Is your marketing and sales process creating ghost leads?
You should absolutely be afraid of ghosts. They are costing you money and there is no reason they should exists. What is a ghost lead? A ghost lead is a lead you have collected that gets lost in the process somewhere, somehow and does not get the attention it needs to move it through the funnel.
There are a number of reasons and places a ghost lead can sneak up on you. Let’s take each stage in the funnel and look at how a ghost lead appears.
Some ghost leads never even make it into the database. If you do not have a consistent process for collecting, inputting and segmenting your leads from ALL of your channels you might have ghost leads sitting in the desk draw of a sales rep. or in someone’s inbox. This happens a lot at trade shows. Even with the lead scan devices you get back from a whirlwind conference and you are on to the next big thing and the leads never make it into the database. Or worse yet, leads did not get scanned and you have a stack of business cards sitting on someone’s desk waiting to be entered. You just paid thousands of dollars to create a stack of ghost leads.
While the above scenario is just lazy and should be easy to solve, the next stage in the funnel is where most unfortunate ghost leads occur. Let’s say those leads do get entered. There are three different paths these leads often take: 1) you send each of them an email introducing yourself starting with “we met you at…” 2) you divide them up and have your sales team start calling or 3) you have a marketing automation system and you put them into a campaign that starts a sequence of emails. If you are a little more advanced you may email and call. However, only a handful of these leads end up in the funnel. What happens to the rest? Before we get into that, let’s take a look at the next stage.
Now you have followed up on the leads. Your sales guys have even called a few times and left messages. Your emails have gone out and you have done your best to get the leads to raise their hands - - but have you? What happens to these leads at this point?
Just because they did not interact with you immediately does not mean there is no hope to ever convert these leads into opportunities. As marketers it is our job to follow-up. It is also our job to learn more about them to further qualify them for sales. Here are the steps to take to get rid of the ghost leads:
1 - Make sure every lead makes it into your database. No excuses, make this a top priority.
2 - Use as much of the data as you can to follow-up with the leads immediately with as relevant as a mesage as possible.
3 - Over time, work to gather more data on the leads you obtained, either through third party append services, manually through LInkedin or by asking the lead via progressive profiling forms. You can also learn more about the lead through their behaviors. What actions are the taking when you reach out?
4 - Use the data to get more and more relevant to your audience and to segment those who meet your pre-determined criteria for a good lead. For example, if you know that call center managers managing teams of 60+ are the ones who buy most often, make sure these leads get segmented out and bubbled up to the top as quickly as possible.
5 - Lead score activity/behavior. If a lead keeps visiting your site, there must be something of interest there. Increase the lead score each time they visit and if they hit your pricing page give them a bonus score. Bubble them up to sales when they hit a threshold.
6 - Don’t let the ghost linger. If you have followed up and sent them relevant content move them to a “marketing stay-in-touch” campaign where you do just that, stay in touch at a cadence that is appropriate to your market. Change your leads status at this point to MSIT so you are not keeping them in your sales funnel.
7 - If sales has leads in their funnel they are not working, set-up automated process by which these leads continue to get activity. This would look different based on your company but you could auto reassign them to another sales person if there has been no activity for a certain time-frame. You could auto-alert their manager if the lead is going into “ghost” status. You could also set-up nurture at each stage of the funnel and for those stages that include a sales rep. these could appear to come from the rep.
8 - As a marketer you should spot check your leads on a regular basis and make sure the intended follow-up is occurring. Chances are if one ghost is appearing, there are more around the corner.
My name is KC DeKorte-Cox and I am a demand generation marketing expert with over 15 years of experience focused primarily on helping businesses with marketing and sales alignment strategies aimed at driving growth. I help design marketing and sales programs that scale by leveraging the power of technology, specifically CRM and Marketing Automation.