The 6 Critical Elements of a Successful Lead Management Platform

Updated: June 23, 2010

Working with the Focus Experts who are presenting in our upcoming Focus Interactive Summit on June 29th: Mastering Lead Management, I solidified my belief that there are six core components to successful lead management: Lead generation, lead nurturing, lead qualification, metrics and reporting, automation, and content. Below is a breakdown of the six lead management components:

1. Lead generation: Technically, this is the beginning of the process. Here's how we define lead generation: Inbound and outbound campaigns designed to get prospects to opt-in for an offer from you. Offers can be white papers, webinars, e-books, demos, trials, meetings, and so on. One clarification about meetings as an offer -- if part of your outbound lead generation strategy is cold-calling or appointment-setting, then a "meeting" is the offer the prospect is opting in for.

2. Lead nurturing: Because of the relentless content about lead nurturing, many people believe lead management is only lead nurturing. It isn't, but it is a major component of your lead management strategy. Lead nurturing is a marketing process that uses content (offers) and distribution tactics (email, phone, retargeting, etc.) to engage known prospects over a period of time until they are ready to engage. Lead nurturing may include scoring, which is the use of business logic that tells the marketer what content and distribution tactics to use based on the prospect's previous behavior.

3. Lead qualification: There is a lack of content about lead qualification, which is the component that often makes or breaks the success of a lead management program. Lead qualification is a multi-channel process that includes dedicated phone-based resources and automation designed to determine whether a lead fits the agreed-on qualified lead (to some a sales qualified lead -- or SQL) definition and is deemed ready to speak with sales. This process that cannot be fully mechanized. There must be human involvement.

4. Metrics and reporting: Metrics are not a pipe dream anymore as BI applications and marketing automation technology become more accessible. Many pundits talk about metrics solely as a vehicle to report your progress to the CEO or CFO. That's really only one part of it. Without metrics, you don't know what's working and what's not working and, therefore, can't optimize your lead management process.

5. Automation: Marketers can rejoice: Marketing automation has made managing your lead management process a reality. The difference between today and four years ago is marketing organizations are legitimately using the software (no shelfware) and vendors and end users are figuring out how to get the most of marketing automation. Everyone else in the enterprise has an application (CRM for sales, ERP for finance, etc.), now marketing has marketing automation.

6. Content: Content supports the entire lead management process. When we think of content we don't mean the creation of data sheets. Instead, today's lead management process requires content to lead buyers along their buying path.

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