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Interview: Good Customer Lead Management Isn’t Speed Dating

Interview guests

Katharina Krus
Katharina Krus
Norbert Schuster
Norbert Schuster

CEO & Managing Director of leadtributor Gmbh

Lead management expert and strategy consultant for many years


Marketing Automation - Generate more and better leads

Anyone who wants a good customer lead management system cannot do without marketing automation today

– Norbert Schuster

Norbert Schuster, a long-time lead management expert, knows a thing or two about digitalization in marketing and sales. His specialties include the strike2 Wasserloch- Strategie®, inbound marketing and marketing automation. We asked him what companies with multi-level sales structures can do to generate more and better leads.

Why The First Contact With Potential Customers is Often The Biggest Hurdle in Customer Lead Management

Mr. Schuster, a recent study by HubSpot proves: Initial contact with potential customers is still the biggest hurdle for companies. Why is that?

Norbert Schuster »

The most common reason is haste.

With customer lead management, it's a bit like in any interpersonal relationship. Imagine you want to get to know a partner for a love relationship and win him or her over. But even before the first date, you immediately offer him or her to go on vacation together. This will certainly not work.

It' s like that when it comes to lead generation. Instead of jumping in with the gun, you should first ask yourself:

  Who will be my future contact?

  What are his problems, his pain?

  What are his goals?

Marketing and sales are needed here:

1. Schritt: Specify Buyer Persona

Both together should outline an exact profile of their buyer personas. It is very important to involve the sales department in this process. After all, sales people are the only ones who have direct contact with potential customers.

2. Schritt: Offer content that is relevant to the target group

Only in a second step can the marketing department determine the appropriate content. The content must address precisely the "pains" that a potential customer has. Then the leads come - almost - by themselves! I have called this strategy the watering hole strategy: You want to photograph elephants in the savannah? Don't go looking for elephants. Instead, let the elephants find you by building a watering hole that all elephants will head for. Why? Because they need water and will therefore go in search of it on their own. In other words, create content that will help customers find you!

Lead Processing: The Lead Exists and Yet The Customer Interaction Is Missing?

Let's assume we have followed all the steps and: The lead is there! Let's say it wants to book a test drive! But nobody contacts the lead. This happens in over 30% of the cases! Where do things go wrong?

» Either the customer lead management processes are not properly thought out and implemented. Or the lead is not of the quality that was hoped for. Sometimes sales partners are reluctant to contact or process leads. Not all of them are "hunters." But it may also be because the manufacturer has provided them with half-baked leads in the past. That's when you get suspicious.

The Lead Does Not Bring The Desired Result - Give Up?

Let's stay with the car-buying process: What usually happens to leads today who have not closed a sales contract after a test drive after all? And what should be done with them? Just kick them in the garbage can?

» Absolutely not! Unfortunately, many distributors or dealers still do this today. They're disappointed and say to themselves, "It's the customer's own fault if they're too stupid to realize our product is good." Other dealers put the lead on resubmission and contact it when they know the lease is expiring. After all, that's usually after 2-3 years.


In times of marketing automation, however, it is extremely important that the "lost" lead flows back into the marketing department, into the marketing automation system, for example. From there, it is taken up again in the lead-nurturing process and processed further in crm lead tracking - with new, relevant content.

Marketing Automation: Making Lead Management Measurable

The HubSpot survey identifies another problem: calculating the ROI of a marketing campaign. This still seems to be difficult for many. What advice can you give companies here?

» Again, marketing automation has proven to be the ideal solution for customer lead management. I can use it to measure where the lead came from, how it was generated, whether it was an existing customer, and what steps it went through. Because the whole process is automated and digitized. However, I often see a problem at this point: Not all partners join in. They think: I don't care where the lead came from. They then don't give the manufacturer any feedback - out of laziness and convenience. And sometimes out of suspicion. They wonder what will happen to the lead if they "hand it over".

CRM Lead Tracking Through Collaboration

How can you leverage that resistance and get partners to feed lead information back to the manufacturer?

» By getting them heavily involved from the start. In the customer lead management process, lead processing and in the marketing and sales strategy. Having them give input - in workshops, for example. There just needs to be a lot of transparency and trust built. It can be done. Also with tools like leadtributor: leadtributor creates transparency in opportunity management, for example, and secures leads for partners. Partners thus have the guarantee that the lead will end up back with them, even if they pass on information about it to the manufacturer. This creates trust with the partner and the certainty that the customer journey will be optimized.

Marketing and sales are often somewhat alien to each other. How can you achieve a better exchange?

» That is unfortunately the case. This is due to the different DNA of the two. A sales person thinks in shorter time frames and wants to see quick sales. A marketer thinks more long-term. You have to make the sales person understand that they are part of a whole system, a complex process. And that if he helps define buyer personas and content, he will see sales increases in the medium term.

Marketing Automation Processes in Germany

What is the status of marketing automation processes in German companies?

» Recent studies show that only 29 percent of German companies use marketing automation processes*. This compares to around 43 percent in the UK - and as many as 60 percent in the US.

Why so little in Germany?

» That's a good question. I think it's because ...

» ... good customer lead management, which includes marketing automation, is also change management. This means that the entire structure of an organization is affected, the entire processes in marketing and sales.

» ... most companies are lazy and think: Why should we change anything? Things are going so well at the moment. But at some point this will take its toll. It's too late to start when times get bad.

For example, when I wrote my book "The Inbound Marketing Method" in 2012, the reactions were restrained. Everyone thought it would take a long time for such a method to become established. Then in 2015-2016, many companies came to me and wanted advice on the topic of inbound marketing.


Today, it is impossible to imagine marketing practice without inbound marketing and marketing automation. The sales software leadtributor is also part of this development and firmly integrated into the marketing automation process. It is the last missing piece of the puzzle, so to speak, that interlocks sales and marketing.


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