27 June 2017 Category: Blog
For each and every business, seasonal ups and downs are common, and in summertime, troughs in lead flow can be as challenging as the peaks that many businesses experience at other times. Every business will have a different seasonal pattern, so right now, depending on the industry you work in, you might be drowning under a pile of new leads or stranded in the middle of a barren leads wasteland. On top of this, at this time of year, members of your team will be taking holiday but resource might be impacted at other times for any number of reasons - sickness, work load fluctuations, maternity or paternity leave. Whatever your current situation, if your sales growth relies on a steady flow of well managed leads and opportunities, it is essential to find an effective lead management process.
Establish robust lead management
You may have a process in place but your team may not have the luxury of focusing on one function only. When balancing both inbound and outbound tasks, maintaining efficiency and responsiveness is a challenge, when the system comes under pressure. A new injection of investment or trialling new channels and approaches may (happily) result in an unexpectedly high volume of inbound enquiries, but that investment will go to waste if your team and process can’t handle the volume.
A robust lead management system needs to be flexible in navigating peaks and troughs in seasonal leads, and your team needs to be skilled in qualifying prospects quickly and effectively so they are prioritised and managed appropriately at each stage of their sales journey. This not only ensures the best return on investment, it provides a positive experience for your potential customers.
Follow up promptly
If you are wondering why your reach and conversion rates are dropping off, you may want to take a closer at your lead response times. A follow-up call within one minute of an enquiry or registration of interest can double the number of contacts reached compared to a call the next day. It’s a no-brainer, then, that following up leads as soon as possible is essential in keeping your cost-per-conversion to a minimum. Managing response times assumes you have a system that tracks turnaround times, ideally with a breakdown by sales person so you can identify any coaching requirements.
Research shows the average salesperson will only try twice to contact a prospect before they give up. In actual fact, it takes eight attempts on average to reach a prospect. If your team is overstretched, there is a high risk you’re letting valuable prospects slip through your fingers! Making at least three attempts to reach an enquirer yields over double the results gained if you give up after just one try.
Marketing automation systems provide the ability to automatically score leads, with a view to identifying those more worthy of your sales team’s time. Automated lead scoring, however, can only tell you what it knows and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Early stage inbound digital leads are unlikely to include a lot of information about your prospect or their needs. Prioritising based on criteria such as number of clicks, or website pages visited alone doesn’t necessarily make for a ‘sales-ready’ lead. A phone conversation, however, enables you to fully understand customer needs and buying mode, and prioritise only the right prospects, rather than wasting time chasing those that are simply not ‘sales-ready’.
If summer is a quieter time for leads in your industry, take advantage of the opportunity to complete projects that have taken a back seat and lay foundations that will kick start sales and marketing initiatives after the lull. This might include:
- A data audit and cleanse to clean out data that is clogging your system, preventing good quality coming to the top.
- Checking in with existing customers and accounts who may have been neglected in the rush to acquire new clients – find out what new projects are coming up and nurture those valuable relationships.
- A review of processes and strategies – for example, take a fresh look at your lead qualification criteria. Unless this is in sync with your ‘ideal customer’, you may be sending poor prospects to the head of the queue.
Invest in a flexible resource
According to Forbes, on average companies take 46 hours and 53 minutes to pick up the phone and respond to a lead. If you have periods when your sales team is struggling to respond in a timely manner, or doesn’t have time for a thorough and systematic approach to lead qualification, opportunities will be slipping through the net. Many clients approach us in these situations and benefit from our thorough lead response management and qualification service. Our agents provide a rapid, systematic follow up that delivers a steady flow of well qualified opportunities to your sales team, eating quickly into any backlog so that your brand reputation is protected.