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'Real time' key in capturing leads

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As a sales leader in a growing organization, I have to think about how to maximize my team's performance in an ultra-competitive market. Prospects are ephemeral, and their attention spans can shift if their needs are not met quickly. Responding to a prospect's interest in real time is critical to quickly establishing a connection and gaining traction in the sales process. Real-time marketing solutions are essential to making this possible. It helps my sales team filter the signal from the noise and helps them quickly identify whom we should be speaking to and when. Lead nurturing is cultivating a relationship with a qualified sales prospect who isn't yet ready to purchase. Real-time lead nurturing provides you with critical details about prospects as they progress through the purchase cycle, alerting you as their status changes virtually immediately. This type of functionality is critical when an anonymous prospect from a key account visits your site. Not all leads fill out forms and raise their hands; but you need to know if your target accounts are engaging with your content. To filter leads in real time and winnow the wheat from the chaff, there are four capabilities sales teams should leverage to stay competitive in today's market:
  • Lead scoring. These are demographic, firmographic and action-based rules that identify and segment visitors and prospects, allowing for quick distribution to the sales organization. Lead scoring is necessary at the beginning of the sales process to filter and cut through the noise of your website traffic. With an automated lead-qualification process, your team members can quickly judge the priority of each lead, focus their efforts on the leads with the greatest potential for conversion and ensure that high-value opportunities aren't slipping through the cracks.
  • Real-time visitor feed. This is an at-a-glance list of site visitors filtered by your lead score criteria. A visitor feed answers the questions ”What is my marketing team doing for me today and are the tactics they have deployed driving the right leads?”' Alternative formats of this data, like a daily email, can be helpful to keep your finger on the pulse of the business if you or an executive do not have the time to review a real-time feed.
  • Alerts. You need alerts when you can't be watching what's going on. Real-time updates notify you when a high-value prospect is actively engaged with your content, allowing you to act immediately. The first five minutes of a user's visit to your site are the most crucial. Today's online consumer expects near-immediate engagement and responsiveness from companies. With such a brief window of opportunity, your team needs to react quickly, and before the competition.
  • Lead nurturing. You've identified your hottest leads, now how do you contact them? Lead nurturing consists of both triggered and manual touches to key prospects, reaching users where they live online. The number of channels for communication is growing by the day. Sales team members can reach out to important prospects over email, through social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype and Twitter, or even with a short message service.
Lead scoring, real-time visitor feeds, alerts and lead nurturing help you and your teams react to your prospects' actions and stay engaged when they signal interest. The best thing is: each of these can be measured so you know what works and what to repeat. Sam Wheeler is VP-sales of marketing software company Optify Inc. (www.optify.net). He can be reached at sam@optify.net.
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