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Lead Automation: How It Grows the Sales and Marketing Funnel

Tired of misalignment between sales and marketing teams?

You’re not the only one!

There’s no magical way of solving this issue, but you can try lead automation. It completely changes the way leads are handed off from marketing to sales.

It also helps both teams to evaluate leads and sync their goals. Think of it as the yin and yang of attracting and nurturing leads ☯️

In this guide, you will learn everything about automated leads to seamlessly pass them through the marketing funnel.

Scroll 👇  or use the menu to get started! 

What is lead automation? 

Sales lead automation involves streamlining different touchpoints where leads can enter your sales funnel to better determine their importance.

By using lead intelligence, you can analyse leads’ characteristics and hand them off to the right people in sales at the right time.

Automating the lead generation process helps ensure that businesses target the right leads and improve planning - forget about not having enough or having too many contacts to reach out to.

Also, you won’t lose valuable ones deep in your CRM. 

When you automate leads, your teams usually have better communication with prospective customers. Both sides are better informed about what is happening and what to expect next. 

How to streamline lead automation

There are four main stages of the customer journey in which you can automate leads.

1. Capture the lead 

You can’t have a lead automation process without getting the lead in the first place. 

For example, a visitor to your website becomes a lead when they fill out a contact information form. 

Once the lead has been captured, the next step is to qualify the lead 👇

2. Qualify and score the lead 

So, a lead has come through. 

The next step is to evaluate the intent of the lead. 

This lead automation stage is crucial. Why?

Because it helps B2B sales teams to identify the best opportunities that’ll close.

There’s also a speed factor involved here.

The sooner you qualify leads, the better. Because the salesperson can focus on reaching out to leads where the intent is at its highest. 

And if there’s too much waiting around, the score of the lead will drop pretty quickly! 

With lead automation solutions, leads can be qualified and scored without human intervention based on e.g., the channel they came from, technographic or firmographic data, or other characteristics.

3. Give the lead to the right salesperson

When the leads have been sorted through, don’t just give them to whoever might be free in the sales team. 

It’s not a free-for-all process. Lead automation helps you to assign the right leads to the right salespeople. 

For example, if you have a lead through from someone in the UK, automation will assign the lead to someone in the UK sales team.

In another scenario, you have a lead from someone based in the mid-market or enterprise segment. If that’s the case, lead automation tools will assign the lead to someone in the mid-market or enterprise sales team.

4. Nurture the lead 

Once your lead has been captured and qualified, they’ll need to be nurtured at every step of the customer journey.

It’s the final piece of the puzzle.

And it can be really time-consuming if you don’t automate the process. 

With a platform like Intercom, you can automate leads by building out email nurture or drip campaigns.

Use lead automation technology to quickly build relationships with your leads; this speeds up converting them.

When automated, lead nurturing is a real game-changer. Because it’s the best way to stay at the top of customers’ minds. 

Lead automation examples

As we’ve said, lead automation kicks in throughout different channels or touchpoints. Let’s see what automating leads means in practice 👇

Install a chatbot on your website

Chatbots have been a revelation for how sales and marketing teams can interact with their customers. 

And with a lead automation platform like Intercom or Drift, you can interact with leads the moment they submit a query through the chatbot. 

You can capture and understand the intent of your leads instantly. 

It’s a real game-changer. 

Connect forms on landing pages to CRM 

A landing page is a great tool in a B2B marketer’s toolbox. 

But if the B2B lead generation process from the landing page is manual, you can wave goodbye to converting them further down the funnel.

That’s why it’s important to use a lead automation tool that connects landing pages with your customer relationship management system (also known as CRM). 

Important information about the leads becomes visible both for the sales and marketing teams. And it avoids a lot of back and forth, trying to figure out answers to questions such as:

  • What information have I got on the lead?
  • Who is the lead being assigned to in the sales team? 

And much more. 

An example of software that helps you to automate leads through landing pages is Unbounce

Gate some of your content 

It’s not enough to just “sell” your products anymore. 

