What is the primary difference between contact management and opportunity management?

Often sales and marketing professionals get confused between contact management and opportunity management. While they look similar, there is a fine line between the two processes. By understanding the difference between contact management and opportunity management, you can nurture them better. You will also be able to utilize your resources optimally.

So, let us dive in. But first, a quick look at the basics.

Difference Between Contact and Opportunity

Take note. Different people define contact and opportunity differently. Some sources define a lead as a contact. Similarly, there are ambiguities in the definitions of contacts and opportunities.

To avoid such confusion here is a simple way to understand them.

Contact: Suppose you have some details (email id, phone number) of a prospective buyer. It is a lead. We cannot call it a contact yet. Leads become contacts when there is two-way communication. This communication is between the business and the individual.

I repeat – a lead is not a contact. It becomes a contact when the lead shows interest, and the salesperson follows up. Even an old customer is contact because they have shown interest in your business.

Opportunity: On the other hand, the advanced state of contact is the opportunity. At this stage, the salesperson potentially sees the chances of closure. Here, the lead and the sales representative are in the final stage of discussion (terms of service, pricing, and so on). Also, note, opportunity can be an existing customer as well. That is, your customer can buy from you again.

Difference between lead management and contact management

Of course, both contact and opportunity are interconnected and closely related. But this is the main difference between contact and opportunity.

What is the Primary Difference Between Contact Management and Opportunity Management?

Contact management is the process of organizing and managing contacts. It involves tracking and engaging with your potential customers. Engagement with them is crucial to determine which leads are most likely to buy. Therefore, it allows the sales team to prioritize follow up. Once you identify the qualified leads, you can also reduce the length of your sales cycle.

Businesses generally use contact management software for managing the details of their prospective and existing customers. Nowadays, they prefer managing contacts through CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software as it provides additional features.

Now let us move on to – what is opportunity management?

Ideally, you want your salesperson to focus on the highest value deals. You want to spend energy on the deals that are most likely to close. Now, this is where opportunity management comes into the picture. Depending on their stage in your sales funnel, you can determine how close you are to close the deal.

Plus, opportunity management also involves identifying cross-selling and upselling possibilities. For instance, a contact can be a prospective customer for multiple products. Opportunity management also corresponds to mapping different opportunities associated with a contact – without creating duplicate records.

Many mature CRM tools have opportunity management as an in-built feature. For example, LeadSquared opportunity management CRM lets you capture, track, and close all opportunities from every single contact. It allows teams to manage multiple products and spot upsell/cross-sell opportunities to increase your CLV (Customer Lifetime Value).

In a nutshell, contact management is the process of organizing and managing contacts. On the other hand, opportunity management is the process of focusing on those contacts where you are most likely to close a deal.

Who Should Care About Contact and Opportunity Management?

Contact management is of great importance for both sales and marketing professionals. Your marketing team wants to know more information about the contact. Information such as location, preferences, and other details helps them in designing effective marketing campaigns.

On the other hand, the sales team wants to know the contacts for linking them to opportunities. It helps them in identifying potential sales opportunities. All this information helps sales reps in building long-term relationships with contacts. It eventually leads to more revenues from their referrals.

Now you know what is the primary difference between contact management and opportunity management, right? Let us move on to the key features of the software designed to accomplish these tasks.

Key Features of Contact Management System

1. Notifications

The contact management system allows you to integrate with the calendar. Thus, you can stay on top of calls, follow-ups, and emails. Rather than relying on memory or lengthy spreadsheets, the contact management system will set up activity notifications. Thus, allowing you to manage all queries and concerns appropriately. Through calendar integration, sales teams can achieve more transparency in their process.

Travel CRM - opportunity notification

2. Interaction History

The contact management system helps in keeping track of customer interaction through notes and timestamps. It gives the real picture of the conversation history to all the associated team members.

Let us take an example.

When a sales rep is on leave, usually another team member follows up with the customer. Through contact management software, they get a complete picture of the activities and interactions with the customer. Thus, helping the sales rep to deal with customers effectively. For instance, when a customer asks about repairs, sales reps can look at interaction history. It will help them know if it is the first time they are asking for repairs. Such details can help sales reps to better attend to customers.

Sales management - Lead Conversation History

3. Customer Database

The customer database is the fundamental aspect of a contact management system. However, it is also the most prominent feature. If you have customer information, you can do several things. For instance, you can directly contact them with promotional offers and discounts. You can offer a customized level of service based on their preferences. You can also use the details to reduce the churn rate and encourage brand loyalty.

Please note, professionals generally prefer CRM software these days over a standalone contact manager. It is because, apart from effective contact management, they can do a lot more through CRM. For example:

  • Automate sales and marketing processes
  • Define automated workflows
  • Integrate with telephony and cloud calling systems for direct calling through the portal
  • Integrate with email service providers like Gmail, Outlook, and more.

[Also read: customer database in CRM]

Key Features of Opportunity Management System

1. Enhanced Productivity

An opportunity management system can help sales reps manage their work efficiently. They can arrange meetings with potential leads as well as manage documents from the same portal. Moreover, through collaboration, sales reps can streamline the sales cycle. Also, opportunity management systems automate lead scoring and lead prioritization to identify the opportunities from every contact. Thus, boosting the overall productivity of your business.

