The two most important components of lead management are lead nurturing and lead qualification. Lead nurturing is designed to build relationships with prospects who are in your target market, but who aren't ready to have a productive sales conversation. Lead qualification refers to the activities and criteria you use to determine where a prospect is in his or her buying process.
Lead management is the weak link in the demand generation chain for many companies. One reason is that it hasn't typically been viewed as a top priority by either sales or marketing. In the conventional view, marketing's primary role is to acquire new leads, and the top priority of sales is to close short-term sales opportunities.
B2B marketing software provides powerful capabilities for automating content-based lead nurturing and some aspects of lead qualification. However, it is also becoming apparent that automated lead nurturing and lead scoring will not, in themselves, enable a company to optimize demand generation. A growing number of companies have recognized that person-to-person communication and human judgment are needed to produce maximum demand generation results.
This recognition is causing a growing number of companies to establish a lead management function that is responsible for coordinating lead management activities. The people who perform this function can have a variety of job titles. Some companies call them telemarketers or inside sales representatives, and others call them business development representatives.
I prefer to call these individuals lead development representatives because this title more accurately describes their actual function. The primary responsibilities of lead development representatives, or LDRs, are to orchestrate lead nurturing communications with specified leads and simultaneously qualify those prospects.
More specifically, LDRs will perform the following major activities:
- Make contact with leads who have indicated a defined level of interest. This would include both inbound leads and leads acquired via outbound lead generation programs.
- Ask the lead appropriate questions to determine his or her level of interest and place in the buying cycle.
- Place each lead in the appropriate lead nurturing track so that nurturing communications will be most effective.
- Document interactions with the lead in the company's CRM system.
- Identify leads who are ready to have a productive conversation with a salesperson and arrange an appointment.