Leads are the lifeblood of any business. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or seasoned business owner, how you generate and track your leads is a critical process to business growth and success. So often we make contact with a lead only to have the communication come to a halt. This plug in your pipeline is a sign that your lead process is not flowing as smoothly as it could. To prevent this backlog in business, here are three ways to help keep your lead pipeline moving consistently and strategically.
Profile Your Leads
Not all leads are equal; rather they sit somewhere on a spectrum ranging from cold to hot. By profiling your leads you will gather a sense of their “heat index” and be able to prioritize how much time you spend on each lead or if you choose to follow-up at all. It’s also important to focus most of your time on leads that meet the criteria of an ideal client. You should go after leads that need the services you offer. It sounds simple, but so often we waste our time chasing after clients who aren’t convinced they have a need or are asking for services outside our scope of expertise.
Define the Process
One aspect of lead tracking that greatly slows down the flow of the pipeline is not having a defined process of what you’re supposed to do and when you’re supposed to do it. The easier you can make the task, the more likely you are to complete it. Put the work in upfront by defining every step of your process from the first communication down to the contract for your services. You can also pre-write the core content for each follow-up. Then all you have to do is personalize the message! If each step of your lead pipeline seems overwhelming, you’ll find every excuse not to move forward. But if you can make the process automatic, you will have no problem staying on top of your leads.
From start to finish, organization is the most critical component of lead tracking. You need to be aware of all the leads you have started through your pipeline and the next appropriate step for each. Based upon the size of your business or the number of leads, something as simple as an excel spreadsheet can do the trick. If you have a more complex lead tracking system, consider upgrading to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. There are many options available and most companies will offer at least one license at no cost. Check out http://www.zoho.com for an example of a CRM service you can try for free. By staying organized, you will maintain consistent communication with your potential customers while giving them a positive example of what doing business with you would be like.
To summarize, your process for lead generation should first begin by prequalifying your potential clients before investing too much time in them. Then you must define your follow-up process to streamline what must be done and when. Finally, organization is the ultimate key to staying on top of your leads. At any time you should be able to see exactly what leads are in the pipeline and have a deadline for your next communication with them. ~Stephanie