2. Improve Win Rates

An opportunity management system also improves your business win rates. Using this system, you are in a better position to understand what works and what does not. You know what you need next to boost your opportunity win rates.

It highlights another big difference between contact management and opportunity management. Contact management brings you customer information, while opportunity management drives revenues.

3. Gain Real-time Visibility

For sales reps, it is imperative to gain real-time visibility. When you have details on forecasts, it becomes easy for businesses to predict sales. The opportunity management system sends you signals when a contact performs an activity such as clicks ads, browses your website for product info, drops you a query, and more. Moreover, the system helps you to focus only on the opportunities which matter the most. It is yet another difference between opportunity management and contact management. The contact management system does not allow you to predict the sales pipeline.

Opportunity Management System - agent pop-up

Hopefully, now you have a clear understanding of the differences between the two.

Final Thoughts

Contact management and opportunity management are interconnected parts of the sales process. Although they sound similar, there are several differences between the two. While contact management helps you organize and manage customer details efficiently, opportunity management uses those details to generate business revenues.

When sales reps get easy access to customer data, they can reduce sales cycles by 8% to 14%. Moreover, such a system can also improve sales forecast accuracy by as much as 42%. That said, it can also increase sales and sales productivity at your organization. Therefore, businesses must use such systems.

When both contact management and opportunity management are crucial for your business, instead of looking for separate tools, it is wiser to invest in CRM software that streamlines both processes.

Fortunately, we have a tool – designed specifically for growing businesses. So, give your hunt a halt. Try LeadSquared CRM software for free!

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing teams to effectively market their products/services on multiple channels and automate repetitive tasks. It involves email marketing, social media scheduling, sales pipeline management, running and monitoring ad campaigns, managing leads, analyzing campaign sources, ROI, and more.

marketing automation - banner

With marketing automation, you can automate routine tasks and improve your team’s productivity. In this world of eCommerce and digital customer interactions, marketing automation has a direct impact on sales. For instance, a customer buying a product after clicking on the discount offer email reflects the direct impact of marketing automation on sales. Knowing exactly how it moves the needle for your business is the key to running successful marketing automation campaigns.

In this article, we will talk about the different aspects of marketing automation. But first, let us look at how it impacts business ROI.

marketing automation ROI infographic

Understanding Marketing Automation

People often use the term email marketing interchangeably with marketing automation. But that is not correct. While intelligent, personalized email marketing is a part of marketing automation, it is not its only function.

Marketing automation and email marketing

Marketing automation also involves tracking leads, qualifying them, triggering relevant communication actions based on activities, and passing leads on to the sales team at the right time. If the leads/prospects are not sales-ready, then marketing automation also takes care of nurturing them based on their activities, or inactivity – until they show an interest in your product/service.

How does marketing automation help?

Marketing Automation software automates all marketing actions that map and influence the prospect journey and guide a lead down the conversion funnel. It saves the marketer a lot of time. Thus, enabling him to focus more on building marketing strategies instead of working on repetitive tasks.

In general, marketing automation includes the following tools:

  • Landing pages, telephony, and integrations with all your marketing channels to capture leads.
  • Drip marketing and email campaigns to help you nurture leads with the right content at the right time.
  • Lead scoring for lead qualification
  • Conversation tracking at each touchpoint – phone calls, SMS, emails, social, web chat, etc.
  • Website tracking and lead segmentation to understand the intent of a lead, and ensure that the lead gets targeted content.
  • Opportunity management to identify and act upon upselling/cross-selling opportunities.
  • Reporting and Analytics to identify gaps and positives in your process and learn and improvise accordingly.

So, can marketing automation replace marketers?

Nope.

Marketing automation is not a substitute for your marketers. That is, you cannot introduce a marketing automation software one day and then fire half your team. The purpose of marketing automation software is to eliminate repetitive tasks and allow your team to work more efficiently. It will help you ensure that every conversation is highly relevant, personalized, and timely – irrespective of the channel that the prospect chose to communicate. Furthermore, your team can measure the impact of their campaigns and automate lead engagement workflows as well.

With marketing automation in place, your team can engage with leads in a more personalized way, leading to better customer experience at every step.

Marketing Automation in Action

Here is an example of an email that I got recently:

Email marketing with marketing automation

What struck me most about this email was that they timed it with my midday break! And do you know what I did? I went ahead and took the survey.

Let us explore why this email was a success.

Sent at the right time

Had I not gotten this email during my midday break; it would not have had much of an impact. The sender timed the email to coincide with my break time. See, I am not saying they knew my exact timetable and thus sent the email. They just sent it at the time when it would have had maximum impact.

However, finding the right schedule may not be that simple. They would have done a few things to get it right. For instance, based on their experience with previous campaigns, they would have noticed that the email sent at a particular time slot gets a higher open rate.

The have complimented this learning with a cleverly worded email that would encourage the recipient to take an action (click on the email). For instance, they might have said “While you sip your evening tea” had they sent the email at 5.

Lesson learned: Use marketing automation tools to determine the best time to send emails depending on your target audience.

Relevant content

They asked me to take a survey about their pricing. The brand knew that I had evaluated their product recently and was aware of their pricing structure. If I had only downloaded an e-book, this email would not have been relevant to me, and I would have just skipped it.

