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Businesses Need to Rethink Lead Management. Here's How Tech Can Help. Today's buyer journeys have become increasingly self-directed. Marketing and sales teams need to anticipate buyer needs and curate personalized interactions — and these technology solutions can help.

By Margaret Wise

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A good lead management strategy should enable your revenue operations teams to meet potential customers where they are while providing the necessary tools and resources to move them to purchase. However, the landscape of buying and selling has undergone some dramatic changes in recent years. Marketing and sales teams have shifted from the role of guide to something more like a concierge as buyer journeys have become increasingly self-directed. To manage leads in this new role, teams need to be able to anticipate buyer needs and curate personalized interactions. The right technology solutions can help:

Better qualify with lead scoring

Timing is a crucial part of lead management. The right message needs to be delivered at just the right time to be effective. But in today's non-linear buying journey, both timing and messaging have become moving targets as potential buyers go back and forth from research to engagement and back again. Tools like lead scoring can take the guesswork out of lead qualification.

Lead scoring software allows revenue operations to assign point values to buyer behaviors. Top-funnel activities have the lowest values, and bottom-funnel have the highest. The higher a lead's score, the farther they are in their journey to purchase. Scores can be categorized into different phases of the buying journey that then correlate with specific outreach activities. With today's non-linear buyer journey, organizations must use a lead scoring program that subtracts points as well as adds them to ensure accuracy.

In addition to keeping track of lead positions within the sales pipeline, implementing lead scoring can also improve collaboration between marketing and sales teams. Both departments need to discuss the sales funnel at length to agree on terms and clearly define the behaviors and stages of the buyer journey. These discussions can lead to a better understanding of the other's perspective.

Related: Tips and Tools for Better Managing Lead Flow and Converting Sales

Continue engagement and prevent lost opportunities with automation

Most buyers have lengthened their timeline to purchase since the pandemic, so businesses have extended their nurturing campaigns in response. Marketing and sales automation software is great for keeping leads engaged while reducing missed opportunities and optimizing marketing workloads.

Software enables employees to set up customized campaigns that trigger actions automatically when specified conditions are met. Marketers can create complex sequences that involve different triggers like event attendance or form submission and assign corresponding actions such as email, text message or a notification for direct outreach. You can even incorporate personalization efforts into sequences using decision nodes that will perform different actions when a lead meets specific criteria.

Automation can be an extremely helpful tool for recycling leads who are not sales-ready. For example, say sales gets a lead interested in purchasing, but they cannot buy until later in the year. Instead of sales flagging the lead for follow-up later and having no contact for months, an automation sequence can be set up that sends flagged leads back to a nurturing cycle until it's time for sales to reach back out. During that time, the lead receives relevant content and information to keep your brand top-of-mind until they can make a purchase.

Related: Why Implementing Automation is Key for Sales Acceleration Today

Personalize marketing efforts by enriching data

The recent "Next in Personalization" report from McKinsey illustrates how important personalization is to consumers and how much companies can benefit from it. But there is only so much you can do with a name, a company and an email address. You need more details, and you can get them with data enrichment.

A data enrichment service takes customer data and adds to it by running it through a collection of third-party sources, filling in details like job title, company size and more. Depending on the data service, you can even specify what kinds of data you're interested in. With enriched data, you can further define your customer segments and be more targeted with your marketing and sales efforts. For example, you could create landing pages tailored to companies of a certain size or design email campaigns that address the top concerns of a specific job title. Furthermore, your sales and marketing teams can use enriched data to improve personalization efforts in their one-to-one interactions.

Related: Five Actionable Steps to Use Personalization to Boost Sales

Improve collaboration and customer experience with a holistic view of data

The buying journey has only grown more complex in the digital age. There's an increasing number of touch points and channels to manage, and now, multiple hand-offs between marketing and sales. But this also means that organizations have access to more customer data than ever before — if they can see it, that is.

Imagine having two puzzle pieces but never putting them together to complete the picture. This is what it's like to have data silos. Traditionally, companies have kept customer data separated by department, but this practice prevents them from seeing the buyer journey in its entirety. This segmented view increases the chances of sending irrelevant or repeat information to potential customers and losing them.

Businesses must invest in technology that can centralize data in a single, accessible location. By doing so, organizations can empower revenue operations like never before with a comprehensive list of customer interactions including email campaigns, sales calls, form submissions and more. Knowing more information about a lead enables teams to better predict what they need next and improve conversion outcomes.

Now that buying and selling are firmly rooted in the digital realm, it's subject to digital expectations. In a world of search engines, advanced predictive algorithms and 24/7 availability, it's a tall order to fill. Fortunately, businesses can also utilize the digital world to their own advantage by equipping their sales and marketing teams with the technologies to effectively manage leads to purchase.

Margaret Wise

Chief Revenue Officer of ClickDimensions

Margaret Wise has more than 20 years of experience helping companies leverage and attain results from their digital customer-experience platforms. As an early influencer in the CRM space, Wise has a keen understanding of the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem, marketing technology and strategy.

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