MARKETING STRATEGIES: Harvesting your sales leads

features-lead-harvesting-200Last week, I looked at why it is critical that we aim our lead generation strategies at the places where our target customer lives, works, reads, shops, associates and visits. This week, we will look more closely at how we go about harvesting those leads.

In a lead generation system we need to have a systematic process for progressing the enquiry through to a sale-ready lead. To do so, we need to identify what information we need to gather and evaluate in order to undertake a proper qualification.

The next step would be to identify how we collect the information. There could be a number of ways in which the enquiry enters our lead system and each one may have some level of information associated with it. A telesales lead may solicit some information before registering the lead. An internet enquiry may solicit different information, given that prospects are not interacting with an interviewer and their willingness to provide information may be limited.

An enquiry generated at an exhibition may vary from a business card left on the stand to a prospect who saw a detailed presentation or demonstration. An enquiry through email might be limited to contact information or may simply request a brochure.

Each enquiry should be registered and classified according to its quality and status. Once registered, it should be scheduled for follow up via email, phone call, telesales and so on. The purpose of the follow up should be to fill in the information necessary to properly ascertain the prospect’s needs and their sale-ready status. Prospects who fail to engage in a dialogue should be set aside as inactive and put into a monitoring status.

Prospects may be reluctant to provide personal or corporate information early in the interaction but the vendor should keep in mind the need to qualify the prospect, so that resources are put into the most qualified prospects. Those prospects who are reluctant to engage should be channelled to more automated systems where they can gather information, undertake some level of evaluation themselves and be monitored periodically to see if they are ready to engage at a deeper level.

Always remember that you want your sales staff to spend their efforts on sale-ready prospects. If they start spending time chasing unqualified enquiries, you are using skilled resources for what is often low-skilled work. This is not an effective use of sales staff.

Monitoring the lead generation system will ascertain whether adequate numbers of enquiries are being received, enquiries are being progressed at a reasonable rate and the number of sale-ready prospects is sufficient to drive the lead qualification program.

Some level of follow up of initial enquiries is required to ensure the system is working efficiently, that withdrawals are occurring for the right reasons, rejections are appropriate and those on hold or being monitored are being correctly classified.

Here are three important points to remember:

  • Identify how we collect the information.
  • Each enquiry should be registered and classified according to its quality and status.
  • Always remember that you want your sales staff to spend their efforts on sale-ready prospects.

Next week, I’ll be looking at how to improve lead qualification and conversion.

Tom McKaskill is a successful global serial entrepreneur, educator and author who is a world acknowledged authority on exit strategies and the former Richard Pratt Professor of Entrepreneurship, Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia. A series of free eBooks for entrepreneurs and angel and VC investors can be found at his site here.

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