So, they have probably segmented their lead list and ensured that this email reached only the relevant leads.

Personalization

Now, this is the easy part. The brand got my name right. I wasn’t just ‘Hi Subscriber’ to them. And yes, that did make a difference.

In short, the email was timely, targeted, and personalized, which is why it had an impact. All successful email campaigns share these traits.

[Also read: Email Marketing Best Practices I Learnt After Sending 2,049,567 Emails]

I also brought up the topic because I wanted to tell you that you can achieve all of these with marketing automation. You can segment your lead list, personalize the content (with mail merge fields), and make sure the content is relevant.

But these are still the capabilities of an email marketing tool. Why do you need marketing automation software for this?

It is because marketing automation will not only help you execute these tasks automatically but also refine them further.

Let us take the same example. When you want to nurture your leads with targeted content and push them down the funnel, you will probably face the following problems:

Understanding lead requirements

If you don’t use a tracking software, you will not know your prospects’ interest in specific products/services, unless they mention it explicitly. Sending an email blast about Offering A will be pointless to leads interested in Offering B and vice versa.

Similarly, in your lead list, if you do not know who has downloaded an e-book and who has examined your pricing page, you are aiming blindfolded. Sending an email blast about pricing will be irrelevant for those subscribers who have not checked out your pricing page yet.

Sending emails (nurturing leads) after an important activity

Even if you manage to send relevant content, you will also have to send it at the time that makes the most sense for the lead. Bombarding their inbox with emails for each website visit or an inconsequential action will make even the most interested leads immune to your content. For instance, the total number of emails (B2B and B2C) sent and received per day exceeded 293 billion in 2019. However, according to spamlaws.com, 45% of emails were spam. Moreover, 73% of email users don’t hesitate to click the unsubscribe link to get rid of unwanted emails.

You would not want a tuned-out audience, right?

That is why you need to segment your email list based on interest, demographics, and preferences and send emails accordingly.

Check this out:

The more the lead interacts with your business, the more targeted your content should be. That means, each follow-up email should be in response to their previous activity (or inactivity).

Look at the following emails. In the first email, the brand has sent an eBook to their subscribers. The subsequent email was sent in response to the people who have read the first email.

Email #1:

email campaign example in LeadSquared

Email #2:

relevant follow-up email example

There is another benefit of automation in day-to-day marketing activities.

By tracking the website activity, you can identify the lead source, interests, and active hours. It will help you figure out the best time to send relevant emails to your leads.

Once you send out the email, you will know how each lead responds to the email (Do they open it? Do they click on the link?) and use this information to further nurture them. You can also take it a step further and notify the salesperson if the lead has taken a conversion-centric action.

Of course, as with any marketing tool, the email statistics after each campaign will show you how the email has performed. It will also give you an overview of how each lead reacted to the email, that is, opens, clicks, best performing subject lines and more.

email campaign report

Checking if the lead is sales qualified

The point of nurturing is to make the lead sales-qualified and push them further down the conversion funnel. But how will you know if the email campaign you sent out has finally convinced your lead to check out your product? This feature is not present in all email marketing tools. However, with marketing automation, it is possible.

By tracking the lead score (and sometimes engagement score), you can identify when the lead is sales-ready.

If the lead is more involved with your content, you can gauge the intent of the conversion. Moreover, based on the lead source, their response to the nurturing activities, the pages they visit on the website etc., your marketing automation software can automatically move them up/down the sales funnel.

benefits of CRM - funnel

[Also read: MQL vs SQL: Difference between them and how to convert more MQLs into SQLs.]

Tracking the impact of marketing activities:

So how exactly did your marketing efforts impact business? Did it improve lead generation? Did you get in more quality leads? What is your high-performing lead channel?

Well, your marketing automation tool can answer all these questions, and more.

The reporting and analytics tell you which was your best performing campaign.

But my personal favorite is the report that tells me the response time. The fact of the matter is lead response time impacts buying decisions a lot. According to a report from Invesp, 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. Marketing automation software can show you these metrics. Once you have a clear picture, you can fix the bottlenecks and promptly respond to the lead inquiries.

You must have noticed that marketing automation software automates engagement. That is, marketers need not sit, and draft campaigns based on prospect activities. You can create a flow beforehand, which runs automatically as and when a user takes an action.

Look at this example of marketing automation workflow in heath insurance segment.

Customer journey builder - build

Also, note that email is just one of the options. You can schedule campaigns on several different channels based on the choice of your recipients.

Customer journey builder - for all your campaigns

Why Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation indeed helps you improve lead engagement, makes your team more productive, and boosts ROI.

But this is only one half of the story.

Another reason why you should get marketing automation is for a better customer experience. If you see from the customer perspective, a successful campaign looks like this:

  1. Emails are sent only at a time when it is most convenient to the recipient.
  2. No unnecessary spam. The emails are highly relevant and interesting.
  3. No pestering calls from sales to buy.
  4. The sales guy always knows the customer requirements – customers need not repeat things.
  5. The process is fast- customers get acknowledgments and replies instantly.

In short, it is a seamless journey that gives the lead more reason to buy from you.

