Lead flow is the process the average prospect goes through to (hopefully, eventually) become a sale. It’s the series of steps a consumer takes, starting with the first encounter they have with your brand, going through phone calls and filled-out forms, and resulting in a sale, a missed opportunity, or wasted time on both fronts.
Advantages of Lead Flow Management
Better lead flow management means:
- Higher sales. Getting better leads and moving them quickly and appropriately through the steps can help you turn more leads into sales.
- Greater efficiency. Eliminating more “bad” leads and focusing on “good” ones means you and your sales staff will spend less time on non-opportunities. This makes all your sales efforts more profitable in the long run.
- Happier customers. When going through a streamlined lead flow process, customers will feel better treated and will have a better impression of your brand overall.
The problem is that most entrepreneurs go about lead flow management the wrong way.
Flaws in Thinking
Too many entrepreneurs are making critical mistakes in lead flow management and don’t even realize it. These are some of the most important to note:
- Failing to establish a hierarchy. Not all leads are created equal. Without some kind of hierarchy or prioritization system in place, your plan is going to crumble. What makes a lead significant? This requires some introspection and investigation into your sales efforts so far. Which variables have resulted in leads most likely to become full-fledged sales? How can you target those variables? How do those variables interact with one another? How you score leads is up to you, but there need to be at least some key identifiers.
- Misidentifying your target audience. Knowing your target audience is crucial to structuring a good lead flow; you need to speak with different segments of your audience at each level, moving from general to specific and never alienating a group. If you start off communicating to the wrong audience, you’ll end up attracting the wrong people (or the right people at the wrong stage), so do your research and run some tests before making anything live.
- Starting with too general a lead pool. At the wide end of your lead funnel, you may be tempted to start as wide as possible; after all, that would maximize your initial pool of candidates, and you can always filter out the rest later, right? Unfortunately, speaking too generally can make those initial candidates uninterested or apathetic. Instead, it’s better to target some specifics.
- Filtering leads too quickly. If you rush your leads through the process, you’ll sacrifice the accuracy of your efforts. Forcing people to complete step after step could allow bad leads to slip through, or annoy genuinely interested leads. You also need to remember that buying decisions take time, and nurturing your lead pool slowly is a good way to cultivate interest.
- Not filtering leads enough. On the other end of the spectrum, you may be filtering too slowly, or not filtering enough at all. Without some kind of filtering process, you’ll be stuck with a mixed bag of leads that will wear down your efficiency and reduce your overall sales figures. Don’t be afraid to filter out people who have no interest in buying; you’ll lose quantity, but gain quality in your lead pool.
- Relying on only a handful of qualifiers. Earlier, we mentioned the importance of qualifiers or variables that make one lead valuable over another. Relying on only one or two identifiers here can be dangerous; it means your lead pool will still be very general, reducing the precision of your sales efforts. Instead, make sure your leads—especially at the end—are highly specialized.
- Setting demands and goals too high. If you set your expectations too high, or make too many demands of your prospective leads, you could make them feel alienated or compromise the steady nurturing effect of your lead generation efforts. Patience is a virtue here, and modest goals are always a good way to start.
- Never gathering incorporating feedback. Listen to what your sales team has to say. Listen to what your customers are saying. They have the information that can make your lead flow management process even better.
No lead flow management process will ever be perfect, or ever be complete. All you can do is commit to making continual refinements to the systems you already have in place. Pay close attention to your close ratios, your traffic flow throughout the process, and most importantly, the feedback of your customers and sales staff. Eventually, with enough tinkering and experimentation, you’ll have a better lead flow management system that you can proudly use to boost your company’s overall performance.
Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur, Social Media Week, CEOWORLD Magazine and the HuffingtonPost among others.