smb-tech-trendsWhen it comes to managing online sales leads, many businesses may be missing the mark. In fact, according to research gathered by InsideSales, Harvard and MIT, on average 43 percent of companies never respond to inbound sales.

Companies also are missing online sales opportunities by being too slow to respond. The research found that for inquiries submitted on the web, 78 percent of sales go to the first companies that respond — and the sooner, the better. That’s because your chances of making contact with a lead are much greater if you respond within the first five minutes. Contact rates decrease 100 times from five minutes to 30 minutes.

Online lead management also may suffer because you aren’t getting the right information from inbound marketing activities– white papers or webinars, for example – to qualify a lead for your small business and improve your chances of a sale.

Considering the amount of time your customers are online today anywhere and anytime with their mobile devices, you need a system in place to make sure you get back in touch, that you do it quickly and that you get the information you need to help seal the deal. Here are six tips to help improve your online lead management process:

Have a response process in place: As noted above, following up immediately makes a significant difference. Put someone in charge of the process if you don’t plan to handle the follow-up yourself. It helps to have a prepared script if a call comes or email you can easily customize to immediately send to the prospect. After that, manage prospects by sending a sequence of follow-up emails.

Profile your buyer: Know your ideal buyer. If you are selling to other companies, issues such as revenue or buying cycles may factor into the sale. Age, gender and income might be part of a consumer profile.

ColleQualifying Sales Leads, Qualified Salesct key information: Whether it’s a call or a landing page form, decide what information you need to have. Work with your sales team to determine what they absolutely need to know about the buyer to be most productive in responding to an inquiry.

Categorize leads: Determine how you want to categorize leads. Categories can include current customers or prospects; active or longer-term opportunities; referral sources or geographic location.  Include intent as part of categorizing leads. Someone signing up for a product demonstration may be more serious about buying than someone browsing your white papers. There are various database systems to help you manage leads.

Track performance of lead sources: Determine which of your lead generating sources – white papers, social media campaigns, customer case studies or Google adwords campaigns — is producing the most conversion rates. Adjust your program based on your measurement.

Follow-up: Not all leads are ready to make the purchase. Continue to nurture leads that don’t immediately convert to a sale.  Periodically reach out to these prospects through emails and a quality content marketing campaign that provides them with information they need.

What are you doing to manage your online sales leads?