Gartner speaks: Lead Management is a set of methodologies, systems, and practices that closes the loop between marketing and sales. It is designed to generate new potential business clientele, through a variety of sources. Example – Web registration pages, direct mail campaigns, email marketing, multichannel campaigns, social networking sites and tradeshows.
Most experts call lead management a precursor to sales management and customer relationship management. Reason: Qualified and nurtured contacts and selling opportunities (output of lead management processes) are transferred to the sales department for action and closure. You can say that this critical connectivity between marketing and sales facilitates business profitability through consistent acquisition of new customers.
Having explained the definition of lead management, you must have realized how important it is for your business. Whether you’re a new player in the market or someone who has an exhaustive line of product/service offerings – you need lead management software!
If you take a minute and Google lead management – you’ll find tones of applications competing out there. Much to your delight, you do not have to necessarily invest in standalone lead management software. There are plenty of business growth software applications that have lead management as one of their core modules. And this is something which not just I but even Gartner suggests. Gartner experts/analysts like Chris Fletcher have advocated investing in CRM for lead management.
Gartner survey states: In the process of expanding the functionality of CRM, many CRM vendors have integrated their software with a host of other elements. So whether it is marketing, leads, sales or collaboration, new-age CRM applications have been designed and developed to manage all these. And for businesses looking forward to invest in any lead management software – choosing a comprehensive CRM-suite is the best way out.
But then this is not the end of the road…
You know what lead management is, you know how important it is to your business; you also know that investing in CRM is better than purchasing standalone lead management software – ideally the article should end here. However, it doesn’t!
Many instances have come up where business owners have been conned in buying a CRM that supposedly has lead management but in reality doesn’t. Result: loss of money, time and resources.
Frightened? Don’t be. I have summarized for you six functions that a CRM application should have in order to qualify as a lead management product. These criteria are a part of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management. Read, understand and use them as selection parameters:
1. Multichannel Lead Management:
Manage leads for both inbound and outbound marketing initiatives. Plus, it will manage lead collection, analytics; augmentation, scoring and nurturing across different lead generation channels used in a single campaign.
Examples of lead generation channels include websites, social networking, email marketing, mobile marketing, tradeshows, and direct mail marketing and so on.
2. Lead Nurturing:
Control the lead life cycle right from collection to conversion. In between the several stages of the lead life cycle, it will take care of:
- Maintenance: building relationships with the leads for a longer-term association
- Execution ensuing to sell to clients at an appropriate later time
- Removal: deletion of dead-end leads from the database to ensure that time and resources are not wasted to pursue them
3. Lead Scoring/Qualification:
Create multiple lead qualification and scoring processes. Lead scoring will showcase the chances of the lead to convert. Marketing/sales reps can score the leads based on:
- Level of participation in campaign
- Business domain
- Customer segment
- Estimated customer value
- Opportunity value.
CRM application should dynamically route the highly-scoring/qualifying leads to the next stage in the lead management process.
4. Lead Augmentation:
- Eliminate redundant or duplicate lead information from the lead database.
- Help the marketing/sales professionals to nurture a lead with collateral or value-added content, such as documents or PDFs, spreadsheets, videos, or Web-based content, to increase the probability to close.
- Integrate and store additional lead information (from third-party sources) in the lead database. Associate the data with the appropriate lead profile.
5. Lead Aggregation:
- Import/export, analyze and report on leads.
- Collect, analyze and segment leads from campaigns, web and e-commerce sites, and database and data management applications. Integrate the unqualified leads into the lead database.
- Build leads’ demographic and behavioral history for the convenience of the sales professionals.
6. Integration, APIs and Templates:
- Integrate with third-party applications via supported APIs or integration interfaces.
- Integrate with social sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus to get an insight into the leads’ activities on different social platforms. Not to forget, these insights can make understand leads’ preferences and help pitch the product/service better.
- Integrate with a suite of third-party applications namely – e-commerce, customer support, social marketing and data management and so on.
Vendor Market presence and Viability
In addition to the above-mentioned criteria, Gartner also emphasizes upon CRM vendor’s market presence and viability. Here are a few factors listed under its report:
- The CRM software must be in the market for a minimum of one year.
- It must be providing lead management functionality to enterprise and mid-enterprise customers.
- The vendor must have a sales and customer support center in any two of these regions – North America and Latin America, EMEA, and the Asia/Pacific region.
- The vendor must be associated with third-party application developers, strategy or process consulting providers, OEMs and technology providers that extend the value of the lead management product.
- Vendor’s overall financial strength should be viable enough to continue advancing the company’s product portfolio.
Vendor should be flexible and incorporate changes in the software based on evolving market dynamics and customers demands.
- Vendor should be able to provide product/service offerings to customers outside the headquarters region, directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries.