The lead management process – How prospects become buyers

The lead management process - How prospects become buyers

Houston, we have a problem. Not just us, to be precise, but many companies. Specifically, it is about wasting money due to a lack of sustainability and consistency in the organization of customer acquisition. We know it all too well ourselves: Collecting leads with the help of webinars and white papers is not difficult, but processing them afterwards is very difficult. Our friend and helper at this point is lead management. A well thought-out lead management process closes the gap between marketing and sales. This is necessary in order to ultimately turn prospects into buyers and ultimately increase your sales.

It sounds good in theory. Let’s see what we practically have to do for this. We talk about it,

Lead management – What is that?

Definitions are not very popular as they are often cumbersome and difficult to understand. But we have to go through this together.

Lead management is a professional management tool for the consistent recording, processing and exploitation of existing prospective potential. The aim is to optimally support each individual interested party according to their requirements and their value and to fully exploit the existing potential.

oh dear It’s best if we work our way through it bit by bit.

leads are data sets that store information about potential customers. These people show interest in a product, for example, so that a sales opportunity arises. The data records can contain information on the position of the prospective customer in the company, on the company itself, the degree and orientation of the purchase interest and much more. include.

lead management is then the process in which marketing and sales play the main roles and which is intended to turn potential buyers or interested parties into buyers. Before we take a closer look at the 4 stages of the lead management process, let’s take a look at the sales funnel and the customer journey to better understand why lead management is important.

The sales funnel and the customer journey – a dream team

The sales funnel – or in good German “sales funnel” – describes the different stages of sales opportunities or acquisition opportunities. The shape of the funnel indicates that over time, i.e. over the individual stages in the sales funnel, the number of interested parties and potential customers decreases. At the beginning there are still a lot of interested parties, in the end only those who have actually become customers remain.

Another term that I will throw into the race at this point is customer journey. It describes the journey your potential customer goes through until they become a customer. In terms of the funnel, that would be 4 stations:

  • Inspiration: Your potential customer recognizes their problem or need
  • Research: Your potential customer has become aware of your solution and is interested in it.
  • Comparison: Your potential customer is considering buying your solution. He wonders how well she can solve his problem.
  • Decision and conversion: Your potential customer buys your solution.

Yippee, the goal is achieved! In reality, however, this journey is anything but linear and can sometimes take a while. There are many touchpoints between the potential customer and your company and possibly also many and/or long pauses in between.

At this point I would like to recommend Vanessa’s article on customer centricity, in which the topic of the customer journey is explained in more detail.

Overall, you should make sure that you always have enough potential customers, i.e. leads, in the individual stages of the funnel. The lead management process will help you with this.

The lead management process – 4 steps to happiness

Step 1: Lead generation

Lead generation is the part of the lead management process that we find the easiest. It’s about collecting initial information from prospects, which serves as a starting point for customer acquisition. Nowadays, potential customers often come into contact with companies online for the first time – this is where the customer gets an overview of the general offer and collects initial information. In order for them to give out their data, we have to offer them value in return. Depending on the channel where we play our response-triggering content, the prospect will respond in different ways. It often involves filling out web forms online – be it on a landing page or, for example, as part of a lead ad on LinkedIn. Even if we would of course like to know everything about our prospects, the form should not be too extensive in order to keep the hurdle to registering as low as possible. You should also offer transparency about what happens to the data – keyword data protection.

In general, two strategic approaches to lead generation can be pursued:

  • Quantity of Leads: As many requests as possible are generated in a low average quality, which are optimized in the further process.
  • Quality of leads: On the other hand, an attempt can be made to win a smaller number of high-quality leads that can be converted into customers with little effort.

As always, the answer to the question of which is the right path is: it depends. Industry, product, goals and processes all play a role.

Step 2: Lead nurturing

As is so often the case in life, timing is the be-all and end-all on the way to making a purchase decision. Lead nurturing describes measures that repeatedly pick up potential buyers at various points in the decision-making process with relevant content. Here, for example, professional e-mail marketing can have an effect.

In a lead nurturing campaign aimed at the desired customer, the interested party receives relevant information at certain intervals – according to their position within the customer journey. The provider can take the opportunity to request further data from the interested party at each step, such as company size, areas of interest or the planned time of purchase. In order to get such valuable information, the recipient must be offered additional added value in return. Studies and white papers are particularly suitable for this. But e-books, specialist articles, webinars, extensive infographics and videos also offer such added value and at the same time give you another platform to impart expertise. In this way you can complete the profiles of your leads bit by bit.

In itself, lead nurturing can not only be useful in the phase of acquiring new customers. There are also advantages in customer loyalty, customer recovery or reactivation of former or inactive customers. In short: information is knowledge and knowledge is power.

Step 3: Lead Scoring

Towards the end of the buying process, it is all about getting the prospect to buy. In order to be able to generally assess how interesting a lead is for the respective sales goal, an evaluation should be defined for the leads. Both for the continuously developing profile and for the activities, e.g. B. Download of certain content, assign values. Marketing and sales should define this evaluation system together and decide how and from what threshold the prospect should move from marketing to sales support (see step 4: lead routing). The better a lead fits into the defined target group and the higher their interest in the company or their willingness to buy, the higher their rating.

Step 4: Lead routing

Most of you have probably heard the terms lead generation, lead nurturing and possibly also lead scoring. The last part of the lead management process, lead routing, is completely different, which already indicates the importance of this part of the process in practice. Lead routing refers to the transfer of existing leads from marketing to sales – something that unfortunately happens far too rarely. Silo thinking is probably the most common reason for this.

The right time is also important for lead routing. Because only when a lead has expressed its interest via various touchpoints and has made its way along the customer journey should it be handed over to sales. The lead is therefore willing to buy. A premature handover to sales could lead to the prospect feeling overwhelmed and forced to buy.

Also important: Sales needs all the processed information about the corresponding leads in order to be able to individually adapt sales strategies and respond optimally to potential customers.

The moral of the story:

Converting prospects into buyers without breaking down silos just doesn’t work. That’s why I close at this point with a quote from a blog article by Svenja:

Joining forces with sales for target group-oriented B2B content is worth it!

If you have any questions about sales funnels, customer journeys or lead management, feel free to contact me!

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