Most marketing is done by default. But it should be run as a carefully constructed system where everything flows smoothly from first contact, to relationship, to sale, to lifetime customer. A good marketing executive considers their chief role in a company as one which makes sales easier.
However, the biggest disconnect between marketing and sales tends to be lead management. When a lead comes in there is often a dispute as to whose job it is to convert it. How can an organisation break down these departmental walls?
Stage 1: Lead generation
When designing a marketing campaign, the sales team must be involved. Ask them to review target lists and identify customers for testimonials. Take advantage of suggestions for magazines that customers read, websites they visit and events they attend.
Alongside this, CRM software can help by providing a variety of methods to generate leads - helping build, execute and track targeted direct mail and email campaigns with different messages for different groups.
Whether it be newsletters, product announcements, seasonal promotions or event invitations, CRM tools allow marketers to personalise and target any campaign through automated email, fax or print. Content can be personalised by merging any field from each contact record into the body or subject line of the material.
Messages can be specifically tailored to prospects through segmented lists produced automatically by using detailed profile data generated by CRM software. Marketers can categorise leads based on factors such as product interest, job title, use of the product, industry or vertical sector, buyer role, etc. For multi-phase campaigns marketers can use their CRM system to schedule and execute each stage.
Stage 2: New lead distribution
In order to maintain consistency, objectivity and visibility, all leads must be captured on a CRM database when they first come in. CRM software has an array of tools to help process leads and move them along the sales pipeline. When a lead is entered, the system can automatically assign it to a specific sales representative based on criteria such as geographic location, activity and expertise.
Organisations with sales reps frequently off-site would benefit from implementing mobile CRM, to make sure they get information about a new or hot lead immediately. By utilising lead or task modules, call-to-action items automatically appear for the appropriate member of the sales team, identifying next steps, together with action deadlines.
CRM also provides managers with the capability to follow up and track which sales rep receives which lead. When leads come in through a marketing campaign and sales begin the follow-up process, managers must gather feedback by looking at lead reports and engaging with the sales team.
Often a complaint of the marketing department is that sales reps do not update the database, leaving marketing in the dark and making it difficult for them to assist. Organisations must ensure sales reps are competent with the CRM system in order for it to be fully beneficial.
Stage 3: Lead qualification
Marketing must be aware of what constitutes a legitimate lead and only pass these on once qualified. This needs to be agreed with sales from the outset. Ask questions, such as what information and qualification details the lead should have, and what the timeframe should be.
A CRM system can be used to create a list of qualification questions to assess budget, authority, need and timelines - all of which are useful to update the status of a lead. For both sales and marketing departments, creating lead status and rating categories to indicate the state of the lead helps define the nurturing process.
By using CRM to develop criteria and checklists across the lead-qualification process it ensures sales reps manage leads consistently. Leads can be monitored to see where they are in the process and what the next steps should be.
On average it takes seven points of contact before a deal is struck, so do not give up after two or three attempts. Try keeping a record to see how many times you have to contact a hot lead or prospect before you get a result. Tenacity pays off in business. Staying in touch not only helps to ensure a positive sales pipeline, but also increases the likelihood of being front of mind when a buying decision is made.
Stage 4: Lead conversion
Marketing messages should be tracked through to a sales outcome. To ensure leads are being followed up, qualified and passed down the lead conversion cycle in a timely manner, managers should monitor the timeframe in which tasks are completed. Set the CRM solution to monitor each stage including new lead distribution; initial call-back; qualification; status update; and nurture stage.
Once a lead has been converted into a sale, CRM can be used to ensure customer satisfaction. Satisfying existing customers is the best way to generate repeat sales. Organisations which fully integrate CRM into their lead management processes will realise just how valuable customer information can be.