Do you like your customers? Don’t forget how your relationship started!

Do you like your customers? Don’t forget how your relationship started!
Do you remember how you met your girlfriend/boyfriend? You probably didn’t start the relationship instantly. But maybe there was already a mutual feeling and an existing chance for something more. In the case of business, this would be called the Lead Stage.

A lot of people overlook this first contact but, as you can see from a real life, without this first contact there wouldn’t be the rest of the story.

So if you think leads are important there are three issues you should care about when managing them:

#1 Define what a lead means in your company

We had a nice discussion a few weeks ago with more than 30 business experts about defining leads. Here are some ideas on what a lead means:

"I've always likened a lead to a post-it note that's been left on someone's desk. There's a name and a number on there plus maybe a line describing what they want,"
"A lead is a contact or an account with very little information. It could be just a person who you might have met at a conference. You will need to retrieve more information regarding this lead in order to create (qualify) an opportunity in your sales pipeline. A old sales rule says: “If you have never contacted your contact, it’s a lead.”
"However, leads are time sensitive - that's important. I may be a prospect, call you to get a quote and at that point I am a 'lead'. But you have to set the parameters as to when I revert back to being a prospect and no longer a lead if I don't purchase.

For example, an active lead might be defined as somebody who last made contact - and either by doing or implied behavior they have shown an intent to buy or get more information once within in the last 30 days. If the person does not go any further in the sales funnel, then I'm not longer an engaged lead and should be switched back to being a prospect. Maybe contact will be made again in a few months or years, and that person once again becomes a lead.

Prospects and Leads are not the same. A lead is engaged, a prospect is not."

As you can see there is no strict definition. There are even businesses not working with leads at all and it works for them. It is necessary to define what a lead means in the case of your business. The best thing is to define it together with your sales/marketing team so everybody in the company will feel it makes sense. You will also avoid misunderstanding within the team and will be able to control this area.

#2 Keep good records of leads

Having leads listed on a piece of paper is not a good solution for 2015. The minimum would be an Excel spreadsheet that everyone in the company knows where to find and how to manage - you shouldn’t lose leads in your own mess (that’s a crucial and common problem). But an even better solution is to have leads in your Customer relation manager (CRM). Most of your leads will be filed automatically and the sales reps will more likely actually work with leads because you can assign automatic activities to each lead.

#3 Set rules for managing leads

The third business-saving step is to set rules on how to work with leads. For example, I will call back every missed phone call the next day (at the latest). This is an easy one, but you can also set personalised emails, letters and marketing campaigns. It all depends on your business specifics. If you don’t know where to start, you can set the most basic rule for all your leads - contact every one of them on monthly basis with simple follow-up call. After some time you can improve upon this process and every improvement will have some effect on your sales.

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