Customers aren’t going to interact with you if you don’t know what you’re talking about. 

So, never underestimate the power of content marketing. People who get value from the content will interact with you because your insights into a topic have been memorable. That’s where your leads come from. 

You can automate sharing content on your social profiles in peak audience times. It will increase your visibility and engage more leads.

Don’t forget to set up automatic replies to your prospective customers!

Alternatively, you could have a gated piece of content such as an eBook. Once someone has filled out their details, consider automating the transfer of these details into the CRM. 

Once again, it’s going to be useful for your sales team. Because they can quickly follow up with these leads if the opportunity is hot

Automate lead email campaigns 

We’ve briefly touched on this, but email nurturing is important.

And manually doing this will almost certainly be a time-consuming, painful, and quite frankly pointless process. 

Because you won’t be able to target your leads at the right time - it’s far from systematic.

That’s why it’s important to use a platform that takes out the complicated stuff for you. And Cognism’s sales intelligence solution is great for this. 

Lead automation at this stage is important because you don’t have to manually refresh email lists. The software can run the checks for you and get rid of any spammy accounts, for example.

Sales and SaaS marketing teams can make sure that the leads that are being nurtured are qualified at all times. Again, it streamlines things so you can focus on the best opportunities.

The benefits of lead automation

It’s best not to complicate things when it comes to lead automation. Sales and marketing teams’ hands will be full enough just working on aspects like messaging in emails and focussing on the leads in the first place. 

Lead automation is fuss-free and has plenty of benefits for your organisation 👇

Increased team efficiency 

What’s behind the dynamic duo of a sales and marketing team? 

It all comes down to productive lead generation. Without it, opportunities begin to slip away. Because leads with the wrong intent are being chased.

With lead automation, it’s the reverse. Because sales teams can follow up with the best leads. In other words, the ones that are likely to convert.

Generates targeted leads 

And let’s not forget the wonders it does for the marketing team. The more information they get about the leads coming in, the more they can refine their messaging.

Each time a lead is generated, it’s another piece of the ideal customer profile (ICP) puzzle. 

And this means that over time, targeted leads with the best opportunity for closing are the ones coming through. Again, it comes back to this:

Lead automation helps sales and marketing to target, qualify, and nurture the right leads, with the right content, at the right time.

The top 10 lead automation tools

There’s a huge amount of B2B technology out there that can help with lead automation.

Here are 10 of the best 👇

1. HubSpot

HubSpot is a one-stop solution offering a comprehensive suite of tools to manage every aspect of lead automation, from lead generation to nurturing.

Top features:

  • Lead scoring: HubSpot automates lead scoring based on various factors, including online engagement levels, demographic information, and purchasing history.
  • Progressive profiling: Incrementally gathers detailed information from leads through dynamic forms.

Integration capabilities:

  • CRM integration: Integrates with Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and Zoho CRM.
  • Email integration: Pairs seamlessly with Gmail, Outlook, and SendGrid.

2. Salesforce

Employing AI insights, Salesforce fine-tunes lead automation strategies, focusing on generating and nurturing leads.

Top features:

  • Lead management: Automates the tracking and management of leads throughout their lifecycle.
  • Lead assignment and routing: Directs leads to appropriate sales personnel automatically using set criteria.

Integration capabilities:

  • Marketing automation integration: Collaborates with HubSpot and Marketo.
  • AI Capabilities: Salesforce harnesses the power of its own Einstein AI and offers integration with IBM Watson.

3. Marketo

With Marketo, you can deliver personalised lead experiences using lead automation workflows.

Top features:

  • Behaviour tracking: Automatically tailors nurturing strategies by monitoring lead behaviours.
  • Lead nurturing: Directs leads smoothly through the buying journey with automated nurturing tracks.

Integration capabilities:

  • CRM integration: Integrates with Salesforce, SAP CRM, and Microsoft Dynamics.
  • Analytics integration: Partners with Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics.

