If you know what Customer Relationship Management Software is, then you’ve probably considered how your sales leads, prospects, opportunities, potential customers, or whatever you call them should be managed as they trickle down the sales funnel towards becoming customers. In this post, I’m going to be discussing the mouth of that funnel, and its barriers of entry. For the purposes of this post, I’ll be calling potential customers at this stage leads.
Your CRM system is where your demand generation programs and sales efforts meet. A smooth transition is critical to optimizing success on both sides. However, conflicting objectives, different criteria of lead quality and countless other potential pitfalls may cause the process to break down. When a good potential lead is sitting on the precipice of your sales funnel, the last thing you want to do is discourage them from diving in, or even worse, cause them to climb right back out after testing the waters.
Your website has the power to profoundly influence all stages of the buying cycle. In the world of web 2.0, what really matters is offering potential leads compelling content to get over the hump and take the plunge (see my fourth post in this series on copywriting and content to read more). But this is all for naught if the expectations set by your promise of good content aren’t followed through into the sales funnel and beyond.
Here’s a recent real-life example: I find an analyst report about a type of product I’m considering purchasing for my creative team on a vendor’s website. It looks helpful so I enter my info. So far, so good. Instead of getting the report, however, I’m taken to another web page telling me my request has been received, and I’ll be followed up with shortly. Okay, that’s a little annoying. I gave them my information right away. Why am I being made to wait?
Next in line is an automated email: “In order to access this report, you’ll need to enter your user name and password on our website. One of our sales representatives will provide you with your user name and password after we review your information…” Okay, now I’m really frustrated, and I’m feeling like this whole thing has been a big waste of time.
It was a waste of time. The report was from 2005, and it really didn’t tell me much I didn’t already know. I backed out of that sales funnel as quickly as possible, opted-out of the emails I started receiving automatically, and deleted the messages and emails from their sales rep.
The lesson here is: If you’re optimizing your website for demand generation, don’t fumble the ball when it’s first and goal on the two yard line. Consider the back end processes that deliver on the promises you’re making in your campaigns. If you have a CRM system and software, or even a marketing automation/lead nurture system, make sure that it is integrated seamlessly into your website with the website visitor in mind. Ask yourself the following:
- Are the lead capture mechanisms on my website such as web forms easy to use for visitors? Is there one simple step that can be completed in less than a minute?
- Am I sacrificing ease-of-use for valuable lead qualification information unnecessarily? A major symptom of this is applying questions unilaterally to different stages of the buying cycle. For example, early-stage leads may not know their budget or purchase time frame yet, and asking these questions could discourage them from completing your form.
- Do submitted web forms automatically generate a lead or contact record in my CRM system or marketing automation system? If records are being entered manually from a separate system, does this delay my response to requests, or make it impossible to be responsive 24/7? Does it Introduce human error into the process?
- Is the promise of the call to action on my lead capture form fulfilled when a visitor hits the submit button? For example, does “Get the free trial now” result in instant access to a free trial? The distance in time and effort between what is promised and reality is indirectly proportional to the trust and confidence you’ve established at this touch-point.
I’ve seen many successful demand generation programs fall down in their transition to CRM systems. Like any hand-off, a smooth outcome is often the result of careful planning. If your sales and marketing teams are butting heads about how to treat leads at this stage, it might be worth considering a lead-nurture/lead-qualification program before the hand-off occurs.
In the final post of this series, I’ll take today’s topic one step further, and explore best practices in developing and designing high-performance landing pages that capture leads.
Note: This is post eight of a nine-post series entitled, “Is Your Website Optimized for Demand Generation?” To read more of Justin’s series, just follow the links below…
For more information on website optimization, check out Nowspeed’s eight chapter eBook “Is Your Website Optimizated for Demand Generation and High ROI?”