And that is why marketing automation is such a good idea. It does not just help your marketing team – it also impacts the user experience and interaction with your business that will otherwise be very difficult to monitor.

That is the real reason to get a marketing automation tool – to build lasting relationships with your leads and customers.

If you are still wondering whether to go for marketing automation or not, try out the LeadSquared Marketing Automation suite once. Explore yourself how it:

  • Reduces lead leakage to zero with landing pages, connectors, APIs, and more.
  • Shows buyer intent with a 360-degree user profile, behavior, activity, and social tracking.
  • Visualize user journeys.
  • Send relevant content right at the right time to drive sales.
  • Triggers engagement across all channels and devices – emails, text messages, social, phone calls, and portals.
  • Measures performance and gives prescriptive insights across lead sources, engagement campaigns, and user journeys.

FAQs

What is digital marketing automation?

Digital marketing automation refers to the process and software tools designed to plan, execute, and manage marketing campaigns on multiple online channels, such as email, ads, social media, websites, etc., track lead journey, and trigger activity-based communications.

What is the best marketing automation tool?

The best marketing automation tool will let you capture leads from different sources, track customer journey to understand their intent, trigger engagement actions, seamlessly integrate with other software systems, and measure campaign performances. LeadSquared Marketing Automation Suite is one of the best marketing automation tools trusted by 1000+ businesses. 

How do you handle member onboarding processes in your association/organization? This article illustrates how to create an exceptional onboarding process for higher efficiency.

Automate new member onboarding process

What is member onboarding?

Member onboarding refers to recruiting a new member in an association/organization/chamber/community. Usually, these include onboarding agents and brokers in their network. However, it may also involve onboarding new clients, vendors, or employees. In fact, in many ways, the process is similar to the vendor onboarding process.

Creating the right relationship with the new member is instrumental in fulfilling their needs and growing your business. Even without a standardized process, you might already be onboarding members. However, an ambiguous new member onboarding process may leave them confused. It may compromise member experience and may also become a reason for members leaving the organization too soon.

The True Cost of Onboarding

Member onboarding in an association requires a lot of time, work, and money. A sound onboarding strategy is the need of the hour to ensure that members do not leave after all the resources allocated to get them onboard.

On the business side, it demands capturing and validating critical member information. It involves assessing compliances and risks. You must also walk them through your platform, policies, procedures, etc.

Navigating through the initial steps of your vendor relationship is complicated. When left unattended, that process might demand a great deal of effort and time.

All these translate into productivity loss and risk. It can amount to hundreds of dollars from disrupted business operations. In a way, you risk losing valuable business and profit margins.

You may have a dedicated staff and a defined process to onboard new members. But the time spent and higher chances of errors in manually handling them add up to hundreds of dollars for businesses of all sizes.

Moreover, this fast-paced business environment also demands better member experiences. Therefore, you need to invest in automation for your onboarding process. It will help you save time, money, resources, and achieve better results.

For instance, vendor onboarding and management software like LeadSquared make it seamless to review and onboard vendors while saving several hours. When you onboard vendors/agents/brokers efficiently, you can leverage opportunities for better relationships. It translates to faster deliveries and better pricing. The platform also empowers users to manage products, pricing and offers in real-time. Thus, providing a one-stop platform for businesses and associations.

So, now you know the essence of an efficient onboarding process.

Let us look at creating an excellent new member onboarding system and how to use automation to scale your organization.

How to Develop a Successful Member Onboarding Process

Step 1 – Create a Formal Member Onboarding Process

Studies show that over 36% of companies, in general, do not have a structured onboarding process, and a significant number report costly consequences.

So, create a standard member evaluation and approval process with clear guidelines.

It will help you pre-determine the kind of members you need. It will also enable your team and potential members to move through the onboarding process without hitches.

Automation can play a vital role here. Automation helps you create pre-defined rules and triggers. So, onboarding any member will follow the correct process every single time. Plus, it is scalable. You build the automated workflow only once, and they would trigger for any new member that enters the system.

Let us take an example.

A typical member onboarding process involves:

  1. Sending a welcome email to the new member
  2. Board member reaching out to the new member
  3. Emailing welcome kit to the member
  4. Announcing the new recruitment
  5. Engaging with the new member on social media
  6. Keep updating the member about the benefits and special offers from your association
  7. Consistent knowledge sharing at each step to ensure they are in the loop.

With onboarding software, you can automate all of these processes. That said, you can create a no-code workflow that will: automatically send the new member a welcome email; notify the board members to reach out to them and schedule a meeting; send the welcome kit after a defined interval, and email all other members of the association announcing the new joiner.

new member management

The software will also make it easy to track the success of each new member. Plus, you can be sure of an automatic record of every completed process. So, automation makes it easy to create benchmarks for success. Furthermore, you can improve your new member onboarding process in the future.

Step 2 – Streamline the Onboarding Process

Success demands more than merely formalizing the onboarding process. You need to carefully plan each step to prevent errors and prepare ahead for things that can go wrong.

For instance, miscommunication can have disastrous effects on contracts. Unclear expectations (goals or milestones) can also erode relationships. Also, members not receiving the right resources to handle their duties create a huge mess.

All these create a wrong impression for your organization and can lead to an untold number of mishaps.