4. Intercom

Intercom provides chatbots that are effective for early lead engagement and data collection.

Top features:

  • Chatbots: Uses chatbots to engage visitors and automatically obtain preliminary lead details.
  • Visitor segmentation: Segments visitors for targeted messaging automatically.

Integration capabilities:

  • Messaging integration: Syncs with Slack and WhatsApp Business.
  • API integration: Facilitates integration with tools like Zapier and MuleSoft.

5. Drift

Specialising in conversational marketing, Drift automates lead engagement and qualification processes.

Top features:

  • Conversational AI: Employs AI to initiate conversations and qualify leads automatically.
  • Chat playbooks: Drift allows users to create automated chat workflows, directing leads to the most appropriate resources or team members.

Integration capabilities:

  • CRM integration: Syncs with Salesforce, HubSpot, and Pipedrive.
  • Email integration: Integrates with Mailgun, Gmail, and Office 365.

6. Mailchimp

Mailchimp offers a robust email marketing platform, using automation to nurture leads effectively.

Top features:

  • Automated email campaigns: Establishes automated email sequences to nurture leads progressively.
  • Audience segmentation: Facilitates targeted email campaigns through automated audience segmentation.

Integration capabilities:

  • CRM integration: Seamlessly connects with Zoho CRM, Insightly, and Capsule.
  • E-commerce integration: Pairs with Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce.

7. Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM’s comprehensive tools efficiently handle lead capture and nurturing from start to finish.

Top features:

  • Lead assignment rules: Automatically assign leads to the most appropriate sales representatives based on predetermined criteria.
  • Web forms: Captures leads automatically through integrated web forms on your website.

Integration capabilities:

  • Email marketing integration: Merges with Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and Campaign Monitor.
  • AI integration: Collaborates with Zia AI and integrates with IBM Watson.

8. ActiveCampaign

This platform streamlines the process of sending tailored emails to leads, making it easier for businesses to engage and convert them.

Top features:

  • Lead scoring: Automates lead scoring based on diverse interactions with your business.
  • Automation maps: Visualises and creates automated workflows for personalised lead nurturing experiences.

Integration capabilities:

  • SMS integration: Incorporates platforms like Twilio and Nexmo.
  • CRM integration: Connects with Nimble, Freshsales, and Less Annoying CRM.

9. Pardot

Being a B2B marketing automation powerhouse from Salesforce, Pardot provides tools that simplify the management and engagement of potential clients.

Top features:

  • Lead grading: Automates lead grading based on a range of profiles and behaviours.
  • Drip campaigns: Sets up automated drip email marketing to nurture leads with appropriate content.

Integration capabilities:

  • Salesforce integration: Facilitates automatic synchronisation and reporting of lead data with Salesforce CRM.
  • API integration: Allows integrations with tools like Postman and Dataddo.

10. Unbounce

Unbounce helps businesses create and optimise landing pages to capture more leads - it tailors these pages for maximum impact.

Top features:

  • Dynamic text replacement: Enhances lead conversion rates through automated content personalisation on landing pages.
  • Triggered pop-ups: Automates pop-ups based on visitor behaviours to captivate leads effectively.

Integration capabilities:

  • CRM integration: Enables seamless integration with platforms such as Salesforce, HubSpot, and Insightly.
  • Email marketing integration: Integrates with tools like Mailchimp, ConvertKit, and Drip for automated email initiatives.

Key takeaways 

Here are the key points to recap:

  • Lead automation helps sales and marketing teams evaluate the relevance of every lead that comes into the business.
  • It helps focus on the best opportunities and shorten the sales cycle,
  • You can explore many lead automation solutions for different lead gen channels.
  • The lead automation process means sales and marketing teams can always be on the same wavelength.

Like what you've read?

Check out our guide to 35 funnel fixes that doubled our MQL to Opp rate, a library of pipeline tactics from 12 industry experts and 4 coaching videos to remedy problems from MQL to expansion. 👇


Check out our Fix Your Funnel Hub

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