With sales leads, it’s not the quantity that matters, it’s the quality. For business owners already pressed for time and resources, chasing down every lead they get is most likely a losing proposition. Fortunately, technology can help you better target prospects that will ultimately convert to sales, and stop wasting time on those that won’t.
“There are a lot of sales resources being spent on prospects that aren’t necessarily in the market for your products or services,” says Mac McIntosh, B2B sales consultant and speaker.
Here are three ways to target leads more efficiently.
#1. Automate lead generation and nurturing with CRM.
McIntosh says many customer relationship management (CRM) solutions now allow users to automate things like data entry, inquiry responses and personalized follow-up emails. Placing a contact form on your website can bring the prospect straight into the database and allow businesses to more easily stay in contact with prospects as they move through the sales funnel.
Lead-capture forms through solutions like SharpSpring and Silverpop can help qualify leads by offering more information and asking about their needs. A form should solicit not only an email address but the person’s company, role at the company, sector the company is in and number of employees. While the form must be brief, it should stay focused on gathering the right information to help you qualify the sender as a viable lead.
These tech solutions also allow you to view the entire history of interactions with the prospect, including calls, emails and inquiries. McIntosh says it can offer valuable information to qualify leads and gauge their interests and motivations. “Did they click on a tweet? Did they come to my website? Did we trade emails? You can see the whole history with the lead,” says McIntosh.
Because most of these applications run over the cloud, they offer access to high-powered tools without the need for expensive equipment or tech support. The cloud-based applications also offer real-time information to any device in the field, enabling you and your sales reps to better evaluate prospects and qualify leads from anywhere.
McIntosh says businesses should evaluate their leads through a series of factors known as BAMTS (Budget, Authority, Means, Timing and Size of Opportunity). Qualified leads are ultimately those that can benefit from your products or services and have the means to close a deal in the near future. “They need to have the right job function or title to make a decision. They should have a budget and be ready. It should be the right company and the right fit to tell you the lead is worth pursuing,” says McIntosh.
While unqualified leads shouldn’t always be discarded, they should be moved into a category of their own. Many CRM systems allow users to “score” leads based on a number of criteria. Unqualified or low-priority leads can be targeted with unique email campaigns and with quarterly calls.
Cloud-based applications also offer real-time information to any device in the field, enabling you and your sales reps to better evaluate prospects and qualify leads from anywhere.
#2. Leverage information for more targeted marketing.
With the ability to capture and aggregate useful prospect information, these CRM solutions also give you the ability to more precisely target viable markets and prospects by measuring open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates and bounce rates.
Sales expert Tim Wackel says the metrics collected from email campaigns and web visits can help businesses not only qualify leads but also more effectively nurture them. For example, if a company responds to a lead-capture form submission with an automated email about products A and B, they can then see what the recipient clicked on. That prospect can then be flagged or moved to a separate list to boost marketing efforts toward the products or services they’re most interested in.
“You can see what [prospects] are interested in, and it really allows you to better nurture your leads and focus on the important things rather than trying to chase down hundreds or thousands of email addresses,” says Wackel.
Solutions like HubSpot also allow users to set variables and automate pre-scripted responses for certain prospect inquiries or actions. For example, if a prospect clicks through a campaign and visits a page on a product or service, the CRM solution could automatically send them a thank-you email with more information. “And then, if they don’t click on it, it could follow up in three days with a different subject line,” says McIntosh.
Metrics collected from email campaigns and web visits can help businesses not only qualify leads but also more effectively nurture them.
#3. Keep messaging relevant.
While technology can certainly help qualify leads, Wackel says CRM systems are “not a substitute” for sound sales strategies, and you must still create viable content. He says businesses should keep content valuable, timely and relevant to what readers and recipients are interested in.
Wackel says there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy, and experimentation is key. Many of these cloud-based applications offer free trials, giving businesses a relatively risk-free means to peek inside and determine how it might be used to benefit their lead generation activities. Businesses can create campaigns for different segments with different strategies and then measure and compare the results.
Technology makes it easy to reach out and follow up, but distributing “too much” communication could potentially fatigue your leads. Putting an automated marketing solution on autopilot with no strategy could actually backfire and lose viable leads in the process. Keep tabs on how many unsubscribes you are getting and isolate prospects who stop responding so you can try to figure out how your hot lead went cold.
While technology can never replace an effective sales staff, it can help generate better and more qualified leads. Use lead-capture forms and leverage information to find out who’s really ready, able and willing to buy.
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