According to a recent industry survey by Demand Gen Report , fewer than 10% of marketing executives who responded have automated lead nurturing strategies and processes in place. Furthermore, only 15% of those same respondents planned to deploy or expand their lead management initiatives in 2009.
As someone who sees clients achieving very real, tangible benefits of lead nurturing on a daily basis – higher click-to-lead conversions, fewer leads rejected by the sales force, shorter selling cycles, increased ROI from demand generation, and so on – it’s tough, frankly, to understand why automated lead management hasn’t been adopted by more organizations with greater urgency. Consider the facts:
* in these tight economic times, marketers need to squeeze every ounce of efficiency from their marketing dollars
* automated lead management and marketing automation – the technology that drives it – has never been less expensive or easier to deploy
* according to research from the Aberdeen Group, top performing companies are twice as likely to have automated lead nurturing programs in place
But still the doubters persist. Here are the excuses we hear most often:
1. Implementing lead nurturing is too complex and I just don’t have the (choose one) time/staff/bandwidth.
This might have been a legitimate excuse as little as two years ago, but in only those few months, there’s been a flood of easy-to-use, SaaS-based marketing automation solutions into the market. Like sales force automation (SFA) and CRM before it, Marketing Automation is no longer the IT-approving, consultant-hiring, enterprise-scale boondoggle it used to be. At Spear, we’ve launched lead nurturing systems in mere days, and fully-baked programs (strategy, workflow, creative) in a few short weeks.
2. Marketing automation is too expensive. I’d rather spend the money on generating leads.
It wasn’t uncommon too long ago for companies to invest six-figure sums on marketing automation software (and that was just for the upfront license costs.) Those days are long gone. Most leading SaaS-based solutions are priced starting as little as $1,500 per month – some much less. Even if you’re a small business or boot-strapped start-up, automated lead management is within the reach of even a modest marketing budget.
Sometimes it’s easier to justify spending $20,000 on a one-time media buy (with no real guarantee of results) than it is spending that same amount on a 12-month software license. Yet the returns on lead management can be phenomenal.
3. I don’t see the value. We keep on top of leads enough as it is.
Just because your inside sales team manages to call every inbound lead within a day or two doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from lead nurturing. For one, automated email follow-up complements telemarketing by increasing the contact rate, and – through automated lead scoring – helping to prioritize which leads merit reps’ attention. Secondly, even the most diligent sales reps aren’t going to nurture otherwise non-responsive leads indefinitely, but a lead nurturing program can do that and more, and also customize each email communication based on lead profile data and user behavior.
4. We don’t generate the volume of leads to substantiate the investment.
See #2. True, if you generate all of 10 leads per month, you have bigger problems to solve than how to best nurture those same prospects. But companies generating fewer than 500 leads per month are still achieving ROI from automated lead management by ensuring that every lead is responded to promptly and systematically, that no immediate opportunity goes uncovered, and that their company is kept “top of mind” for when those same prospects have a need further down the road.
5. I have no budget for any kind of software, period.
OK, fine. But how much are you spending on lead generation, or PR, or branding, or social media? Are you getting maximum value from the thousands of dollars you blindly spend with Google every month? By eliminating the non-performing elements in your demand generation programs, and investing those monies in automated lead scoring, qualification, and nurturing, you’ll convert more raw inquiries to qualified leads, and drive a better return from your marketing efforts overall.
What’s holding your company back from implementing lead management? Feel free to comment below.