Anyone who has ever dabbled in marketing knows how complicated it can get. From preparing campaigns to working on branding, sometimes it feels like you need a pair of extra arms to get everything done. Yet seen from another lens, marketing is also relatively simple, as these individual activities often revolve around a singular purpose: generating leads. But as you likely already know, not every lead is a good lead. Let’s look at how to ensure that yours are qualified.
What are qualified leads?
A qualified lead is a lead that has been brought into your ecosystem and evaluated by your sales team as being worth pursuing. Qualifying leads is important for any business but especially for smaller firms with limited time and resources. By applying the right amount of scrutiny, you can decipher whether they truly intend to work with you and where they are in the buyer’s journey. Armed with this knowledge, nurturing your leads and turning them into customers becomes much easier.
Map to buyer personas
One of the first things to do when reviewing leads is to determine whether they map onto your “buyer personas.” Back in 2020, we covered what goes into building effective buyer personas. Not only must you establish your target audience’s demographics, like gender, age, geographical location and language, but you need to also think about psychological factors like motivations, goals and frustrations.
As you can probably guess, a good way to determine if your leads map onto your buyer personas is to include the right information fields on your website’s lead generation form. For instance, if your ideal buyer persona is between ages 35-50 and is a tech-centered real estate agent, you need to request that information from anyone who is filling out your form.
Remember the buyer’s journey
It is not enough to have a lead map onto a buyer persona; it also needs to be in the right stage of the “buyer’s journey.” The different psychological stages a lead moves through include:
Identifying that they have a pain point or problem (awareness),
Researching potential solutions (consideration), and
In the case of a real estate agent, eventually deciding to work with an agent whose services best fit their unique needs (decision).
Using your customer relationship management (CRM) software can help determine where your leads are in this process. For instance, if you have your email marketing software integrated with your CRM, you can easily check and see which contacts are performing which actions in relation to your marketing emails. If a lead has received your emails before but has yet to open them or interact with an element like a hyperlink, then they are likely not ready to enter into a relationship with you.
See, what’s likely happening here with these theoretical leads is that they are interested enough in your business to not unsubscribe from your mailing list, but are not actively absorbing what you are trying to communicate. Therefore, they likely do not have an acute pain point that requires an immediate solution provided by your products or services. When leads are in that state, they may be unlikely to respond to a hard sales pitch and will require further nurturing.
Lead qualification models
Once you ensure that your leads map onto the basic parameters of your buyer personas and are in the right headspace to make a move, you may want to apply additional scrutiny. You can accomplish this by deploying a lead qualification model, such as:
Each of these models have their own pros and cons, but each can also help someone working on the sales side of things to make an effective and informed decision on which leads merit pursuit.
Your ticket to better leads
Let’s face it; few things are more exciting in business or marketing than the prospect of working with a new customer. A new lead kicks off this process, which makes it tempting to spring into action and do everything in your power to convert the lead.
However, it’s smart to qualify leads before you move forward, or you risk overextending yourself and doing a lot of work that will ultimately fall flat. A steady, strategic approach, where you leverage all available sources of information, is a better way forward. It allows you to better allocate finite resources and expand your client base as a result.
Service-based industries live or die by the quality of their customer service. While other industries rely on their products or supply chains, service enterprises primarily differentiate themselves through the experiences they offer. Today’s savviest service-related companies are acutely aware of this. They also know retaining customers is much easier and economical than finding and converting new ones.
Recently, Missy Trubatisky, Alliant National’s Underwriting and Escrow Training Manager, called upon her years of title insurance experience to develop and present a training entitled “Customers for Life.” The presentation offered numerous examples of how title agents can build a superior customer service program and ultimately grow their businesses. Read on for some of the major takeaways.
It’s About Mindset
Perhaps the biggest thing to remember about creating “Customers for Life” and delivering superior customer service is that it is a bigger endeavor than any one action or campaign. Instead, it requires a complete shift in mindset. You must treat every deal like it is the most important of your career. Is this asking for a lot? Maybe. But it’s what your customers expect. And if you are in the services game, why would you want to do anything else? Missy says there are a few easy tricks to start shifting your thinking on this matter.
First, make every situation an opportunity to succeed, not an obligation to fulfill. Next, remember to present yourself professionally – every day and during every closing. Lastly, remember the golden rule, and then go one step further. Treat others not only as you want to be treated, but also as you would want your mother or children treated in the same situation, Missy says.
Opportunity vs. Obligation
You might be thinking: “Sure, it’s easy to talk about changing your mindset. Pulling it off is another thing entirely.” However, Missy says that when you start breaking it down, you quickly realize that it is not quite a Herculean lift. Instead of looking at it as a major undertaking, view customer obligations and opportunities as roughly the same thing.
We all know that working with customers entails at least some obligations. What matters, though, is how you choose to look at it. For instance, agents need to deliver the title commitment – typically within 20 days. Your obligation here is to deliver the commitment before the 21st day. Your opportunity is to deliver it in less than a week. In doing so, you demonstrate superior customer service; you provide the WOW factor. Making an obligation an opportunity isn’t as hard as you might think. It just involves a subtle shift in mindset, she says.
