sales strategies

Tested Methods for Improving Your Sales Leads

By Jessica Bennett

A potential customer drops their business card into a bowl at your tradeshow booth hoping to win your giveaway. With that, you’ve got a new sales lead. What happens to that business card next can determine whether you are a superstar salesperson within your organization (and all the commissions and bonuses that entails) or whether you struggle to hit your numbers.

Here are the tried and true basics of creating a strong sales lead management system and using customer relationship management (CRM) software to ensure that no leads ever fall through the cracks.

A Note About Falling Through the Cracks

It happens. You stuff the pile of business cards you collected at the tradeshow into your desk drawer, but by the time you get around to making follow-up calls, it’s been six months. Some of the numbers don’t even work anymore, and the people who do pick up hardly remember you.

Sales leads can easily fall through the cracks if you don’t have a strong organization system for capturing, tracking, and regularly following up with them. This can happen at any time during the sales process. By developing a fine-tuned sales leads management system, you can ensure you don’t lose anyone along the way. 

One of the best ways to better manage your sales leads is to use robust sales leads management software.

Immediately Capture All Your Leads

Salespeople generate leads in all sorts of different ways. You may collect business cards at a networking meeting, pull in names from a third-party lead generation service, or even purchase lists of leads. These leads need to be captured, sorted, and organized immediately — no more leaving piles of business cards in your desk.

As simple as it sounds, promptly capturing your leads is a crucial step to eventually converting that lead into a sale. If you wait to process the lead, it will quickly grow cold. After all, every 30 minutes, 75 phone numbers change and 20 CEOs leave their jobs.   

The best way to capture your leads is to put the information into your CRM platform. This will ensure you don’t lose the information and allows you to immediately sort leads and add action items related to each one.

Many CRM systems make capturing leads easy. For example, you can create online lead capture programs, such as landing pages, that automatically capture and catalogue leads when they submit their contact information. That means no more sorting through business cards or accidentally typing in the wrong numbers. It helps, too, if your CRM platform is available as a mobile app, meaning you can capture sales leads during your networking meeting or on the tradeshow floor. 

Sort and Organize Your Leads

Capturing your leads is only the beginning of developing a fully functional sales leads management system. Big tradeshows or successful marketing campaigns can send a staggering number of leads — who may or may not be sales qualified leads (SQL) — your way, and this can be overwhelming if you don’t know how to effectively sort them. 

Your first step is to determine where each lead is in their buyer’s journey. Is a lead ready to sign on the dotted line, or are they just browsing and need additional information before they make a financial commitment? Your time is limited, and you want to follow up directly with hot leads to close those deals while also making sure you nurture warm leads as they move down the path to a purchase.

It isn’t always easy to figure out which leads are hot or cold, but your marketing team can help by creating lead capture assets aimed at different buyer groups. You can also gauge a lead’s interest with a few well-designed questions during a consultation or networking meeting.

Your CRM sales lead management software can help you better organize your leads. Most systems allow you to sort and tag your leads and even put them into customized follow-up programs that you design. You can even use historical data from your company to score each lead within the platform, which helps you determine which lead you should call first this morning.

Automate Your Nurture System

One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to ignore cool leads. In fact, it can take 18 calls to connect with a buyer, which means the nurturing process is of utmost importance. Without this process, a huge pool of potential sales is left to evaporate away.

Many people won’t be ready to buy your products or services when they first enter your radar, but that doesn’t mean they’ll never be ready. They may need more information or more time before they feel comfortable pulling the trigger. 

This is where lead nurturing comes in. As its name implies, lead nurturing means you provide whatever information and support a lead needs as you guide them down the sales path. Nurturing a lead can mean sending them videos of how your product works, releasing an industry white paper, or even giving them a free ebook to build trust. 

Nurturing leads takes time, effort, and focus, which is why many salespeople struggle with this part of the job and focus on hot leads instead. However, there’s no reason you can’t do both: Your CRM platform can help automate your lead nurturing system, so you can cultivate leads with less effort.

For example, you can set up an automatic drip campaign to send informational emails to leads. These emails can be full of helpful tips or links to blog posts. The system can even move leads into different automated campaigns depending on their actions, like which ebook they download or whether or not they opened an email.

It takes a bit of time to create these campaigns, but once they’re set up, you’ll reduce the chances of a sales lead getting lost during the nurturing process. 

Re-Heat Old Leads

Unless you get a firm no or an unsubscribe, a lead never truly dies. It may just cool down a bit. With proper nurturing, you might find a few sparks that could become hot at just the right time. For instance, maybe a potential customer was experiencing a cash flow shortage last year but is now on the up-and-up and ready to invest in their business with your product or service. Perhaps another customer makes purchases on a seasonal calendar.

Put your cold leads into a specific campaign. That means reaching out every so often to see if something has changed in their world, and if your products or services can assist them in some way. Even if just one in 20 cold leads eventually becomes a sale, that’s a five per cent success rate. If you have 5,000 cold leads, those numbers add up. 

Some salespeople give up on cold leads because it’s too much work to keep reaching out. But your sales leads management software can make that job easier. The CRM system you use should let you create campaigns and funnel specific leads into that campaign. A reignition campaign may be as simple as an email every few months offering a new helpful article or video. Once you create these drip campaigns, you can set it and (mostly) forget it.

Campaigns aren’t just great for cold leads, of course. You can — and should — sort and funnel your leads to your heart’s content. Create campaigns based on buying seasons, holidays, or big events in the lives of your leads. You can send them birthday cards, remind them that your services are great for new graduates during graduation season, and more. These personalized touches add up and help you stand out. 

Are You Using Your CRM to Its Fullest?

If you still have a pile of business cards in your desk drawer from your last tradeshow, or you’ve got reminders to call your top leads on sticky notes that cover the surface of your desk, then it’s time to invest more time and focus on your CRM platform. Build up your sales leads management process and stick with it. Even just instituting the basic best practices in this article can help yield important results and make your life a lot easier in the process. You’ll be more productive, more effective, and you’ll close more sales.
Jessica Bennett is a writer, editor, and novelist. Her clients span a number of industries, and she's written blog posts, product descriptions, articles, white papers, and press releases— all in the name of inbound marketing. She's proud to be Inbound Certified, but her VP of Morale, Avalon, doesn't quite get what all the fuss is about. But he's a rabbit, so you can't really blame him.

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