Having a marketing plan that includes ways to nurture your “not now” sales leads is critical to leaving no lead behind, and ultimately growing SALES.
According to Heinz Marketing, “At any given time, only 3% of your market is actively buying. Another 56% are not ready, while 40% are poised to begin.”
What should this mean to you? Don’t give up! Until you hear “no”, a lead is always in play.
But, to effectively manage those sales leads through the sales pipeline takes organization, patience, persistence, and a way to track where each lead is in the overall sales process. Without a proper CRM tracking system, important sales leads may get lost in the shuffle of your daily or weekly to-do list. Knowing where each and every one of your sales leads is in the sales process is your key to success. It is like a plate-spinning act – to be successful, you must keep all those plates in the air at the same time. How? With the help of technology and marketing automation.
STEP 1 – The CRM System
First, you must have the means to track and manage all sales leads in one place. Any company in the business of growing revenue MUST use a CRM system (e.g. Salesforce, Zoho, Hubspot, etc.) to track the status of each lead, where it is in the sales process, and the next step.
STEP 2 – Picklists for Tracking Sales Leads
Next, set up your database properly to insure no lead is left behind. Brainstorm the kind of reports which would be helpful and create related picklist fields in your CRM system to be able to run such reports easily. Keep in mind, critical fields to include are “Rating” (Hot,
Warm, Cold) and “Lead Status.”
For example, the standard Lead Status picklist in Salesforce includes the following values:
You may want to add your own values according to your specific sales process such as:
● Call Scheduled
● Left Company
By doing so, you can more easily track and manage where sales leads are in the process, create reports, and add them to more specialized follow-up campaigns. Imagine setting up a special campaign sent only to sales leads in the “nurture/working” using a Lead Status category identified as a “warm
lead.” That could be an interesting group to target.
Additionally, including a picklist of Lead Quality is very helpful to later “circle the wagons” around a group of “like” sales leads. Such a picklist may include A-D lead quality, and maybe even a “Z” to denote dead sales leads where the company has closed or been acquired. (Note: It is important to never delete any leads from your CRM system, as you always want to be able to revert back to old notes in the system if needed.) Be certain to continue to update this lead quality and other qualifying fields as things evolve. This data is not static. It is constantly changing and should be updated accordingly in your CRM system.
Sample Lead Quality Labels
In general, I tend to group sales leads in one of five buckets- you can use these as your Lead Quality labels, or equate them to Lead Quality A, B, C, D, F:
- Cold – These are sales leads with whom you have had no direct contact – i.e. you have not yet spoken with them or received an email reply from them. So, you must actively work these leads to help build trust and knowledge of your brand. A multi-pronged, value-added marketing approach involving email, phone and direct mail will help inform them of your services while building needed trust. Building familiarity (and trust) is extremely important and as such, cold leads need to be warmed up over time. The key is to remain ever-present, providing value, so that if and when they have a need for your services, they will think of you first!
- Warm – These are contacts who’ve expressed some interest in your company. They may have opened and/or clicked on your emails multiple times. You may have been able to connect with them via phone or received an email reply. Continue to build rapport with these sales leads as you work to uncover their needs and how you can help them. Invite them to webinars, live events, conferences. Continue to remain top-of-mind by sending them value-added email content twice each month. Periodically call on them to see where things stand. Develop a relationship and become known as a consultant in your space, ready to help them if and when they need it.
- Hot – Now it gets exciting. You are having in-depth conversations with these sales leads, helping them understand how your offering best meets their needs. Next, draw out their challenges and provide examples of how your service can help resolve those issues. You are in discussions about price, timing, and any other project requirements needed for this to move forward. This phase is pre-proposal, but done right, will lead to a natural request for a proposal for services.
- Opportunities (Prospects) – These are sales leads for which you have developed a proposal and they are waiting for the final sign-off. Be watchful of your Opportunity aging reports, as Prospects can sometimes go cold after receiving a proposal. Follow up quickly. The longer an Opportunity lingers in the pipeline, the less likely it will be to close. Revisit each and root out any remaining questions/concerns. Then, try to close again. NO Lead left behind!
- Dead – These are leads that are no longer viable because the company was closed or acquired. Remember: a lead using a competitor’s services is simply a “not now” lead…it is certainly NOT a dead lead!
Note: An acquisition often means you have to start over, looking for the right decision-maker again, but this is not always the case. Find out if your decision-maker is continuing in their role after the acquisition.
Step 3 – Targeted Nurture Campaigns
Develop and implement a marketing plan to target each group with email marketing nurture campaigns according to their Lead Quality. For example, “A” leads should receive more frequent and varied content than a “C” lead. Leverage this information to inform marketing and sales plans. Be sure all nurture campaigns leverage value-added content (i.e. 90% value-added, informative content – and only 10% salesy). Only 2% of sales are made during the first point of contact – so stay in front of each contact at regular intervals using value-added content.
Step 4 – Never Give Up!
Never give up on a lead until you know it is truly dead. “Not Now” is not a dead lead. Keep working it!
Step 5 – Nurture to Close
Continue nurturing sales leads to close.
Here are the 5 steps needed to track and manage all sales leads to ensure NO LEAD is LEFT BEHIND:
- Use a CRM system to track all sales leads
- Set up your CRM system to track and manage Lead Quality and Lead Status over time.
- Run targeted email campaigns using this information to continue to nurture sales leads to the next step in the process.
- But never give up on a lead until you know it is truly DEAD. Remember: “not now” is not a dead lead!!
- Continue building a healthy sales pipeline as you nurture sales leads to “close.”
Sales leads must be worked over a period of time until “the time is right.” Remember: “…only 3% of your market is actively buying. Another 56% are not ready, while 40% are poised to begin.” USE your Lead tracking system, have a value-added marketing plan in place to support it, and be sure your other systems are ready to handle MORE SALES!
What’s your NEXT STEP?
Need more help with your sales processes to ensure No Sales Leads are Left Behind?