That’s Not Quite All
It would be nice if that was all it took to deliver superior customer service. But there is a bit more to it than that. Displaying ethical behavior, maintaining a sterling reputation, and engaging in effective communication also influences whether you can create customers for life.
How can you display ethical behavior in business? That’s a deep question. There are so many layers to ethical behavior, but for simplicity’s sake, Missy says you can boil it roughly down to integrity and character.
Your character is what others believe they know about the kind of person you are. Your integrity directly impacts how people view your character. It speaks to whether people view you as trustworthy. Trust is the basis of obtaining customers for life, Missy notes. When customers trust that you will do what you say, they will come back repeatedly.
Unsurprisingly, whether people consider your business ethical will determine its overall reputation. It will also dictate its longevity. When you are a service-based business, your reputation is all you have; you must protect it at all costs. This is where accountability comes in. It’s okay to make a mistake. We all do it. What’s important is how you address it. Here’s how you can go about making it right:
First, own the mistake
Second, figure out how to fix the mistake
Third, don’t try to hide it or sweep it under the rug
Lastly, learn from it, and don’t make the same mistake again
The final part of creating customers for life involves prioritizing effective communication with your customers. But before you can do that, you must first listen to their needs, Missy says. That means listening from beginning to end. We’re all guilty of formulating our side of the conversation even while others are formulating theirs. When we do that, we miss out on vital information that we need to know. We fail to understand what is important to our conversation partner.
Conversely, when you understand what is important to another person, you can show that you care about them. This creates the foundations of a trusting and mutually beneficial business relationship.
Alliant National: Committed to Building Customers for Life
Building a reputation for superior customer service takes real work, but when you are caught up in the day-to-day minutiae, it can be difficult to make needed changes. Still, there are numerous steps we all can take to improve our customer service and make our clients feel more appreciated and valued. All that’s required is going back to the basics. Missy emphasizes this when explaining the genesis of her presentation and how Alliant National seeks to help agents create loyal, lifelong customers. “Everyone needs a reminder from time-to-time on good basic customer service skills and the importance of developing those skills,” she said. “It’s critical for Alliant National to present these courses to offer a unique perspective to a vital skill.”
Want to learn more about creating “Customers for Life?” Check out Missy’s full presentation here.
Having well-organized data is the lifeblood of modern business. Do you have the right system in place?
Running a successful business hinges on data. Without it, you cannot gain a clear picture of your customer base. You can’t understand your sales productivity or optimize your team’s communication or collaboration processes. But it’s one thing to recognize the need for data; it’s another thing entirely to know how to organize and leverage it. Thankfully, a solution exists that can help you streamline your business, improve customer relations and successfully grow your revenues. That solution is a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
What is a CRM Platform?
A CRM platform is a technology solution that allows you to easily manage all interactions you have with an existing or prospective customer base. On a broader level, however, these platforms assist companies with streamlining processes and improving profitability.
Why Do You Need a CRM?
A good CRM can unify your business. By leveraging the solution properly, each department within your agency can gain real-time insights into your sales, business objectives and overall profitability. This solution also gives every department a clear view into your customers, utilizing data the CRM typically organizes into a customizable and exportable dashboard. You can optimize your marketing efforts with this information, harnessing data to implement better campaigns and make more sales.
CRMs have a role to play in customer service as well. We live in a world of omnichannel communication, which can often make managing customer interaction complex and arduous. CRMs, however, make it easy to engage with customers across multiple channels and ensure that each touchpoint is carried out perfectly.
Where to Begin?
Whenever you are making an IT investment, or any business investment, it’s always wise to begin with your goals. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? With a CRM, companies are often trying to accomplish a few different objectives, such as tracking leads, customers and sales; unifying operations; increasing productivity; and making data-driven decisions. Think about the features that are the most important to your organization so you can prioritize those during your CRM selection process.
Then start conducting your research on potential vendors you’d like to work with. There is a glut of information online that you can use to inform your search, with this article, in particular, giving a good overview of the best solutions for different types of businesses.
Understand the Process
Once you have some idea of what you need, you can begin working with a product vendor. This can be a complex and, at times, lengthy process. Depending on the size of your organization, your vendor may even assign you a project manager to keep the implementation of your solution on track. Be sure to rely heavily on the expertise of your vendor, and when you are trying out a demo of the product, make it a priority to test every function so you can obtain a clear and comprehensive picture of its capabilities and whether they align with your goals.
Implementation with your vendor should not occur in a vacuum. Your team needs to be involved in various capacities from beginning to end. Not only will your team ask pertinent questions that you haven’t thought of, but they are, in fact, the people who will need to use the solution going forward. It is crucial that you gain a sense of your CRM’s overall usability and how steep the learning curve might be upon adoption. Remember, staff training time will reduce their bandwidth to work on other projects.
CRMs Bring Positive ROI
Implementing a new system can be a unique challenge for businesses. Not only does it cost time and money, but benefits can feel intangible and unproven – at least initially. What’s important to note, however, is that a CRM can make a real, long-term difference to your business, both for your customer relations and your bottom line. For anyone operating in a customer-centric business, it can have a transformative impact by increasing customer lifetime value, reducing your operating costs and facilitating remote or hybrid work. It’s an important investment to make if you hope to streamline your current operations and succeed in the future of work.