In the B2B businesses we work with, lead flow is the lifeblood of the business.
This is called the Business Cycle. It looks like this:
Marketing -> Lead -> Follow Up -> Sale
Most organizations focus on their sales cycle. The sales cycle starts when the salesman first reaches out to the prospect.
But in a good organization, the marketing and sales work together to make sure no lead gets lost. This is the business cycle.
And in a great organization, software helps keep everyone organized and ready to follow up.
There are dozens of software packages out there that allow contact management. Salesforce, Hubspot, Zoho, Streak, and SugarCRM are just a few. They all work. It doesn’t matter which one you choose. Just pick one and stick to it like glue.
And spend the time and money to build proper integrations.
Once marketing is pushing off leads, lead flow should look like this:
- Direct Import – Your online lead forms should dump directly into a CRM system. There should be no copy and paste ever into your CRM. Doing so is a huge waste of time plus you add dozens of opportunities for leads to get dropped and missed.
- Filter – Once a lead is in your CRM system, it needs to be assigned to one point of contact. There should be one person that sees every lead. She evaluates it and decides on a course of action. Either she follows up, assigns it to someone else to follow up, or deletes it if it is junk. This may be one of the most important jobs. Don’t give this to an intern. Give it to a responsible team member who understands your organization. If your lead is time sensitive, it should go directly to the salesperson via text.
- Follow Up – The best followups happen within minutes. But NEVER wait more than 24 hours on a business day. This is where a CRM system should really come in handy. Every single contact between your company and your prospect needs to be recorded. You must be disciplined in this. It will be useful for understanding why certain prospects closed or did not close.
- Close or Don’t – Leads aren’t allowed to go cold. Every lead either closes, needs more time (then set an exact follow-up date), or they tell you they aren’t going to buy. I’ve sent 20 follow-ups before getting a response. The only time to ever completely remove a lead from your flow is when they same explicitly that they aren’t interested in hearing from you again. Otherwise, you keep following up at appropriate times. They reached out to you. They owe you an answer.
This is the sales process I’ve used for years within our organization. And it works! I’m no sales master, but our close rate is outstanding.
I’ve also seen this work when clients follow it to the letter. When they deviate is when leads get lost and missed.
Many B2B organizations spend millions of dollars every year on marketing. Yet they don’t have a system to ensure leads are followed up with properly.
If you’re spending thousands of dollars on marketing, spend at least a couple thousand to get your leads, software, and sales forces aligned. It’ll pay off massively over time.
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