By Tamara Weintraub
Most small business owners understand how important it is to invest in online lead generation, and they use a range of tactics including search advertising, email marketing, retargeting and more. But according to research commissioned by InsideSales, 55 percent of companies don’t respond to new sales leads at all. Why don't small businesses invest in lead management tools to organize and respond to leads?
Take a minute to think about how your business handles new sales leads. What does it cost you each time you lose a viable prospect? Whether it’s because you didn’t call back quickly enough, or because you didn’t have a way to stay in touch after your first interaction, you can no longer afford to make excuses for not following up with your leads.
It’s time to implement a system to help you organize leads and follow up on them; that will make getting more customers online—and keeping them—a significantly less daunting task. Not convinced? Read on.
3 Reasons Small Businesses Need Lead Management Systems
1. Up to 50 percent of consumers buy from the business that responds fastest
In today’s competitive online landscape, consumers may contact your local business for a variety of reasons: to ask about new products or services, to get a price quote, or to book an appointment. But in many cases, those calls go to voicemail or to an answering service that can’t provide the information your prospects need. That’s why it’s so important to follow up with them as soon as possible; if you don’t respond quickly enough—or at all—you risk losing those prospects to your competitors.
- TIP: You or a delegated staff person should respond to legitimate prospects who contact your business. Investing in a lead generation management service that provides real-time lead notifications, such as an email or SMS message, when someone contacts your business can help you respond promptly. Consider this: after the first hour, you are 10 times less likely to reach a new lead.
2. Nearly 75 percent of new leads never hear back from the business they contacted
That sounds like a high percentage, right? Okay then, how do you keep track of the calls you receive from your online marketing so you can follow up with your prospects? If you jot their contact information on a Post-it Note or on the back of a business card, you're likely to lose their information and you won’t be able to follow up. That’s why you need a standardized process for capturing and recording new lead data—complete with contact details.
- TIP: Determine what information you want to gather and, when your prospects first contact you, have employees ask how they heard about your business, as well as any qualifying information, such as their interest in certain products or services. Employees should record this data in a central place, such as a CRM system or even something as basic as a shared spreadsheet on Google Drive.
- TIP: Use software to create submission forms on your website to capture online leads and contact information. Or you can use a call-tracking number or tracking URL that you can place in your offline or online advertising, so when people contact you via those methods, you can record the call and caller details like name and caller ID. You can also play back the call to pull out any other pertinent data.
3. Half of new leads are not ready to buy
Many consumers who contact your business will not be ready to make a purchase right away. This is especially true for industries with products or services that require a lot of research or that have longer sales cycles, such as an auto dealer or kitchen remodeler.
But just because they’re not ready to buy at that moment doesn’t mean they’re not a valuable lead; especially if they are considering a high-cost purchase. Staying in touch with these leads long after they contact you helps prospects to remember you when the time to buy finally arrives.
- TIP: Take time to categorize and organize your leads. As soon as a new lead comes in, it’s important to classify that lead as a contact, an active lead, a long-term lead, or an active customer. Regularly check your contact list and remove duplicate leads, re-classify any leads that have converted into customers, and make sure all contact information is complete and up-to-date.
- TIP: Consistently and regularly reach out to leads who have contacted you but who have not yet completed a purchase. For instance, you could send automated lead nurturing emails that contain relevant information such as company news, tips from the industry, new product and service offerings, or promotions and specials. Doing so makes long-term leads more likely to come back to your business when they’re ready to buy.
Do you handle new leads with care? How does your business follow up with leads to ensure you close the sale?
Tamara Weintraub is the content marketing Manager at ReachLocal (NASDAQ:RLOC).