Marketers, I am going to dispel a common myth for you (salespeople are going to love me for this).
Your leads suck!
Yes, I said it! Why? Most of the leads you’re sending to your sales team are crap. They’re not high-quality leads, they’re not interested in buying, and they’re a waste of time for your typical sales team.
‘A lead is a lead is a lead’ is wrong, plain and simple. In this age, developing a proper lead management strategy will decrease the wasted time and capital spent on developing leads that will never buy from the sales team.
What Is A Lead Management Strategy?
A lead management strategy is a plan businesses use to find and understand potential customers. Following the core principles of lead management is crucial because it allows salespeople to know if a lead is ready to buy or not.
Identifying these leads and reviewing what they do in the sales pipeline is key to know if they're looking to buy. If they're not ready to buy yet, a nurture strategy will keep them engaged until they are. The plan also includes looking at what worked and what didn't, to optimize the process.
In my experience, there are some crucial steps to start with before you dive into the details of your new strategy:
- How are you capturing leads? Otherwise known as choosing your tech stack. It’s great to have a functioning funnel or sales team, but if data isn’t captured in a consistent and easily managed method (for example, Hubspot) then you’re missing the foundation of the strategy.
- Define your terms. Companies and sales leaders use the terms they know, but if you’re building a new team with even a mildly diverse background, there will be disagreements on what terms like SQL (sales qualified lead), MQL (marketing qualified lead), lead, and prospect even mean. Get your team sales-ready by ensuring they’re all using the same terms.
Leadership Tip: Building the foundation of a lead management strategy is a great place to establish yourself as the leader of your sales team. Listen and recognize your team’s past experiences and clearly state “from here on out this is how we’ll use these terms.” This is a great way to acknowledge your team but set the precedent that they're on a new one.
- Define your target audience and ideal client profile (ICP). This is where, in my business Profit Launchpad, we use ChatGPT pro and a few other AI tools. Use prompts to create your audience. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that cuts this process down to hours rather than days or weeks.
Prompt: You are a [demographic] who works for a [company type] as a [role]. Your company does X amount of revenue per year and is located [geographic area]. Your boss recently asked you to upgrade your [business system] and to incorporate technologies such as [your software’s features]. Tell me the problems you’re having with finding the right features in the software you’re looking at. What are you finding? Where are you looking? What don’t you understand?
- Create detailed customer journeys. If you haven’t used the Storybrand Framework before I’d highly recommend checking it out, it’s fantastic for creating simple and effective journeys and the founder Donald Miller is a genius. With the customer journey, you’ll want to consider things like how many touchpoints are involved, or if you should use retargeting.
- Sit down with all the members of your RevOps team. Consulting sales reps who respond to leads or track metrics will result in better management between marketing and sales. More importantly, it will result in better revenue generation and retention.
The goal of RevOps is to reduce the friction between marketing and sales. Having a holistically created lead management strategy is a critical step in the process.
Why Is Having A Lead Management Strategy Important?
I like metaphors. If you’re struggling to understand why you need another complex strategy, read below.
Having a lead management strategy is like being a skilled gardener. Your garden (your market) is filled with various types of plants (potential paying customers or leads), each needing a specific kind of care.
As a gardener, you need to understand the individual needs of each plant, water and nurture them appropriately (lead nurturing), identify which are most likely to bear fruit (lead scoring), and then harvest at the right time (convert to sales). A skilled gardener uses his knowledge to grow a healthy garden; a successful business uses a lead management strategy to grow its customer base and profits.
What can go wrong if you don’t create this strategy?
There are many cons of not having a lead management strategy. Here are a few examples that highlight the severity of misalignment of this crucial step:
1. Missed Opportunities: Without a defined process for managing leads, businesses risk missing out on potential customers. If you don’t follow up in a timely manner, leads might feel neglected, which could result in lost sales.
2. Wasted Resources: Without lead scoring, businesses might waste time and resources chasing unqualified leads or leads that are not in the right stage of the buyer’s journey (not likely to make a purchase).
