The Missing Piece in Lead Management
How good is your lead management?
Lead management is one of the most well-known struggles in all of the marketing and sales world. How a business finds, nurtures, and generates leads is the topic of many conversations and a source of constant worry within a company. The process of managing these potential leads and converting them into customers takes time and much work. In this comprehensive article we are going to uncover what many businesses may be missing. We’ll begin by looking at the current tools that most businesses are using in their lead management.
Existing Tools Being Used
Examine each of these three tools and recognize how they are used. Identify which you are familiar with and see if the description below is how you also would use them. There is nothing inherently wrong with each of these tools and indeed many businesses find success with them. There is however, something missing.
The Timeless Contact Form
There are very few businesses who do not realize the importance of the internet. This is a great starting point and one which has become quite well-known today. One page which exists on almost every website is of course the infamous contact form. This form is used as a way for visitors to easily send a request for contact to the company. This is the equivalent of an old-school open door to a business’s brick-and-mortar store. Only it’s worse. This isn’t an open door to an entire store, but rather an open door to a sales person.
Unfortunately many seem to think this contact form is a fantastic piece of the lead management process. How many customers would be interested in knocking on a door to ask for a sales person? Not nearly as many as most companies would like. Still the contact form is one tool currently used for lead management by most businesses.
The Infamous Company Newsletter
This next current marketing tool is another vestige of old-school marketing. The newsletter is similar to the old mailers sent out by companies to all their existing customers. Today this mailer has turned from advertising to existing customers to attempting to advertise to new customers. This is due in part to statistics such as this:
70% of email readers open emails from a brand or company in search of a deal, discount, or coupon.
The Social Habit
These types of numbers are the reason why so many companies rely heavily on newsletters for generating new leads. But sending a generic newsletter is not the key of a strong lead management process. Indeed newsletters (emails) are a fantastic way of building a brand and keeping in contact with leads and customers alike, but newsletters alone are not a lead management process.
The Cutting Edge CRM
Those businesses working with customer relationship management tools are indeed the most advanced of these businesses using existing tools. These CRM tools let the business collect and organize their customers, manage data about their customers, and keep detailed records regarding each of these customers. The CRM works well for existing customers, and for manually entered leads.
A CRM can increase revenue by a whopping 41%!
Many of these businesses do great things with sales teams focused around their CRM and they do well in their process. They do well, but perhaps they are still missing something. Perhaps even still they are lacking something. There is something missing from their lead management process.
The Lead Sales Funnel
Before we identify this missing piece of the sales lead management process let’s next look at the typical sales funnel and define each of the pieces of this process and the role it plays in the lead management process.
This sales funnel is a simplified version of everything implemented in a typical business marketing strategy. But even in this simplified form we can see the main aspects of this funnel. Let’s look at each stage in this funnel.
The Leads Stage
In this introductory stage you are simply looking to reach as many potential leads as possible. This is the widest of the stages and most broad form of marketing available to your business. You are seeking here to simply spread your name and your presence to your potential target market. This target market is every possible lead who may be interested in your products or services either now or at any point in the future.
The Prospect Stage
This is the very large and generic middle piece of the sales funnel. This is the prospect stage or the stage where you as a business must seek to engage new leads and persuade them to continue in the sale process. This is a smaller group of leads than the original general stage of all available target audience leads.
The Customers Stage
This is the desired outcome stage for all leads. The greater this stage of the funnel the better the business does. These are the leads who have been successfully converted from lead to a customer. This is the smallest of the stages and the most desired. This conversion is the stage where businesses tend to focus their time and attentions (obviously due to the direct relation to greater revenues).
Now that we have identified the three rather general stages of a sales funnel we must look at what is missing. What is the missing piece in a lead management funnel? Where do businesses fail to properly funnel their leads through the sales process?
Marketing Automation: The Missing Piece
Now let’s explore the missing piece of the lead management process. Marketing automation is a process which has been growing in popularity and usage. In fact, recently the statistic was shared,
"98% of all businesses are seeking to implement a dedicated marketing automation system."
What an incredible percentage of businesses have recognized the power of marketing automation. This implies that the problem is not in failing to recognize the need for marketing automation but something else. Marketing automation, as stated earlier, is more than software. Marketing automation is a process. This is the missing piece of the lead management process. The implementation and execution of an automated marketing process is of utmost importance and requires a number of key steps. We will spend the next several sections looking at these steps and how to implement them.
The first area where marketing automation should be implemented involves new visitors. That’s right, the process of marketing automation begins even in the very top of the sales funnel (Leads/Target). Here is how marketing automation works with new visitors.
Contacting, Promoting & Marketing
The next part of the sales funnel where marketing automation helps involves contacting promoting, and marketing to leads and potential leads. Here we begin to filter down into the second stage of the lead funnel we’ve mentioned above (Prospects/Engage). This is the true power of marketing automation and the part of the funnel where marketing automation software and more importantly process is truly the missing piece for many. Here are a few ways this is executed.
The landing pages are ways in which you can present relevant information to your leads as they visit your website. These dedicated landing pages are created for a specific purpose and with a specific call-to-action. We have written an article previously entitled, Landing Page Love, which gives details and examples of some great landing pages.
