Do you ever have that sneaky feeling like there are leads that fall through the cracks? Almost every lead management process has its bottlenecks and inefficiencies, and it can be an uphill battle to fix it. It may be tricky to track of every lead from creation to conversion, but there are many benefits to ironing out the lead handling process for your organization
When a lead workflow is established and roles are clearly defined, marketing, sales, and operations managers can easily report on how many leads have come in through the door. They can also know with near certainty that each had follow-up and what became of that lead. More importantly, they can use that information to assess the performance of each lead generation channel in order to craft a more optimized marketing channel mix.
Whether your organization needs to tweak or overhaul their lead management process, here are a few steps to take you in the right direction.
Step 1: Draw it out
Get the right people in a room—marketers, salespeople, managers—and start by defining the terms you’re going to use. What is the difference between a lead and an opportunity? Are there degrees of “qualified” when a contact is considered a qualified lead? The benefit of having various stakeholders in the room is that you can adapt definitions to how they are currently used among your workforce and get buy-in for any significant changes or distinctions.
Then draw it out, literally! Use diagrams to demonstrate each place the lead gets handed off to the next rung. If you use multiple marketing channels, you may have to define this lead flowchart for each, knowing each generates leads of a different quality and level of purchase-intent. One of the most important tasks here is to make sure roles are clearly defined at each stage of the lead process. Leave plenty of time for discussion so that each stakeholder feels that these changes aren’t being imposed top-down.
Step 2: Focus on confusion and conflict
When it’s all laid out, you may start to immediately notice points of confusion or conflict, which is often a sign of a gap or bottleneck in your lead handling process. Use the following questions to find the weak links in the chain:
- Is everyone properly trained to perform their step of the process?
- Is the time between follow-up steps consistent from one salesperson to another?
- What estimated the percentage of leads fill out a form on your website, and then never respond, or stop responding?
- Do salespeople or managers close the loop and provide feedback to the marketing or lead generation team?
- What leads don’t make it into your CRM, and, again, is this consistent across the salesforce?
- If a salesperson has to follow a hot lead, do other leads go cold?
- Who keeps track of leads with future interest, or leads that need to be nurtured more, and how do they identify these leads?
You may identify that you need more information. Gather feedback from more people in all departments and levels of the organization. There are also various online tools that help drill down into and analyze your data. It may also be beneficial to invest time in refreshing your CRM or evaluating new project and lead management software.
Step 3: Embrace automation
The traditional way of fixing bottlenecks or filling in gaps in the lead handling process was to staff more people on the problem points. However, increasing your team isn’t always an option, and now there is an entire industry dedicated to tools that automate the lead workflow.
Identify where automated email series can replace manual follow-up with lower-priority leads. Marketing automation programs can also be used to supplement outreach from the salesforce, ensure leads don’t fall through the cracks, and establish consistency in the lead follow-up timeline.
Focus on those points of conflict and confusion. One common issue is deciding whose responsibility it is to nurture leads who have demonstrated some interest. If your organization will consider a marketing automation platform, many now come with a lead scoring functionality. Lead scoring rules can sort out the contacts who are both a good fit and engaged with the content.
Assess how website forms are handled, and work with a CRM or marketing automation program to automate the lead capture process for easy access.
Make sure everyone knows when it’s time to hand off a lead by creating automated alerts at each step. There can be an alert when a lead comes in from the website or gets added into the CRM, an alert when a lead passes a certain lead scoring threshold, and an alert if a lead goes cold for a certain amount of time.
Step 4: Communicate and close the loop
After communicating the new process throughout an organization, remember to follow-up. Gather feedback and data on the changes after a month to determine what steps still need to be tweaked and what roles need supplemental training.