If you are an owner or manager of a business that provides goods and/or services to customers in a competitive market, then chances are you are acutely aware of the value of a lead.
Many articles have been written on lead generation but what about when that oh-so-valuable lead finally comes along? What process is in place to ensure that it is recorded, worked thoroughly and hopefully converted into a quote and eventually a sale?
Having invested heavily in the lead generation strategy, what lead management system do you use to ensure that the investment has the best chance to provide a return?
If your lead management system consists of rough notes on backs of envelopes placed on the pile of paperwork on the sales manager’s desk - or similar - it may not surprise you that research shows that up to 55% of small businesses don’t follow up on new leads.
Investing in an electronic, cloud based lead management system would seem the answer to protecting the investment that has been made in generating the leads. So what should one look for when researching the myriad of lead management options that are available?
A successful lead management system may vary from a shared, stand-alone spreadsheet to a fully integrated and customizable CRM system. In all cases the following points should be considered and applied to all options before the final decision is made.
Speed of entry
The process of recording a lead should be as easy as scribbling notes on a piece of paper - otherwise staff are going to keep scribbling notes on pieces of paper.
In most selling environments anything from 10% to 30% can be considered excellent lead conversion rates. Even at the top end of the spectrum this means that 7 out of 10 leads will not result in a sale. With this in mind it would seem a misuse of time to be carefully recording every detail of the new lead that has just rung up.
Only get the information that you need right now to follow up the lead. In most cases this is simply a name (first name will do) and a phone number. Often people don’t want to give out too much information at this initial stage so a system that requires very granular detail to be collected in order to move forward will end up being a hindrance more than a tool.
The detail can be collected as the lead progresses toward a sale or even after the sale has been made.
Speed of response
It has been shown that the quicker a lead is contacted the better the chance there is of a sale being made. It is imperative that after entering the basic details the lead is able to be assigned easily and immediately to the appropriate person who is alerted that a new lead is awaiting contact.
In these days of instant information, a phone call a week after losing the lead slip down the back of your office chair is not going to cut it.
Ease of retrieval and entry of data
Once entered, lead data should be very easy to retrieve and add more info.
A prospective client will not be impressed if, a day after making an enquiry, they call back to clarify say an address and the person they are speaking to has no record of the conversation. Or worse, if they can hear a mad shuffling of paperwork as the staff member tries to locate that scrap bit of paper.
Conversely, being able to quickly call up the lead details and relay back what was recorded and what is planned to happen next will reflect brilliantly on the efficiency of your business. The standard is set for how their project will progress if they choose you to supply it.
Capacity for automation
Often the same process of nurturing a lead is used for leads of a similar type. This being the case, the ability to automate the process may be a big benefit to your company.
Many systems now have tasking and workflow capabilities that ensure that appropriate staff are alerted at appropriate times that action is required on the lead. These are especially helpful when different staff members or departments are responsible for taking the lead versus working the lead.
The system should enable staff to quickly record the lead and attach a suitable workflow, task stream or automatic process to ensure that the next steps in the process are being notified to suitable staff members at applicable times.
Integration with existing business software
When the lead is at the stage of progressing to proper engagement with sales staff, often a different, established method is used. It is a nuisance however to have to re-enter any detail that may have been collected to that point.
Import/export functionality can greatly reduce data entry times and reduce errors between different systems when this is the case.
Of course this is not an issue when one system is used to manage leads, generate quotes and execute jobs. Many lead management options are parts of greater CRM and job management systems that could possibly replace existing systems.
Price and supplier
Clearly price needs to be considered on any purchase of this type. As with most items these days the ‘headline’ price might not tell the whole story. Be wary of low entry (or even zero) purchase prices as these may include ongoing charges such as fees per users and/or exorbitant hosting fees.
Some providers offer payment plans as well in order to spread the cash flow pressure over a period of time. This may be of benefit to ease the cash flow burden.
Don’t be fooled by big companies and flashy marketing web sites. Sometimes smaller providers offer more personal and customizable solutions than the bigger players - or can build on existing platforms to give you exactly what you need.
In these cases you generally enter into a partnership relationship with direct access to decision makers - not just given a number and contacted when it comes up. So it is important that you have a good rapport with the team you choose to do business with as it will be an ongoing process - not a one off event.
Ok - so it’s time to get a proper lead management strategy in place and you need a system to help you do it. Consider these points when making your decision:
- Is it fast and easy to record the initial lead?
- Can it be assigned to the appropriate person instantly and with notification?
- Can you retrieve, edit and add to the lead as easily as it was to create?
- Does it offer automation capacity, workflow and tasking?
- Can it integrate with or maybe even replace other business systems?
- Is it competitively priced and backed by a reputable company that you are comfortable working closely with?
If the option you are looking at ticks all of these boxes then you are well on your way to finding the best system that suits your needs - and your leads.
If you’re looking for a solution catering to the above objectives, you might like to have a demo of our
Lead Generation module for MySys.
For more info or a live demo (even remotely), give Alltraders a call on
08 7324 7150, or contact us online