This should be a no-brainer, but keeping track of your leads shouldn’t be confined to Post-It notes and pub napkins.  At first, our companies start on a small scale. We may only have a few customers over a short amount of time, so our business become easy to manage just by memory and familiarity. ”Oh, that’s the Parker account. She said she wanted an invoice on Tuesday…”

That’s all well and good if you’re in the bootstrapping mode—it might even be advantageous at that stage in your business to have that mental checklist to refer to. However, working like that in the long-term is where we tend to hit roadblocks. For instance, how do new employees know what what the client’s history is with your company when you aren’t there to tell them to treat particular clients as VIPs or persona non gratas? How do we pass off responsibility to those growing parts of company?

What’s really needed is a way to keep track of our leads early on so that we can make informed decisions for our marketing, getting the most out of our ad campaigns and finding out how to turn potential customers into repeat clientele.

How to Manage Your Leads

So, you’ve hit that point of overloaded frustration.  Your contact list is overflowing and you’re not entirely sure if you should hand over your Outlook details to those temp workers you’ve hired. What you need is a system to manage your leads effectively and not in just an ”organised chaos” sort of way.

Luckily for the savvy entrepreneurs, CRMs exist.

What’s a CRM, you say? CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, or in other words, a management system to stay informed about current and future customers. By compiling different interaction sources (phone calls, in-person meetings, emails, etc.), we can develop a picture of the customer and make more informed decisions. Inherent in the system of interactions of a CRM is the ability to track and organise data.This can reduce redundancy, staying consistent with keeping track of leads, especially if you have different sales people handling the same customers—no one likes to have to repeat themselves, especially considering consumers feel that a company should be an omnipotent entity that knows how to handle all of their demands.  Well, sort of.

Of course, these uses are just the beginning of using CRMs. Much like any application in your business, the size and complexity must scale with your growth. By basing your business around a CRM from the get-go, you will dramaticaly increase your productivity and efficiency. Better than frantically searching through your inbox history, no?

There’s a number of CRMs out there available for businesses. If you’re looking for a comprehensive solution to your keeping track of your leads in an efficient manner, Hubspot offers their free CRM that can get your started right away. The industry leader, with over $37billion in sales, is Salesforce, however the size and complexity of their software may be beyond the scope of startups in their nascent phases. For those looking for more nuanced CRMs beyond both of the aforementioned, a Google search will yield dozens of prospective applications for your business. Experiment to find a good fit.

Some Thoughts About Leads

Ok, now that you’ve got your organisation methods worked out and your CRM is in place, what about the leads themselves?

It can be difficult to know what the appropriate amount of times you should contact prospective and current customers. The sweet spot is more elusive than first meets the eye: too much contact and you might annoy your customers with oversaturation; too little contact and you may lose the rapport you’ve carefully built.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for pursuing leads. Instead, let’s take a look at some guidelines to follow:

  • Immediacy is Key: In this often-cited study by Forbes, 71% of Internet-based leads are lost simply because businesses didn’t follow up in time. The article is extensive in its statistical analysis, but the idea is the same—be fast and direct with your follow-ups. Because of the rapid nature of our digital world, customers can simply browse other available options until they are contacted directly or take their own initiative.
  • What’s Their Movitation: Track your data to get into the mindset of your typical customer. It may go without saying, but you need to tailor your approach to different reasons why your customer is interested in your company, especially if your industry attracts all types of consumers. Contact them with appropriate followup material—categorisation is necessary. For instance, if you run an online shoe company, pitching your hottest deals for high heels isn’t going to persuade a construction worker that you have taken the time to accommodate their particular needs and wants.
  • Inbound’s in Place: Just as it is true in the brick-and-mortar world, presentation is a key element to capturing leads. If your inbound marketing looks wonky or unfinished, that’s akin to stepping into an empty restaurant on a Friday night. Make sure that everything is streamlined and leave no room for your lead to go with another source just because you left your overall strategy for another day.




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