Today, consumers go through a completely different buying process than they used to one or two decades ago. Not only in B2C, customers are exposed to a variety of information at different touchpoints. In B2B, too, (depending on the industry) it is increasingly difficult to penetrate a potential customer’s attention. Additionally, there are long decision-making processes in B2B – companies do not simply buy machine tools or complex software products overnight. For this reason, an effective lead management from the acquisition of customers, through the evaluation and structured development of leads up to the completion of the purchase (and beyond) gets even more important, in both B2B and B2C.

The Four Steps in Lead Management

    1. Lead Generation
Lead generation is a term from direct marketing. The process provides interest for the company to awaken the products or services. ich verstehe den Satz nicht und weiß auch nicht wirklich, was damit gesagt werden soll. A lead is a record of a potential buyer. Thereby, the interested party provides his data the company on his own initiative (i.e. in order to be able to download information material). For example: if a user is interested in a company’s white paper, he can usually download it for free, after he has entered data such as his name and e-mail address in a registration form. In return, the company sends the user the white paper to the given e-mail address. The user has the advantage of getting expert knowledge from the white paper while the company has the opportunity to develop the user through his data and his interests into a new customer.
    2. Lead Nurturing
The next step – the enhancement of an lead – is called lead nurturing. Lead nurturing is about making more out of the received data and to provide interested parties with helpful content. To do so, there are different approaches. Among others, one can track a lead to learn more about his interests and to feed the prospective customer with additional appropriate content. This should be content that fits the current status of the lead in the sales funnel. The objective of lead nurturing is to further increase the interest of the lead in one’s own offers, to collect more data and insights about the user, and eventually to be able to classify the prospective customer in lead scoring even better.
3. Lead Scoring
Usually, lead nurturing and lead scoring happen paralelly. In lead scoring, the prospective customer is categorized and evaluated in order to be able to assess whether he is relevant for sales. Lead scoring can be conducted both, manually and automatically. The manual variant works through a marketing or sales employee who receives the data of all new leads (or leads with specific scoring values) in a funnel or CRM system. Subsequently, he manually evaluates the leads according to the relevance for sales. In the automated process, scoring results from the system are provided with further information, such as industry or position, so that in the following step an automated lead routing can be executed.
    4. Lead Routing
Should the relevant leads have been selected manually by the employee or automatically by the system based on the given criteria and are therefore likely to become customers, the data is going to be transferred to the sales team. If a lead has a high scoring value and holds the position of an decision maker in his company, the sales team will receive the lead’s data and all available information. Afterwards, they decide how to proceed with the lead and whether, e.g. a personal contact like a phone call makes sense.

Generating Attention is the First Step

As a result of digitization, lead generation has also changed significantly, which is why it needs a proper strategy to attract promising customers. The changed buying process has also effected marketing departments so that mass advertising does not work anymore. Consequently, companies have to take measures to be found by customers.
Obtaining the attention of interested parties is thus the first step of lead generation. Via measures, such as good SEO rankings, events, reviews on social media platforms, or proper content in a company-owned blog, one can generate attention and direct the prospective customer to a registration form. This form can be integrated either directly at the appropriate touchpoint or in a central landing page to which the potential client is referred. Well-working incentives to gain leads in B2B are e.g., webinars or whitepapers that are only accessible after a customer has registrated.
In the context of lead extraction, information about the leads like their favorite topics and fields of interests may already been collected. On this basis, a first (in the best case automated) lead scoring can be carried out. Depending on the scoring, the leads may e.g. be classified assigned to various marketing automation campaigns. In case of the distribution of complex software products e.g., decision makers will be assigned to “Benefit Arguments” campaigns, in which content like business KPIs (“How to increase your ROI”) is communicated. Users, on the other hand, will be directed to the “Simplified Reasoning” campaign, in which is communicated how the software facilitates operational work. Leads that have no information yet can receive actions that encourage them to complete the data.
No matter which measures a company chooses, “personalization and automation” should be key features in lead management.

Goals & Challenges of Lead Generation

Goals of Lead Generation Strategy

Goals of Lead Generation Strategy

–  Above all, the biggest challenge is to improve the data quality of the leads (57 percent) and to improve the conversion rate from leads to customers (49 percent).
–  The best way to generate leads is to provide are downloadable content (57 percent), webinar registrations (48 percent), and newsletter registrations (41 percent).
– According to Vidyard & Ascend2 (2017), the content with the highest lead conversion rate is

  • video or graphics (49 percent)
  • reports (48 percent)
  • and webinars or social media content (each 45 percent)

Example of a Successful Process From Lead to Customer:

Peter Meyer works for company X. As marketing director, his task is to search for new software that supports digital dialogue marketing with his company’s customers. To gain an impression of the competence of the various providers, he informs himseld about their products (if available) on their websites, their blogs, and their references. In some cases, he downloads white papers and other information material in exchange for his personal data (name, e-mail address, industry, position in ordner to get a better understanding of the subject and the possibilities for his digital dialogue marketing. Company A is one of the providers from which Mr. Meyer has downloaded some white papers. As the lead has been generated, it is now up to company A to take the right steps with regard to lead nurturing and to further develop Mr. Meyer as a lead so that eventually he will be inspired by their produkcts. Therefore, Mr. Meyer receives an e-mail from company A two days later in which not only he is thanked for his interest, but also is provided with a webinar on the subject. The company’s courtesey and expertise impress Mr. Meyer. He continues to read reviews on conpany A’s software and asks for a test access to the offered software. All of these activities are included in company A’s scoring. Due to the request of an demo version and based on Mr. Meyer’s position in his own company (decision maker), the automated system recognizes hin as a relevant lead and forwards his data to the sales team for manual processing (lead routing). A sales employee now contacts him to talk about his company’s specific requirements to the software. Mr. Meyer is pleased about the good service and the possibility that the software is individually adaptable to his requirements and arranges a personal meeting.
Such an strong intenet presence together with automated processes as well as personal answers to individual customer requests can perfectly support you in providing interested parties with the apporpirate content at the right time and thus transforming them through Lead Management into new customers.