Early on in the life of a startup you sell to friends and family and you service incoming requests that may be generated via marketing and/or viral infection. Depending on the nature of your product and your market that may be all the lead generation and sales process you will ever need. Most of us, however, are not that lucky. We may be offering a radically new product to an existing market or we may be bold enough to create a completely new market. In the former case we may have some opportunity for online lead generation via SEO or SEM, but we may not have the budget necessary to compete in a noisy search environment. In the latter case SEO/SEM may very well have no relevance whatsoever to our lead generation efforts, as the market does not yet know about its existence and its related terminology.
So for most of us there comes a critical juncture where we need to ramp up revenues by reaching out to prospects and by starting a conversation with a large number of prospects, which will educate the market in general and will hopefully lead to buyer interest and ultimately to signed contracts and revenue. In the early days this process will be managed by one or more of the founders, typically with limited process and tools. Things get more complex, however, as marketing and sales resources are brought on board and as the organization needs to start managing and scaling a process that was previously executed in a more intuitive fashion. Keeping in mind that many companies are started by technical founders with limited sales and marketing experience it becomes obvious that there is a steep learning curve. I will cover many relevant issues in future posts.
For obvious reasons I will start with an overview of the fundamental mechanics for Lead Management. This is an issue even if you have no systematic effort for Lead Generation in place. Incoming online requests and business cards collected during a trade show are already a lead pool that needs to be managed.