Every business needs lead to grow, but what do we do with leads once we secure them? This article seeks to define and differentiate Lead Generation and Lead Management and explore the steps to elevate a lead from a good one to a great one.
What is a Lead?
In order to discuss the difference between Lead Generation and Lead Management, it is important to understand what a lead is and its role in the process. A lead is an individual with an interest in the product or service that you are offering. Lead Generation and Lead Management together form the pipeline that separates the good leads from the bad leads and converts prospects into customers.
Factors to Consider When Identifying a Good Lead
Typically, a good lead will be a qualified individual from a company that matches your target industry, revenue, ideal business size, location, technology, and budget. These factors are all outlined in what is known as an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). In order to understand what your ICP is, look at your current customers and see where their companies fit into those categories. The patterns in this data will reveal what types of companies are more likely to buy from you, highlighting the leads that are similar to your current customers. You can then dedicate more time and energy to a lead that is more likely to buy.
A good lead will also have decision-makers that display an active interest in buying. Companies usually have multiple decision-makers, so it is important to identify all of them and get them involved in the process before trying to close a sale.
What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is the process of finding viable prospects and attracting them to your business. As mentioned before, not every lead is a good one, and so part of the lead generation process is finding viable prospects.
Anyone can generate lists of targets, but in order to discover actual leads, you have to research the targets to make sure that there is an opportunity to actually sell a product or service to the lead. As mentioned before, utilizing the Ideal Customer Profile outline and being mindful of decision-makers will help you decide which prospects are worth pursuing. Another tool in your arsenal is the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes and the North American Industrial Classification (NAIC) codes, which can help narrow down the search for leads since these exist to identify businesses by their primary industry.
Understanding the target will help you recognize if they are the right fit and worth pursuing; not all leads will have an immediate turnover, but by being more selective in the lead generation process, you are able to focus on the leads that are more likely to create an opportunity for your company, whether it be now or months down the line. Being thorough during lead generation ensures that once you get to lead management, you are dedicating time and resources toward viable leads.
Here at Callbox, we help our clients expand their markets through six lead generation avenues: voice, email, social, chat, website, and webinars. This multi-channeled marketing, powered by Pipeline and Hubspot, ensures that you always have a way to reach potential customers over the course of the sales process.
That all being said, lead generation is just the beginning. It is one step in a long process toward securing a customer. Leads should be treated like gold because you may only have a few chances to engage with the buyer. If you don’t handle the situation properly, an opportunity with that company could be lost forever.
Here’s how a strategic staffing company was able achieve its goal of acquiring new and qualified clients through Callbox Multi-Touch Multi-Channel Marketing Program.
Lead Management: What’s the Difference?
Once you have generated leads, you must now begin the process of managing them. With dedicated time and research, anyone can generate a list of potential customers and reach out to them, but having a list of potential buyers is not enough to sell your services.
Lead Management is the process of keeping track of potential buyers, nurturing those relationships, and eventually converting leads into paying customers. If you do not have a process in place for this transition from prospect to customer, then all the hard work you just put into finding those leads will be for naught. Although some initial meetings may go smoothly and result in a deal, it is much more common for this process to take a while, with multiple instances of needing to follow up to ensure the prospect is still considering your services.
Every company must have a lead management system, whether internally or outsourced. This prevents any leads from slipping through the cracks. In the process of managing leads, there are many tools and strategies that are at your disposal–from CRM platforms, to understanding Fit and Intent Data, to Lead Nurturing and Lead Scoring.
Aside from generating leads, lead management involves various high-level activities like lead scoring, lead nurturing, and the creation of Ideal Customer Profiles.
Lead management ensures that you have a means to contact the client, engage with them, ask questions, and run that lead’s opportunity out to its conclusion: a yes or no. Once a potential client says yes, congratulations, they are no longer a lead, they’re a customer.
The Ones that Got Away?
