Lead Management Best Practices

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1 WhitePaper Lead Management Best Practices An effective, integrated approach using the 6 pillars of lead management: content marketing, lead capture, lead nurturing, lead scoring, opportunity handoff, and lead funnel measurement By OppSource.com

2 INTRODUCTION Companies are pouring millions of dollars into marketing to generate leads. Of these leads, 80% will never be converted to sales. This dismal return on investment is the result of poor lead management handing off leads to sales before the opportunity has been qualified. What is worse, according to a 2009 study by CSO Insights, 50% of all leads being actively pursued by the sales team have been generated by the sales team themselves not marketing. The system is broken. Lead Management Best Practices presents a new, more effective approach to lead management. Instead of just ignoring leads that aren t immediately qualified, we now keep the conversation going, moving them down the continuum from awareness to preference. When prospects do enter the buying cycle, Lawson is top of mind. It s not just a one-time shot with our audiences anymore. -John Cook, Global Marketing Director, Lawson Human Capital Management With increasingly more complex selling and buying cycles, top-performing companies invest in lead management to maximize the performance of both marketing and sales. Compared to those lacking an effective lead management strategy, these companies enjoy higher revenue through increased sales-ready opportunities and lower overall cost per qualified lead. What these companies have discovered is that implementing lead management from an integrated, holistic approach including content marketing, lead capture, lead nurturing, lead scoring, opportunity handoff, and lead funnel measurement yields better results than applying one or two elements of lead management alone. WHAT IS LEAD MANAGEMENT? Often used interchangeably with the process of qualifying and closing leads, lead management is less involved with the sales funnel and more involved with the marketing funnel. The marketing funnel is the incubator where leads that are not yet qualified sales opportunities (QSOs) remain for nurturing. Lead management is a strategy for mobilizing the right people, processes and technologies aimed at delivering more QSOs. An effective lead management strategy must include a holistic approach to fully maximize the return on marketing investment in lead generation. Such an approach includes six key elements: content marketing, lead capture, lead nurturing, lead scoring, opportunity handoff, and lead funnel measurement. While marketing automation can make some elements of lead management more efficient, it only addresses part of the lead WhitePaper Lead Management Best Practices 1

3 The Six Pillars of Effective Lead Management: 1. Content Marketing communications that are mapped to the buying cycle and move prospects through the buying cycle management process, leaving marketers disappointed with results. A holistic approach to lead management better leverages marketing automation and can result in more QSOs. SIX PILLARS OF EFFECTIVE LEAD MANAGEMENT Marketing automation alone cannot drive more qualified sales opportunities (QSOs). The six pillars of effective lead management below outline the additional elements required to not only deliver more QSOs, but also optimize the return on your marketing investment. 2. Lead Capture identifying all prospects from inbound and outbound marketing activity 3. Lead Nurturing common processes that continue the conversation and build relationships digitally and personally as the lead becomes a qualified sales opportunity 1CONTENT MARKETING Content marketing is an essential part of a best practice lead management process. Content must be mapped to the buying cycle, which in B2B (Business to Business) marketing can be described in the following three phases: 4. Lead Scoring based on common criteria, quantifies interactions that occur throughout the lead nurturing process 5. Opportunity Handoff BANTF analysis to determine sales-readiness of a lead 6. Lead Funnel Measurement dashboard of end-toend lead status and tracking; seamless, automatic transition of lead from marketing to sales Education In this phase, prospects are suspicious of vendors who overtly posture themselves. Instead, they are looking for non-vendor content, third party whitepapers, thought leadership webinars and videos, and research and trend reports. Interest - In this phase, prospects are evaluating solutions against their objectives. They need solution-oriented content such as brochures, spec-sheets, comparison studies, demonstrations and more. This type of WhitePaper Lead Management Best Practices 2