Therefore, you need to create guidelines for each step. It should also cover clear-cut policies and requirements. All these will get better when you standardize and automate your member onboarding process.

That said, automation helps you set pre-defined rules and triggers. It will help you enforce policies and expectations. It will also prevent oversights, confusion, and potential friction.

That way, you can manage each phase of the member onboarding efficiently. In turn, this ramps up opportunities for better results.

Step 3 – Track Contracts

Contracts are the foundations of your relationship with the members. For a robust relationship, outline expectations and protect both sides of the table.

A standard process is, of course, necessary. But there is more. Use automation to speed up processes across contract validation and acceptance.

For instance, you can send a digital contract to the other party for review.

The added benefit of digital platforms is – it helps your members to review and e-sign instantly. That way, they can get back to you in a short time.

You can also track the progress of each contract and receive automated notifications.

That way, no contracts get lost on the way. Such features further help your organization establish a positive reputation.

Member onboarding analytical insights

Step 4 – Create a Member Portal for Registration and Data Collection

New members may have access to several software tools for their routine tasks.

With the right member onboarding platform, you can integrate disparate software to eliminate silos. It will also help you maintain optimum visibility across boards.

On the other hand, members will no longer have to spend time updating records across many accounts. It reduces the amount of time spent on manual, data-entry processes, and the chances of human error. It also ensures that your system has up-to-date records. And in turn, you can have accurate reports at all times.

Step 5 – Establish Clear Communication Channels

A proper member onboarding process makes it easy to measure efficiency and productivity. In contrast, the lack of it leads to unclear expectations, goals, and milestones.

Your pre-determined standards will make it easier to establish goals and milestones.

Yet, it gets better if your onboarding program rests on the culture of communication.

Your member onboarding process should enable diverse departments and stakeholders to share, review, and manage vendor data.

Investing in the right automation software can take care of this. That way, you can mitigate costly mistakes, delays, and other kinds of risks. It also helps you measure and improve productivity and efficiency.

In turn, you can enjoy greater collaboration and transparency. Altogether, it helps maximize returns on investment.

[Also Read: Credit Union Membership Growth Strategies for 2021]

Bonus – Consider a Separate Process for Strategic Supplier Partnerships

Some partners impact your business in more ways than others. From a strategic standpoint, you can create a separate onboarding process for them.

In this case, you may have to weigh and create processes that nurture such partnerships. Creating a separate procedure for these partners can help you build stronger connections. That way, you can drive up their value to your business growth.

Watch this webinar for more insights on:

  1. Types of onboarding: vendor, agent, partner, member, and many more 
  2. Key metrics to optimize the performance of your vendors
  3. Customer use cases from marketplace businesses

Concluding Thoughts

Successful businesses depend on thriving relationships. One such vital relationship is your member relationship. Therefore, you must take great care from the first phase to nurture and build solid partnerships.

Invest in an automated onboarding platform to ensure consistent and quality recruitment. Setting up a transparent process from the time of onboarding will entrust a transparent relationship throughout.

Moreover, with the right automation solution, you can achieve higher operational efficiencies and retention rates. A successful member onboarding process will also ensure compliance with regulations. In turn, you will be able to build a positive reputation in the market. On the part of your members, the smooth onboarding experience can make them feel valued. Even so, it empowers them with the right information to support your business needs. In the end, you can look forward to higher efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

Give a new dimension to your member onboarding process. Do check out the LeadSquared automated onboarding portal! Take a free trial.

Customer contact management has moved beyond digital contact books. Today, businesses prefer an end-to-end system that tracks the entire customer journey and use this information to influence buyers across several touchpoints.

So, contact management is not just about maintaining customer records. It has evolved into nurturing strong relationships with them throughout their lifecycle.

In this article, we will discuss how CRM software simplifies customer contact management. But before, a quick look at the facts that distinguish contact management software from CRM software.

Customer contact management in CRM

Customer Contact Management vs. CRM

Often, people use the terms CMS (Contact Management System) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) interchangeably. Although they have similar functions, CRM software is way broader in scope and functionality. Let us check them out in detail.

What is contact management?

Contact management refers to storing, organizing, and accessing information about your prospective customers through a software system.

What is contact management in CRM?

Contact management in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software refers to managing lead and customer records (including activities and interactions with sales/support teams) in the CRM platform. This information can help businesses streamline their sales and marketing processes and maintain long-lasting relationships with customers.

Customer Contact Management Software

You can think of it as an elaborate digital phonebook. Contact management software provides basic functionalities for managing and tracking all your customer information without any hassle. However, it does more than saving contact information. It groups your contacts in specified segments and lets you search for their details easily. Furthermore, it promotes performance in the customer service department and helps build a relationship between the business and the outside world.

What is a customer contact management system?

A contact management system is a type of software that records the contact details of prospective customers. It makes it easy to find/access/update contact details.

However, this functionality has become a part of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software as it helps businesses improve their sales and services by utilizing the customer data and interaction information.

Customer Relationship Management Software

This software has several applications in sales, marketing, and opportunity management. However, its primary function is to help businesses establish and maintain good relationships with both – prospects and existing customers.

