TheBy now it is clear as day that digitization creates a pre-informed customer who has altered requests on assistance and support. This demands a new lead management, whose role is to capture, qualify, and guide potential customers who have shown their interest in the brand, before they are handed over to sales as a hot lead or bow out of the buying process. Besides systematics, this has a lot to do with communication, as you can imagine.

Since the emergence of standardized lead management in the early 2000s, the communications world has changed dynamically. The massive acceptance of social media, as well as the associated dialogue patterns, have sustainably changed the expectations of the customers when approached.

However, at first glance, the requirements for the sale, and with it the importance of lead management, remain fundamentally the same as they were fifteen years ago. Businesses need customers, and the easiest customers to win are those who have already bought or "expressed" their interest in the brand or product/service. Sale people risk giving away opportunities here, especially when neglecting the explosion of possible contact points that came into play in recent years.

Sales and customer acquisition face new challenges

Many companies still have their own reasons for doing that:  Often it's simply an insufficient coordination between marketing and sales, organizational problems, inadequate IT structures, system breaks, unclear processes, lack of transparency, motivation, and incentives, slack result controls or just lack of instruction and qualification of employees.

Especially in the face of this knowledge, many companies are working on differentiating the process further by expanding their media mix, optimizing landing pages or refining their lead scoring. Of course, digitization is part of the process. For instance, BMW reported that the launch of the so-called "product genius" could improve the conversion rate sustainably. Here, the sales process is complemented by an information specialist, that manages with the help of a mobile device and an online vehicle configurator to respond to the questions and specific needs of potential customers better than the seller who is focused on a quick conclusion of a sale.

Although this approach eliminates a few flaws, it does not necessarily help support the formulated standard of Mr. Krueger, CEO of BMW, which is using the slogan "We sell emotions!" to life in the sales process. Because, as trend-setting as he is, he still follows a product-centric view. In the sales process, however, this claim must be reflected in the encounters with the brand. An ever more differentiated, technological occurrence of the seller gives only part of the answer.

The ROPO requires a reorientation of lead management

Not least due to the Internet, a significant change in the information and decision-making behavior of consumers has been observed in the past decade. Google calls this online decision-making moment the Zero Moment of Truth, or simply “ZMOT”, referring to the moment in the buying process when the consumer researches a product prior to purchase. In the "first moment of truth", the consumer then takes his decision as "ROPO" (research online and purchase offline) and often finds his expectation in the "second moment of truth", the consumption - or not.

As said, expectations about the probable consumer experience is often based on already made experiences of others. The virtually unlimited access to information in advance via digital media, and thus also to the judgments of experts, including the respective reference groups, is an ongoing change that has a massive impact on the behavior of consumers.

Recommendations for optimizing your lead management

As a result, marketing and lead management will have to re-invent their tactical orientation. If you like, despite of - or because of - the technical possibilities, the human being comes to the fore again.

Today’s consumers are just much better informed than previously, but must still be gripped by their emotions and (pre)judgments, hence, you might want to consider the following tips:

  • Even if it is a matter of course, please think consistently from the perspective of your customers.
  • Check your lead management and ask yourself if it is still meeting the needs of the digital age (use of digital media, provision of timely, relevant information, employee skills, IT support; processes, etc.). Use IT platforms that provide the answers to the search behavior of the customers and their customer journey.
  • Break down organizational barriers.
  • Review your processes and structures in the collaboration between marketing, sales and IT, especially, break down encapsulated silos.
  • Adapt the information offers to your customers, based on their search behavior.
  • Seize opportunities for individual “storytelling”
  • Regularly review the results of your lead management and keep in mind that consistent enforcement and strict success control are among the most important success factors.

By Daniela La Marca