Crm Software For Lead Nurturing And Marketing Automation
CRM software today is rapidly becoming a key business application to be used across quite a few organisational functions. Traditionally, CRM has been a contact management tool, but is now being used to help maintain customer service at the highest levels and most importantly lead nurturing and marketing automation. The question is how can you build and nurture your prospects, develop them and pass your lead to your sales team with confidence that they have a high chance of success?
Lead nurturing is a process of maintaining constant contact with prospects that have been identified as interested in your products or services, but may not yet be ready to purchase. Depending whether it is a consumer or business the purchase decision may take some time. On average for a consumer purchase the time spend researching is around 3 months, while a large ticket purchase in a business environment could be many more months or years.
With the drive to maximise the effectiveness of sales and marketing resources, the role of sales is to spend time talking to people who are ready to buy. The role of marketing however is to maintain contact, nurture opportunities until the prospect is in a buying cycle. Statistics have shown that around 70% of prospects are longer term opportunities. Passing these to your sales team immediately can be a waste of sales resources.
Additionally, most leads – up to 90% are never followed up by sales. Perhaps this is because they are not ready to make a decision and your sales team loses interest. This then provides enormous scope for marketing to nurture prospects through constant contact. This contact does not have to be face to face, but can be through telemarketing, email campaigns, seminars, webinars or even RSS feeds on your website.
There are two key areas that you must have to successfully nurture prospects. Firstly, you must have a database of segmented contacts and secondly a constant stream of educational content to send to them. Most companies have a contact database that has been built over time. It may comprise of current customers and prospects that have been gathered from sales calls, references, trade shows or seminars.
Considering that a significant amount of initial research is conducted on the Internet then your website becomes a major funnel for engaging new contacts. Having someone provide contact details to you is an art itself. However, if you have the right content such as whitepapers, articles, E-Books, webinars or even product demonstrations you stand a chance at grabbing that new contact.
With the right content, you can automate your series of communications that are automatically sent to your database, as if each contact was an individual and each has their own email schedule based on when they have subscribed to your marketing message. For example, a prospect that signed up 3 months ago may have already had 3 or more communications, while one that signs up today may get the first of the same communications immediately and then are scheduled for the others.
You therefore have two processes automated. Firstly capturing prospects into your database and secondly the series of communications with them over time.
Marketing therefore becomes a lead developer as opposed to just a lead generator. The next step is to qualify a suspect or prospect into a lead and pass onto sales. Some qualification attributes might be:
– Has budget allocated
– Has a problem that you can solve
– Has a direct role in the purchasing decision
– Has a defined timeframe to purchase.
In this way, you maximize the effectiveness of your sales team, allowing them to deal with people who are in the buying cycle. Marketing therefore is able to generate and capture contacts, qualify or score them at a point in time and nurture them so that they become real leads.
CRM solutions such as Microsoft CRM software or Goldmine CRM whether you have an in-house or web based CRM software then becomes integral to the success of lead nurturing and marketing automation as you develop a communication workflow according to your prospects profile. As you record all your contact points with a prospect, you can then build credibility in their eyes, but also a strong profile of interest so that your qualification process can define when the time is right to get sales involved.
Geoff Cooper is a business management consultant and helps clients grow their business sustainably. He has a keen interest in CRM software – particularly Microsoft CRM Software, Goldmine CRM and web based CRM software solutions.