4 information helps them start to visualize how their particular challenges can be addressed with available solutions. The interest phase is also where the building of personal relationships begins. Preference In this phase, prospects are evaluating vendors and the specific solutions they believe will best address their problems. The content they require is in-depth product capability, customer case studies, ROI data and feature comparison information. In the preference phase, personal relationships continue to be an important information bridge to help the prospect build confidence in their evolving preferences. A good content marketing strategy is one that can help with both your inbound-marketing and outbound-marketing efforts. As part of lead management, it is important to provide the right content at the right time. By utilizing both digital and personal touches, you can more accurately determine the buying cycle phase and deliver timely and relevant information. 2LEAD CAPTURE Lead management is doomed to fail if marketers do not have a handle on all the opportunities that arrive from every inbound and outbound source. The capturing process begins with a single centralized database of potential sales opportunities. This database is governed by a common process and methodology for managing the opportunities as they move through the marketing funnel and are later turned over to sales as QSOs. Think of your leads as a company asset much like inventory. Companies have thorough processes for tracking inventory from location to cost to turnover. The same thorough processes should hold true for leads. Without applying a common process and methodology to managing leads, companies are spending money on an asset that is not being tracked and may not be providing a return on investment. Marketing automation can improve efficiency in the area of lead capture, but without a rigorous lead management process and methodology, marketing automation will fail to deliver more QSOs. WhitePaper Lead Management Best Practices 3

5 3LEAD NURTURING Lead nurturing involves a common process of continuing the conversation using digital and personal contact with prospects until a lead is ready to be turned over to sales. Shockingly, according to an Aberdeen Group study, more than half of all marketing departments do not nurture leads. An additional Sirius Decisions study indicates that 80% of leads not yet qualified will buy something in the category within 24 months. Therefore, lead nurturing represents a significant opportunity to drive revenue by providing the sales force with more and better qualified sales opportunities. In addition, it ensures a greater and measurable return on marketing investment. Serving the purpose of building the relationship to the point at which the prospect becomes a QSO, lead nurturing integrates three essential elements process, people and technology. This integrated combination ensures an effective means of delivering more QSOs. Process defines how leads will be nurtured, communicated with, and managed using data segmentation. The communication and content is based on the specific needs of each segment and mapped to their respective buying cycle. Each lead goes through the process and is scored based on a number of common criteria. These include such things as online behaviors to various digital offers and conversations with lead qualification specialists to determine whether the lead needs further nurturing or is ready to be turned over to sales. People ultimately buy from people and it is through personal contact with the prospect that true intentions can be validated. When coupled with visibility to the lead tracking database, personal conversations that follow a defined methodology enable consistency in the lead nurturing process. These personal conversations allow for the assessment of prospect need, identification and connection of multiple buying influences for a given sales opportunity. They also determine whether a lead is a QSO and ready to be turned over to sales. Technology helps streamline the nurturing process and optimizes resources so that the right resources are applied to the right prospects at the right time in the nurturing process. A comprehensive approach integrates WhitePaper Lead Management Best Practices 4

6 sophisticated lead scoring models, web analytics and marketing dashboards. This is where marketing automation can speed and simplify the process; however, without a rigorous process, carefully designed methodology and human contact, marketing automation technology is rendered less effective. Having OppSource handle our lead management has dramatically improved our quality and quantity of leads. The lead management process has increased the sales pipeline by $35 million dollars. LeAnn Castillo, Director of Marketing Communications, XATA Corporation [from XATA Case Study, Fleet Management Company Grows Sales Pipeline ] 4LEAD SCORING Lead scoring should occur throughout the lead nurturing process by quantifying each interaction between the prospect and the company whether digital, physical or personal phone call. An effective lead scoring model applies a common set of criteria for quantifying behaviors and guiding the next action in the lead nurturing process. More importantly, lead scoring enables the marketer to rank leads within the marketing funnel and better prioritize the high ranking leads in need of personal contact. An effective lead scoring approach integrates website/microsite metrics into the lead scoring model and creates a digital breadcrumb trail of a prospect s online behaviors. For example, a prospect who visits a microsite is scored on the following criteria: Title indicates buying power and warrants a higher score Key Account warrants a higher score when on a preferred or targeted list of national accounts Content Downloaded scores certain content higher than other content Quantity of Downloads indicates a higher level of interest and receives a higher score when downloads increase Number of Contacts from a Single Organization indicates potential multiple buying influences and contributes to a higher score As an ongoing part of the lead nurturing process, lead scoring helps companies better understand prospects by identifying a prospect s location in the buying cycle and the next step in nurturing the lead. However, by itself, lead scoring does not necessarily identify a QSO that is ready to be turned over to sales. Lead scoring when used in conjunction with personal WhitePaper Lead Management Best Practices 5

