7 Ways To Manage Leads To Avoid Killing Sales Opportunities

7 Ways To Manage Leads To Avoid Killing Sales Opportunities

7 Ways To Manage Leads To Avoid Killing Sales Opportunities Are your leads going out as quick as they come in?

Is your lead management process defined? Or are you managing leads as they come?

What’s one thing businesses chase? Growing revenue. On of the core ingredients of a campaign to grow revenue is lead management.

Leads can be generated in a number of ways. Companies put emphasis on getting more leads. But when it comes to managing them, a lot of businesses are shooting in the dark. Usually, loose processes that don’t have a plan when it comes to reacting to inbound leads are in place.

After generating leads, your ability to move prospects along your sales funnel begins with lead management.

Here are 7 ways to manage leads and avoid killing sales opportunities.

Have the sales organization united in the definition of a lead.

What is a lead? Is it a contact number? An opt-in? A prospect who has expressed interest after a few touches?

Sales organizations define leads differently–and that’s okay. The key is to unite your sales force under a single, well-understood meaning of a lead.

It’s one of the biggest points of misunderstanding and disconnection in companies. Sales departments consider X as a lead while the rest of the company believes Y constitute a lead.

When does a prospect become a lead? This is the question that has to be answered.

Did you know that 90 percent of leads that come in never get the first touch from sales? It’s either whoever was in charge of lead generation never got around to determining who the correct person to receive the lead is. It’s routed to the wrong person. Or, it can be that the lead isn’t a lead yet–meaning it is not sales ready.

In both circumstances, the salesperson won’t be in the best position to move the prospect along the sales funnel. They will be making attempts but nothing that will result to something–causing them to choose to move on to hotter leads which are much insignificant when value is considered.

To be effective in selling, the sales force, staff, departments and the rest of the company need to have a categorical definition of what a sales lead is.

When does a prospect become a lead? When should a contact be forwarded to sales? These are important questions that need to be answered.

Treat lead nurturing seriously.

Sales and marketing are like siblings. They live together–but don’t always get along. Sales complains about the quality and quantity of leads received from marketing. This is one of the biggest issues that many organizations face.

Two reasons: Leads are not enough, and leads are not perceived as good enough.

The key to this is a lead nurturing system that does its job well. Developing prospects into sales-ready leads is a big challenge for many organizations and lead nurturing is key.

The importance of nurturing leads in keeping the pipeline filled cannot be overlooked.

Bad leads may just be ugly ducklings waiting to blossom. In fact, according to a study by SiriusDecisions, 80 percent of bad leads in B2B go on to make purchases within two years. Lead nurturing programs prevent the “forced churn” that the inexistence of a lead nurturing program causes.

Discovering opportunities within bad leads is only possible when sales nurture leads.Assuming that prospects are ready to buy on the first call is just bad selling.

Assuming that prospects are ready to buy on the first call is just bad selling.

Moving prospects along the sales process by giving them value is the core of lead nurturing. Content, service and constant connection are major keys in this process. Sales enablement teams help bridge the gap between marketing and sales. They calibrate marketing collateral so the material provide value to the sales department in a selling situation.

Know where and when leads come in.

Did the marketing department set up an inbound marketing campaign and leads are now pouring in?

Lead sources must be tracked. What piece of content did the lead encounter? Did you get their contact through organic search, social, referral traffic or paid ads?

Were these referrals from other customers?

So, why is tracking the source so important? Think of it as an added clue. It will clue you in on what will work and what won’t.

You already have the information on what is interesting or compelling enough for this particular lead that they gave out their contact.

It’s also important to track lead sources as you need to keep track of important numbers like what’s the average number of touches before a visitor turns into a lead, or what sequence of touches work best in converting visitors to leads.

If you don’t know this information, you won’t be able to replicate what works.

Distribute leads quickly.

Determining which salesperson should handle a lead is crucial–but if you don’t work quickly, you’re losing sales.

