A typical lead management process goes something like this:
- Leads generated on a website sit in the webmaster’s box until she checks it.
- The webmaster checks her box once each day and sends any accumulated leads to the sales manager’s box until he checks it.
- The sales manager checks his box once each day. He sorts the leads and sends them to the appropriate sales rep.
- The sales rep types the lead information into a tracking system—a spreadsheet or contact manager—before calling the lead. After making 4 or 5 attempts to contact the lead, she moves on to other leads.
The process from lead capture to first contact attempt often takes between 48 and 72 hours. The time to first contact can often be as long as two weeks—plenty of time for the prospect to forget your company or sign up with your competition. Lead management is nearly as important as sales yet it is often the most overlooked process.
The lead management process is often where the marketing department hands off the leads it generated to the sales department. Leads are often lost in this “gray area” and neither department wants to take responsibility: marketing blames sales for failing to follow-up and sales blames marketing for sending them unqualified leads.
Another failure in most lead management processes is found in the lack of automation. Leads are routed through a slow pipeline that could easily be replaced by technology and reduce the time between lead generation and first contact from days to minutes.
Best Practice: Effective lead management includes such disciplines as:
- Lead Capture
- Lead Routing
- Lead Response Management
- Lead Qualification Skills
- Lead Tracking
- Lead Reporting
- Lead Source Analysis
Create a clear process for each aspect of lead management. Invest time in the process and money in the systems to leverage the ability to quickly and effectively qualify and sort leads and you will find hidden increases in productivity.
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