For those of you still using a plethora of Excel templates as your Lead Management solution to lower costs, you might actually be doing the opposite. In fact, your marketing and sales teams are spending time on administrative tasks when they could be connecting with qualified prospects and increasing revenue. Unlike Lead Management solutions, Excel spreadsheets don’t save your marketing team time, because they lack the dynamic collaboration functionality to interact real-time with prospects. (If they do, please share because we always love to hear about new functionality coming out of MSFT besides the reincarnation of our beloved annoying office assistant, Clippy.) If you thought you’re saving money, you might actually just be wasting time and losing potential sales while your marketing and sales team are updating their spreadsheets.
Lead Management Solution Category
Lead Management solutions, an integral component of Revenue Performance Management, are tools designed to help marketing and sales departments maximize their effectiveness with leads.
Lead Management is the overall process to identify, educate, engage and qualify leads. These leads are then passed to the sales department as sales opportunities.
Most Lead Management solutions use a combination of delivery settings to ensure that leads are responded to as quickly as possible. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post on content gating, communication with a lead must begin immediately – not in 2 weeks. Lead Management solutions help make immediate communication with leads possible and include the following features to increase the percentage of contacted vs. non-contacted leads:
- Dialing functionality
- Automated email
- Lead validation
- Advanced filtering capabilities
Another component of Lead Management, lead scoring, allows marketers to objectively qualify leads and determine the point at which a lead is ready to be passed on to the sales department. The sales department follows up with the lead as a sales opportunity or passes it back to marketing for additional nurturing if the lead is not yet fully qualified.
Benefits of Lead Management solutions vs. Microsoft Excel
We love Microsoft Excel, we really do, but when it comes to turning a lead into a qualified prospect, there is no substitute for Lead Management solutions. They are dynamic, intuitive and respond to the activity generated by lead interactions, thus allowing a more effective alternative to Excel spreadsheets for qualifying leads and driving an increase in revenue.
“Using spreadsheet templates only gives you part of your sales picture and can’t help you follow-up with clients,” said Jordan Witkovm Marketing Coordinator at Future Simple. “Using spreadsheets requires you to manage multiple files to keep track of your leads, deals, clients and prospects.”
Alternately, the combination of the following Lead Management features allows you to build rapport with leads through more consistent, effective follow-ups:
- Single Database: All lead and client information exists in one location.
- Email Dropbox: Store all email conversations in a leads file.
- Task Reminders: Setting up task reminders allows follow-ups to be proactive.
- Dialing Functionality: This varies among solutions as follows:
- Click-to-Dial: Click on a lead to automatically place a call.
- Power Dialer: Quickly dials through a list of leads until a connection is made. More advanced systems also have the capability to detect and ignore voicemail.
- Predictive Dialer: Continuously calls a list of leads until a live connection is made. The lead is then connected to an available sales rep.
- Automated Email: This is discussed in greater detail in my previous post on Marketing Automation.
- Reports: One example, a funnel report, tracks the interaction at which you are losing leads. This allows you to analyze the cause of lost leads and make improvements to more effectively manage leads.
Lead Management features save your marketing and sales team time through better organization and the automation of repetitive tasks.
Why is Lead Management Important?
Lead Management begins at the first interaction and focuses on building a relationship with the prospect to increase their interest through education and lead nurturing. A focus on Lead Management allows the marketing department to strategically qualify leads prior to passing them on to the sales department, thus increasing revenue. Therefore, Lead Management solutions function as a tool within your RPM strategy to increase the effectiveness of collaboration between the sales and marketing departments.
I personally only have experience using Salesforce.com as a Lead Management solution and would like to learn about your experiences with this and other Lead Management solutions (including Excel spreadsheets). Please login today to contribute your experience.
Lead Management Resources:
- Future Simple Blog: http://www.futuresimple.com/sales-pipeline-template-excel/
- Quora: What tools or combination of tools could a business use to manage contacts, leads and clients?
- Eloqua Dictionary: Lead Management
- ClickPoint: It’s time to upgrade your lead management system
- Eloqua Slide Share: http://www.slideshare.net/Eloqua/eloquamarketingsherpaleadmanagement
- Quora: What’s the best lead management software available?