A solid lead automation strategy is essential for maintaining a stable sales funnel full of qualified leads. Being that PowerChord has over two decades of experience helping big brands automate their lead generation and allocation processes, we thought we'd share a few of our best tips for optimizing your lead automation efforts.
What is lead automation?
Lead automation is a set of systems and practices designed to generate new potential business clients, typically generated through various corporate marketing campaigns, sales outreach, or networking programs. The goal of an effective lead automation management initiative is to generate new business revenue, increase the brand's visibility, and improve the general attitudes of any potential clients and the public on how they view the brand. While this sounds simple, it's very common for companies to have no practices in place to properly manage their leads, causing sales to spend an excessive amount of time finding a qualified lead. Keep reading to learn about 17 best practices that will improve your lead automation strategy.
Tips For Optimizing Lead Automation
Know your audience
To build a solid foundation for your sales team, you must first identify your typical customer demographic and tailor your marketing efforts accordingly. Targeting a specific market does not mean that you are excluding people who do not fit your criteria. Rather, target marketing allows you to focus your marketing budget and brand messaging on a specific demographic that is more likely to buy from you. This is a much more affordable, efficient, and effective way to reach potential clients and generate business.
Understand your customer's journey
It is essential to understand your customer's thought process during their sales journey so you can promote your brand and have as many touch points as possible with them. Many companies will create a visual representation of the customer's engagement with their brand from the time they know they need a product to the point of making a purchase. Once you know your customer's journey, you will be able to intercept them at the most crucial times to engage and close a sale.
Collect the right data
Whether you are collecting your customer's information on a website through a form or chatbot, via email marketing automation or in person, it is crucial that you are collecting the correct data. This information collected about your potential customer allows your sales team to make informed decisions and tailor their sales journey accordingly for that customer. Collecting the right data also helps you filter your leads to the right sales team/territory, and aids in lead scoring.
Set up lead scoring
Lead scoring is a popular method used by marketing and sales teams to determine how likely their leads are to buy. It is a process where you assign a score (1-100, A+ - F, etc.) to your leads. The lead score tells you your leads' buying intention where the higher the score, the more likely they'll buy. How a lead is scored varies by company, however, determining the important data to collect in #3 will significantly improve your ability to score leads in your sales funnel accurately.
Establish fast-track/automatic qualification
One of the main issues hindering growth is that lead qualification is often done manually. By collecting sufficient data during your first touchpoint with a prospective lead and having a process to quickly and accurately score leads, you can fast-track or even automate your lead qualification process. In addition, building this ideal customer profile can help you ensure leads are qualified and immediately assigned out to the appropriate sales team so they can get a jump start and not waste any time manually reviewing leads.
Automate internal processes (not just campaigns)
By automating your internal processes for handling leads, you can streamline your sales funnel. The faster a lead is received and assigned to the appropriate department or organization within your sales funnel, the quicker your team can reach prospects before competitors. In addition, automating the way leads are assigned can reduce your response time and eliminate any guesswork or manual tasks from the process. This also frees up your time, allowing you to respond to more leads in less time, or focus your efforts elsewhere knowing that your automation system is effectively assigning leads.
You can't automate a process that doesn't exist—Always Map Your Lead Flow
Before you can automate your process, you need to understand and define how your leads should flow through your sales funnel. The data and lead scoring previously collected are initial steps in helping you define your lead flow process. Once you know what kind of qualified leads you are looking for, you should develop a lead distribution strategy. Whether your organization distributes leads based on region, territory, department, or product line, knowing which lead should go where ensures that the correct people respond quickly.
Map out your lead stages
Knowing what stage of your sales funnel a lead is in throughout the life of a lead is important for following up with the customer until the sale is closed. Having a predetermined set of stages a lead progresses through is the easiest and fastest way to track this at a glance. Your lead stages can be as simple as New - Contacted - In Progress - Awaiting Response - Sale Won - Sale Lost. Knowing exactly what stage a lead is at any given time allows you to stay on top of following up with the lead and allows you to easily track your sales performance and make any adjustments in your lead flow if necessary.
Communicate internally and externally
Establish a communication and follow-up strategy for your leads. Not only is it important to know when and how often to communicate with and follow-up with your leads, but you should also have an internal communication strategy. Studies show 80% of sales require five follow-up calls after the initial point of contact, so make sure reps don’t give up after one point of contact. Also, keeping lines of communication open internally within your organization allows you to ensure your process is working and the leads received are optimal.
