Lead management encompasses all the measures a company leverages across various communication channels to turn interested persons into actual customers.
What good, systematic lead management looks like and which special characteristics need to be considered for B2B are revealed by Reinhard Janning. A thought leader in the area of marketing automation and an author, he has been developing innovative products for 25 years and is an expert in the field of customer journey management.
Mr Janning, what is behind systematic lead management and how is it different from regular customer acquisition?
The term lead management has become established within the last ten years. It covers the entire process of customer acquisition. The traditional cold calling or personal meetings is just one option in B2B. Lead management, in contrast, encompasses all communication channels now at our disposal since the dawn of the digital age: emails, chats, social and business networks, to name just a few. And these touchpoints should not be separated from one another, but have to interact with one another consistently, systematically and harmoniously. This makes lead management a part of customer experience management, as it covers the entire customer life cycle.
Reinhard Janning, marketing automation expert
How is good lead management set up?
Good lead management consists of four elements. First, well-harmonised processes are necessary, for steering communication with the customer across all channels. For instance, if someone has just received an email, they should not then get a phone call ten minutes later. Second, a company needs good content: white papers, ebooks, brochures, websites, landing pages, presentations or newsletters. After all, there’s nothing to communication if you don’t have content. The third element is data. You need email addresses and permissions in order to be able to send out the content. Finally, a marketing automation platform is necessary which supports the entire method systematically.
During the process of customer acquisition, a fast reaction time is essential. Can good lead management help? And what is considered fast in B2B today?
Good lead management not only provides information quickly, it also provides the right information. Indeed, the speed of communication is one of the most fundamental factors. Privately, we are used to receiving a reply immediately. Those who react quickly to customer requests will also reap the benefits. As a general guide, I created the 2-2-2 rule: if a customer visits a website and, for instance, would like an ebook, they should receive it within two minutes via email. If I ask to be called during business hours using the contact form on a website, my phone should ring within two hours. And if I am waiting for a cost estimate, this should reach me within two days.
Lead management encompasses all communication channels now at our disposal since the dawn of the digital age: emails, chats, social and business networks, to name just a few.
The implementation of lead management involves some effort. For which B2B companies is it worthwhile to invest this effort?
You should have a potential target group of at least 20,000 contact so that the time and money invested pay off. After all, in addition to the financial costs involving the suitable software there is also the staff costs. You need a head responsible person, either from marketing or from sales. And the management team in both departments must support the initiative. The entire set-up of a functioning lead management takes about half a year.
Can you provide a concrete example as to how the sales process in a company can be improved by the use of systematic lead management?
There are companies which, with the use of systematic lead management, have managed to implement storytelling in addition to their purely product or service communication – in other words, they have explained why it is so important to take up their offer. A concrete example: an IT consulting company hired an editor whose task was to create content centred round the topics which the target group was interested in. These blog articles were then distributed digitally across various channels to the potential customers, who then became interested persons and whose information was passed on to sales. Here is where we see all four elements of lead management come together: good content, harmonious processes and the use of existing data. All of this was supported by a software platform which helped to plan and realise the campaign efficiently.