One advantage that online businesses have is that everything they do is digital. Everything is easily tracked. Many B2B companies making lead-tracking platforms even focus solely on digital leads. For a local business, this poses a unique challenge. You have a local presence, and many – if not most – of your leads are handled in channels that aren’t so easily tracked. Phone calls, text messages, word-of-mouth, walk-in; all sorts of leads can find their way to your pipeline. How do you organize and track them all?
Table of Contents
Step 1: Define Your Lead SourcesThe first thing on your plate should be defining all of the possible sources you have for generating leads to your business. That allows you to categorize leads by channel and determine which channels are most and least effective. Later, you can correlate this data with expenses and marketing efforts through different channels and analyze how effective other marketing plans may be. What kind of lead sources might you have?
- Social media posts and ads.
- Email newsletters and subscribers.
- Paid advertising.
- Organic search, SEO, and content marketing.
- Physical advertising like billboards and signage.
- “Real Life” media like TV and radio advertising.
- Online events, seminars, webinars, and so forth.
- Physical media like flyers, mailers, and business cards.
- Word of mouth referrals from existing or past customers.
- Backlinks from organic or sponsored content.
Step 2: Define the Data to TrackYou’ll want to track data about your leads, so you can measure how quickly people progress through your sales funnel, what kinds of people are most receptive to your messaging, and other helpful information. The question becomes, what do you want to track?
- Lead source. You want to know where the lead is coming from.
- Lead age. How long has this person been a lead? How long does it take to close the deal?
- Lead warmth. How long ago has the lead last interacted with your sales system?
- Lead channels. What channels does this lead prefer to talk to you through? Do they prefer a live chat, a phone call, a walk-in?
- Lead Demographics. Demographic information can sometimes be tricky to harvest, but it can tell you a lot about what kinds of people are most interested in your business.
- Lead Stage. How deep in your sales funnel has the lead progressed? Are they merely signed up for your newsletter, or are they receptive to a sales call?
- Contact Info. How do you reach the lead if you want to contact them?
Step 3: Pick a Way to Track Your DataA critical decision you need to make now rather than later is what tool you want to use to track all of this data. Because let’s face it: you need a tool. It doesn’t need to be an expensive, enterprise-grade tool, but you need something. Options can include:
SpreadsheetsThe simplest and easiest way to track everything is through spreadsheets. Spreadsheet software is incredibly powerful and can have all kinds of special forms, fields, automation, charts, and auto-populated data linked in. A sheet in Excel or Google Sheets can easily be set up and customized with columns for every piece of data you need. You can even find templates with many of these fields already set up, like this one. There are two problems with using spreadsheets.
- There’s a steep learning curve. While programs like Excel are incredibly well-documented, they are also massively complex, and figuring out how to do what you want to do (particularly for complex data tracking) can be tricky. You have to know how the spreadsheet system works, what code and mechanics are going on under the hood, and how to troubleshoot problems if data is entered incorrectly, a pivot table messes up, or some other issue crops up.
- Data entry is primarily manual. While you can set up some automation – and really, as much automation as you want if you’re willing to code – a lot of small business data tracking will be manual data entry or minor automation. This process is slow and leaves room for human error, which can potentially cause problems down the line.
Small Business CRM PlatformsThe majority of small businesses should be using some form of small business CRM platform. CRMs, or Customer Relations Management platforms, are programs that automate and track all of the customer data you want to be tracked. There are dozens of these platforms and programs out there, with pretty much any possible set of features you could want to have on hand. The trick is finding one with a suitable array of features for the right price. That’s part of why our first two recommended steps are focused on determining what you need to track; so you can find a platform that can track it all for you. Options include (but are not limited to:)
- Zendesk Sell
- Agile CRM
- HubSpot CRM