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Do you know how to tell a bad lead from a good lead, or even how to identify the best lead? Marketing automation and CRM software can help you find new leads, identify your ideal customer, create more effective marketing campaigns, manage your customer journey, and convert qualified leads into paying customers. In this guide, we review how you can not only fill your sales funnel with qualified leads but also help your marketing team direct its lead generation efforts toward sales-ready leads and create an effective nurturing campaign.

We’ll also discuss routing the right leads to your sales team so that potential buyers are placed in the right hands and your salespeople are set up for success.

What is Lead Management?

Lead management is the process of finding sales leads, tracking your interactions with them, and converting them into sales. Without a lead management system in place, it’s difficult to examine how effective your business is at attracting interest from new potential customers and making tweaks in your sales process that could boost your closing rates, return on investment, and engagement with new and existing customers. 

We’re going to review six key components to lead management. It begins with generating quality leads, tracking those leads, scoring the leads for quality, nurturing the leads with the greatest chance of conversion, connecting them with sales representatives, and measuring the success of your current system. 

Why Is Lead Management Important?

Imagine how effective a car salesman could be if they knew which customers arriving on the lot were ready to buy a vehicle today and which ones had no clue what they were looking for yet. Both types of customers are important, but the steps you need to take and the amount of time you should invest in each are markedly different. Most people who are simply browsing require a different amount of interaction than those who want to close the deal and take the keys right now. 

Lead management allows you to invest your resources more efficiently. It helps you decide which parts of the process to automate so that your staff can focus on the leads that are most likely to turn into real sales. Lead management is also about knowing what to do with those leads that could turn into sales at a later time so that you’re not missing opportunities.

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6 Steps for an Effective Lead Management Process

Drawing traffic to your website is an important step to increasing brand awareness, advertising your products and services, and engaging with potential customers. Studying how people interact with your site once they arrive and then continuing the conversation with them after they’ve left is how you maximize your return on investment (ROI). 

You’re not alone if you have no clue where to begin with your lead management system because many other businesses are either completely unaware of how effectively their leads are managed or aren’t implementing an effective lead management system. Following this process can help you establish your lead management process and review it routinely to see how you can improve it. 

Start with Lead Generation

There are many lead generation strategies circulating the internet, so it’s difficult to pinpoint which one might be the best for your business. The truth is that your lead capture and outreach process should reflect your business and may differ from other companies. Some of the most common ways companies generate leads include:

  • Using search engine optimization strategies to create content that attracts visitors to a company website in search results for specific products, problems, or concepts
  • Advertising on digital platforms such as YouTube, Google, or Facebook to catch the attention of users who may follow links or recommendations
  • Collecting contact information from social media users by inviting them to sign up for a blog, newsletter, or promotion
  • Offering potential customers information through ebooks, webinars, case studies, or training videos

Implement Lead Scoring

Businesses that score their leads have a significant advantage over those that don’t. Some statistics suggest your business could see a ROI of 138% if you score your leads rather than just 78% if you choose not to. Lead scoring is a process that includes segmenting your leads into demographics, geographic locations, personality traits, engagement with your company, and other behavior metrics. 

A good example of lead scoring is if your business is a brick-and-mortar business operating in Atlanta, Georgia. Leads from California are low value to you unless your business ships products across the entire United States. You’d score all leads from Atlanta and nearby cities much higher than those from out of state.

You can use how your visitors interact with your website and social media accounts to score leads as well. If they ignore your emails, cancel appointments with your sales representatives, or unsubscribe from your mailing list, they’re low-quality leads. The inverse is true of those who register for your blog, start free trials, add items to their carts, or open links in email campaigns. 

Move on to Lead Nurturing

If you’re not nurturing your leads, you’re missing out on sales opportunities. Lead nurturing has been proven to generate up to 20% more sales and increase the average purchase per sale over time. Nurturing your leads includes sending follow-up emails after they’ve subscribed to your blog, reaching out to web visitors who’ve abandoned their carts, and inviting leads to webinars. 

You can also nurture leads with an effective social media marketing strategy. People are more likely to trust your company and do business with you if they see you responding on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. 

If you’re offering a free trial, you could be allowing potential customers to slip away if you’re not sending reminders at the conclusion of the trial to upgrade to a paid plan. There are many ways you could be nurturing your leads, so consider which methods apply to your business.

Send Leads to the Sales Team

Lead distribution is the process of handing the most valuable leads to your sales team at opportune times. Part of an effective lead management process includes knowing which sales representatives are most qualified to handle each lead. Customers may be interested in specific products or have a unique problem that the wrong representative can’t solve for them. 

Automating your lead distribution reduces the time it takes to get leads into the hands of your sales team and also uses data-driven insights to identify which lead is assigned to which person. Some metrics that you should be aware of when creating this system include:

  • When your sales reps are available to assist customers
  • How experienced your representatives are with specific problems, products, and services
  • A team member’s success rate handling similar clients
  • Whether your sales representative needs to be located in the same geographic location as your client

Track and Measure

Tracking and measuring your progress is the only way to evaluate your success rate. You can use lead tracking, data analysis, and machine learning technology to identify common obstacles and potential solutions. Studying customers’ interactions with your website, sales team, and emails can reveal which products and services are most popular, what your key marketing demographics are, and metrics such as conversion rates, customer acquisition cost, customer retention rate, and average transaction value. 

For example, if you notice that one of your products is really popular with married women between the ages of 25 and 30, you can adjust your lead generation strategy to target that demographic with advertisements for that product and ones like it. Tracking your customers through each step of the process also helps you see where you and your team may have failed to address customers’ pain points or provide the service they expected.

Follow Up

While you may feel you’ve wasted money on the lead generation and nurturing process whenever a lead doesn’t convert into a sale, there’s a silver lining. Once you have a lead, you don’t need to process it a second time. Don’t simply discard your leads because they didn’t convert into sales. There are many reasons people have for not making a purchase, including poor timing. 

Following up with your old leads allows you to create new potential opportunities. One of the best ways you can do this is to segment and score these leads so that you’re using the right follow-up strategy for each type of lead. 

What Are Your Thoughts On Lead Management?

Have questions about lead management that weren’t answered above? Perhaps you’d like to share which lead management system has worked best for your business. Let us hear what you think in the comments below. 

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By Phil Gray

Philip Gray is the COO of Black and White Zebra, a digital publishing and tech company. He hails from rainy Glasgow, Scotland transplanted in not quite as rainy Vancouver, BC, Canada. With 10+ years of experience in leadership and operations in industries that include biotechnology, healthcare, logistics, and SaaS, he applies a considerable broad scope of experience in business that lets him see the big picture. His love for data and all things revenue operations landed him this role as resident big brain for the RevOpsTeam.

A business renaissance man with his hands in many departmental pies, he is an advocate of centralized data management, holistic planning, and process automation. An unapologetic buzzword apologist, you can often find him double clicking, drilling down, and unpacking all the things.

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