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Oct 11 10

Automated Lead Management Now A Main Stream Activity for SMBs

by Paddu

With Internet as a major medium for sourcing of sales leads, Automated Lead Management and Tracking has become a mainstream process for small and medium businesses. In the past, most companies used to track the leads with manually intensive processes and tools such as Excel spreadsheets, Access databases, Outlook or other locally installed contact management software.

Why Lead Management?

When the volume of leads are low, business owners and salespeople can easily keep track of the leads without automation. Also, cost of generating leads was also relatively low. For example, Yellow pages, Newspapers and Local Radio are the common staple of small business advertising.

Now that the consumer market has undergone tremendous changes, traditional advertising and marketing methods are fast losing the importance.

Small businesses and professional service providers such as contractors, realtors / real estate agents, mortgage brokers, insurance service providers, franchisees, spas, dentists and others are switching to digital marketing and advertising. Buying internet leads is a common practice among them.

Internet and Social Media as Lead Sources

Large volume of sales leads originate from Internet Search Engines such as Google and Bing, either directly through their own websites or through third party, independent lead generation and distribution companies. Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Blogs are driving more consumers to the internet to research and purchase products and services online. These online leads cost significant amount of money; if the prospects are not managed, followed up and tracked promptly lot of money can be lost in short period of time.

Automated Lead Management Process

Automation of Lead Management (also known as Inquiry Management) starts with capturing of the leads directly from the website forms (aka landing pages) or lead distribution and posting systems used by lead sellers.

Once the leads are captured in the system, the leads are to be assigned to the sales reps based on the pre-defined distribution rules. Lead Management Systems such as LeadPro247 automates the lead routing process using a variety of rules such as sales territory (geography – county, state, zip code), product or service, etc.

The lead management system can also send automated emails to the prospective customer with introduction / welcome information, product details and the sales agent contact information.

In addition, the system will also send lead email alerts to the field sales reps intimating that a prospect in their area has shown interest in one of their services or products. The sales reps can immediately call up the prospect, even while on the road.

If there is an inside sales team, email lead alerts will go to them automatically. Based on the alerts they could qualify the leads and then inform the respective sales rep accordingly. This process helps prioritizing the sales leads and plan the follow-up activities.

Followup activities by the inside sales coordinators as well as the field sales reps can be updated in the system with brief notes. A suitable sales stage can be assigned to each lead for future follow up. Reminders could be setup along with follow up tasks.

The business owner / sales manager / administrator can view the entire sequence of activities from their computer systems in real time. The lead tracking and management system also includes comprehensive lead tracking and summary reports in the analytics module. For example, leads can be summarized and viewed by Lead Source / by Sales Rep / by Product, etc.

Each prospect’s profile, right from capture to the current stage, can be viewed in one place with all the activities such as email messages sent, followup tasks and notes, telephone calls and personal visits.

When a sale is closed or a prospect is lost, the status can be updated for proper filing and future reference. During the sales process, one or more email messages can be sent to the prospect via event triggered drip email campaigns. This is part of lead engagement and nurturing process.

Online Surveys can also be used to engage the prospects and get feedback during and completion of the sales process.

Lead Management as a Web Based Software

Most lead management services are available as a web based software unlike the traditional server or PC based solutions. Hence the system can be configured in a few hours for a specific business. Using a web based lead management system is much easier than the traditional software. Above all, there is no need for any upfront investment as the fees will be paid as a reasonable monthly subscription.

Sep 12 10

Improve Your Online Visibility with Help from AmIvisible Service

by Paddu

Business Owners, do you need to know where your small or medium business stands in Online Visibility? Are you already spending money on online advertising such as Internet Yellow Pages (IYP), Googles Adwords and Local Search marketing? AmIvisible service might help you in providing a better understanding. Your Internet Lead Generation capabilities (via SEM / SEO / Web 2.0 tools) are directly proportional to the online visibility of your business to the local community.

Business Visibility to Search Engines

Visibility to Potential Customers

AmIvisible.org is a service for local business owners who are interested in understanding and improving their online visibility. The service shows how visible any given business is to potential customers, compared with its direct, local competitors. By covering millions of web pages on the leading search engines, yellow pages directories and popular local search sites, AmIvisible.org provides the most comprehensive analysis of local businesses’ online visibility.

AmIvisible is a unit of Palore (www.palore.com), the largest provider of SMBs (small and medium businesses) online information. Palore has been serving the SMB online advertising industry for the past four years, publishing reports on leading publications such as Search Engine Land and speaking regularly at industry conferences.