The CRM software provides more advanced functionalities. It helps teams manage the entire sales process, marketing activities, and operational data in one place. Plus, it helps in lead management by simplifying follow-ups with prospects. Thus, allowing you to nurture them effectively through the sales funnel. This tool delves into more details, covering details like activity history and interactions between the company and customers, their referral network, and more.

Since the CRM software maintains customer records, contact management has become an implicit feature of it. That said, if you invest in a contact management system, you would be able to access only the customer details. Whereas, if you invest in CRM software, you will get the benefits of a contact management system plus more features such as marketing automation, opportunity management, cloud calling, to name some.

customer contact management key statistics

How does CRM Software Help with Customer Contact Management?

Did you know that companies in the U.S. lose more than 62 billion dollars annually because of poor customer service?

That is right! Today’s customers know what they want from the organizations – apart from their products. They expect better support and query resolution and switch over to your competition if your firm cannot meet their needs.

Thus, delivering positive customer experiences account a lot in the success of your business. A positive customer experience can go a long way in boosting their loyalty for a lifetime. The fact is, customers in the United States are happy to spend up to 17% more on firms that deliver excellent service.

Fortunately, CRM software is there to streamline your communication with customers. It gives you all you need to build a strong relationship with customers. It has even helped businesses enhance customer experience and increase retention rates by almost 27%.

How Does the Automation Feature of CRM Help in Efficient Contact Management?

CRM tools can not only help in contact management but also automate communications with customers. It thus improves your sales and marketing processes to a great extent. With automation, you can reduce the chances of errors and redundancy. You can also save time and be more productive. It ensures you make sales calls at the right time, and by recording every interaction, you can go back and analyze what went wrong or what else you can do to influence the buyer. It also prevents instances of prospects receiving multiple calls from different sales representatives.

CRM software lets you set up effective marketing campaigns for targeted customers/prospects. Thus, making contact management more effective.

For instance, you can collect email addresses by setting up lead generation forms. Once done, CRM automatically creates new entries for each contact that signs up. After this, you can segment them into different buckets based on specific attributes (for example, location, job title, industry, etc.). That makes it easy to send targeted marketing campaigns to each of them. Thus, in a way, it enhances your lead management activities.

Remarkable Benefits of Contact Management in CRM

Undoubtedly, CRM software is crucial for almost every business – whether small or large. 91% of organizations with an average of 11 employees use this software daily. The following are the key benefits of CRM software. It also illustrates the reason why professionals prefer a CRM suite over a task-specific contact manager.

Built-in calling

Imagine calling and connecting with customers without leaving the software you are currently working on. That would be nice, right? It is an incredible benefit of integrating CRM with cloud calling or telephony apps. With this tool, you can place a call directly to new prospects and existing customers from CRM itself. It enables you to track calls made by sales teams and analyze accumulated data. Integrating both tools helps you to get data useful in improving customer relationships.

Activity management

You can prioritize and organize tasks and events to ensure maximum productivity. It allows you to create new activities and get automated alerts on events. It also helps you to add new deals and notes and even check past activities. By managing activities inside a CRM software, rest assured you will not miss any opportunity and you remain informed about your previous conversations with customers. It will also help you make sound decisions concerning them in the future.

Workflow automation

Streamlining dependencies and task repetition is yet another benefit of using CRM software with contact management. This unique combo also minimizes the room for errors. With this, you can intelligently automate all tasks to save time and focus more on sales-related activities. Automation means fewer manual processes for your team as they can create schedules for recurring activities. It also ensures you send customized emails, newsletters, and invoices to customers on a defined timeline. It will help you increase email engagement, open rates, and conversion rates.

Timeline management

You can check the progress of every contact from the moment you create them. The timeline gives you a visual representation of the past and future of prospects turning into customers. It gives you insights on points of selling and when to persuade customers to buy more than they intend to. It also helps you predict when to pitch products to customers. With this timeline, you can manage your activities effectively.

Integration with third-party apps

CRM software is a powerful tool on its own. But integrating it with other software can make your job easier. Besides enhancing communication, it can also integrate with third-party apps such as Gmail, Outlook, and more to fetch data from these apps. Through integration, you can expand its functionalities, and need not toggle between systems.

Concluding remarks

You must have felt agitated working through tedious routine tasks at some point. Especially the activities that compel you to go back and forth between multiple systems. If that is true, then it is time to implement a CRM for your customer contact management process. It goes a long way to bolster productivity and promotes collaboration between team members and eventually leads to better customer satisfaction.

It makes sense to know more quality information about your customers, right? So, instead of looking out for standalone systems, why not go for a holistic platform like CRM software that streamlines all your sales and marketing processes from start to end. Moreover, all these add up to getting faster ROI and therefore accelerating the growth of your business. If you are not using CRM software to manage your customers’ contact, it is not too late to start. Begin your journey to success with the Leadsquared CRM software today!

MQL vs SQL: This article talks about what they are, how they differ, and why knowing their attributes is crucial to achieving your marketing and sales goals. All these will tie to converting more MQLs into SQLs to achieve better output from your efforts.

MQL vs SQL

Generating enough leads is, of course, a top challenge for marketers. But accurately assessing their quality is even a greater plight.

While generating more leads sounds lucrative, it may not be the best answer to every target shortfall. Generating leads without a based level of quality control often leads to organizations investing more to reach out to these leads, without many conversions.