See, leads go cold quickly.

Studies show that salespeople need to respond to leads within 48 hours of a prospect providing a means for contact for the max likelihood of closing a sale.

However, with how sales has evolved and the means of capturing leads have changed, this number already dropped dramatically.

Online sales leads go cold lightning fast. In a study of 1.25 million sales leads across 29 B2C and 13 B2B companies in the U.S., it was found that companies are seven times as successful in qualifying leads when they contact customers within an hour of receiving the lead compared to those who contact leads more than an hour after receiving. Stretching that to 24 hours or longer, the immediate response to leads netted 60 times more results.

Just recall the last time you expressed interest in a product or a service. Didn’t you wish they got back to you faster? How many times have you opted-in, left your email or contact number and no one came back to you? I bet your interest in the product and company dropped drastically.

Fire up the sales force about each lead

Many organizations suffer from an unmotivated workforce. When it comes to lead management, a fired up sales team can spell the difference between lost sales and hot leads.

For some salespeople, though, being praised, rewarded and trained are not enough to get people to pick up leads right away or do their best on each prospect. It’s a tough situation–something that definitely has to be remedied in any sales organization.

So, how do you keep salespeople excited and motivated each and every day?

Motivation is a product of putting salespeople in the position to succeed. If the leads are hot enough, have enough information, and are qualified enough to really close sales, salespeople will be motivated. The prospecting team has to do a great job making sure that enough information is present to actually make a touch with the lead. Extract information from prospects on each interaction.

It’s often overlooked–but making sure that the leads are decision-makers or are only one to two steps from the big decision-makers is also key to not frustrating a sales force. Making sure that they have what they need to perform at their best is a major key in a

Making sure that they have what they need to perform at their best is a major key in keeping salespeople fired up.

Treat your prospects like your customers.

Treat prospects like customers and watch as leads become customers.

Leads are engaged and nurtured until they decide to buy in. Then, salespeople move to the next lead.

This process, if a sales manager is not detailed, can be a mechanical one.

To prevent this from happening, inculcating the idea that prospects are customers (waiting to happen) is something sales managers should do. With customer-centric sales being the proven effective style of selling, treating leads like they’re just another number on the list is just not going to cut it. It’s about providing value from the get-go.

Here’s a way to do it: Think of initial touches as a preview of what’s to come for the prospect. Give them a slice of a customer’s life.

Remember that leads should never be treated as contacts. They are deemed sales-ready (or at least close to that), so interacting with them with the attitude that they’ll be working closely with your company in the coming periods is a good mindset to take on this matter.

Measure your team’s efforts.

It’s not unusual for sales organizations to be lousy when it comes to keeping data and analyzing them. Looking at the actual closes is much easier and seem to give a good painting of the sales picture. But any sales manager worth their salt will tell you that sales is not a good indicator of team success. Not that it’s not an indicator–but it doesn’t tell you much by way of what to improve and what to laud in your team’s daily operations.

Closed sales is an indicator of performance for a longer period.

As a sales leader, knowing the key indicators and ensuring that they’re kept an eye on is crucial to your team’s success. Deciding what to measure and why is part of your job. With the bevy of technology that helps you capture data realtime, there is no excuse. The only component that needs to be determined is what needs to be monitored.

When you have your KPIs identified, it’s easier to determine the ROI of your campaigns and their impact on your pipeline.

Final notes

When you don’t plant, you don’t harvest. Leads bring life to any sales organization. And when they’re not managed well, they can spell doom to a sales outfit.

Just consider the amount of resources allocated to generating leads. They’re liquid gold for businesses in growing influence and revenue–stuff that all businesses are interested and invested in.

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Dan Sincavage

Dan is a Co-Founder of Tenfold and currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer. Dan oversees the Tenfold sales organization, manages strategic partner relationships and works with key enterprise accounts to ensure their success with the Tenfold platform.