Lead Management: An Essential Component of End-to-End Digital Marketing


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Lead management refers to everything that happens in your process, from the time an inquiry is generated until the sale is made. Other terms used to describe lead management include: lead qualification, lead nurturing, sales development and contact management.

Lead management also encompasses re-marketing to existing prospects. Perhaps you have heard of the term “drip marketing”, which refers to the process of periodically aiming promotions at your existing lead database in order to convert them into customers.

Companies that practice lead management do so because they want to tightly align the marketing and sales organizations and ensure they are both effective and efficient in every part of the end-to-end process.

…it takes an average of seven or eight contacts to turn a raw inquiry into a customer.

Lead management has a broad charter and touches multiple parts of the end-to-end digital marketing framework. Because it takes an average of seven or eight contacts to turn a raw inquiry into a customer, smart companies put a great deal of focus on nurturing every inquiry in your database, except for those that are obviously unqualified.

The pie-chart below illustrates the importance of lead management. It shows an average distribution of inbound inquires from B2B marketing programs. Eight percent (labeled as A Leads) are qualified prospects that are actively looking for a product or service. Seven percent (B Leads) are qualified prospects with a mid-term need. 30 percent (F Leads) are disqualified, now and in the future. But it is the way you handle the 55 percent (C Leads) of inactive leads that will determine your success.

Distribution of B2B Marketing Inquiries

Keep in mind that 30 percent or more of C leads will eventually make a purchase, which represents a greater volume of business than the A and B leads combined. This is why it is imperative to not only put a lot of effort into closing the A and B leads but also to put equal emphasis on nurturing and qualifying the rest of the leads in your database.

Is Lead Management Right for Your Business?

Most companies that practice digital marketing should also take advantage of aggressive lead management. This is especially true if any of the following conditions exist:

  • Your sales cycle is measured in months, not days or weeks
  • You have field sales or telephone reps that cannot or will not, contact all responders
  • The conversion rate of inbound inquiries to qualified leads is low
  • Sales reps spend a lot of their expensive time qualifying leads

The graphic below shows a simplified example of the inbound lead qualification process. By instituting this or a similar process, you can achieve much stronger marketing and sales metrics. The qualification filter can be telephone-based or web-based.

Getting the Payoff

The ROI you can achieve by implementing lead management ranges from early to late in the marketing and sales funnel. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Reducing sales-cycle times for field sales reps (due to the fact that they are now dealing only with qualified leads) by as much as 50%
  • Reducing the cost per lead by 45-60%
  • Decreasing the cost of new customer acquisition by 20-30%
  • Increasing the conversion rate of inbound inquiries to qualified leads by as much as 100%

To achieve these benefits, there are few things to keep in mind.
First, always follow-up promptly. In the B2B world 3-8 percent of responders may be in an active buying cycle. You need to engage with these people quickly – otherwise your competition will surely do so.

Second, acknowledge the inquiry and, if you are extremely busy, set an appointment to talk in more depth at a later date. This may buy you some time while letting the prospect know you are not ignoring them.

Third, be persistent in your lead nurturing efforts. Don’t make the mistake of stopping after 2-3 contacts. As mentioned above, it often takes eight or more contacts to close a sale.

And, finally, don’t allow “optional behavior” when it comes to sales lead management. Your follow-up strategy should be completely consistent and not subject to whatever else is happening in your business.

For more information, visit www.fusionmarketingpartners.com or contact the author at [email protected].

This article is part of a free e-book for Chief Marketing Officers:
Strategic Roadmap for Digital Marketing
Learn how to engage with customers and create value for stakeholders in a complex digital world. Covers digital channels, marketing techniques, accountability and technology. (No registration required to view/download PDF.)

Christopher Ryan
Christopher Ryan is CEO of Fusion Marketing Partners, a B2B marketing consulting firm and interim/fractional CMO. He blogs at Great B2B Marketing and you can follow him at Google+. Chris has 25 years of marketing, technology, and senior management experience. As a marketing executive and services provider, Chris has created and executed numerous programs that build market awareness, drive lead generation and increase revenue.


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