You would not want your sales team to spend more time struggling to find the right type of lead to target. You want them to be productive and focus on what they know best – selling. Therefore, the best approach is to target a specific audience or formulate a process to convert volumes of MQLs into SQL.

We will talk about this in detail, but first, a quick look at the basics.

What is lead qualification?

On average, organizations generate 1,877 leads per month. But are all of them sales-ready? Not really.

Lead qualification is all about filtering your leads based on specific criteria. It involves prioritizing the most important ones and refining your lead generation strategies to boost your lead quality.

Generally, Lead qualification splits into two:

  1. Marketing qualified leads (MQL)
  2. Sales qualified leads (SQL).

Please note, Salesforce further splits these categories to create information qualified leads (IQL) as well. IQLs are relatively unfamiliar with your services and brands. Therefore, your IQL strategy closely relates to your brand awareness and other top of the funnel marketing campaigns.

However, going with the standards, we will focus only on MQLs and SQLs in this article.

Professionals state that knowing where your leads are in their customer journey helps them tune their messaging accordingly, which may even lead to faster conversions. It is because every lead is different. Not all of them will convert quickly to sales. Many might not even fit your product or service. According to Invesp, 80% of new leads don’t even translate into sales.

Nonetheless, MQL differs significantly from SQL, but they overlap sometimes. However, knowing the difference between them can help you rule out disqualified leads. It can also help you improve your marketing, sales, and conversion strategies. But how do you tell the difference?

What is a Marketing-Qualified Lead (MQL)?

MQL is a lead who has indicated an interest in your products/services based on marketing efforts. It is better than other leads (list imports, for example) and is more likely to become a customer. Usually, you qualify leads as MQLs by activities, behaviors, and specific demographics.

For instance, they might have interests in your guides, newsletters, jobs, check your pricing page, etc.

Also, note that even though MQLs are better than many other leads, they don’t guarantee sales. Often, they are not ready to talk to your sales reps yet. However, qualifying leads as MQLs makes it easier to focus your resources. That way, you can pay more attention to prospects with higher chances of conversion.

What is a Sales Qualified Lead?

A Sales Qualified Lead is a possible buyer. They are usually ready to discuss with your sales team. Generally, they might have shown interest in your product or service. Naturally, your marketing department must have nurtured, researched, and vetted these leads.

Also, note that you don’t have to discard leads that don’t qualify as SQLs. Sometimes, it needs a different strategy to influence them or develop an interest in your product/services.

MQL vs SQL: What’s the Difference Between MQL and SQL?

As mentioned above, MQL converts to SQL once they are ready to connect with your sales team. Yet, MQLs may have indicated an interest in your business. They may not be willing to buy at the moment, but they will respond to nurturing. Therefore, MQLs occur during the lead generation and early lead nurturing stages.

difference between MQL and SQL

In contrast, your SQL may have asked for a one-on-one with your sales department. They may have also signed up for the demo of your product. In most cases, they reach such stages after your marketing team nurtured them. Therefore, SQLs occur further down the line in the sales funnel.

Factors that Determine your MQL and SQL Definitions

Every brand has different criteria for determining MQLs and SQLs. For some, SQL can be an inquiry. For others, it might be getting in touch with the brand directly. But a general mistake some brands make is failing to tell the difference. Such actions can disconnect your sales and marketing efforts. It means that you might spend more money and time on nurturing the wrong leads.

marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads funnel

So, how do you move customers from MQL to SQL? Here are some conditions:

1. Lead demographics

When leads match your ideal customer profile, you might want to move them to your sales team. Such information goes beyond their age and job titles. It might also include information such as company size or industry and pain-points.

2. Lead scoring

Lead scoring combines many attributes to move MQL to SQL. It usually happens by assigning numerical values to your leads based on some predefined characteristics. It might take into consideration their demographic, firmographic and interest information, their engagement with your website and other assets across the internet, as well as their engagement with your emails and other communication campaigns. For instance, you can assign positive scores to leads who open your email, click on links, and negative scores for email bounce or unsubscribes.

lead scoring tools

3. Lead behavior

Lead behavior has to do with the actions that qualify leads as MQL or SQL. You must figure out what an ideal lead looks like and the influence a specific activity has in moving them down the funnel. It might include booking a meeting, taking part in a demo, or responding to an email. It might also include negative actions. For instance, if leads stop opening your emails or engaging with you, etc.

4. Likelihood to buy

To qualify a lead as SQL, they must be looking for a product or service. They must also have the budget or infrastructure to use it. Your product or service should also solve their pain points.

Tips to Convert Marketing Qualified Leads to Sales Qualified Leads

1. Align your Marketing and Sales Messaging

You should tune your marketing and sales teams. It plays a critical role in analyzing conversions correctly. Knowing your target market and their behaviors are essential, but consistent messaging throughout the sales-funnel is vital. It is because inconsistent messaging or providing overwhelming information may create confusion. In turn, it reduces trust and might even knock high value leads out of the sales funnel. Overall, aligning your marketing and sales increases the focus on high-quality leads. It ultimately leads to more conversions and sales.

2. Document Your Goals

It is crucial to document your goals and strategies to derive measurable results. Also note down your sales and marketing teams’ plans to contribute to those goals. The document should illustrate your company’s definitions for MQL, SQL, and processes for handling those leads. It will help each team member understand their roles. In short, it brings clarity to the process and improves performance and results.

