Lead is a crucial object of CRM and sales process. A sales pipeline starts from leads. Every business needs to generates leads and works on these leads to convert them into customers. With a systematic process to generate and manage leads, the business can achieve larger customer base.
What is a Lead?
Lead is an individual who has the potential to become a future customer. It can either be an individual business owner, or the representative of a company. Typically the Businesses do not have detailed information about the lead, but they have some vague idea that a specific individual might be interested in their product or service. At this point of time details like his company, or requirements are unknown.
The leads are the pillar of the marketing and sales activities carried by the business to create customers. Thus lead generation is a crucial aspect of every business. Constantly generating leads is the sign of a healthy sales pipeline.
How Do Companies Generate Lead?
Buy list of leads
There are many agencies that sell a repository of qualified leads depending on the region or business type. For example, a Digital Media company can buy a list of leads (potential companies) that might need digital marketing services.
Google advertising is a paid service that helps in advertising the business website on Google. When users are searching for similar services they can easily find the company’s website that has paid for Google advertising. The visitors of the website then contact the business either through email or phone mentioned on the portal. Leads are thus generated.
Companies can advertise their business in newspapers. Interested leads then contact them back. Newspaper can be a strong channel for generating the leads. A single advertisement may be ready by few thousand people.
Companies can organize events and seminars, or business conferences, and invite industry people to speak on various topics. Professionals who visit these conferences are generally good leads. Lead info can be collected in the form of business cards and survey forms used in these events. Informal conversations during these events can also help generate lead.
LinkedIn lead generation is the latest tool businesses are using to generate leads. Since LinkedIn is a repository of industry professionals, it provides a rich platform for getting useful leads.
Business generates Leads with the help of advertising methods mentioned above. Leads express interest in the company’s product or service and contact the company either by phone call, or email. If the business is using a CRM, then the leads generated from various sources are populated in the system for further action.
After leads are generated and captured in the CRM, the next step is to close the leads. Closing the lead sounds strange, but this is actually a screening process where qualified leads are shortlisted, and unqualified leads are closed for further consideration. The sales representatives contact the leads either by email or phone call and gather details like company background, budget, specific requirements, and so on. Then the leads are analyzed to assess:
Whether the customer's business requirements match the company's product or service?
Whether the budget specified by the customer matches the company's price?
The leads that meet the above conditions are converted to Contact/Account for further follow-ups. The active leads are captured as Contacts and Accounts in the CRM. For non-qualifying leads, the status is set to dead. This is known as closing the lead.
Why is Lead Generation Important?
Lead generation is important for maintaining a healthy sales pipeline. A healthy sales pipeline should keep receiving substantial number of sales queries on a regular basis. More the leads generated, more the number of sales queries received by the business. Managing the leads effectively is equally important as generating leads.
To boost the sales, companies must rely on CRMs that effectively manage leads and also generate insightful reports. Reports that compile data on the number of leads generated, number of leads set as dead, and number of leads converted to customer, can help the organizations in strengthening their sales and marketing processes.
70% of the companies do not follow a system approach to lead generation. Implementing a structured way will boost their business by anywhere between 60% to 180%
Tips for Generating Leads
Thus, after two years we started evaluating another system to help us handle the growing complexities. After some research we decided to deploy an additional CRM to handle our service desk, as the previous platform was already handling the sales process, employees were comfortable with the interface and thus we decided to operate both CRMs.
The new CRM had better case management platform. The platform came with functionalities to help in creating different case types, automating key steps, better authorization, and so on. However, as the time passed, we realized that this new CRM also lacked advanced functionalities. The platform did not seem to be thoughtfully developed. We experienced few key issues as below
Follow At least Two Advertising Channels
Business should not rely on a single advertising channel. To generate more leads, it is better to follow multiple channels of advertising. Companies should opt for two or more advertising channels out of Google advertising, LinkedIn Sales Generator, Organizing Seminars and Events, Newspaper Ads, and so on.
Follow Systematic Advertising Strategy
Company should follow marketing and advertising strategy in a systematic and consistent manner. Moreover, the organization should not switch over from one advertising channel to another at short intervals. If they have chosen newspaper ad and google advertising, then these two should be consistently used for a period of time in order to achieve desired results. Gaining visibility via any advertising channel takes some time. You may not get immediate response. For example, for newspaper, the real response starts generating only after the advertisement has already been published 4-5 times.
Measure the Response
The company must have a mechanism to measure the effectiveness of the advertising strategy. The effectiveness is measured in terms of the number of leads generated. For example, how many leads were generated from Google advertising, and how many from Newspaper Ads.
Dedicated Sales Person
Even if you are a small company, you should have a dedicated person to follow-up with the leads. After all, the company has invested money on advertising campaigns to generate leads. It is advisable that the business appoints dedicated resource and assigns them with pre-defined steps to follow-up with every single lead. This will fetch higher conversion rate and also possibility to measure the results more effectively.
Use a Quality CRM
Whether small or big, every business should invest in an quality CRM that can effectively capture leads, and streamline the process of follow-up and tracking the communication.
Effective generation of lead is the basis of higher sales queries. Companies should design a strong lead generation process, have a dedicated resource to follow-up with the leads, and deploy a CRM to smoothly manage leads and sales pipeline.