More Leads? What About the Ones You Have?

The most recent “The State of Marketing” study released by IBM says that the top challenge for marketers (42%) is acquiring new customers.  Other industry research seems to support this. Challenges such as “generating more leads”, “finding qualified prospects”, “sales wanting more ‘ready to buy’ leads” are often cited as the top challenges for marketers.  The logic is that more leads equal more qualified opportunities which equal more sales.  And that may be so.  However, I suggest that there may be a faster way to get those qualified opportunities:  Follow up on the leads you already have!

I see this on a regular basis.  Just this month, I’ve had several conversations with marketers where, although top-of-funnel lead generation was at “best-in-class” status, follow up rates on qualified leads were at less than 20%.  My question in each scenario was, “What would be your revenue and ROI increase if you just simply followed up on the leads that are already coming in the door?”

Now, I’m not advocating abandoning strategies that bring in new leads .   However, what I’m strongly recommending is that along with lead generation, a lead management process be developed, one that effectively optimizes lead flow from inquiry to revenue (close).   This process includes…

  • A centralized, database “hub” (usually a marketing automation tool) for collecting and qualifying all leads

  • A routing process for all inquiries, determining which are ready for sales, which should be sent to tele-qualification and which should be further nurtured

  • Defined processes and rules for how marketing will hand leads off to sales, and how sales will update a lead’s status

  • Integration between marketing and sales tools so that data can be leveraged to determine metrics such as revenue, ROI, conversion rates, and buying cycle timing.

Yes, this is the boring, process side of marketing.  But hey, you’ve got the leads already, you may as well maximize the investment it took to get them, right?  In addition, having this process will…

  • Significantly improve the quality of leads, because the process will continue to provide metrics and data that will help in early stage qualification.

  • Improve marketing ROI.  Think about it.  If you did nothing else, and doubled lead follow up from 20% to 40%, what effect would that have?

  • Give you a better feel on what demand generation programs are working, and which are not

  • Increase sales conversion rates because they will be spending time on higher probability leads

  • Increase revenue

You don’t need to ignore filling the funnel. But when it’s filled, take better care of what’s in it.  It’s the way to more revenue and higher ROI.