The service is available free of cost for businesses. If you are interested in improving your online visibility with SEM, SEO and Local Search experts, the service can also refer to experts and online marketing agencies in the respective fields.

The service is currently in beta testing in several US markets and will expand nationwide soon. Head to AmIvisible.org today and check out if your business shows up and how visible your business is on the internet.

Sep 11 10

Leverage Online Surveys for Lead Nurturing and Engagement

by Paddu

Lead Nurturing and Continuous Engagement is a key process to increase the lead conversion rate (of new prospects) and convert the recycles leads to sales. Using Online Surveys tool as part of lead management will help assess the interest and buying intent of the prospects. Integrating the online surveys and lead management database will play an important role in such a situation. Survey Invitations can be sent via automatic drip email messages based on the lead follow-up stages and / or activities.

Why Online Surveys

Online Surveys enable the marketers to design surveys, build survey questionnaires using multiple question types, and deploy the surveys online in minutes. The web survey responses can be monitored, analyzed and viewed online in real time.

Online surveys also help survey response completion rates, as the prospects or customers (converted leads) will have increased comfort levels due to the anonymity of the internet.

Online Survey Features

Online Surveys include a number of features to design an effective survey questionnaire. Open ended and closed types questions can be used to frame the questionnaire. The survey pages and information pages can be fully customized and branded to decrease the survey abandonment rates.

Survey invitations can be sent automatically using the built-in Drip Email features. The invitations can also be tracked for clicks, opens and survey completion.

Integration of Lead Management and Online Surveys

An integrated online surveys and lead management tool helps to avoid duplicate database management. The lead follow-up activities and sales stages can be used as triggers for surveys and other follow-up actions. This is not possible, if standalone tools from different service providers are used.

May 25 10

Google Releases Web Browser Add-on to Block Google Analytics Tracking

by Paddu

Google today announced the availability of a browser add-on to block Google Analytics from tracking your web browsing history. Google Analytics is a popular, free web traffic tracking tool widely used by small and medium business and entrepreneurs. Though the tracking is completely impersonal without any personally identifiable information, Google says it is giving the choice to the web users.

“We take privacy very seriously and we’re committed to providing users with more choice. Though Google Analytics collects information anonymously and in aggregate only, the add-on gives users the choice to opt-out of the Google Analytics Javascript (ga.js) sending information to Google Analytics,” Google spokesman Brian Richardson said in an e-mail to LA Times. “We’re constantly working to both enhance the privacy options for users and provide website owners with valuable data to improve their websites.”

How many people will install and use this add-on is still uncertain. Google’s other tools, such as Ads Preferences Manager and the DoubleClick opt-out plug-in, have not been wildly popular with the web users. Google may be releasing this product in order to the privacy concerns related buzz for the past few weeks.

If you are using Google Analytics as the web traffic tracking tool on your website(s), you need to take the analytics counts with a pinch of salt!

You can download the Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on here and try it out.

Mar 20 10

First Responders Save Lives and Convert Sales Leads

by Paddu

Just as first responders save more lives, marketers and sales professionals who respond to the prospects first have very high probability of converting the leads to customers.

We all know that first responders such as fire service personnel, paramedics, police and doctors value the first hour after an emergency as ‘golden hour’. Actions taken in the golden hour saves countless lives and damage to the properties. Responding to a prospect who has raised his / her hand with an online registration or quote request is no different.

When a lead comes through your sales lead tracking and management software system, make sure that you respond in minutes, not in hours or days. Even if the product or service that you are selling has a long sales cycle, it is essential to reach out to the prospects at the shortest possible time lag. Note that an autoresponder (or drip email)  message sent by lead system is not a replacement for your personal telephone call or email message.

Also, it does not matter if you are selling to businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C). Remember that you are selling to people in either case. Decisions are made by human beings, not soul less corporations!

Here are the keys for increasing lead conversion:

  • Respond to prospects in Minutes, not Hours or Days
  • If the prospects are not yet ready for sale, nurture with resources such as:
      • Whitepapers
      • eBooks, Presentations, etc.
      • Webinar recordings
      • Newsletters
      • Tutorial Videos
      • Case studies and success stories
  • Stay in touch via phone calls and emails with the leads until they are ready to move to the next stage.
  • Determine the frequency of touches and use appropriate contact methods

Establishing a process to monitor,  respond and track the inbound marketing leads is a critical requirement in your marketing and sales strategy. Don’t let another lead slip through the cracks by delaying your first response!

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