I am working with a b2b startup, which is a marketplace that connects clients and freelancers. They have a strong value proposition, and I want to help them generate leads through PPC. We ran one campaign and generated 60+ leads via ebook downloads (in 48 hours). The problem is that we don't have the bandwidth to followup with all of these leads, and they all slipped through the cracks. What ends up happening are zero conversions. Two questions: (1) how can we deal with this pipeline/follow-up issue and (2) are we at a stage where we need a CRM immediately? Or should we continue to deploy marketing campaigns?
It sounds like you're off to a good start with your lead generation. While it is important to keep lead volume strong, it's even more important to have a way to follow up with these leads and continue pushing them through your sales funnel until you can convert them into revenue. Without that follow-up, especially if you're generating leads through PPC, you're likely wasting the budget and energy you're putting toward your marketing efforts in the first place.
The first thing I'd recommend you do is create an automatic "kick-back" email that triggers as soon as a lead downloads your ebook. Be sure to thank them for downloading, give them a link to access the ebook, and then (most importantly) include your call-to-action for the next step you want them to take.
Second, figure out how you're going to handle these leads from a sales perspective. If you're stretched for bandwidth, I'd recommend a system where you assign dollar values to different types of leads, and only have a sales rep follow up with your highest value leads. How much is an ebook lead worth to your business? How much is a demo lead? What about someone who actively requests to be contacted?
You'll find that as you get these systems and processes underway, it'll be extremely useful to have a CRM system both for integrating with your marketing efforts and for helping your sales team to be able to sort and prioritize the leads they're reaching out to.
Lead conversion is a daily focus of mine in my role at HubSpot, and I'd be happy to chat further about how to get a strong marketing/sales funnel set up so you're better equipped to manage the leads you generate and better able to convert them into dollars. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help!
I've been working with B2B for over 4 years now. Check out http://rankpop.com. (I don't work for them, but like what they offer) They might provide the solutions you need, and help you set up a lead scoring and nurturing program.
You definitely don't want to do email campaigns without properly understanding your sales leads and a good CRM + automation tool will help you do this.
"If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up someplace else". Yogi Berra
To initiate any marketing campaign without having a clear plan on how to convert leads to sales, is a tragic mistake and a waste of precious resources. You need to build a sales strategy into your campaign from the outset. There are two basic ways to deal with the leads - digitally and/or with human intervention. If you are looking to automate the process then you must have a clear call to action for the site visitor compelling them to take the next step, along with automated follow-ups and reminders. Even with the greatest value proposition, expect relatively low conversions - so you should plan on driving large numbers in order to gain sales. By using or adding human intervention, "inside sales" will typically drive up conversions dramatically - but with a cost.
CRM is an important tool for sales. It is far easier to implement at startup, rather than wait until you realize you need it. There are plenty of low-cost and freemium solutions that are inexpensive to start and will grow with the business. They will not solve your marketing automation issue, but will provide structure, efficiency and consistency to whatever marketing/sales workflow you decide to employ.
Bottom line - figure out how your going to sell your solution before you waste any more time with development or marketing campaigns. You don't make money building the solution, you make money selling it!
Hi, I have supported some companies in a similar situation, so pretty sure I can help. I'm answering backwards:
(2) You should create somekind of CRM solution ASAP. There are various products out there, some free, some very cheap, some very expensive. The truth is that you're hemorrhaging money if you don't do something asap... Have you calculated how much revenue you have lost, already. If you haven't do so, it will give you a sense of urgency!
(1) You also might need some advice on your whole sales cycle. Create a sales process that allows you to start disqualifying leads. Maybe you need more leads, maybe you need more people, those are all answers that you can only start addressing once you have some kind of rudimentary sales process in place.
Willing to run you through what you need to get fixed (steps, plans...). Ask yourself, what is the point of running a b2b startup if you are only spending money on marketing and don't have any revenue... Always available for a call!
I HATE CRM... I have never ever seen CRM help you close more deals. In fact, the time that it takes to keep it current costs you valuable deal-making time
(BTW, I'm not talking out my ass. I've built/sold several multi-million dollar companies and run a firm that advises billion dollar companies on ways to drive growth.)
Try a platform like CONTACTUALLY (www.contactually.com). It has the best mix of contact tracking, email automation, and pipeline closing -- and it works seamlessly with your email. i don't own, advise, on have an investment in these dudes, BUT I use this platform religiously.
I've been in the CRM space for 28+ years and have dealt with so many SFA/CRM/databases/lead management systems that I forget some of them. I can tell you that ANY CRM will do the job. Well not really, just the one that has the base information you need with the power to expand and make deals close. A product you may want to look at is Nimble http://goo.gl/D3OOS . It's low cost ($15/mo/user) and has power to give you intelligence about those leads before you decide how to follow up.
In todays market you must develop relationships not just market, market,market.... People do business with those they "Know, Like and Trust". We've found that Nimble helps with all of those.
Full disclosure: Our group represents Nimble http://goo.gl/D3OOS as a reseller but we deal with quite a number of CRM systems as mentioned. The correct CRM is one that works with your people, process and product.
Here's a demo link for more information. No commitment necessary. http://goo.gl/D3OOS
I don't think you need a CRM immediately, but you do need to implement a drip email sequence that educates, nurtures and qualifies leads based on behaviour. I'd recommend taking a look at Drip - I wrote a post on why I moved to them from Mailchimp http://www.richardpatey.com/email-marketing-automation-leaving-mailchimp-drip/
I've gotten to live through this pain before and it sounds like you're getting good advice from others, so I'll just offer a little perspective from a different angle.
Whatever you do, don't get overwhelmed and don't let better be the enemy of good. Among your 60 leads are probably 20 total duds, competitors, or lookie-lous. Among the remaining 40 might be a handful of leads that your top sales person (that's the CEO in a startup...) will instantly recognize as high value. Then a bunch in the middle. Get the whole team to lay eyes on the list and bite off the 5-10 leads that you must get back to asap, lop off the ones you know are worthless, and then delegate the homework & legwork on those in the middle while you iron out the process and get the workflow/systems in place.
Before you put any system in place make sure the CEO is 100% bought in and going to invest the time to monitor and drive follow up. When I was a CEO I "lived in" two systems, one being the CRM to monitor leads/opportunities. It has to have support and engagement from the top.