B2B Lead Management – 6 Best Practices

Some companies are good at generating B2B sales leads, others are good at qualifying and closing those leads, but the top performing companies, are those that leverage B2B lead management techniques and can do both.  Here are six strategies you can implement to create your own unstoppable marketing and sales machine:

  1. Follow up every inbound inquiry within 48 hours – preferably 24 hours.  Leads have a short shelf and the person who was enthusiastic about your offer yesterday, may not remember who you are tomorrow.  This is such an important topic that I wrote a blog post about it titled: Sales Lead Management: Are You a Victim of FTFU (Failure to Follow-Up)?
  2. Capture every lead in a single system (CRM or marketing database), along with all relevant marketing and sales data. I’ve talked to companies who have three or more opt-in inquiry databases, making it very difficult to implement drip marketing programs.
  3. Set strict criteria for scoring leads.  To make a lead management system work you need to use consistent and reliable metrics at every step of the process. In other words, the definition of what constitutes an A or B lead should not change based on who qualified the lead.
  4. If possible, make the qualification portion of B2B lead management a marketing task, not a sales task.  Sales people are good at taking leads from qualification to closure, not at initial lead scoring.  I know this is a generalization, and there are exceptions, but you will usually get more efficiency when you let marketing take the lead in managing leads.
  5. Set-up a service level agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales.  This should not just be an informal “what are you going to do for me?” conversation, but rather a well thought out written plan covering exactly what the marketing department is going to deliver to sales in terms of inquiries and qualified leads.  Sales should reciprocate by setting goals for turning qualified leads into opportunities, and opportunities into sales.  It’s a beautiful thing when both departments accomplish their individual objectives and contribute to corporate success.
  6. Don’t forget that lead nurturing is as valuable as lead generation.   My Fusion Marketing Partners clients, as well as my two decades of experience in high tech marketing, have proven that you can get just as many sales from the segment of leads that aren’t ready to buy now, as from those who are  immediately qualified.

Speaking of lead nurturing, David Meerman Scott wrote a very interesting blog post titled B2B Sales Leads are Too Important for Sales People at www.webinknow.com.   I really liked this sentence in his post: “How about warming up potential customers by giving them gifts of valuable content well before the salesperson bugs them by trying to sell something?”  Sounds like a good plan to me.