Expert Interview Series: Nilesh Patel of LeadSquared

Nilesh Patel is CEO of customer acquisition platform LeadSquared, who brings a decade of experience in sales and marketing to the team.

Here, Nilesh shares his insight on where companies struggle with lead generation and how they can improve their sales efforts. Read on:

Tell us about LeadSquared. What services do you offer?

LeadSquared is used by marketing and sales teams to capture, manage and nurture leads, and enhance sales for their businesses. It is a complete customer acquisition platform with lead capture automation, lead management, marketing automation, sales CRM and analytics to help businesses close more deals in less time. The software is being put to use by varied businesses like marketing agencies, IT businesses, real estate, education, financial services, tours and travel, health and wellness and more.

With LeadSquared, customers can find facts like selling velocity of the business, revenue performance by lead sources, products or sales person, view marketing and sales funnel and a lot more analytics, to fine tune and increase ROI from their marketing and sales efforts.

Businesses are using LeadSquared for:
 

    • Lead Capture Automation: Seamlessly capture leads from all sources - inbound email, online campaigns, phone calls, website, chat, lead generation websites and more.

 

    • Lead Distribution: Distribute leads based on city, product or any other rules to cut down the response time.

 

    • Marketing Automation: Engage and nurture leads using email and SMS campaigns, and trigger-based emails to make them sales ready, and create future opportunities.

 

    • Sales Acceleration: Focus on leads with the highest potential for conversion with automated lead engagement scoring technology.

 

    • Marketing and Sales Analytics: Access detailed marketing insights about the campaigns and sources driving qualified leads and revenue.

 

  • Mobile App: Manage leads on the go.

What's one of your favorite client success stories?

I would have to say, the Byju's Classes success story would be among my favorites.

"Byju's Classes" is a leader in test preparation segment, and they are completely changing learning in India. They also recently got funded by Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative. They have been using LeadSquared to manage their marketing and sales for over two years now.

They generate hundreds of thousands of leads across online, chat, mobile app, phone and offline channels. LeadSquared has organized lead capture across all the channels. As a result, they achieved zero lead leakage and completely got rid of Excel sheets filled with leads lying on each desktop.

With a huge lead volume, it is a challenge for any business to respond quickly to every inquiry. LeadSquared's rule-based lead distribution engine helped Byju's automatically assign the leads to the relevant sales person, thereby, cutting down the response time drastically and improving the chances of winning.

Lead intelligence helped the sales people prioritize leads that are likely to close. The benefit is clear - the sales bandwidth is applied to maximize the revenue potential.

Using marketing automation, they engaged and nurtured leads to retain mindshare and convert some of them into sales opportunities and up-sell to existing customers. This resulted in increasing the ROI on marketing investments.

Finally, with analytics, it was seamless to monitor and measure sales and marketing performance.

What are the most common challenges small businesses face in generating leads?

In a nutshell, these are some of the most common challenges I think small business face in generating leads:

    • Not knowing where to invest when they begin because the marketing budgets are lean. It also is a result of not knowing where your audience is - whether it's online or offline or which specific online platforms are they present in.

 

    • Not getting the right talent with the knowhow of a lot of things. Small businesses cannot afford to hire big teams so they need really efficient individuals.

 

    • Randomness in collecting data from current channels, which doesn't give them the right picture for future investment.

What are the biggest mistakes you see businesses making when it comes to lead generation?

Firstly, not measuring their returns or results properly,

Secondly, concentrating too much on vanity metrics, instead of actually trying to understand whether they are contributing to the ROI goal.

Thirdly, investing in platforms or tools without actually knowing if it will help. Of course, you need to test and experiment to actually know whether something is working for you. But even then, you need to have some research or statistics in place, to take that forward.

How should small businesses approach lead generation today?

You need to find out where your audience is and then go after them. Investing in the rights tools and channels would really help.

Measure and analyze everything you do. If a specific channel or source hasn't worked for you repeatedly, it's time you moved on to something different. Small businesses don't have a huge budget, so they need to be wise about it.

What types of analytics are the most helpful/beneficial to study to improve lead generation and nurturing?

When it comes to analytics, lead source to lead conversion analytics is what I would look at. If leads are constantly coming in from a particular source but they haven't been converting to customers, then you know it's not working for you. Map the entire journey, from lead generation to lead conversion and see what all channels or mediums are working for you.

As far as lead nurturing goes, email analytics are very important. You are constantly sharing content, but do the subscribers find value in it, or are they even reading this content? If you are getting too many unsubscribes, then your emails are not working. Here's what you need to look at
 

    • If no one is opening your mails, there is a problem with the email subject line.

 

    • If people are opening your mails but not taking any action - there is a problem with the email content. Maybe they aren't compelling enough for people to take an action, or maybe the copy is weak. There could be multiple reasons for this.

You should also analyze the days of the week and specific timings when your emails have performed better than other days (and times).

What are the benefits of SMS marketing?

I think the key benefits are that SMSs are more accessible, personal, two-way and almost 100 percent deliverable. It's certainly a must-have for B2C businesses I would say.

In fact, nowadays, businesses are opting for WhatsApp and other such messaging platforms as well. The idea in both is to keep the message short and straightforward.

What are best practices for small businesses in using SMS marketing?

Segment your audience, as you would while sending emails. Automate SMSs based on user actions, instead of spamming everyone with every offer possible.

I'd suggest you keep it targeted. For starters, target based on demographics, gender and age. Something that is relevant to a 50 year old may not be relevant to someone in their 20s. So be wise about it and target accordingly.

What are the most exciting trends or innovations you're following in small business marketing today?

Hundreds of new businesses are getting registered in India every day. All of these are SMEs or micro businesses. Even before the business is formally launched, the Gen-Y SMEs are thinking marketing-first and are pro digital. Most of them will have a website from day one, communicate with customers on WhatsApp, and perhaps, spend on marketing to get discovered on the Internet.

Older SMEs had a certain way of doing business, but they are now gradually embracing the new reality and are willing to adapt systems and technologies to improve their business performance.

What's one piece of advice you find yourself repeating to clients over and over?

    • Reach the stage of product market fit as soon as possible.

 

    • Founders should always be selling - make it a regular routine to reach out to potential customers through email, phone, face to face or any other relevant forum.

 

    • Startups should raise money if they can. Cash is the lifeline of the business; use it wisely.

 

    • Do not focus on selling through partners; if you cannot sell partners can't sell either.

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