By Frans Van Hulle
Are you still using excel sheets to track leads and determine follow-ups? Do yourself a favor, and stop right now. Even though following a routine is often easier than learning something new, you are seriously missing out on a lot of benefits that automated tools can offer.
Why? Many companies rely on excel spreadsheets or other databases that require manual input. But, as we all know, to err is human, which is why these types of systems are often not effective in determining lead status and follow-up actions or forecasting ROI. Relying on automated analytics and tracking systems can make you much more efficient as an organization, and help to align your sales and marketing departments. Moreover, they are less time-consuming and more effective in categorizing the sheer volume of leads that you may be receiving.
But let’s take a step back. Why is lead tracking such an important part of your marketing strategy anyway? For one, lead tracking systems can help you to establish categories for your leads, define which characteristics that define high- or low-quality, and determine which campaigns and channels are most effective. In order to ensure sustainable lead volume, and avoiding the issue of having to start and stop campaigns, lead tracking can offer marketers a chance to make their organization more efficient.
But the good news is that there are many companies that offer effective lead tracking software that lets you upload leads into a database, categorize them, generate campaign reports, and measure ROI. Examples of these customer relationship management tools include Salesforce, SugarCRM or Base CRM.
However, it sadly doesn’t end there. Although they do make your life easier in the long-term, some CRM tools are more demanding than others, perhaps requiring special training and know-how. This is why you should the following points before making a decision on what tool works best for you:
- Match the tool with your level of technical know-how. If you have been using excel spreadsheets, don’t choose a tool that is technically advanced and requires too much training. You might end up wasting a lot of time in trying to master a tool that’s supposed to work for you. Choose a tool that is easy-to-use, relative to your know-how.
- Align your sales and marketing departments when it comes to using the tool, and choosing appropriate actions regarding the handing of leads: What are the metrics that matter the most, and what kind of volume are you trying to generate (per campaign, sales rep or region).
- Define what kind of follow-up actions are available and which characteristics a lead should have to fall into the categories of “hot”, “warm” or “cold”. While “hot” leads need urgent follow-up, “warm” leads may need a few more phone calls or emails to become sales-ready. By defining these categories and their characteristics, marketers can stay on top of leads.
- In order to use CRMs to their full effectiveness, it’s also important to establish a timeline for campaign evaluation, and how and when sales and marketing teams should exchange feedback and information.
Automated tools can help in evaluating marketing campaigns, categorizing leads, organizing historical data and defining follow-up. They can also help you in determining which campaigns and channels produce high or low quality, allowing you to prioritize or shut down sources, therefore improving the overall efficiency of your organization.