Managing leads online is the key to each and every successful online business. How would you feel walking into a car dealership at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on a Tuesday to buy a new car, only to be told that you can’t look at any cars today, can’t see any prices, and that a salesman will “get back to you at their earliest convenience?”
People want what they want now, not later. Be that pre-sale’s info or your product in their hands. When someone indicates interest in your product or service, they’re not doing so because they have zero interest in what you’re offering. But, leads don’t last forever, and it’s rare you’ll get a second chance if you don’t follow up quickly, or fail to cultivate and nurture them properly after getting a commitment of some sort.
People who show interest online are very unlikely to be a little old lady looking for someone to chat with to pass the time. They’re interested, and it’s up to you to contact them ASAP. It’s up to you to learn as much as you can about their needs and wants, and to effectively manage their data in order to cultivate a long-term relationship.
There are online lead collection tactics to follow and tools to use. But those are not enough if you can’t manage your online leads well. That said, here are 4 essential tips for managing your online leads more effectively:
1. Use customer relationship management (CRM) software to track leads and customer data
If lead generation is an important aspect of your business, I’d bet money you’d be hard-pressed to sit down with me and try to justify how your business couldn’t benefit from a CRM. Whether you choose a limited free option, or a paid feature-rich alternative, everyone on your sales and service team benefits when a CRM solution is implemented.
Some platforms will work better than others when taking your business’s unique needs into consideration. However, most all the big heavyweights in this space offer free, yet limited functionality, where you can start out slow and add paid features as your business grows.
2. Use a ready-made online lead-gen template to save time, hassle, and your team’s “creative currency!”
Ready-made lead generation templates offer the advantage of cutting out a lot of the muss and fuss that comes with building an online outreach campaign from scratch, thus letting the creatives on your team focus on more important things like coming up with new marketing campaigns.
There are a lot of great online platforms out there to choose from, with prebuilt templates for every campaign you would possibly want to launch in order to capture more leads. From registration and contact forms, to satisfaction and post event surveys, consumer polls and of course; lead generation templates that can be tweaked and customized to do almost anything you need them to.
3. NEVER sit on your online leads for more than 30 minutes!
In fact, thirty minutes might be too long for most prospects. The chances of you or your sales rep getting a response after a half hour is 100x less. After an hour, you can pretty much forget about whatever stale lead you’re chasing, as that figure rises up into the 3000x less-likely-to-respond range! You’ve spent the money getting those leads via guest posts, vlogs, Adwords, and other media buys. Lead gen isn’t free, you’ve got to strike while the iron’s hot!
Leads ultimately start to spoil at the five minute range, and get worse and worse as each minute goes by therafter. Time of day should be a non-factor as well. Leads overseas don’t care if it’s midnight where your business is headquartered. There are far too many affordable lead management services out there that you can hire to cover your online leads after business hours. For that matter, hire virtual assistants in different time zones to make sure your leads get responded to immediately.
4. Keep in touch with each and every one of your online leads
Fact is, fresh leads are rarely ready to buy when they first contact you, meaning you need to capture and track every bit of data you can, and use that information to stay in touch, to keep giving them gentle nudges in your direction until they are ready. This is one of the reasons you want to use forms to capture data and contact the customer to delve more into their needs, then store that data in a CRM that allows you to set reminders to keep in touch so you can eventually close the sale.
Categorize your lead data in a way that allows you to most effectively nurture them with respect to their level of interest. For example:
- Contacts: Have indicated they’re not ready to buy now, but may be at some point in the future (eg., they’re signed with another company and the contract doesn’t end until “XYZ” date, or they’re coming into an inheritance in the future, etc.)
- Active leads: Have indicated they’re ready to buy, and are in the process of making a final decision (you need to do as much as you can to stay on the forefront of their decision-making process, without scaring them away.)
- Active customers: Have purchased a product, used your service and/or signed a contract (don’t sit on them and wait for them to contact you because they’ve bought already and indicated they were happy.)
Using your customer data, you can set reminders and come up with innovative ways to reach out to clients without pushing the limits of their patience. Email, lettermail, phone calls, drop-ins, and more are all effective ways to stay in touch with leads at each level of your sales funnel.
Effective lead management is 100% your responsibility. Customers aren’t going to spoon-feed business to you. In most cases, they’ll never go out of their way to start a relationship or keep it going.
There’s lots of competition in the online space and the companies that win biggest are those that carefully generate, cultivate, and nurture every lead they can get their hands on.