..........Upping the bottom line through automated lead management
In today's economic climate, generating and managing effective sales leads has become crucial to the success of most players in the mainstream business market. However, many companies have been slow to prioritise customer experience by ensuring their sales teams are better managed and better equipped throughout the sales cycle. [spokesperson], [position] of [company], says the optimum way to increase revenue is to manage the sales process proactively and monitor the performance of sales people all the way through the sales cycle, starting with lead management.
The first step in the process is to generate interest in your company's products and services through marketing campaigns that drive prospects to make contact and have the ability to track those contacts. Companies need the processes and procedures to capture leads easily and consistently from a variety of sources - phone, fax, website and email - and differentiate between new leads and existing customers interested in additional products and services. It is common sense that the more quickly and efficiently a lead is acted upon, the higher the likelihood of conversion. A well run lead management system is an invaluable corporate asset that increases sales volumes and cuts sales costs.
Measuring and reporting on results is essential to marketing effectiveness, it enables companies to measure success against the original objectives, proves value to the sales force, proves value to management and provides a valuable feedback mechanism of what works and what doesn't. Importantly, automating the lead management process frees up the sales force's most valuable resource: time. It takes care of routine activities such as scheduling follow-up calls or providing information, and lets staff prioritise their efforts and focus on closing more sales.
The front end of the lead management process is marketing. A common mistake is not to measure marketing campaign effectiveness, because there are no processes in place to manage campaigns, and they are not able to identify what the strongest demand generating mechanism is in their arsenal. In other words they don't how much each lead has cost them.
Once a lead has been captured, the sales person must have a lead management system or sales force automation system in place. This enables the organisation to have a complete view of potential revenue residing in its aggregated sales force. The sales cycle is likened to a funnel: leads come in at the wide end and move through various categories as sales people determine whether the potential customer organisation has the required budget, whether the requirement can be fulfilled by their company's offering, if the lead has the necessary executive mandate to be negotiating the deal, and so on. Once all these obstacles in the sales cycle have been addressed, the lead can then be categorised accordingly. What many companies don't realise, however, is that information about the conversion ratio from lead to customer, and the time it takes, is crucial to revenue growth, as is knowledge about where in the sales cycle most leads tend to fall through. This type of information enables companies to understand how they can allocate budget within a framework that best suits their business, market and current economic climate. Without such a system in place, companies are literally sacrificing all control over their marketing and sales drives.
When I say "system", I don't mean a spreadsheet. A proactive and intelligent solution is required, that automates routine tasks - such as prospect profiling or territory lead assignments - and lets sales teams spend more time on higher value activity such as personal interaction with customers. To implement such a solution, companies must first define their processes and then secure buy-in from their people. Sales staff typically hate admin and despise anything they may view as Big Brother interventionism, and if you do not secure their support through effective change management, you might as well not bother implementing the system as it will never be used. It's also important to look to a technology solution that is simple and easy to use, and that can be customised without huge cost to the company.
Finally, the solution must offer management reporting functionality so that the information sales people are inputting can be converted into a meaningful information that enables measuring, monitoring and correcting of processes in the sales cycle. With successful lead management in place, deal closure is facilitated and companies can look forward to increased bottom line revenue.