Automated lead nurturing
Nurturing leads is critical to your business's success as these tactics directly impact a prospect's decision about whether or not they will buy your product. The main goal of nurturing leads through PowerChord's platform is through timely follow-ups and multiple touches. For example, if a lead in your sales funnel has not been updated or touched by a sales rep in a specified period of time, PowerChord will automatically send a reminder email to that rep, and any other relevant parties in the organization, notifying them that the lead needs attention and should be followed up. This internal nudge email keeps all parties accountable and allows transparent visibility throughout the organization regarding the current status of a lead. Similarly, many businesses choose to use external CRMs or marketing tools to automate follow up emails directly to prospective leads if they have not responded to the sales team in a timely manner, as a personalized email tends to produce a better result and higher conversion/retention rate.
Set up triggers to streamline lead progression
If you want to successfully close a sale, you need to keep your customer's attention. This is where triggers in your lead progression come into play. As mentioned above, PowerChord can automatically notify dealers or sales reps if their lead has gone cold or not been touched in a specific period of time. Similarly, combining a time-sensitive trigger with a lead stage-related trigger can narrow down leads in need and help you focus your efforts where it is most needed. For example, leads currently in "New" might need a trigger after one day, whereas leads currently in "In Progress" might need a trigger after three days. Finding the balance between these will help you stay in touch with your prospective customers to effectively progress leads.
Leverage multi-channel communications
Staying top-of-mind with your customers is crucial, especially during times of low inventory and supply chain issues. The goal is to keep a line of communication open with your prospect and current customers so when they are ready to make a new or repeat purchase, you are the first person they think to call. A great way to keep customer communication free flowing is via social media, messaging apps, direct messaging and email. Every time you feature a special, a new product or service or expect new inventory, use every channel available to communicate with your customers, and when possible, add a call-to-action to further your communication and data collection efforts.
Track your performance
Tracking lead performance is important when it comes to your closure rate. PowerChord's Command Center platform comes standard with analytics modules that allow you to track multiple data points for lead progression through your sales funnel. Lead Analytics shows you where you are receiving your leads from, how many leads have been closed, who is closing the most leads, and how long it takes to close those leads. The Site Analytics includes data related to your PowerChord site or lead capture form and contains information about visitors to your site and the conversion rate of visitors to qualified leads.
Measure your performance
Once you have tracked your performance using PowerChord's analytics modules, it is important to then measure your success. The three most common ways to measure performance are:
How quickly are your qualified leads progressing through your sales funnel? If a lead is taking too long to progress, what changes could be made to speed up this process?
What percentage of your qualified leads are actually qualified? If unqualified leads are slipping through the cracks and making it to your sales team, it may be time to revisit your lead scoring or collect more data when a potential lead is collected.
What percentage of the leads received turned in to an actual sale? If sales targets aren't being met, what factors may have caused this and can they be remedied?
Ask that your dealers/organizations engage with and update the leads sent their way. This can include requiring first contact with a lead within X amount of hours, or updating the status on at least Y% of their leads. Even if a lead has not yet progressed far enough through your sales funnel to have its status updated, having a sales team member leave a note on lead stating what is going on can have a positive impact. This could be as simple as saying, "The customer has been contacted X amount of times and has not yet responded." If the goals you set aren't being met by certain dealers/organizations within your network, you can trim or change who you are sending your leads to.
Build workflows based upon the buyer's journey
PowerChord can be used as a tool to help you build workflows by collecting lead data. Most organizations already use an existing CRM, which includes other marketing automation tools, such as Marketo, to send lead nurturing emails based on where the lead is in the sales funnel. By distributing the ability to update leads to your dealers/organizations, you can offload that effort to the dealer and automatically receive any updates on leads back into your CRM. From there, you can send nurturing or drip communications to the customers based on where they are in the funnel.
Leverage lead generation tools
External lead generation tools can help you obtain multiple leads from multiple sources in order to get the most qualified leads for your business. Many businesses will use various lead generation software applications and tools to diversify where their leads are coming from to make sure they have all their bases covered. Lead generation tools can be implemented on landing pages, chatbots, social media, blog posts, live in-person events, and multiple other areas. Converting visitors to leads at any step of their customer journey will ensure you have a healthy sales funnel.
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