Though managing qualified leads is one of the largest expenses and most perplexing pains of inside sales teams, only few companies know how to do it successfully. Statistics show that a large portion of leads fall by the wayside because of inadequate lead management software, poor organizational skills, and varied levels of diligence among salespeople.
If you’re looking for a way to increase inside sales productivity and successfully manage leads, then the buck stops here! Discover the best practices for leads – from cradle to grave, to ensure that they move smoothly through the pipeline at every turn, and most importantly, that no lead is left behind! Develop a step-by-step process and follow the steps below to optimize your lead management. Proper lead management is key, and sales CRM software designed for the unique challenges of the inside sales industry are imperative to optimize sales effectiveness.
Define Qualified Leads
Before you can properly manage a qualified lead, you have to define it. This is one of the biggest areas of confusion for inside sales: what is a qualified lead? A qualified lead is defined as being worthy of a salesperson’s time and effort. It’s more than just a lead, which is defined as a person or entity with interest and authority to purchase. More research has been done for qualified leads to include further information on the prospect and company to qualify them for your product or service. All leads must be evaluated to determine if they are qualified for sales reps, or should be buried in the graveyard.
Here are some questions that can turn an ordinary lead into a qualified lead:
- Need – Does the company have a need for your product or service?
- Timeline – Is the company ready to buy now or later? Determine the specific timeframe?
- Authority – Does the prospect have the authority to make a buying decision?
- Budget – Is the company financially stable enough to afford your product or service?
The answers to these questions may be determined by having a qualifying team call first to gather information, or you may simply be able to determine enough information by performing an Internet search on their website, or other sites like LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, Hoovers, etc. Marketing and sales should work together to build a buyer profile to create qualified leads. Once leads meet the buyer profile, prioritize them as qualified.
Develop a Lead Management Process
Once you’ve qualified the lead, develop and implement a sales process for your inside sales team to work your leads through the sales lifecycle. After evaluating your sales environment, see what works and what’s toast. Write a formal step-by-step plan for sales reps and ensure that your team follows it every step of the way. Tailor the plan to your value proposition and include when and how often to follow up on leads over a period from weeks to years. Sales reps should follow a consistent schedule of phone calls, sprinkled with value- and content-driven emails to achieve maximum sales. The most important function of your sales plan is to take the information from your past successes and duplicate it in a successful sales process to produce consistent, repeatable, and predictable results.
Develop a plan to prioritize leads and distribute them to sales reps. Whether you send a new lead to a qualification team or to a salesperson right away or down the road, ensuring that your team receives the right lead at the right time is essential. What drives sales productivity is the process in which you prioritize and distribute leads. This can make leads that were once mediocre hot and profitable over time.
List-based and Queue-based Lead Automation
There are two types of automated lead management systems: list based and queue based. Using an automated sales CRM system is the best way to manage leads. Both systems distribute qualified leads to sales reps. On a basic level, list-based lead management is transferring a paper list of leads to the computer for mass distribution. The majority of inside sales teams in today’s market are using list-based platforms.
Another way to ensure that qualified leads get to sales reps is the queue-based platform. In this platform, managers take qualified sales leads and add them to an automated call queue based on lead priority. It ensures that web leads, trigger leads, or purchased leads are routed to sales reps in order of importance. When a sales rep finishes a call and enters the call result, the next lead is presented immediately.
There are major differences between the list-based and queue-based selling in the distribution of qualified leads. With list-based sales CRM systems, efficiently managing leads may be daunting. After the initial contact, the lead can get lost or simply fall out of the system. List-based platforms let salespeople choose the next lead to call by cherry picking prospects from a list. Many important leads are neglected or missed altogether as the rep may use personal bias when choosing leads. Queue-based lead management gives management the power to select and prioritize leads for sales reps. Another difference between the two types of lead management is that list-based platforms typically don’t have the ability to efficiently track, follow up, and report on leads after the initial contact. This is essential for inside sales teams to effectively manage leads throughout the sales lifecycle. Queue-based lead management systems implement these features, from initial contact to sale.
Develop a plan to nurture leads. Keep in mind that some leads may not be qualified right away because of your research. For example, maybe the company is not ready to buy at the current time, but a future event will make it a timely lead three months from now. Sales reps should nurture leads over time to warm them up, so by the time the prospect, who you’ve been nurturing for a while wants to make a deal, guess who she’ll think of first? Lead nurturing is building a relationship and trust with consistent messaging over time. It enables sales reps to send highly targeted messages based on research information about the company and prospect.
Queue-based platforms enable sales reps to nurture prospects and connect on a deeper level, as previous contact information, preapproved smart scripts, and emails can be tailored for each record based on result code triggers. Sale reps can communicate the perfect message for prospects at each stage of the sales cycle to increase sales. It is crucial that the lead is followed up on throughout the sales lifecycle, whether it lasts many months or a years. Zombie leads, which were once thought of as dead, can come back to life, with the right email campaign.
Maximize Lead Management Effectiveness
So how do you optimize the lead management process for your insides sales team? First, define what a qualified lead is, develop a step-by-step lead management process for your sales team to follow, prioritize leads with a queue-based lead management system to make the process easy, nurture leads over time, and finally close the lead with a sale. A sales CRM system to prioritize, distribute, track, nurture, and follow up on leads at every stage of the sales process takes the stress and confusion out of lead management to achieve maximum effectiveness, and let sales reps concentrate on what they do best – selling.
For more information on queue-based lead management systems, visit VanillaSoft.com.