in English, Verksamhetsutveckling

Not all leads are equal

Lead management is an area of sales automation and marketing with many opinions and many schools of thought. In addition, there are old sales and marketing managers who have worked for a long time and very successfully with their methods, but this doesn’t preclude that there is a way leads should be handled. When we work with leads, we should stay up to date with how the market and technology are constantly changing. So I thought in this blog post to discuss a bit how I see lead management and what aspects come into play. At the same time, I want to reiterate that this is not the whole truth. So, if you do not agree or have your own experiences, you are welcome to share them in the comments.

What is a lead?

The first thing you probably should ask yourself is: What is a lead? Leads are tips or ideas that can possibly lead to business that is still at a very early stage. Think about a crime series on TV where the detectives decide to follow up on a lead. When a lead gains more substance, it becomes a real trail, which in our world are business opportunities. Typical leads can be someone who has registered their interest via the website, a hundred companies and contact information purchased from Bisnode, or someone who has shown interest in an event and left a business card.

Are leads only new customers?

This is not an easy question. The first thing you have to ask yourself is, how do you know? If you read a list of a hundred contacts, it is very possible that one of them is actually an existing customer. In this case, it is important to have a good duplicate control function turned on so that a colleague does not happen to call an existing customer without knowing that she is already a customer. Something that can be embarrassing and, in a worst-case scenario, damage the customer relationship.

It is important to have a good duplicate control function switched on to prevent a colleague from happening to call an existing customer.

A second alternative is, for example, when an existing customer registers interest in another business area on the website. How should this be handled? Some choose to set it up as a lead and let a new customer salesman for the relevant business area handle it, choosing to see it as a totally new business opportunity. The important thing is that the lead in this case should be connected to the existing customer so that it is possible to see which customer it is.

How fast should leads be followed up?

A lead that comes in via the website should be followed up quickly, reasonably within a few days, preferably within a few hours.

Should all leads always be followed up equally quickly? No, I would probably say they don’t have to. A lead that comes in via the website should be followed up quickly, reasonably within a few days, preferably within a few hours. When buying lists and reading them for further processing, there isn’t always someone sitting and waiting to be contacted, so it doesn’t matter if it takes a week or two, if other things are more urgent. However, one should avoid waiting too long as there is a risk that the information will become out of date as people change jobs and companies change structures.

To keep track of the follow-up, it’s good to classify leads according to different temperatures – cold/warm/hot – as well as in the underlying automation that ensures the leads are maintained. Should a salesperson assigned a hot lead from the website not follow it up within four working hours, for example, the lead is then sent on to the next seller with a notice on the lead about this. You can add e-mail notifications and the like to managers or others, but it’s not certain this benefits productivity. That’s up to your own company culture.

MQL/SQL

Two terms that are often used in marketing are Marketing Qualified Lead and Sales Qualified Lead. A lead that is qualified by marketing is called an MQL. A lead from marketing which has then shown sufficient interest in sales taking over responsibility is often called an SQL.

Lead or not

Some CRM experts firmly claim that leads as their own data entity in a CRM system are wrong. They believe that lead should be a customer status. My answer to this question is the usual consultant answer: “It depends.”  For organizations with extreme discrepancies between the number of leads and the number of tenders sent – for example, for every thousand generated leads, five quotes are sent and one deal is made – I usually recommend that you use your own lead data entity. The other extreme is organizations that have an almost straight pipeline, typically those knowing exactly which customers are out there. The simplest examples are those that sell services that only Sweden’s municipalities can buy. They can simply add all of Sweden’s municipalities to their CRM’s customer list, and only need to distinguish those who are customers from those who are not yet customers with a status. These are extreme cases and often assessments on what works best must be made. The advantage of using your own lead data entity is that the customer table is kept relatively clean.

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The most important thing when it comes to lead management is a common way of working.

Individually or altogether?

The most important thing when it comes to lead management is that the company determines a common way of working that everyone then follows. It’s better to start small and get it established among all employees and then increase the complexity, rather than turning on all the taps and realizing too late that the bathtub will overflow.

Good luck with your sales!

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