Identify, Win, Grow: Why You Need a Robust Lead Flow Process
Every salesperson has been left perplexed over a fallen prospect. Having the perfect company at your fingertips, the ideal buyer persona and a smashing pitch sometimes isn’t enough to close the deal. What most people don’t know is that it may be all down to what goes on behind the scenes. See it as a company challenge rather than an individual salesperson challenge – if you’re not effectively moving a lead from one stage to the next, there’s bound to be leakage somewhere along the funnel. And you may not know until it’s too late.
Building a robust lead flow process for your sales team provides the groundwork for more efficient sales, more effective onboarding of new team members, and helps you build stronger relationships with customers and your employees alike.
Think of a lead flow process as a railway line, and you as the sales leader are the conductor taking your passengers to their destination through a series of stops on the itinerary.
Strengthening your Sales Funnel: The Must-Haves
Depending on the product you are selling, the sales process often looks a little like this:
- Prospecting and qualifying
- Research the lead
- Discovery call
- Demo delivered
- Overcome objections
- Closing the sale
- Onboarding follow up
Seems simple, right? But even if you’re following the directions set, it’s not a clear win for your sales team.
To truly have an effective lead flow in place you need to make changes in how your team runs the sales process. Ask yourself – is your value proposition customer centric? Is the sales process flexible and easily adaptable to meet different customer needs? If you’re busy trying to get the lead to close too early, they want more time to mull over, or you simply realise half-way through the process that you’re speaking to the wrong person. You can come across hurdles that all boil down to not having the flexibility to go back and forth along this process. And while we see this as a funnel, it doesn’t have to mean that leads flow linearly.
Above all, it needs to be scalable. What a nightmare it’d be to have found the perfect formula, only for it to fall flat because you hadn’t anticipated the growth you’d see. If you can’t manage demand, then your process won’t be adhered to in the same way whilst you scale. Equally, if you expand your sales team you need processes to be easily adopted to make scaling up as cost effective as possible.
But most importantly, how do you ensure you’re piping the right leads through? It’s not just about how many people are in your pipeline, but how many of them are quality leads? The only way you can know for sure is by setting your team key identifiers for how to qualify a lead, when to qualify, and most crucially, knowing when a lead isn’t going to convert and walking away.
6 Steps to Building a Lead Flow Process that Converts
Alignment: what counts as a lead?
Like any large business decision, your sales process relies on everyone in your team being aligned on several aspects: what counts as a lead? Who are our buyer personas? Who is responsible for each step of the lead flow process?
Clearly defining these sorts of questions leads to a stronger and more resilient sales team – propensity or lead scoring acts as a key performance metric which accurately maps how many leads being generated and passed through your sales funnel are genuinely exciting ones.
Scoring your Leads
At what point does a lead become qualified? This you’ll have to determine with your sales team after you’ve aligned on what a lead looks like. Sounds a lot like the first stage doesn’t it? The key difference is you’re quantifying the steps a contact is making before they are qualified to better understand what that qualification means. In other words, where’s your benchmark? You’ve agreed on what counts as a lead, but you then need to work back and define what makes that contact qualified and assign scores to those indicators.
Ideally, you want to ensure that you don’t foster a blinkered approach to lead flow management. You don’t want to dismiss a contact if they immediately don’t meet your criteria, yet you don’t want to nurture a contact that’s not matching that criteria.
Scoring your leads is an important step in building your lead flow process as this is showing the activity that you and your team value – you’re simply measuring the depth and breadth of those engagement metrics. Our customers have seen an strong increase in the number of quality conversations and leads that fill their pipeline after connecting Zint with their Salesforce CRM, so we’re speaking from experience when we say this step is not only crucial but highly desirable if you want real ROI in your pipeline.
Identify the Customer Journey
Your lead flow pipeline must align with your target customer journey. What we mean by this, is you have to anticipate the route that an ideal customer would make from having that initial share of mind to investing fully in your product or service. For this to be accurate and work with your lead flow process (not against it!) you’ll need to unpack how your leads think in terms of challenge, solution and result – what challenge do they have? What have they done to try and resolve it? How does this change your winning sales pitch that will give them the results they need?
For example, a logistics company wanting to grow their sales revenue may have barriers to operational efficiency through clashing territories. This will be their challenge, the solution may be to develop segments in their CRM, centralise all sales teams, or use a sales intelligence tool to clearly assign regions to go after. The result they’re hoping for would be boosting their sales revenue with their newfound efficiency.
All these identifiers will better serve your sales conversations and put you in better stead to push them through at a faster pace – to lower your costs and maximise ROI. The less time you keep a lead stationary, the more likely it is to understand when a lead isn’t the right fit, which has the bigger impact on your bottom line.
Establish a comprehensive Service-Level Agreement
Let’s cast our eyes back to the first step. We needed to align on what we define as a lead. Here, we’re coming back on alignment to establish an internal service-level agreement (SLA) that the team is happy with. An SLA is a document which defines roles and responsibilities of sales throughout the lead process, and maps out how long each stage should take in order to be as efficient and customer-centric as possible. For example, you might state that leads in the discovery call stage should be moved to the next stage in < 3 weeks. This becomes a key performance indicator for your team to measure.
Automate the Journey
Building a robust lead flow process isn’t complete without a bit of automation to help things move on their own. Having the right CRM in place is so important for all the prior stages as it means your leads can flow in real time. Setting triggers based on actions can take away some of the laborious admin tasks that drain your sales team and keep them from doing the jobs that give the highest yield – the selling, pitching and closing. A good CRM will also give you visibility of proximity to targets in real time as each lead entry will be added with a suggested package in mind based on the details of those discovery conversations.
But ultimately, you want to ensure that there’s a CRM in place to capture any potential customer and use the tool to take it along your sales prospecting journey in order to learn exactly what they need to succeed – from there you can accurately assess whether they’re likely to close based on historical data, sales intelligence and insight.
Find a sales intelligence tool to enrich your pipeline
Now that you can action a robust lead flow process, you can now seek to scale up to find strong leads. Not only will these be better aligned with your ideal buyer personas and industry verticals, but you now have the capabilities to send them through seamlessly with little worry for any leads becoming stuck in your sales pipeline.
Having the right sales intelligence tool grants you stronger insight into the leads that your sales team hasn’t touched upon because of resources, budget or time constraints. Opening up a pool of new potential customers, with a stronger sales outlook is a perfect formula for maximising your revenue, ROI and ultimately achieving your sales targets.
What’s more, finding a sales intelligence tool that links to your CRM to converse in real time only enhances the very benefits of having a sales intelligence tool – you’ll sync your contacts so newly sourced leads can funnel through your sales process within your CRM.