Managing your company’s lead flow is more important than ever. With the recent hit on the stock market, talks of a double dip recession and the increase in unemployment rates and corporate bankruptcies, companies are pushing harder to do more with less money and fewer bodies. Any chance of an organization staying afloat often comes from a combination of teamwork, leveraging technologies and getting back to basics with little to no budget.
In my years in Interactive Marketing, I’ve watched open-eyed at the pissing away of money during the dot-com boom through to the bust of employees relegated to being “chief cook and bottle washer.” The lessons I’ve learned in all cases is there are a few simple things you must keep in mind.
- Lead Tracking & Metrics
Lead tracking is critical so you can spend your limited time and money efficiently. The ability to extract accurate lead reporting, lead conversion, cost per leads and cost per acquisition is critical, especially in tough times. A hosted CRM can help you standardize your lead flow from start to finish at as granular a level as you can track it. We track our marketing campaigns from keyword to customer win/loss and beyond. In fact, rule number one should always be to capture the data. You may never have time to get to it, but you can NEVER look at it if you don’t start capturing it. Sometimes the BEST campaigns fail because of problems downstream. With the right metrics in place, you can pinpoint where you have problems in the system and take actions to correct them and you’ll see changes in the sales forecast.
[Personal note: I capture some data that I only distill once every 6 months and find wild new trends to leverage or inspire me to create a new tool or campaign I wouldn’t have normally thought of. With other data, I bean count on a daily basis. All are important for me to get a full perspective of the “world around me”]
- Getting Back to Basics
K.I.S.S. (“keep it simple and stupid”) is one of the most important perspectives I try to bring to my team. If you make it too complicated, how are the customers going to adopt it? Don’t take on more projects than you can handle or you’ll get none of them done. Don’t forget to revisit some of your already successful ideas and programs to see how they can be refined by reviewing your metrics. If it’s online marketing, remember to treat Google as a visitor too. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) done even at a basic level can get you a few more people in the door. Most of all, find ways of streamlining projects across your employee’s skill sets so you don’t create bottlenecks that prevent forward momentum in a way you’ll get the biggest bank for the buck. Often times, even in a tight economy, 80% out the door is better than a project that is perfect or can’t get itself started.
- Leverage Your Customers and “The Wisdom of the Crowd”
Yeah, yeah – Social Media. Well, it’s everywhere, it does work, it doesn’t take much time and you’re probably using it already, so you may as well LEVERAGE it. Save development cycles by using simple survey tools to learn what your customers need from you next. Craft a blog speaking to areas you can help educate prospects or simply pose a question for them to leave comment giving you ideas and directions you never thought of before. Don’t forget to post them on your personal and corporate Twitter & Facebook accounts to gain even more exposure and responses. Search Twitter for people taking about you. Pay attention to them. Better yet, start conversations with them. It may change your marketing campaigns as sales process.
- Work Together as a TEAM
Teams come in all shapes in sizes. They are sometimes broken into departments dependent on each other, but at the end of the day, you’re a TEAM. Each player on the team has skills and a set of responsibilities they should all be working to “move the ball forward” together. Don’t forget YOU are a part of THEY. With the economy, angry customers and your competition, there are enough exterior forces you need to find a quick, even balance to trusting that those around you know what they are doing – and are actually doing it. Moreover, you also need to keep your ears open for positive criticisms on how you might be able to improve your responsibilities as well (Focus on POSITIVE).
Don’t forget, the prospects that come to your door everyday are also a part of YOUR TEAM. They have either stumbled across one of your campaigns or heard of you through the “social” grapevine. They see themselves in what you have to offer. They have hopes and beliefs that your organization is willing and able to provide them the ability to improve their situation. Help them any way you can, and learn from them – they may have ways to utilize your services in ways that you’ve never thought of – ways that may allow you to expand your market and reach your goals.
If you’ve been in this business long enough, you’ve learned one important thing: those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We live in a cyclical economy and while the money comes and goes and the technology doubles every six months, not losing sight of some of the fundamentals will help prevent you from having to recreate the wheel during that turmoil. A lot of what we do in technology is little different to what the owner of your little general store does on a daily basis to grow and sustain his business. Keep the customer first, give them what they want, and you’re doors will always be open.