But if they say no, that is not always the end. Keep track of these leads; just because there is no opportunity to close a deal today does not mean it will never happen. Sometimes a potential client will give an initial no because of poor timing, a lack of budget for your service, or because you do not currently have all the services they need. However, six months or a year down the line, those targets may come back around as more viable prospects. Keeping track of these leads is important to ensure that an opportunity is not lost for good. Should any of these factors change, that no could become a yes and you can secure yourself a buyer? This is only possible if you have a way to keep track of “cold” leads alongside your “hot” leads. Lead management includes the process of how your company is going to keep track of, engage with, and maintain relationships with potential customers for the long term.
For a more comprehensive look at engaging with cold leads, check out the article below.
How to Reach Cold Leads Without Feeling Invasive
Customer Relationship Management Platforms
Certain tools can be used for lead management, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, like Hubspot and Salesforce, but you can even use Excel and do customer relation management by hand. CRM platforms allow you to track all different kinds of information about a target, and this information can be updated throughout the process to provide a better profile of the prospect. A CRM platform is only as useful as the strategies you implement. It is a tool to manage and store data, which helps in the process of lead management, but it cannot do everything. You must still know how to utilize that data. Lead management requires a human eye and a personal touch.
Fit & Intent Data
Fit data is similar to the development of an Ideal Customer Profile, as both look at whether or not a prospect is the right type of buyer for your company. However while the ICP shows the pattern of your previous customers, fit data tells you if a prospect aligns with your ICP. It answers questions such as “Is this the right buyer?” and “Are they from the right company?” Understanding their demographic, firmographic (company), and behavior will help you determine how complex the sales process will be. It is a good idea to keep a record of all of this information so that you can better manage this lead.
Intent data is another type of lead information that reveals how sales-ready a prospect is at the moment. By keeping an eye on a prospect’s actions, such as interacting with your content, requesting more content, and visiting your website, you are able to gauge just how invested in your product the lead currently is. Using this information, you can direct your marketing efforts toward their interests, increasing their chances of buying.
Lead scoring is the process of assigning point values to different criteria to determine how likely a prospect is to buy in the near future. Usually, the fit data and intent data are accounted for in this, and a lead scoring model is crafted. In a lead scoring model, you choose which criteria have more weight based on a prospect’s industry, job title, current security software, IT budget, whitepaper download, and page visits. After weighing each of your criteria, you can give them each a score from 1 to 10 and then take the average using the aforementioned percentages. The resulting number will tell you how ready that prospect is to buy.
For a more comprehensive look at lead scoring, check out the article below:
Lead Scoring: The 5 Attributes To Consider When Ranking Your Leads
Once you have a lead scoring method in place, you can put that information to use. As mentioned before, not every lead is ready to buy right away, so how do you keep their attention? Lead nurturing is the process of engaging with prospects at every stage of the buying cycle, creating a funnel that will gradually guide your prospect to purchase. With your lead score, you have an idea of how long it may take for the prospect to buy, so you can allocate the appropriate amount of time and resources toward the lead over a period of time.
This step in lead management is paramount to securing the more hesitant buyers since it prioritizes relationship-building and catering content to suit the prospective buyer. Lead nurturing ensures that prospects are seeing relevant, personalized information over time and across multiple channels, so that even if they are not ready to purchase now, you will remain on their mind. Lead generation means nothing if you cannot nurture those leads and help them grow into customers.
For a more comprehensive look at lead nurturing, check out the article below:
Value Your Leads: Lead Nurturing Best Practices to Boost Conversion
The Takeaway: Lead Management is Important
When all is said and done, lead management is crucial in the process of turning leads into clients. A company must generate leads, vet them, create models for fit & intent, score the leads, nurture them, and be willing to play the long game in order to secure buyers. In order to gauge how well your company handles lead management, consider the following questions:
- How does your company generate leads?
- What type of resources does your company have to assist in lead generation?
- What does your lead to customer pipeline look like?
- Do you use a CRM to manage leads?
- How do you score your leads?
- How do you nurture your leads?
By understanding how to manage your leads, you can understand how to capitalize on them. However, much of this can be daunting for companies that are just starting up on lead management. Fortunately, you do not have to go at it alone; lead management can be outsourced, and Callbox is a master of lead generation and lead management. We can offer our services to help you capitalize on the leads that come your way, so leave the heavy lifting of lead management to us and we can teach you how to build a plan that works for you.