7 contact and the application of BANTFO (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing, Fit and Other) analysis identifies when the lead is ready to be turned over to sales. 5OPPORTUNITY HANDOFF Opportunity handoff should be a seamless, automated transition from the marketing environment to the sales environment. This critical juncture is where many marketing and sales teams struggle. Both marketing and sales must accept mutual accountability for the end state additional business. It is important to note that the process of delivering a QSO should be based on the criteria that sales deems as being qualified. Lead score alone is rarely indicative of the sales-readiness of a lead. At this stage, BANFTO analysis is required to ascertain the sales-readiness of the lead beyond what lead scoring can indicate. For example, a lead can have a high score relative to the digital content the prospect has consumed. However, a personal phone call and BANTFO analysis show that the contact does not have the authority to influence or make the final decision, and the timing to make the decision is one year away. Therefore, the lead remains in the marketing funnel for continued nurturing until the timing is right to turn it over to sales. 6LEAD FUNNEL MEASUREMENT One of the most important pillars of effective lead management is lead funnel measurement. Comprehensive lead measurement gives marketers a better idea of the value of the marketing funnel as a business asset. It also indicates the effectiveness of both marketing and sales at delivering top-line results. Whether lead management is conducted in-house or outsourced, having a comprehensive, transparent view of the marketing funnel and the status of all the leads within the funnel enables a more effective lead management program. Every digital and personal interaction with each lead should be visible from an executive dashboard perspective and a detailed micro-view, including the origination of each lead, the number of interactions, lead score, etc. WhitePaper Lead Management Best Practices 6

8 However, having a myopic marketing-only view of how well marketing is delivering QSOs is of little value if the opportunities are not tracked to revenue. When integrated with the CRM system, the lead management system also provides essential sales pipeline visibility that marketers need to determine the ROI of their marketing investment as it relates to sales revenue. CRM integration enables greater accountability for end-to-end lead management on the part of both marketing and sales. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION Marketing departments, tasked with lead generation campaigns from inbound and outbound efforts often lack the people, processes and technologies required to effectively manage the leads already in the marketing funnel. Although many marketers have invested in marketing automation technology to streamline lead management, without the people and rigorous processes, lead management fails to deliver more qualified sales opportunities. Companies that apply an effective lead management program by integrating the six pillars can significantly increase the number of QSOs and revenue. In addition, effective lead management maximizes the return on marketing and sales investments by applying the right resources to the opportunities that represent the greatest return. As a result, the overall cost per lead is reduced. Outsourcing the lead management model can overcome one of the biggest obstacles to effective lead management time and resource constraints. In addition, outsourcing can provide the necessary processes, skill sets and technology to more quickly implement an effective lead management program based on the six pillars. WhitePaper Lead Management Best Practices 7

9 The Pursuit of Demand Some see marketing leads as an end result. We see them as the beginning of a sales opportunity. Generating and nurturing leads into sales opportunities and creating demand is what OppSource is all about. We provide an essential connection between marketing and sales that can significantly improve your company s return on marketing investment. Our lead management process is more personalized than the onedimensional automation solutions offered by other companies and more cost-efficient because you don t need to hire on-staff expertise. With OppSource, we combine personal contact, digital tools, and more focused communication to improve customer interaction. We start by capturing leads from all your marketing activities, while also generating additional contacts. Then we engage all prospects with valuable information, offers and news, that position you as a trusted resource. We track, qualify, nurture and score leads all along the way, so we know where prospects stand in the process. When they re ready to buy, you know them and they know you. OppSource even has the capability to set the appointment and deliver a sales-ready, qualified opportunity to your sales force. If you re ready to extract more value from your company s marketing investment by transforming leads into revenue, talk to OppSource. We can help make sure your marketing leads actually lead somewhere Northland Drive St. Paul, MN OppSource.com, Inc

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