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Read on to find out why automated lead qualification and scoring is crucial to give your sales team an advantage. An excellent article by Giuseppe D’Angelo
Written by Giuseppe D’Angelo, originally published on https://www.demandgenreport.com/features/demanding-views/best-practices-in-automated-lead-management
If you’re frustrated with the quality of leads that you’re getting from marketing, you’re not alone. According to a CEB study, 49% of sales reps actually ignore more than half of marketing leads. And no wonder. Gleanster Research estimates that only 25% of marketing leads are worth passing along to sales.
The problem isn’t the leads, per se. It’s the lead qualification process — or, more accurately, the lack of a qualification process that is fast and accurate. Manual lead management isn’t practical or even possible in a business environment where digital, inbound lead generation dominates.
It’s critical for companies to manage their leads effectively. That means having a process for accurately scoring and qualifying leads and doing it at scale.
Whether you select a standalone tool, such as an autoresponder for automatically launching email campaigns, or a full suite of tools, automated lead management can improve sales effectiveness and increase ROI while giving prospects a better experience throughout the buyer’s journey.
If you’re among the 58% of B2B companies still planning to adopt marketing automation technology, here are some strategies to consider.
As the sales cycle proceeds and reps engage leads and gather additional information, that data is added to the CRM, which enables lead scoring to automatically update lead qualification.
Before leads can be qualified (either automatically or manually), marketing and sales need to identify the variables that define their ideal customer and assign the values used to score the lead on the likelihood to purchase.
Traditional lead scoring is based on what you know (data), what you ask (during sales calls) and what you can infer (logic). The criteria may include industry, size, possible value of purchase, potential lifetime value of the customer and upsell or cross-sell opportunities. Once the desirable values are coded into the software, the system can automatically calculate values, assign a score and thus qualify leads.
In addition to scoring profiles, marketing automation systems can score interactions. For example, it can evaluate the following:
All this is happening in near-real time. As data is collected and the prospect moves through the buying cycle, the system is weighing each activity and re-scoring the lead.
As artificial intelligence is integrated into marketing automation tools, lead scoring becomes more predictive. The systems can look for patterns in the data gathered to actually predict the likelihood of a purchase.
Just as initial lead qualification helps reps prioritize their response, automated list segmentation allows you to offer prospects messaging tailored to their needs, interests and situations.
Initially, you might have only a few segments to differentiate prospects by industry, location and size. As you collect more information about buying behavior, needs, pain points and timeline for making a buying decision, you can increase your segments. Deep segmentation, which enables you to offer more personalized messaging, increases email opens, clickthrough rates and even the likelihood that a prospect will reply to a voicemail message.
By targeting your message by segment, you can schedule follow-up calls when new products become available, you have a special offer and even when a change in industry regulations or tax implications makes your product or service more relevant.
Email campaigns are a time-tested strategy for both nurturing and engaging customers and prospects. With either a standalone autoresponder or a tool within your marketing automation suite, you can schedule a whole campaign of emails or allow a prospect’s activity to trigger a single email response.
The key to best-in-class lead management is knowing that you are scoring, qualifying and segmenting accurately. And that the events and activities that trigger email campaigns, select messaging and schedule nurturing calls are delivering the greatest returns possible.
But you can’t set it and forget it. You always need to test and measure throughout the marketing process to identify any breakdown points or processes that need improving. For example, if you’re driving prospects to your website and lead generation is growing but your sales are stagnant, you may have a problem with lead scoring.
Your automated lead management needs to constantly test and measure all results to make sure your criteria hold up, you minimize the time spent on tasks and generate the highest ROI possible.
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