3. Poor Customer Experience: If a business does not track and respond to a lead's behaviors and interests, the lead might feel undervalued and overlooked, resulting in a poor customer experience and stunted LTV.
4. Lower ROI: Without effective nurturing, potential leads might not convert into customers, leading to a lower return on investment for marketing efforts.
Creating Your Own Lead Management Strategy
Over my career, I’ve developed a business philosophy that has made my clients and myself a lot of money.
Strategic Planning is an oxymoron and you should forget it.
Strategy is high level. Planning is in the details. They’re both useless without execution.
While creating this strategy, think high, work low. In the beginning of the article I already outlined the foundation you’ll need to get started. Now, you and your team need to build out the plan and the execution.
Create Buyer Avatars
Revisit AI here. Use the ICP you built already and start creating different avatars for leads that are in different stages of their sales cycle. Ask your team questions about their thoughts and actions. Use a guide to help you set up the right questions before you move on.
Example: What are their challenges right now? Where are they looking for early solutions? What content are they reading? What are your competitors putting in front of those people? Etc.
Generate Leads through Marketing
Build your funnels, create your lead magnets, and start outreach by getting the right content marketing campaigns in front of the right avatars. This could be anything from webinars and white papers to email marketing campaigns. It’s then up to you to ensure effective lead management by using the right lead distribution strategy.
Capture and Score Leads in a CRM
Lead scoring is a method used by sales and marketing teams to rank potential customers, or leads, based on the perceived value each lead represents to the organization. The goal of lead scoring is to prioritize the right leads so that the team can focus their efforts on those with the highest potential to convert into customers.
If you’re not familiar with lead management software or how to Score leads, we have a great introductory article on Why Lead Scoring Is an Important Part of Your Lead Routing Strategy.
Here is a simple step-by-step guide to lead scoring:
1. Identify Important Characteristics and Actions: Work with your sales and marketing teams to identify the key characteristics and actions that indicate lead qualification. This might include demographic information (like location or job title), behavioral data (like website visits or content downloads), or engagement level (like email opens or social media interactions).
2. Assign Point Values: Once you've identified these key factors, you need to assign point values to each. More important factors should have higher point values. For example, if a lead visits your landing page and fills out their contact information (indicating a high level of interest), you might assign that action more points than if they simply visit your homepage.
3. Set a Scoring Scale: Decide on a scale for your lead scoring system. A common scale is 0-100, but the range can be whatever works best for your business. Ensure the scale allows for enough differentiation between leads but is also easy to understand and apply.
4. Score Your Leads: Apply your scoring system to your existing leads. Your team will gain experience on how to properly score by getting the reps in.
Lead nurturing is a topic in-of itself. Your avatars are a key feature to planning a nurturing campaign. Especially with B2B, only about 20% of your potential customers are ready to buy at any time. Lead nurturing bridges that gap, keeping “not ready to buy” customers in your business ecosystem.
Lead nurturing is vital because it builds relationships with potential customers, guiding them through the sales funnel at their own pace and increasing the likelihood of purchase. By providing information through relevant content and demonstrating value, nurturing can help businesses stay top-of-mind and build trust with their prospects. Ultimately, lead nurturing can significantly increase conversion rates, maximizing the return on investment in lead generation efforts.
Use Automation to Your Advantage
Automation is key to better revenue generation, which, ultimately, is what we’re all after.
Businesses using marketing automation to nurture prospects see a 451% increase in qualified leads (The Annuitas Group). That’s hard to ignore.
There are many options for automation these days. My advice? Go slow in your decision-making process. Map out what you’re trying to achieve when bringing on new automation into the marketing and sales process.
If you and your team can narrow down the use case for the automation or software you’re thinking of using you’ll help reduce the inevitable analysis paralysis that comes when reviewing the dozens, if not hundreds of options on the market these days.
Increase Qualified Leads
Intrigued? If you want to learn more about the next steps of lead management, check out Phil Gray’s article on the lead management process.
If you have any questions about this feel free to email me, I always love having a chat about revenue! While you’re here, be sure to sign up for The RevOps Team newsletter.