Sales managers and retail store owners in every town are asking for more traffic. More website traffic, more store traffic, “just bring me more traffic,” they say. And when we respond, it’s almost always about the lead management process. We lead (pun intended) with this question:
What are you doing with the leads you have today?
We want to know how you’re managing leads before you open the flood gates for more. It’s important to have a lead management process for follow up and closing leads whether they come from your online or offline channels. Let’s talk about leads. There are two types of leads that come to your retail store: the Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) and the Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs).
Sales Leads vs Marketing Leads
Whether online or in-store, they’re looking for very different experiences with your brand. And it’s up to you to deliver a uniquely personalized experience to get them to the next stage.
It’s important to categorize your leads so that you’re meeting their needs and guiding them to the next stage of the buyer’s journey. In most retail stores, the only lead that counts is the SQL during the lead management process. Those are the leads going into your Up system, emailed to a salesperson, or called by the store manager. But you need to have a follow-up process to nurture leads that go cold, show disinterest after a first conversation, or haven’t engaged enough to warrant a salesperson interaction.
Sales Qualified Leads are ready to buy. They’ve indicated through some website conversion or store visit that they’re in the final stages of the buying process. And you’re in the running. But a SQL doesn’t mean the sale is in the bag. You’ve got more work to do on the buyer’s journey.
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
Marketing Qualified Leads are in the early stages of the buying cycle. For our furniture retailers, maybe a Marketing Qualified Lead is a person that signed up for your email newsletter but hasn’t purchased or visited your store. They’re showing interest and curiosity about your products, your brand, your service but they’re not ready to start talking about fabrics, finishes, or final retail price.
Building a Follow Up Process
Now that you know the different types of leads you’re working with, how do you build a process to close them? Your store should have two procedures depending on the type of lead. As a long-standing marketing resource for retailers, we have recommendations that work well for success.
Follow Up with Marketing Leads
Unlike the more immediate process of the SQL follow up, the MQL follow up is more hands-off for many retailers. For most, this will be a new process to implement. We recommend talking with your marketing team or scheduling a time to speak with our team to find the most efficient ways to run this process.
Marketing leads aren’t ready to buy but they’re interested. They want to be educated, entertained, and “won over” to your store. That’s what makes Marketing Leads so fun to manage. Use email marketing to engage with these potential customers. Share blogs you wrote about home design trends, invite them to an in-store event, encourage them to try some of your products in a virtual room planner. Use email, paid advertising, and social media to stay connected with these marketing leads through the buying cycle. And use triggers to identify when it is the right time to reach out with a phone call from your sales team.
Follow Up with Sales Leads
For those with an Up system, your process will be easier to manage. But remember that the system is only an automated version of the manual process. Traditionally, this method of supplying leads to sales reps alleviates in-fighting among your team. Make sure that whether you’re implementing a formal Up system or running a more DIY, Wild West style of lead delivery that you have a process.
And if you want better performance from your sales team with the leads coming to your store, challenge them. Approaching a salesperson with a tight KPI (key performance indicator) and monthly quotas can be challenging. But make sure that you’re tying it to the lead delivery system. You can create a weighted lead delivery system to share more leads with the best closers in your company. This will not only challenge your sales staff to have healthy competition but also ensure your leads are handled properly and timely.
Make sure that all leads are followed up. The worst thing you can do for your brand is to ignore a lead. So monitor the inbound traffic of Sales Qualified Leads and how often they turn into customers. Share this information with your marketing team and use it to devise new inbound lead strategies online and offline.
A Lesson in Lead Management Process
Leads are the lifeblood of any retail or sales-oriented organization. And with such a complicated buyers journey, every lead is important. We hope that you found some new information in this article or maybe reinvigorated an old strategy for your store. If you’d like to learn more about how to operate a winning sales funnel, you can download our free ebook about sales funnels.