The other day I attended my first networking luncheon in Northern Virginia. I just moved recently and now that I’m starting out from scratch, it’s an interesting process.

Sometimes networking is a little bit like traveling around the world. There are set questions that people ask as soon as you meet them. With travel it was the where have have you been, where are you going how long are you traveling variety of question.

But in networking many people ask right off the bat, “What do you do…”

For several years down in Virginia Beach about 1000 Realtors got emails from me about the builder, our home availability, and other information a couple of times a month. Usually when I finally met someone in person they would say, “Oh you’re Leah! I get your emails all the time!” They quickly understood what I did for the builder and they also understood how I was able to help them as well.

Maybe it’s just different with people who work in Real Estate but I’ve never really had people look so puzzled before when I said, “I do lead management for builders.” Perhaps people get stuck on the word management or maybe they just don’t know what a lead is….but if you have any kind of business this is an important concept to get the hang of.

In fact most people who are in sales, such as car dealers, mortgage lenders….well anyone that acknowledges that they are selling something, gets the concept pretty quickly.

Many proceed to ask if I can help them. While I don’t mind doing some consulting for them to help improve their system, I don’t want to move outside of my niche, builders.

But really anyone who has a business of any kind whether it’s a service, a tangible item, or a concept like coaching is “selling” something. And the people that you encounter on a daily basis who express interest in your business whether it be through word of mouth referral, email marketing, Google searching or any other means, is a “lead.”

Saying hi in an email or a phone call once and then dropping them because they didn’t respond is…well…stupid. You need to put together a system that allows you to keep in touch with people and let them know that you are there to help, to provide information etc. The key is having a follow up system and knowing what is going on in your database of leads.

This, on a very simple level, is lead management. But add into the equation someone who is managing your leads with the purpose to sell your service, item, or concept then you have a powerful presence in your organization. The place where many businesses go wrong is that they think someone answering the phone means they have someone capable of handling leads. When a business does not have a qualified person answering calls and emails, 0r they have an automatic system that has no personal qualities, they are setting themselves up for disappointment.

Most systems are only as good as the person who is answering the phone, sending the emails, or operating the drip campaigns.

If you don’t know how to ask the right questions and guide the lead toward the solution that will best work for them within what you offer, than you are paying a lot of money and wasting a lot of time generating leads that die.

And believe me some of them die a horrible death of dissatisfaction from lack of information or attention. It’s like forgetting to water a plant for weeks on end. A lead manager nurtures and grows a lead until it is ready to turn into a sale.

A lead manager is patient and understands that no one wants to be “sold” but by providing an individual with timely information and a genuine concern for what one is looking for, eventually the lead manager will make the sale.

If you are still unsure what lead management is, feel free to contact me I’ll be glad to help you figure out what you are doing now with your lead management system and where you need to go with it. But remember ultimately you need to have the patience of a gardener.

A good lead manager takes their thyme.