Remember when we spoke previously of the contact forms used by almost all businesses? These are in fact only one of the many types of forms which can be implemented and used by your marketing. These forms, rather than merely sending an email with the form submissions or collecting them in a single database, would serve to continue to fill-out the lead profiles for each of the visitors who submit the form. Dynamic forms that populate a lead profile are far, far more powerful than a mere submission-to-email form. These forms are also capable of building on top of each other and thus continue to build the lead’s profile as they fill out each form
Newsletters & Emails
The email and the newsletter is a powerful feature of marketing automation. Again, this involves much more than a stale monthly newsletter. As we now have established through the use of website tracking, landing pages, and forms to build a better lead profile we can now use that information to provide relevant information to each through the use of automated emails. More than just mail merge functionality however, marketing automation holds the power of multiple messages based on specific decisions and triggers
This is where marketing automation becomes dominant. This is the heart of the missing piece of the lead management process. This strategy involves multiple points of contact done at just the right time, and without direct involvement from your sales team.
Businesses who increase the number of times contacting a lead from 1 to 8 show a massive increase in contact ratios.
More than merely implementing a marketing automation tool the marketing automation process must be work closely with all the other aspects of your marketing strategy. As you should hopefully see, marketing automation processes should involve every stage of your sales funnel and work to provide a cohesive sales and marketing strategy. Being comprehensive means integrating marketing automation with the various other tools already in use in marketing. Here are a few ways marketing automation should be integrated:
1. With Your Website
Your marketing automation software and processes must integrate with your website. The reasons for this integration are many and can be seen in several ways above. Notice how the tracking pixel is integrated into the lead profile building process. Integrations with your website help make your marketing process a seamless experience for your leads.
2. With Your Forms
Again, as mentioned previously, integrating your marketing automation with your forms enables you to build robust lead profiles and continue the process of creating potential customers. Mautic helps in this regard through CMS-specific plugin which allow the dynamic insertion of forms directly within your website. These forms submit information directly back to the marketing automation platform.
3. With Your Email
Marketing automation must integrate deeply with your email marketing efforts. Integrating these two platforms has not been done often due to the silo that SaaS marketing automation tools employ. Mautic, as an open source platform, allows you to select the email marketing software of your choosing and integrate directly. This puts the power of your email within your marketing automation platform. This is a new level of integration and puts you firmly in control of your entire marketing process. Your lead management process begins to become complete.
4. With Your CRM
The final integration mentioned here is one which most marketing automation tools use and deem to be of high importance. A good marketing automation platform should integrate with your CRM. This is on the other end of the sales funnel. Marketing automation truly stretches the entire length of the funnel. At this end of the sales funnel and lead management process the marketing automation tool will finally integrate your now qualified leads with your CRM tool. Now, when your sales team opens their CRM dashboard they are greeted with a list of highly qualified “hot” leads ready to be personally contacted. You will notice this is the first time your sales team must directly contact potential leads. This marketing automation process must integrate with your CRM. Mautic allows you to integrate with any number of popular CRM systems and offers a powerful API for other integrations as well.
Marketing automation has historically had a problem with poor integrations* (VentureBeat) and as a result has found a somewhat difficult time being truly successful.
By the way, Mautic offers dozens of integrations and the open source nature of the code ensures that an unlimited number of additional integrations can (and will be) created.
Don’t Give Up
It is at this point that a word of caution and encouragement should be offered. Proper marketing automation, lead management, and sales funnel completions take time and energy. Very few businesses find overnight success as a result of their lead management process. Remember this statistic,
"79 percent of marketing leads never convert to sales”
"Once it’s up and running, a successful long-term content marketing plan will pay lifelong dividends . If you don’t see those immediately, don’t despair. Just focus on providing your followers with the most engaging content possible.” Forbes
So, don’t lose heart. Don’t give up. Keep providing strong, relevant content and information. Trust in the process of your sales funnel and your marketing automation and continue to pursue your target audience. As the article above states, remember this is a long-term commitment and not a short campaign.
Refine Your Strategies
Now, while you should not lose heart, and you should continue in your efforts you should also refine your lead management strategies. You should focus your sales funnel and you should constantly seek to improve your lead processes. There are a number of ways in which you can be sure your strategies are most effective.
1. Implementing A/B Testing
Marketing automation platforms, like Mautic, allow you to create multiple page versions for landing pages and emails. These A/B tests help you to determine which pages are most effective in converting leads. If you are new to A/B testing, here is a short MauticMinuteTM video to help explain the concept.
It is not a difficult job and one which will lead to wonderful improvements in your return should they be handled correctly. Don’t neglect this opportunity to maximize your return on investments and ultimately improve your lead management and sales funnel.
2. Continue Improving
Once you have identified ways to improve your content, your marketing, and your sales funnel you must do everything you can to continue improving them. Don’t simply identify improvements - implement them! Always be seeking improvements and make the most of your marketing automation process.
Reviewing the Funnel
You have now covered the sales funnel from the broadest aspects of your anonymous, targeted leads all the way to your highly qualified list of hot leads ready for personal contact. You have seen how the marketing automation process is the missing piece of your lead management and how to remedy this problem. The solution lies not in finding the software solution but in implementing the best processes involving every stage of your lead management sales funnel. Remember these key steps:
- Marketing automation improves lead management at the highest level of the sales funnel.
- Marketing automation offers ongoing contact and lead nurturing in the prospecting stage of the lead management process.
- Marketing automation seamlessly integrates with CRM systems to migrate leads ready for direct, personal contact.
Implement these recommendations for your marketing automation process into your sales lead management and you’ll find the missing piece to your sales funnel.
If you’re looking for a marketing automation tool which can support and grow your B2B marketing efforts we recommend you take a quick look at Mautic, which provides cutting-edge features, an intuitive interface and a solid platform to help you turn suggested marketing tactics into actionable campaigns, informative landing pages, and ongoing email marketing.