The number one priority for every business is to get a running sales pipeline with enough number of leads that its sales team can work on. And number two is lowering the customer acquisition costs across multiple lead channels. I am not going to the ideal customer profile and the buyer personas here but on a broad level assuming these things are covered it’s the # of leads and the cost of acquiring them that matters the most for a founder/VP of Sales & Marketing.
#Notetoreader This article is written from a perspective of B2B organizations so if you are into B2B this is for you or if you still feel interested you can give it a shot.
Creating a stable sales pipeline and sourcing leads is never a single channel strategy. Organizations today explore and experiment with various lead channels and there is no single strategy. Companies invest in what’s working for them but overall it’s a mixed of both inbound and outbound channels. The model varies based on many factors. Budget, years in the industry, business type (B2B/B2C) & the industry itself being a few of them. But what is the most challenging or should I say frustrating for a Founder is spending so many dollars on acquiring these leads and leads getting lost down the sales funnel. This is what is called lead leakage. Lead leakage can be owed to the absence of right sales & marketing technology stack or the lack of right processes in place. But how does this happen? If you look at the lead flow, there is seepage at every stage of the sales funnel. Let’s break it down step by step.
• Not having a CRM :First and foremost do you use a CRM? I hope it’s a yes. If not I strictly suggest you invest in one. There are industry focused CRM’s available for every business size today.You have to have a CRM or your lead management goes haywire. It’s time you move over excel now (Or will you 🙂 )
• Lead Nurturing : Well, first of all not all leads are ready to buy. In fact as per a report by Gleanster Research only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales. So what happens when someone subscribes to your blog or downloads an ebook. Do you nurture these leads? Or they just sit in your CRM/Database. Not nurturing your leads is one of the top reasons of lead leakage. These leads won’t be ready to buy from you today but assuming you are targeting the ideal buyer personas there’s a strong chance they will land in your competitor’s CRM soon if you don’t do something about it.
• Sales Follow-up : Even with contacts that filled a form for a free trial or a demo of your product won’t necessarily buy immediately from you. A big percentage of leads would require nurturing and a number of follow-ups from your sales team. But how do you ensure that your sales team follows up every time? Your sales teams will always go for the hot leads which have a higher probability of closure and might ignore some leads with just 1 follow-up. Do you know 44% of sales people give up after first follow-up & 80% of sales require more than 5 follow-ups? Every missed follow-up shows gaps in your lead funnel.
• Remarketing : There will always be leads that are passed to the sales team and the prospect would say “ Hey, I was just interested in the topic. I am not looking for a product as of now” or “ Hey I really like your product but we are not ready yet. Can you contact me after 5 months?”. These are the prospects who are qualified, have the right personas and need to be remarketed with more relevant content to move them from an interest stage to a buyer stage. This is an important area where lead leakage occurs and organizations struggle. One of the known reasons being sales and marketing departments not in sync with each other.
So these were the problems. Let’s talk about how we can control it and have a lead tight solution 🙂
First is Investing in your Sales & Marketing technology stack.
• Invest in a CRM :- I know I have already talked about having a CRM but let’s elaborate on this. Even today I have come across companies that still use MS excel to store their leads. I love excel but when it comes to lead management, the process is important, the ability to scale is important. Automating lead storage, lead distribution, lead information are some of the few things that can’t be taken care of using excel alone. If you believe in your business, and I am sure you do, leads will grow at a much faster rate and excel won’t suffice.You would be worried about the ROI, but today there are CRM’s for every business size and type and in the long run it will pay off. It’s a no-brainer, trust me, just get it.
• Marketing Automation tool :- Marketing automation systems come in handy for capturing lead data information for inbound efforts.
o Lead nurturing :Not only one can capture the form data from the websites but also run personalized marketing drip campaigns to nurture leads. These systems can capture every single activity on a company’s website and enable organizations to design targeted workflows and marketing campaigns around them. They do an excellent job of segmenting lead data based on the industry, company size and other important variables that solidify the aspects of lead management from lead capture to lead lifecycle management supplemented with a CRM.
o Remarketing : With Marketing automation tools one can easily remarket content to leads that are an ideal fit but are a few months from buying. In our case, we keep it at 3-4 months and make sure he receives relevant content to get him to the buying stage.
Hubspot, Pardot, Eloqua are one of the industry leaders in this segment. But again these are expensive tools, a smaller organization can use less expensive alternatives like online form builders, chat plug-in for lead capture & email marketing tools for lead nurturing.
• Sales acceleration Technology: – So you have a marketing automation tool in place and you have a best in class CRM. Well, that’s great! Your sales team is happy with the plethora of lead information they have before they approach a lead. Now as a Sales Manager/Founder/VP how do you ensure that your sales team does enough follow-ups on every qualified lead? And the bigger question is how do you even define enough? How many touch points does a sales rep takes to close a deal or gets a response from a deal? Here is where Sales acceleration platforms come into the picture where they help inside sales teams to define a sales follow-up process that can be measured and refined and consists of a series of touchpoints of a phone,email and even social which help organizations bring predictability to their sales follow-up process. Sales reps can access their daily tasks based on the defined follow-up process and managers are assured that every lead undergoes a defined number of follow-ups. At Insidesalesbox we call it sales campaigns/sales cadence and have helped many B2B inside sales teams with this same use case.
Second is defining scalable processes and ensuring all stakeholders adhere to their responsibilities. Yes, I am talking about your sales and marketing team. Some key points organizations need to work on removing ambiguities are-:
• Agreeing on the Lead score & use predictable lead scoring for sales qualified lead.
• Maintaining a Fortnightly / monthly lead dashboard and analyzing lead qualification and follow-ups for both Sales & marketing especially when CAC’s are high.
• Standardizing Lead nurturing and remarketing processes so that leads are warmed up. Having marketing automation technology helps strengthen the process.
• Regular customer feedback from Sales to marketing so that the right content for the right persona at the right buying stage can be created and pushed.
Lead leakage is one of the most challenging areas for sales & marketing teams. Ensuring proper lead management is critical for organizations. But times are changing there’s a bigger problem that dawns on us which will be called customer leakage. In SaaS domains especially it’s getting easier to win deals but challenging to retain customers. With month on month subscriptions, it’s getting really harder for companies. Trust and customer support are going to play major roles in this. I will try to cover this in my future articles.
My main aim writing this piece was to make you aware of how fast lead seepage changes to lost opportunities and what measures can be taken to prevent this. I have drawn inferences from my experiences. I would be happy to know your thoughts on this.
Behold everyone: Let’s go lean, No wastage here. 🙂
Latest posts by Gaurav Dharamshaktu (see all)
- How to Control Lead Leakage at Each Stage of Sales Funnel? - June 17, 2016