delete (unless explicitly asked to be)

Put these rules down on your lead management document and make sure that not only they are very clear, but also the reason behind them.

Write It All Down

Once you’ve determined a set process for your entire organization, write it down in an easily-accessible document. 

As mentioned above, it’s crucial at this point to make this document as clear and easy to read and understand as possible. Make it succinct and no longer than 1-2 pages (no one likes to read long process docs — especially when they’re trying to close a deal).

Send the document to everyone and even consider having them sign it. Be sure to revisit this document on a regular basis (quarterly or bi-annually should be plenty) to review the guidelines and make any changes, as needed.

2. Automate as Much as Possible

Now that your lead management processes are written down, the next step is to put them to work. But we all know sales teams are notorious for not wanting to manage the CRM. And that’s understandable — after all, they’re out managing your leads!

So what’s the answer? Take as much of the manual labor out of managing your contacts as possible. Here are a few ways you can do that.

Create a Lead Nurture Campaign

Lead nurture campaigns are the best way to nurture those top-of-the-funnel leads into more qualified ones. 

It’s essentially a set of personalized, pre-written emails that are delivered to a contact on a timely basis that encourage them to take action. Partnered with contextual marketing, it’s a sure-fire way to keep your contacts from going stagnant.

What does a high-performing nurture campaign look like? It’s:

  1. Highly targeted and personalized to your audience
  2. It has a specific end goal in mind (typically to reach out and engage your sales team)
  3. It provides value over simply selling

You can learn about crafting a nurture campaign like this in our recent blog post, here.

Leverage Lead Scoring

While working on an approach in the first step, you should have determined what qualifies a lead. 

Is it someone who has visited all your services & pricing pages and has downloaded a couple of eBooks? Or is it someone who has explicitly raised their hand and said they’re interested in your products and services?

Depending on how much data you have, this may be a guessing game at first. However, if you’re using a robust CRM with contact tracking, you should be able to look into each of your Sales Qualified Leads and Customers to understand what they have in common that qualified them.

Determine the specific actions and come up with a lead scoring system that will help identify leads that are ready to move on in the buyer’s journey.

Set up Workflows

Now that you’ve determined what qualifies a lead to move on to the next stage of the lifecycle, where does the automation come in? Let me introduce you to workflows. If you haven’t used them before, they’re about to blow your mind. 

A workflow is an automated process that triggers based on a single action. To make this a little less vague, let’s break down an example:

Let’s say you want a lead to automatically become a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) once they’ve:

  • Downloaded at least 2 eBooks
  • Clicked on links in at least 5 emails
  • Visited at least 3 of your services pages

Depending on your CRM, you should be able to assign a certain number of points to each action item listed above. Let’s just say each one of these examples is 35 points. In your workflow then, you can set the trigger to be “Lead score is 100 points or higher”. Then, set the action to “Set Contact Property” and select the lifecycle stage as MQL. 

This is just one example of a workflow that can move your contacts along automatically. The potential is limitless.

3. Leverage Your Content to Provide Value

So you know you need to send nurture emails and essentially just “show up” for your contacts in a personalized way. But...what do you actually send?

Create Content That Solves Problems

Hi yes, there is so much content out there in the world. And yes, no one has time to read it all — not even close to it. 

But here’s the thing: some people have time to read your content. It’s your job to make sure it’s the right people and the right content. 

The best way to do that is to understand your audience’s challenges (you should know this from creating buyer personas) and create content that specifically addresses them.

A couple of ways you can do this includes:

  • Listen to and record your customer’s frequently asked questions (and then turn your answers into public-facing content later)
  • Practice regular social listening by following your audience on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn and tracking related hashtags to find out what questions they’re asking
  • Read the publications your audience is reading and scour places like Reddit and Quora once in a while for inspiration

Reach Out 1:1 to Provide Tailored Content

The best way to make sure your content gets delivered to the right audience is to send it to them!

Encourage your sales team to send your content as they reach out to their contacts 1:1. Create an avenue for your marketing team to share it with them. Then, listen to their feedback as the sales team shares the kinds of questions and conversations they’re having on a daily basis.

Before you know it, you’ll have the beautiful circle of content marketing and lead generation life.

Use Your Content to Tell a Story

Storytelling is the oldest form of communication. It's how we form connections with each other and make sense of the world. Put simply, stories bring people together.

And the great thing about storytelling, in this context, is that it plays very nicely with inbound marketing. Align your content to where your lead is at in the buyer’s journey. Think of it like this:

  1. Awareness —> Introduction
  2. Consideration —> Conflict
  3. Decision —> Resolution

Incorporate these elements into your lead management strategy and you’ll be sure to create more loyal customers out of your leads than you ever have before.

Lead Management Isn’t Just About Nurturing…

...It’s also about generating the right kind of leads.

You’re reading this because you’re in need of new customers. I mean, who isn’t? And yet you’re finding that getting them is more difficult than ever.

Our latest eBook will help you discover a proven system for generating qualified leads that will fill your client acquisition pipeline. This is a system we’ve honed with many of our B2B clients, and now we want to share what we’ve learned with you.

Click here to download our FREE eBook, Generate the right leads. Build trust. Achieve Breakthrough Growth.

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