Effective Prospecting Through Automation

A CRM solution can offer a comprehensive Marketing prospect/lead tracking system which allows marketing executives to access real-time information regarding leads and where they came from.  C2CRM, for example gives the Marketing team instant views of leads in the sales pipeline.  They will know where a lead came from, when it was entered, the lead status and who is working the lead.  Moreover, information can be charted which shows the number of leads which turned into REAL opportunities.  Actual sales numbers can then be traced back to the original marketing promotion to help show the true impact that a marketing initiative had on the bottom line. A ROI can then be calculated giving management a tool to assist them to decide which programs should be renewed and or discontinued based on actual data.

The key to making the prospecting/lead process more efficient is AUTOMATION.  Below are some ways CRMs can incorporate automation into the various components of their Lead Management System to ensure a more streamlined process.

Lead Capture

There are many ways to get leads inputted into the CRM system.  They typically depend on the lead source.  If a lead comes from a referral you will probably enter it in manually.  In addition, through an integration point in your CRM, leads can be entered automatically from your company’s website, customer portal or on-line lead service.  They can also be automatically created via a spreadsheet import from a trade show booth you recently hosted.  Finally, leads can be secured into the CRM through social media sites that are being monitored…this is most common if the new lead is from an existing customer or prospect in the system.

Lead Touching

Once the lead is captured and entered into the system, the next step typically results with some type of product/branding messaging being communicated (by Marketing) to the prospect (not involving Sales at this time).  When done automatically, it usually involves an email campaign sent out to a large list of prospects.  In many cases, multiple emails being sent automatically over time (in the same campaign) until the prospect responds is most effective…this is called “Conveyor Belt Marketing”.  In addition, even more focused messaging can be received when prospects are automatically transferred to a different campaign because they clicked on a link in a form letter.  This is called “Drip Marketing”.  The final aspect to consider for an email campaign is to ensure the message is effectively reaching and connecting with the largest audience possible.  This can be achieved through A/B Split Testing where samples of various form letter subject titles, content and delivery times are sent out prior to the actual mass mailing to see which generates the best performance statistics.

Lead Categorizing/Prioritization

In order to fill your sales funnel, many leads need to be captured as few actually convert into opportunities (depending on your industry conversion ratio).  These large number of leads could potentially create “noise” for the sales rep if he had to follow up on all of them without knowing which ones to qualify first.  CRMs can provide lead categorization/prioritization automatically through “Lead Scoring”.  Scoring leads, typically with a point system, is a great way gauging the interest of a prospect without any manual intervention.  Points can be generated many different conditions.  A few examples but not limited to are: (1) how they have responded to the campaign messaging you’ve sent them (opens & clicks), (2) whether they responded on your company website (web lead) or (3) simply have the demographics that match your company’s business model.  Gathering the points is not enough… they need to be categorized into temperature groups (i.e. Hot, Warm, Cool, Cold) with thresholds to be then delivered to sales reps when they reach the “Hot Lead” category.  This ensures that the sales rep spends his time judiciously following up on the potentially best leads first and avoiding the noise.

Lead Qualifying/Nurturing

Once the sales reps obtain the prioritized leads to follow up on, they will need to qualify them to see if there is a potential opportunity to pursue.  Once a lead is qualified, it will go through nurturing process until an opportunity is identified.  Depending on the industry, it can be a short or long process.  The longer the process, more automation (via Activity Management workflow) is leveraged to ensure the sales rep is properly communicating with the prospect in a timely manner.

Lead Tracking

Throughout the process of lead management, the “connective tissue” of all the elements above that allow reps and management to effectively make decisions (daily and strategic) are having easy-to-understand reports and dashboard widgets that reflect the view of impending sales as well as campaign performance and ROI.  Having these statistics automatically populate reports and widgets to get a quick snapshot of where the business stands is key to make critical decisions.

The challenges of a competitive and dynamic marketplace make marketing a crucial component to a successful organization.  Businesses which implement CRM strategies are able to arm themselves with tools to not only streamline the marketing process, but build it into a well-tuned machine which is capable of spending money in a targeted and effective manner.  While doing so is always the goal of a marketing team, there is a difference between the perceptions of efficient marketing and the reality of the results.  That’s where CRM can play a vital role in providing concrete, real-time data which puts little doubt as to where the marketing dollars are working.  As a result, your business will save money by spending it where it has the most impact and NOT spending it on wasted efforts. Many CRM software platforms do not have an integrated marketing automation component. This is an unfortunate oversight because marketing is the lifeblood of every business. Improving marketing effectiveness is can give your business a definitive strategic advantage that can go directly to the bottom line.