Lead management is a key inter-sectional topic between sales and marketing. Having a well defined follow-up strategy is critical in having a clean handover process.

The consequences of going without are striking. 71% of qualified leads are never followed up on, notes the Harvard review. This discord between your outreach arms can cost you, not just in terms of revenue but in terms of customer satisfaction too. Firms who did align their departments saw 30% increases in their revenue year on year, while their counterparts who failed to align saw a fall of 7%.

So having a clear structure, in the form of an SLA, is crucial. Your teams need to know how and how fast to approach leads, when they should be followed up on, and when to hand over to their colleagues. Part of that process will involve classification of leads, both in terms of value and context.

Lead Classification in Four Steps

When developing your lead management, make sure to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s the product?

What kind of lead response you have is going to vary depending on the product you are providing. If it’s a new problem, and a new product engagement, then you can afford to take your time on the follow-up. With a currently filled requirement, you need to move quickly to secure the lead, which might necessitate different strategies.

  • What’s the firm

Make sure you stay focused on the firm behind the inquiry, so you can gauge what priority your response needs. Big firms, with typically high quality engagements, require a swift and thorough response. So make sure your strategies are ready to delineate between immediate and secondary concerns.

  • Where did the lead originate?

There are a few was you can split this up, but typically firms take a digital/analog approach. Something that comes in online usually needs some sort of quick turnaround. Some offline requests can also require speed, but generally you can allow a little more time.

  • Buyer profile

Make sure to take into consideration factors like the buyer’s persona, or how they have interacted with you in the past. If a customer is relatively far down the sales funnel, you might want to respond quickly to secure the sale.

Lead Designation

Now that you know how to classify your leads, you need to define your relationship with those classifications. Many firms employ either a triage or scoring system, and what works best for you will depend on your situation. Scoring tends to be best when you are very certain about your prospect’s behaviour, and your inbound leads are high in volume.

For most firms, a basic triage will suffice. This can be done by differentiating between qualified or not-qualified, and then dividing qualified into low, medium and high priority. This allows you a decent degree of granularity, without going down the long path of behavioural analysis.

  • Responding effectively

The key thing to take away from this article is that most leads are not responded to. So just getting over that hurdle is an achievement in itself. That being said, there are a number of things to keep in mind when you do get around to contacting your leads.

  • Frequency

While no lead appreciates being bombarded with outreach, getting in touch more than once is generally a good idea. Maintain a constant pace of lead response, and you can increase your chance of making a solid contact.

Don’t forget to vary your contacts, so that it isn’t all just email. Voicemail and posted material are both excellent choices for a co-ordinated follow up.

  • Timing

Touching back on what we mentioned earlier, timing will vary on the various lead categories. It’s important to make sure that, whatever you do, your response time is appropriate to the medium. The average delay for most firms is almost two days, which is a lot of time for a lead to cool off. Make sure your system responds within an appropriate time frame, and you are already going above and beyond the competition!

  • Nurture

Sometimes, your response management won’t be enough, and you’ll lose a lead. In that instance, it’s important to have a nurturing policy in place to bring it back into the fold. This remains true even if you receive a response, but no sale. The long-term goal of any response management in to close, so don’t get distracted by the response alone!