3. MQL vs SQL: Always Prequalify Prospects

As mentioned, your MQLs differ from regular leads and can help reduce the costs of marketing. There is no need to overinvest resources in leads that aren’t your target. So always ensure that leads must meet your criteria for MQL or SQL. Accordingly, plan nurturing activities and move them down your sales funnel.

4. Consider the Sales Cycle

Every business has a unique sales cycle. You need to figure out yours so that you can make better decisions on MQL to SQL conversion. Your sales cycle can even affect your definitions of SQL for your business.

For instance, in some B2B scenarios, a prospect may want to get in touch with the salesperson but may not be ready to buy the product/service yet. In such cases, they will still need nurturing activities to qualify them for sales.

Watch the webinar: how to close more deals with effective sales management:

5. Evaluate Lead Sources

Analyzing your lead sources will also help you pre-determine the rates of conversion for leads originating from different channels or campaigns. For instance, leads from contact pages convert faster than from lead magnets (eBooks, whitepapers, etc.) forms. It is because prospects often contact you when they are halfway convinced about your products or services.

Some people might fill forms attached to your lead magnets for other purposes. For example, they might want to access the information, even though they don’t need your product. These people can be researchers, students, or even other marketers.

So, determine which pages on your website are essential for you from the sales point of view, and which campaigns are working the best to get high quality leads. Then, move leads from such pages (for example, your company’s contact pages) directly to the SQL phase.

On the flip side, you can nurture, analyze, and vet leads from lead magnets. You would like to understand their needs and refine your strategies as they transition. Lead scoring plays an important role here. Based on their engagement with your content, events, etc., you can automatically move them up and down the sales funnel. Alternatively, you can ask your inside sales teams to initiate conversations and qualify the leads.

CRM software helps a lot here. Software such as LeadSquared CRM allows you to automate workflows, track every interaction, and notify salespeople once they cross the qualification score.

6. Avoid Fudging the Numbers

Do not push leads instantly through the sales funnel to achieve high conversion rates. That only bogs your sales and marketing reps with lots of leads that may never pan out. Your criteria for MQL or SQL definition needs to be more selective. So always move your prospects to new stages using accurately defined data and attributes.

7. Personalize Interactions

After qualifying MQLs to SQLs, they are in the prime state of connecting with you. According to research, sales reps who follow up with leads within 5 minutes of inquiry/activity are 9x more likely to convert them. However, all follow-up strategies are not equal. Therefore, you need to use techniques that create meaningful and personal connections. You can increase the response rate by making automation a part of your lead generation and management processes. Evidence shows that marketing automation helps brands with a 451% increase in qualified leads. A VB Insight study reveals that 80% of marketers using automation generate a higher number of leads, and out of those, about 77% also convert more.

8. Analyze your Offerings, Messaging, and Scoring Metrics Regularly

Based on the market response, your strategies may need change, and this should reflect in your message, offerings, and scoring metrics. Regular analysis will help you identify barriers and evolve your messaging. Evaluating your scoring metrics will make sure they are still relevant. It helps you better understand what defines your MQL vs. SQL phases. Plus, you can identify other factors driving sales.

These metrics help assess the buyer’s position and the company’s relationship. They also evaluate your ability to influence their decision. You can also test your product or service’s strategic value against competitors. Altogether, you can determine the likelihood of conversions correctly.

Concluding Thoughts

In a perfect world, a person should instantly buy your product or service after learning about it. In reality, they want to know, like, and trust your brand before buying. The more complex your product and the higher the investment, the more time it takes to earn that trust. That is why businesses diligently focus on MQLs and SQLs.

However, failing to tell the difference between MQLs and SQLs creates a great danger. Leads don’t want sales reps to contact them before they are ready. If they are, they might become upset, leading to lost sales. HubSpot states only 19 percent of buyers would like to speak to a salesperson when still in the ‘awareness’ phase of their journey.

On the flipside, prospects ready to buy can also become annoyed when left in the nurturing stage.

Therefore, you must define the difference between MQL and SQL. Sure, it will depend on your formula and process for analyzing leads and your experiences with them. Finetuning the criteria for MQL and SQL will help you figure out what’s working and what isn’t. That way, you can better refine your overall marketing and sales strategy.

Using Testimonials The Right Way: Presented by higher-ed admissions and marketing experts Jenn Lyles and Sarah Holmes

Using Testimonials The Right Way

You shouldn’t have to brag about your school and over-sell. Let your graduates do that for you! Schools are doing a fantastic job collecting testimonials, but then they sit on a “testimonial” page on their website and just hope a lead clicks on it and takes their time to read it. 

This LeadSquared webinar will teach you the right things to ask when collecting testimonials and then how to utilize them in marketing and admissions to improve your conversion rate.  

We’ll also teach you what platforms to focus on, how to collect reviews from former students, and then how to connect with leads the right way by showcasing your brand through story-telling. 

You’ll learn:

  • How to collect reviews from former students
  • How to showcase your brand when connecting with your leads
  • And how testimonials in admissions marketing can improve your conversion rate

Quit the old ways … and start using testimonials the right way!