Marketers spend thousands (or even millions) of dollars on lead generation, but only a microscopic proportion of that goes to lead handling and management. Unfortunately, leads are highly perishable, and without quick and effective handling they will lose much of their value.
Here are 3 things you want to avoid with your lead management:
1. – Taking Too Long
Leads are incredibly perishable. I read a study once that stated lead response rates drop dramatically within just hours of a Web registration. Statistics show that a prospect’s attention moves to other things very quickly, and the vast majority of Web site visitors will have no recollection of a company within 48 hours of visiting its site.
Make sure that Web leads get into your CRM system very quickly, and that a drip marketing email sequence starts the same day someone visits your site. Set up metrics, dashboards, escalations and incentives to minimize time to first touch. With trade show leads, the time frame is different — but you still want to a first contact in the prospect’s email box at 8 a.m. on the Monday following the show.
2. – Giving up Too Soon
Although leads are perishable, paradoxically, they don’t have real expiration dates. Sales reps tend to discard the vast majority of leads after a few days, and even the ones they work on will be dumped if they are unresponsive. However, marketing statistics have long shown that as much as half a company’s business can come from these “dead” leads if they are nurtured over a long period.
Generally speaking, leads that are unresponsive or uninteresting should be moved from the active list into the “remarket” list within 30 or 45 days. But with the right kind of informational and newsletter marketing, a lead that first signed up two years ago may come back to life and be immediately ready to purchase. You can never know which specific lead will have this reaction, or when the prospect will be ready to make a purchase. So the only times you should give up on a lead is when all of the contact information is no longer valid, or the lead has explicitly unsubscribed.
3. – Importing “Lead Lists” into the CRM System
Lead lists are available for purchase from a number of sources, but these are rarely real leads. Leads must be defined as people who have expressed interest in your product or service, so the people in your target audience who might be interested should be called “names.” Adding these names to your CRM system will only pollute the database and waste sales reps’ time. This kind of lead import damages the credibility of the CRM system and the marketing department at the same time.
That said, sometimes you need to reach out to an industry association or other group in order to break into a new market. Unless the list you buy is brand new, there will be substantial information rot: typically email and phone numbers degrade between 1 percent and 10 percent per month. Because the names have not expressed any interest in your company or its offerings, the unsubscribe (or worse, complaint) rate will be quite high when you do try to contact them. Consequently, names should be kept in your marketing automation system and not be imported into directly into your CRM system at all. Otherwise, the bad data will merely muck up the system and produce misleading metrics.