I am working with a b2b startup, which is a marketplace that connects clients and freelancers. They have a strong value proposition, and I want to help them generate leads through PPC. We ran one campaign and generated 60+ leads via ebook downloads (in 48 hours). The problem is that we don't have the bandwidth to followup with all of these leads, and they all slipped through the cracks. What ends up happening are zero conversions. Two questions: (1) how can we deal with this pipeline/follow-up issue and (2) are we at a stage where we need a CRM immediately? Or should we continue to deploy marketing campaigns?
"If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up someplace else". Yogi Berra
To initiate any marketing campaign without having a clear plan on how to convert leads to sales, is a tragic mistake and a waste of precious resources. You need to build a sales strategy into your campaign from the outset. There are two basic ways to deal with the leads - digitally and/or with human intervention. If you are looking to automate the process then you must have a clear call to action for the site visitor compelling them to take the next step, along with automated follow-ups and reminders. Even with the greatest value proposition, expect relatively low conversions - so you should plan on driving large numbers in order to gain sales. By using or adding human intervention, "inside sales" will typically drive up conversions dramatically - but with a cost.
CRM is an important tool for sales. It is far easier to implement at startup, rather than wait until you realize you need it. There are plenty of low-cost and freemium solutions that are inexpensive to start and will grow with the business. They will not solve your marketing automation issue, but will provide structure, efficiency and consistency to whatever marketing/sales workflow you decide to employ.
Bottom line - figure out how your going to sell your solution before you waste any more time with development or marketing campaigns. You don't make money building the solution, you make money selling it!