Today's Partners & Friends post comes courtesy of Jason Wells, CEO of Contact Point. Several weeks ago I spoke to a VP at a large manufacturing company, a client of ours, and I asked him a question: what is the biggest problem at your company? What keeps you up at night? His answer wasn’t at all what I expected. I expected something about rising costs or a tepid economy. His answer was different…lead leakage. He indicated that leads escaped from his pipeline too often. These leads are never heard from again. He said that this was happening because leads were not properly tracked during the lead gathering process and his team had no firm system to manage leads once they were in-house. I offered a few words of advice and some recommendations.
Lead Leakage: A Common Problem
My friend’s manufacturing company is not alone in dealing with lead leakage. It is very common. Marketing Sherpa reports that 80% of leads are never worked on by sales. They also say that 73% of companies have no process for engaging with and nurturing leads after the marketing process is complete. So whether you’re a retail outlet, a B2B tech company, a hotel or a manufacturer—you probably lose some leads. Now, while there are no silver bullets in the quest to stop lead leakage, there are a few things you can do to slow the flow:
The first way to alleviate lead leakage is Multi-Channel Tracking. Basically, this means that you can track the ‘path’ each lead takes. You can track when a lead left the process and when you lost track of them. Was it after a phone call or after a web visit? How many phone calls and web visits did the person make before you lost them? If you use Google Analytics you can track every step in the ‘path’ of every single web visitor.
The second way to avoid lead leakage is to use a customer relationship manager (CRM) of some sort. These are applications that help you manage the entire lead process to completion. Your industry has specific CRMs that are built for you. There are specific CRMs for auto dealers, restaurants, hotels, auto repair shops and everything in between. Examples of ‘name brand’ CRMs that work across a variety industries are Zoho and SalesForce. With these CRMs you can create individual ‘records’ for leads and add notes and status updates. This helps you keep track of where someone is in the buying process, when you need to follow-up and what next steps need to be taken. Additionally, most CRMs can integrate with call recording and call tracking solutions, so you can actually hear every phone conversation with every customer.
The third way to avoid lead leakage is to have agreement between everyone (management, sales and marketing) about exactly what a lead is. Is a sales-ready lead someone that downloaded a White Paper? Does the title of the White Paper matter? Is a lead someone that requested a demo? There needs to be broad and firm agreement on what a sales-ready lead is. Remember that the number one cause for lead leakage is sales reps failure to contact leads. Why do sales reps fail to contact these people? In most cases it is because they don’t view that lead as ‘hot’ enough to warrant a phone call. This problem is disappears where there is agreement on what a lead is.
The next way to reduce lead leakage is to develop a nurture campaign of some sort. What happens to the leads that are not sales ready? Are these leads contacted again? Are they ‘nurtured?’ You should develop an email nurture strategy to reach out to these leads again. Step-by-Step:
- Nurturing Leads: Leads that are not sales-ready should be placed into a nurture email campaign of some sort. Email marketing platforms like MailChimp or Constant Contact are relatively inexpensive and simple to use.
- Send 2 to 3 emails a month to these prospects
- These emails should contain useful content, articles, blogs and videos. If you don’t have the time or capability to write and produce this content, you should consider making that a priority. Or, you can ask other companies if you can use their content in your emails. (Again, with their permission and links to their site, of course).
The email platforms mentioned above will show you who is opening multiple emails and reading articles. If someone opens every email for 3 months, for example, perhaps they need a phone call from a sales rep. Remember, the statistic we shared above, 37% of customers are from leads generated over three months ago.
Stopping Lead Leakage is Possible
I had another conversation with that VP at the manufacturing company a few days ago. He said that his lead leakage problem is virtually gone. While there are still leads that fall through the cracks, he insists that the problem is better now. Every lead either receives a phone call that is automatically recorded and appended to a CRM prospect record, or, that lead goes into a nurture email campaign. So, regardless of the business you’re in you can lose less leads too.