Sales is a constantly evolving science. At the end of the 20th century and going into the 21st century, the sales process was mostly about how a company ‘sold’ its goods and services. There was typically a sales process consisting of 5-7 steps: Prospecting, Preparation, Approach, Presentation, Handling objections, Closing, and Follow-up.
As more of our personal life and work went online there was a swing from selling to buying. Every one of us was part of the story as we became familiar with purchasing consumer goods online.
Companies driven by their customers and employees realized that instead of a company selling, it was about a person buying. Just as we all became familiar with our own ways of buying – a need awoke, we then surfed around to find the best product for our needs, then we checked reviews and compared companies to find the best price and finally, we committed to the sale and awaited delivery!
This progression—from becoming problem-aware to making a purchasing decision—is called the buyer’s journey.
With 67% of the buyer’s journey now completed digitally, it’s become more important than ever to manage the buyer’s digital journey with campaigns that educate, inform and most importantly, nudge your prospects into action, i.e. purchasing your products.
Much has been written already about mapping the buyer’s journey to content marketing and paid traffic, but nothing, to my knowledge, has been written about what to do after a visitor has subscribed to your email list.
What Is The Buyer’s Journey?
It’s important to mention here how you communicate with your prospects will vary depending on which stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in.
Lead management is a way that you can identify potential customers (leads) and educate and engage with them which may take 6 months to a year, before they reach the decision stage when leads are qualified as sales-ready and your sales team reach out. If you are looking for an efficient and effective method for managing your leads throughout the buyer’s journey, the following 5 tips will help you to implement a successful lead management process.
Generating high-quality leads is the number one challenge for B2B marketers. Achieving a desired volume and quality of leads, required to improve sales results involves appropriate research, planning, content and tools. Lead generation is a never-ending process which requires constant iteration, analysis of prospect’s behavior and personalization of marketing content.
1. Identify and get to know your leads
To begin with, you need to establish who your potential clients are. In turn you will be able to develop a process to determine where individual prospects stand in the sales cycle. Not all your prospects will become paying customers, in fact on average only 12% to 16% of all leads are considered quality leads. The most important question you should ask yourself is, does our solution create value for prospects and are they willing to pay for it.
Marketers should use personas to identify ideal leads and hence customers for their products and services. Personas can be shaped on demographics, prospect behavior, engagement and interaction. Content creation is key to lead generation and knowing their source.
The following questions can help in shaping personas:
- Demographics: Where are our ideal customers based? What problems, wants, and needs do they have? What industry/market are they in?
- Behavior: How do they interact with content? What content do they interact with? How do they search for information?
- Source: How do prospects find us? Where do they search for information? Which marketing sources do they engage with most?
2. Score your leads
Lead scoring is a vital part of the lead management process as it determines the prospect’s interest in your products or services. Lead scoring assigns score values to your marketing material. As prospects access and consume more content, their lead score increases and marketers can qualify them as sales-ready, when they hit a certain score, passing them onto the sales team.
The lead score depends on the interest visitors show in your marketing materials, how they engage and interact with it and where they are in the purchase cycle. The higher the score, the larger the possibility that the lead will convert into a sale. Leads that are unqualified as sales-ready can go through lead nurturing. Ultimately, your lead scoring system will depend on your business’s individual criteria and the complexity of your sales cycle.
Automating your marketing activities combined with lead scoring prospect interactions and personalization of marketing materials is undoubtedly a powerful tool for marketers to increase company sales.
3. Nurture your leads
Lead nurturing refers to a process of sending the right message, at the right time to prospects to move them through the sales funnel. Lead nurturing is mainly used for leads that are not quite ready to be passed onto the sales team and require an appropriate lead nurturing campaign. Include actionable calls to action in all your marketing materials.
Studies show that nurtured leads result in a 23% shorter sales cycle. Approximately 79% of all marketing leads never convert into sales, mainly due to a lack of or poor lead nurturing. Nurturing leads requires appropriate content delivery, effective communication with the right frequency and timing of delivery.
Furthermore, companies that apply lead nurturing successfully generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower costs. Leads nurtured with personalized content produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities.
4. Reach out at the right time
Sales is really a matchmaking process. You only want your sales team to engage with sales qualified leads. For this reason, lead scoring is paramount as you don’t want your salesperson reaching out to leads who are not sales ready. However, just because a prospect is a qualified lead, doesn’t really mean that they are ready to buy or willing to talk to your sales team. Reports suggest that this is true for 50% of qualified leads.
Make sure that the marketing team provides extensive information on the lead’s activity and behavior to the sales team. In addition, the sales team should also further research the lead before initiating contact. Additional data can include key decision-makers, business structure or products and services a company offers.
5. Use analytics
Tracking, measuring and analyzing key metrics is very important. Most importantly you need to ensure that the lead moves through the sales cycle not being sent back to marketing for more nurturing if it doesn’t require it and without being lost.
Track and measure costs of acquiring a lead, nurturing that lead and converting them into a paying customer throughout the sales cycle. Take note of the speed at which they convert. This will enable you to determine which prospects convert based on personas, industry and verticals. Measure sales performance, incentives for the sales team will encourage them to strategically pursue sales-ready leads.
Measuring costs of converting a prospect into a paying customer and the performance of both marketing and sales teams is very important as return on investment is a key metric for businesses.
Ultimately, to implement an effective lead management system, you will need to iterate and evaluate what works and what doesn’t. However, once in place you can expect increased sales and improved business results.
Streamlining B2B Lead Management
Fastbase’s lead generation, marketing automation and sales management software will help you generate more leads and learn about prospect’s behavior, streamlining your sales cycle.
Using real-time behavioral insights from prospects, turn static data into actionable information. Turn once anonymous website visitors into actual users and generate comprehensive lead reports with detailed contact information, including data such as company profiles, email addresses, telephone numbers, LinkedIn profiles and information about visitor interactions on individual pages viewed.
Understanding your Digital Audience
- LeadScoring is tracking technology that enables you to engage with prospects and customers throughout the buyer’s journey, automatically identifying and scoring the visits of each individual according to the pages viewed. When the score indicates ‘sales qualified’ or ‘ready to buy’ a salesperson can act with speed to close the business.
- WebLeads shows companies and organizations that display an interest in your business. It highlights information they are searching for, pages they’ve viewed and provides real insights that help understand your digital audience. There is very little set-up required you simply login using your Google Analytics account and add the WebLeads 6.0 script for extra insights into visits.
The SaaS platform means there is no implementation and customers pay monthly or annually (at a discount). LeadScoring can be trialed with 100 leads immediately available for $0. The subscriptions are scaled from $75 according to company needs: from 1000 leads / 500 prospect up to Enterprise levels of 20,000 leads/5,000 prospects.
Fastbase’s WebLead solutions are available as Lite, Premium and Premium+. Premium/Premium+ are available for 30 days as a free trial and then continue with a Premium subscription, with the price determined by the number of profiles/websites a company chooses to monitor. A Lite version is available beyond the free trial period, however with limited features and functionality.
These robust and easy to use products work with companies and organizations of any size and empower them to monitor and engage with prospective customers, create new market segments and as a result increase sales.