A foundational disconnect exists between marketing and sales, one which too often is left unaddressed. Too many businesses focus entirely on the bottom of the sales funnel. They zero in on recapturing lost leads or converting at the point of sale, without much thought for how the leads arrived there in the first place.
It's not that bottom-of-funnel metrics and optimization aren't important. Quite the contrary—they are instrumental in your success. They are not, however, the only thing that matters. You must be capable of providing your leads with a cohesive, streamlined experience that spans from initial awareness through to the final sale.
That starts with understanding lead management with regards to its role in the sales cycle.
What Is The Lead Cycle, Exactly?
Also known as the lead or lead management process, the lead cycle is the process by which your business locates, identifies, and attracts sales prospects. In part, it serves as a catch-all term for your business's top-of-funnel marketing efforts, which could be anything from social media outreach to paid advertisements.
Here's where things get a bit muddled. As a lead moves past awareness and interest towards consideration and intent, marketing teams must work alongside sales teams. Together, they must determine how best to inform purchase decisions and transform interested prospects into qualified leads and—eventually—customers.
It's in this blending of disciplines that many businesses make their fatal mistake. Rather than nurturing a prospect and providing them with gentle guidance and information, they immediately attempt to convert. Outside the B2B sector, today's audiences aren't interested in the hard sell.
They want to foster a relationship with a brand over time. More importantly, they want to feel like their eventual purchase decision is entirely their own. And even if your business primarily focuses on B2B, you'll still need to ensure your salespeople are armed with accurate data about each lead.
To that end, there are a few things you can do:
- Deploy a lead management platform that integrates with both your marketing and customer relationship management tools.
- Automate your marketing efforts where possible—this includes welcome/recapturing emails, lead tracking, data collection, and scheduling.
- Regularly evaluate and revise the qualifying information your business provides to prospects. Especially in B2B, it's imperative that you give people what they want/need to know.
- While low-hanging fruit has its place in lead generation, the bulk of your marketing efforts should focus on long-term leads.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions about your lead management process, and pay attention to what your target audience is saying online.
- Never stop researching your leads, your market, and your competitors.
What Is the Sales Cycle?
Once your business has captured the attention of a lead and brought them into the funnel, your sales team springs to action. After collaborating with your marketing team to gain information about a lead and understand what they're looking for, the team must then move them down the remainder of the pipeline. The goal here isn't solely to close deals, but rather to transform leads into brand advocates.
To do that, your business must provide a superior customer experience. As you've probably guessed, this is very difficult to do without the information gathered during the lead cycle. If, however, you've effectively wrapped your marketing and lead management tools into your CRM and sales tools, your sales team should have everything they require, including:
- The key selling points which most interest the lead.
- The potential ROI of your product or service.
- What incentives are likeliest to compel the lead to pursue the sale.
- The ability to automatically follow-up with leads that abandon forms or shopping carts.
There are some popular articles about sales cycles stages if you want to educate your self further.
How The Lead Cycle and Sales Cycle Fit Together
The reality is that the lead cycle and the sales cycle are two sides of the same coin—and the terms are frequently used interchangeably. They should be viewed as two halves of a whole rather than distinct or separate processes.
And, the tools you use should reflect this, allowing both marketing and sales to work seamlessly with one another as they attract, nurture, and guide your leads.
And here's where Responser comes in.
Our solutions span the entire sales cycle, from form optimization and lead management to search engine optimization. Whether you need to automatically save and follow-up on abandoned forms or take a deep dive into your audience's core metrics, we've got you covered with intuitive dashboards, automated retargeting, effortless integration, and everything you need to master your sales and lead cycles.
As the only form optimization and lead management tool on the market with Time To Conversion measurement, Responser takes the lead in the space. Keeping track of your first interaction to lead submit is crucial to know how to optimize your lead funnel. In the actual example above, once the prospect abandoned the form, Responser sent an automatic email. You have full transparency into each step of the prospect.
That's a built-in feature so you don't need to connect a 3rd party email service provider like ConvertKit or Mailchimp. Three and a half hours later the prospect clicked the email link and one minute later converted into a lead. Had Responser not automatically engaged with the prospect, this lead would be forever lost.
Another cool feature of Responser is its ability to pre-fill abandoned forms. This leads to even higher conversion rates. Many times a prospect unwillingly closes a tab, the phone rings, or another distraction pulls them away. If they return, they don't have to start over with our lead capture technology.
Ready to optimize the way you collect, manage, and interact with leads?