A Beginner’s Guide to Improving Lead Flow

Track your company’s lead flow to generate higher quality leads, build a stronger sales pipeline, and identify hidden opportunities for revenue growth.

Why Marketers Need to Start Talking About Lead Flow

If your Marketing team hasn’t talked about lead flow, it’s time to start the conversation. It’s not uncommon for companies to overlook lead flow: Marketing departments typically focus on top-of-funnel activities like branding and advertising, while Sales departments concentrate on converting leads at the very end.

However, what your prospects experience while traveling through the funnel – your lead flow – needs to be managed and measured. Lead flow refers to the ways customers move through the funnel: all the touch-points and interactions they have with a brand before they become a customer. It’s not uncommon for many leads to drop off along their journey – understanding such “leaks” in the funnel can help marketers maximize revenue outcomes of their investments.

Let’s talk more about why monitoring your lead flow is important and what first steps your marketing team can take to tackle some common issues.

Lead Flow and the Modern B2B Buyer

B2B buyer behavior is changing radically, and monitoring the often complex decision-making process buyers take can render insights that can boost the performance of your marketing team. Today’s B2B buyer is empowered with instant access to information and insights about the products and services they are considering. 

Any lapse or hiccup B2B buyers experience as they weigh your product against your competitors can literally result in lost revenue for your business. In a market where prospects are leading their own purchasing journey, marketers must assume the essential role of influencing and guiding them down the funnel as effectively as possible.

Tackle Your Lead Flow 

In our experience, marketing teams that focus on lead flow develop actionable insights in a relatively short amount of time. Yet, there is often a resistance to tackling the topic of lead flow because it seems either too arduous or complicated. 

It can seem challenging or risky to invest time and resources into the relatively new phenomenon of buyer empowerment. And with leads often flowing through multiple departments – marketing, sales, web teams, inside sales, just to name a few – collecting the data seems daunting. Who will take responsibility for coordinating and aligning multiple teams? How will we get all stakeholders on board to take action? 

The truth is, monitoring lead flow is not as complicated as it “sounds”. Not only is it easy to implement, it’s also a key first step for teams considering future lead management implementation. A simple investigation into your buyers’ journeys can drive enhancements to poorly managed parts of the funnel and expose plenty of low-hanging fruit for marketers to take action on and deliver results. 

Lead Flow 101

Lead flow mapping can provide marketers with insights about major blocks or misalignments within teams. Having this knowledge can help organizations capitalize on opportunities that might otherwise be lost due to a lack of communication or coordination between departments. 

Let’s examine a common marketing endeavor in B2B, a trade show sponsorship.

The Trade Show

The field marketing team at ACME company sponsors an industry trade show, investing substantially into creating collateral, swag, and a booth location with steady foot traffic. The team receives their scanner from the organizers to collect data from their visitors, and a list of contacts is sent to ACME two days after the trade show ends. Upon receiving the list, the marketing team takes a week to enrich the data, sort the list, and load the data to the CRM. The sales reps receive their assignments, only to report that many of those leads are “junk”.

What went wrong?

Time is critical when it comes to getting leads over to your sales department. The week it took to prepare the leads in addition to the time it took for show organizers to send the list, was far too long to leave prospects waiting. In that time, a number of things can occur: a competitor with a faster process for channeling leads can make contact sooner, the prospect might lose interest in the brand and investigate alternatives, or the prospect may find the sales call annoying or irrelevant after such a prolonged period. 

When it comes to trade shows, the investment made by the field marketing team into the show loses value quickly over time. ACME’s marketing team can correct this issue by minimizing the processing time in order to retain as many opportunities as possible and maximize ROI on a costly trade show sponsorship. 

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Lead Flow Starter Checklist

There are numerous scenarios beyond trade shows where marketers can identify leaks in their funnel and course correct. Your marketing and sales funnel is rich with opportunities to grow revenue with a few thoughtful and well-planned tweaks to your business processes. 

Here is a checklist of tactics we recommend marketing teams take when starting to tackle their lead flow:

1| Lead Inventory

Take stock of the number of leads sent to sales from your marketing system, and the number of actual leads created within the sales system. If there is a discrepancy, there could be an issue with system integration. Your business could be ignoring numerous prospects who are ready to buy. 

2| Sales Follow Up

Make sure Sales is actually following up on their leads. How many leads has Marketing sent over? Are they being looked after? If not, why? Most CRM systems make it easy to retrieve this kind of valuable information.

3| Align Marketing and Sales

Develop a shared language between Marketing and Sales to determine what a good lead looks like. Sales teams often complain that marketing leads are junk, and an excess of low-quality leads can indeed be a waste of time. If Marketing can commit to improving the quality of their leads and Sales can commit to following up, your business is likely to benefit from a growth in opportunities.

Next Steps: Lead Management

Once your Marketing team gets into the practice of monitoring lead flow, it’s worthwhile to consider implementing lead management. Lead management is a structured process for continual improvement of your funnel. It blends automation, data, and best practices to increase the velocity and capacity of the marketing funnel. 

With an eye on lead flow and a goal to build a consistent lead management practice, your business will be well on it’s way to establishing a strong revenue pipeline with higher quality leads. 

Check out our e-book, Lead Management: The Framework for Transformation, for an in-depth guide to implementing lead management.

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