Sales Lead Management Software Solutions For Your Small Business

So, you’ve built up a solid based of inquiries. But now that you’ve got your leads, what are you supposed to do with them? Believe it or not, this is a question that plagues many small business owners, time and time again. Getting prospects are important to building your new client list, but unless you know what to do with them, you’re doomed to fail. To make it worse, you could have completely avoided it with the right lead management system in place.

Lead Tracking and Management may sound tricky, but there are many solutions available to help your lead management responsibilities move as smoothly as possible. Lead management software is by far the most effective solution available, and it’s easy to implement. And, the lead management software options for your small business are astounding. Knowing what you want out of your lead management software, and knowing how to use the technology you purchase, will have a huge impact on how well the software system helps your business perform.

Hosted Lead Management Solutions

Software solutions are now available as hosted solutions and hence no need to invest in server hardware and special software. These solutions are also known as subscription based services or on-demand solutions. You can subscribe to lead administration solutions, accessible via internet for as low as $50 a month. You can start using the software in a day or two, if not in a few hours. The learning curve is not as steep as it used to be. Your administrator and sales personnel can manage the leads centrally and access it any time, anywhere. The pricing varies with the number of users / sales persons accessing the system and volume of your inquiries and drip / sequential emails sent for nurturing and follow-up.

Key Features

When choosing a software system for managing leads and prospects, there are a few key features to look for: database management, charting, and client management options. Database management will allow you and your employees to keep track of new client leads, manage current leads, and keep status reports for each track. Charting will enable you to create graphical depictions of your leads, and show you what areas are succeeding and where your company may need improvement. Client management can track individual leads, let you and your employees know if a client has an outstanding question to answered, and track previous orders and future interests.

These three aspects of the software can boost your company’s productivity. You and your employees can easily track and manage many different streams of leads, and break each lead down to a single entity to focus on client relations. This is imperative for one-on-one client interaction, which encourages new clients to purchase from your company and increases repeat client business.

Components of the Software

  • Sales Leads can be captured and aggregated from multiple sources such as web forms, third party solutions via API, and emails using an email parser solution. The leads can also be manually entered manually so that all leads can be managed in one place.
  • Software can automatically distribute or route sales leads to your sales team based on various criteria such as geographical area, lead profile, etc.
  • The lead administrator can qualify the prospects and rank them (ex. hot, warm and cold) based on the conversion possibility. This would help your sales agents to focus on top priority leads first.
  • The prospects can be nurtured using drip email messages (or sequential emails or autoresponders) and future conversion. Latest prospect management solutions incorporates in-built email marketing solutions for this purpose.
  • The leads can be followed up and tracked using the email management solution in order to provide full visibility to all concerned.

Lead management software should also allow you to effortlessly import your existing data and data from external sources, and allow for merging of other important data along with the information your software stores. Reports will be a breeze to create with the right type of lead management software, which will both cut down on time spent analyzing your information and allow you to see in real time where your lead management skills need improvement. This is an invaluable tool for your client management practices.

The Human Touch

When making the decision to venture into lead management software solutions, keep in mind that the software solution is by no means a replacement for your own hard work. The solution is meant to assist your company in lead management, and allow you to handle more leads with the time you can save using it. The software system is only as worthwhile as the people using it, so use it wisely. Remember that your leads want to deal with a real person, not a program, and don’t let possible clients slip through the cracks. Prudent use of subscription based lead tracking and administration systems can help your business increase conversions manifold and improve the bottom line.

Is CRM Hurting Sales? The Answer Might Surprise You

Back in the 1990s when business was bad, and corporations were downsizing or as they laughingly put it, rightsizing, no one was safe from executive scrutiny and the corporate axe. With dwindling sales, sales management was an easy target. To survive in what was coined, ‘crises management’ one had to be able to demonstrate that they had a plan and/or were doing everything they could, to drive sales.

So, what did sales management do? Suddenly, sales reps had to fill out detailed micro-managed reports that monitored their every movement: The number of calls they made every day, the names of companies and customers they spoke to, what was discusses, how many phone calls / cold calls, et al. It was endless! The data, and the time necessary to complete the detailed minutiae, was ridiculous and often fictitious [made-up].

One could ask, who was served by this burdensome activity? The sales manager; who, when the corporate axe-holder showed up at his/her door, would survive because they could show reams and reams of data they hoped might do 3 things: 1) Demonstrate they had a plan and were working the plan, 2) Stand apart from other managers without a similar plan, and, 3) Their plan would send the axe-man down the hall to other managers – those without reams of ‘insurance’ data. Crises management – the way to survive! In hindsight, the irony was that burdening frontline sales reps with this reporting strategy actually drove sales down – demonstrably! Why?

With over 3 decades in successful frontline sales and, having a Masters degree in psychology, I can shed light on the empirical human factor that operates like a system-of-influence within the demands of professional sales and CRM.

Think about the behavioural attributes of the best sellers you have ever known. Outside of their innate people skills and high energy, what was it they did best, that garnered sales success? Their modus operandi was to ‘simplify’ everything. They were minimalists. But the question is, did they learn to be minimalists or, were they naturally [psychologically] wired to be minimalists?

I had the answer to this long before my psychotherapeutic training. In the late 70s, I was a national sales trainer and recruiter for a fortune 500 company. Every applicant had to take an aptitude test to determine whether they fit the traditional psychological sales success mould. I was trained to mark and measure the results of these tests that were surprisingly accurate. The fact is, there are ideal psychological profiles for almost every profession. I need only look at an individual’s profile graph and could say, “That’s an accountant, that’s a politician, that’s a scientist and ‘that’ is the perfect personality profile for a successful sales person.” All results – for the most part – as I said – were surprisingly accurate and beyond chance.

