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Guest column: A comprehensive guide to managing your leads

October 15/22, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 9

By Jason Goldberg

 

What is more important to your business—lead generation or lead management? The answer: They are both equally important and, when used correctly, they build upon each other.

A lead is typically coming to you one of three ways (what I call the lead source): digitally—most commonly through your website forms; walking right into your store; and calling your store.

What caused this lead to come to you for questions or services is lead generation. I break lead generation down into four key elements:

Creative. This is the messaging and the visuals.

Delivery. This is how the prospect heard about you for questions or services based partially on how you chose to deliver the message.

Promotions type. This is the extra push giving the prospect typically a financial reason to select you for questions or services.

Spend. This is how much you choose to invest in generating leads.

It’s the combination of all four that help shape the circumstances that drive a consumer to select your company for questions or services—lead generation. Much of this information can be tracked automatically for digital leads. However, this is not automatic data for your phone call leads and your walk-in leads.

So how do you tie all this information together while doing what is most important—making sales? You use a lead management/customer relationship management (CRM) software.

Lead management, at its core, is the process by which you manage the leads trying to convert them to a sale. CRM software, which allows you to manage the relationship with the customer, includes things such as continuous remarketing, analytics review and, of course, lead management.

Going back to lead generation, let’s assume the following:

  • You spend $10,000 per month on lead generation
  • You deliver the creative via Facebook, paid search, TV and radio
  • You have a promotion within the creative for some sort of sale

How do you know how many leads were generated based on the above? How are you tracking it? Just because you spent money on digital content does not necessarily mean the lead came to you through a website form. Perhaps the prospect picked up the phone and called you or stopped by your location.

By that same token, just because you spent money on traditional content does not necessarily mean the lead came to you through a walk-in or phone call. Perhaps she just went to your website and filled out a form. (Bear in mind the prospect most likely heard about you through multiple sources.) Maybe she saw your TV commercial and was served an ad on Facebook. Maybe the prospect asked her good friend who she used when she purchased new flooring to rate her experience.

If she did an internet search for flooring dealers in her area—and you along with five others popped up on page one of the results—why would she click on your site? Do you have any name recognition from perhaps the traditional and digital content you have run over the years? Are you showing strong ratings from consumers who left reviews? Everything being equal, when I look at the results on page one I typically click the company I recognize with the strongest review rating.

Two of the main functions of lead management/CRM systems are determining how many leads were generated and how to track those leads. This includes all leads, not just the digital ones but the walk-ins and phone calls as well. This gives you the best data and best results to work with.

How many of those leads did you close? Were you able to monitor those leads through the sales pipeline so nothing slipped through the cracks? Were you notified when tasks were to be done and if they went past due? Again, this should be done with all your leads and not just your website leads. Managing all your leads through the sales process and being able to monitor that process is, in my opinion, the single most important aspect of lead management. Aside from maximizing closing opportunities this data provides training opportunities for you and your staff.

Of all the leads that your company’s salespeople are handling, how many of them actually are tracked in a lead management software? Why isn’t it all of them? The old excuse, “I cannot get my people to change or use modern technology,” is nonsense. The world is changing. People are naturally resistant to change, and it takes a driver and a teacher to help them overcome that fear.

For the leads that do get entered into your lead management/CRM system, whether automatically or manually, how many of them have the lead source, the “how heard” and the promotion information in them? How many have the products interested in and products sold data if applicable? Do you and your sales team understand the value of this data and how it can help you generate more leads?

Learning from experience
At one time, I was at the point where many retailers are today. I spent lots of money to generate leads for my retail business without having any method to manage them. Like most of you, I had no idea what my salespeople were handling, the source of those leads, how those leads heard about us, how many of those leads we were closing and so on. If I wanted to know what a salesperson was handling it involved digging through their desk or calling them in for a meeting. When a lead did come through the website it was simply forwarded to a salesperson and then virtually forgotten about. That is no way to run a business.

Things changed when I decided I grew tired of not knowing. I searched for the perfect lead management/CRM software for the flooring industry. When my search found no software that I felt was suitable for my company, I hired a technology firm and built one to my specifications. It worked so well for my flooring company that I spun it off into its own business, and Retail Lead Management was born. The flooring industry finally had a legitimate solution for lead management/CRM that is simple to learn and use as well as being cost effective.

We are moving toward the end of three years on the system and are up another 32% in retail sales this year with the same number of locations and a reduction in yearly marketing spend. (By the way, we were up over 30% in our retail division the previous two years as well.) What has been the difference over these last three years? It’s been the lead management/CRM system, Retail Lead Management, we implemented and made everyone use. Making them all understand the value of making more sales, monitoring the sales process, using the data to improve our marketing mix and countless other training and decision-making opportunities it has provided.

Here’s some valuable advice: Before you embark on lead generation, invest a little time and money into lead management first. If you are not currently using a lead management software, it will be the best money you have spent on your retail business in a long time. But be prepared to learn how to use it and then get your staff to use it as well. From there watch your sales grow and understand lead by lead why it is happening. Then use this data to improve your sales team and sales process while strengthening your lead generation process and results.

 

Jason Goldberg is the CEO of America's Floor Source and Retail Lead Management. a CRM software system designed specifically for the flooring industry. The company has sold more than 2,000 user licenses to flooring retailers in North America.