Within each profile there are detailed personality traits that exist on a spectrum that predict the adequate and sufficient fit of that individual within that discipline. For sales, high energy, above-average people skills, high need to control and dominate and high motivation to activate [get things done] are the essential components for ‘the right stuff’.

But they possess another strong personality trait. One in which they are not so strong. Detail!

In psychology we know every personality has its strengths and weaknesses. For accountants, doctors and lawyers, detail presents strongly within their unique personality traits. But rarely in the best sales people.

Sidebar: One of the challenges for those who suffer from Attention Deficit Hypertension Disorder [ADHD] is the inability to concentrate on ‘detail’.

You may find it interesting that psychological studies posit there is a disproportionate number of top sellers, business leaders/entrepreneurs [who often got their start in sales] who suffer from ADHD. In my case, I have ADHD and mild Dyslexia. Is it a coincidence that creative over-achievers like Albert Einstein, Richard Branson, John F. Kennedy, Will Smith, Jim Carrey, all suffer from ADHD? Despite their disorder, what were they all good at? They are minimalists. Einstein once said: “If you can’t explain something ‘simply’ then you don’t really know it”. The fact is, they possess the ability to take what for others in their profession is seen to be exceedingly complex, and make it look simple – minimize the detail. The same system-of-influence exists within the art and science of professional ‘successful’ selling. The question remains, however, do they do it because they want to or because they must?

Going back the question, whose needs is your CRM programme serving, you may find it’s not your frontline sellers but rather the ‘detail-oriented’ architects that crave data or the sellers of larger more complex [detailed] CRM solutions.

As a consistent top 1% seller in fortune 500 companies, I can unequivocally attest to the fact that too much of my professional face-to-face customer selling time [where sales are made] was sacrificed to filling out too many and unnecessary data reports. One could point out that computers have made CRM easier to monitor. I counter that with the logic in the early 1980s when I was selling photocopiers and network printers were introduced. It was believed that copier volumes should go down because computer printers would reduce the need for copying. The reality was, computers produced exponentially more data and printers produced exponentially more ‘originals’ that drove copier volumes and costs through the roof.

The Bottom Line:

CRM is essential and is here to stay. It is integral to sales and corporate success. There is no argument that too much of anything is bad. The danger with CRM is it is often designed to meet the needs of those who are detail oriented at the expense of those who are not – sellers… the lifeblood of any organization! So, how do you know if your CRM programme is right for you – is not hurting sales? Look at your sales, and then… ask your sellers!

Make More Sales By Being Contrary

Here’s something I’ve been playing with, and my results have been pretty good, too.

A few months ago a friend was launching a big product with lots of cash prizes for the top affiliates. I knew there would be tons of affiliate competition, with every affiliate trying to out-do the others with bigger and better bonuses.

How to compete?

I decided not to.

Instead, I thought about what every affiliate’s bonus pages would look like: Highly polished, slick, professional, lots of graphics, videos, etc.

Odds are they would all start to look very much alike, right?

So I thought… what if I did something different?

What if my page looked like something you might get in the mail – black and white sales letter, using the Courier typewriter font, very old-school looking…

And what if, instead of a highly polished professional photo of myself, I used one where I just woke up? Or one where I just finished exercising, or just finished the yard work?

In other words, I looked like the guy next door and not some slick marketer.

Taking this thinking to the next level, I decided I didn’t want to spend time or money on creating a bonus. Everyone else was doing that, so why should I?

Instead, I would hold a live class. The homework would be to go over the program before class. Then in class we would implement, step-by-step, what was in the program. And I would record the whole thing, so people could just follow along.

In case you’re wondering – it worked beautifully. My sales were a very decent 5 figure number, and my commissions were half that plus bonuses.

And one more thing – I cheated, too. I had my virtual assistant run the class for me. She got to learn some great new skills, and I put less than 2 hours into the entire project.

The takeaway: When you have a lot of competition, it’s time to stop directly competing and find another way.

If they are using tons of graphics and slick videos, you go with a 1980’s black and white typewriter look.

If they are offering bonus packages filled with 5, 10 or 20 products, you offer no products (I offered hold-your-hand training, which in my opinion is worth far more anyway.)

You get the idea.

Do you know what would work even better than that?

MAILING the actual letter. Yup. Talk about old school. If you collect real addresses of your BUYERS, you might consider doing this on big ticket items.

I know marketers who do this. They are few and far between, and they are KILLING it. They only mail to buyers, which greatly improves their conversions. They use a service to send out the mailers for them. And they make more on one of these mailings than most successful marketers earn in 6 months.

Which brings me to my second idea… if you don’t already have the mailing addresses for your buyers, start collecting those now.

When you have a sizable portion of them (at least 200, preferably 500) approach a marketer with a product your list would love. Make sure there is plenty of profit in that product. Take the sales letter, adapt it to a black and white mailer (cheap to produce) and send it to your buyers.

See what happens. Tweak, rinse and repeat.

You can easily DOUBLE your income using this method.

Know why? Again, because it’s contrary. It’s different. Almost no one is doing it.

Your customer gets maybe a half dozen pieces of mail in a day. Two are bills. Two are sales flyers from local businesses. One is a catalog.

And then there’s that mysterious white envelope. Yeah, it’s going to get opened. Yes, it’s going to get read.

Wow! They’re surprised. Someone they know from ONLINE is sending them REAL MAIL.

They don’t throw it out. Instead, they open their browser, type in the URL and ORDER THE PROGRAM.

Sure, not everyone does, but… enough do. Believe me, I’ve seen this work time and time again. Which is why I’m about to start sending out sales letters via snail mail (Shhh, don’t tell anyone!)