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Why should you be tracking sales leads? Let’s do the math. 

Say you need 10 new customers to meet your monthly revenue target. Assuming an average conversion rate of 2%, that means you’ll need 500 leads in your pipeline. And with the average cost of a single lead exceeding $200, you’re spending upwards of $100,000 for those leads.

If you don’t know how those leads are coming in or how they flow through your sales funnel, you are burning money. Tracking sales leads is the key to understanding the effectiveness of your sales and marketing campaigns, so you can invest in the channels that work best and start reducing your cost per lead (CPL) without sacrificing lead quality. 

Luckily, your RevOps team (and The RevOps Team) can help. Think of this as your guide to tracking sales leads, finding more qualified leads, and optimizing your sales funnel.  

What Is Sales Lead Tracking?

Sales lead tracking is the process of monitoring leads as they move through your sales funnel (AKA the sales pipeline). Effective lead management doesn't just collect leads, it creates a well-defined process for tracking and nurturing leads through the funnel until they are paying customers. Leverage your RevOps team or your lead tracking software to identify where leads are getting stuck and how you can move them smoothly to the next stage of the funnel. 

Reducing friction in the buyer’s journey makes it easier for potential customers to buy your product, resulting in higher conversion rates and, ultimately, more revenue for your business. Well worth the investment, in my opinion.  

But before we can get into sales lead-tracking strategies or lead-tracking software, we need a solid understanding of the stages of the sales funnel and what leads need at each point in the journey. 

We go into more detail on the sales funnel stages here, but generally speaking, there are three primary stages of the sales funnel: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. Also known as top of funnel (TOFU), middle of funnel (MOFU), and bottom of funnel (BOFU). 

The exact number of stages and nomenclature can vary depending on the source or the business, like Saleforce’s 6-stage sales funnel with a post-sales stage for renewals or HubSpot’s sales flywheel, which shows a continuous loop of attracting, engaging, and delighting customers. However, no matter how you define it at your business, all stages can be categorized under the broader TOFU, MOFU, BOFU umbrella:

Awareness

The awareness stage or stages at the top of the funnel are where people are introduced to your brand and where they first start to identify a potential need or problem. Personalization isn’t as important at this stage and mass communication works well here. A few examples of awareness tactics include:

  • Content marketing (blogs, articles)
  • Social media campaigns
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
  • Public relations

Consideration

At this point, potential customers understand their business need and have an idea of the companies that could solve this problem. Now, they are weighing their options and looking for more personalized or differentiated information on how your solution could directly impact their business. This is where your sales team can build trust and rapport, turning the lead into a prospect. Effective consideration tactics include:

  • Email marketing
  • Educational content like whitepapers or webinars
  • Case studies and testimonials
  • Product demos

Decision

This is when a prospect is ready to make a purchase. They are looking for reassurance about their choice and might need a push from your sales team to cross the finish line. 

  • Personalized email marketing
  • Retargeting ads
  • Sales promotions or free trials
  • Direct sales outreach

The decision stage(s) is the time to get personal. Send an email with a special discount code or offer a free trial period to test out your product or service. 

While not every sales funnel includes a post-sales element like HubSpot and Salesforce, I believe B2B SaaS executives should look at the full customer journey and support all go-to-market (GTM) functions, including Customer Success. Especially in this era of stagnant funding and growth for startups, reducing churn is crucial for revenue growth.   

However, when it comes to tracking sales leads, the pre-sales stages are where you can unlock the greatest benefits. 

Benefits of Tracking Sales Leads

The math proves the value of tracking sales leads. Take our example from the top of this article — if your sales and marketing teams bring in the 500 leads needed to sign 10 new customers, but 25 get lost somewhere in the process, you won’t hit your revenue target. It’s as simple as that. 

In more detail, what are the benefits of tracking sales leads? Let’s dig in. 

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Improved Sales Process

“Sales process” is just a fancy term for the series of steps you follow to convert a prospect into a paying customer. No matter how freewheeling you are in your personal life, it’s important to have a repeatable process for making sales. You don’t have to do exactly what everyone else is doing, but a good sales process usually has these steps:

  • Researching your competitors
  • Identifying your target audience
  • Learning more about your prospects
  • Determining if your products and services match a prospect’s needs
  • Building positive relationships
  • Pitching an offer
  • Answering the prospect’s questions
  • Finalizing the sale

With lead tracking, sales and marketing teams know exactly what they need to do at all times, making the sales process more efficient and effective. A smooth sales process equals a smooth buying process. And, ultimately, that’s what customers are looking for. 

More Organized Data

If you don’t systematically track leads, there’s a good chance your salespeople are struggling. Lead tracking makes it easier to distinguish new leads from old ones, ensuring that team members always know what they should be working on. For example, if a new lead comes in, sales staff can work on determining if it’s a qualified one. In other words, lead tracking makes it easier to organize your data.

Clean, organized data is the lifeblood of your GTM motion. It’s the only way to truly understand the health of your business. By utilizing sales lead tracking, CRM software, and other tools, your business will be more efficient and generate more revenue. And the RevOps team will thank you. 

Easier Prioritization

Without lead tracking, prioritizing leads is like juggling a bunch of flaming bowling pins. Sure, it looks cool, but why risk it? When you have a comprehensive lead tracking system, it’s easier to determine which leads are most likely and least likely to buy from you. Salespeople can focus on the people most likely to buy, increasing revenue and efficiency.

Sales Loss Prevention

To increase your conversion rate, you must contact the right person with the right offer at the right time. Without lead tracking, it’s almost impossible to match potential customers to the right products and services. Sales lead tracking prevents lost sales by ensuring you have plenty of information about each prospect’s needs.

Improved Predictions

As we mentioned earlier, lead tracking makes it easier to determine who’s most likely to become a paying customer. In other words, it improves predictions related to sales and marketing. Lead tracking also helps you identify the most valuable prospects, helping you with monthly, quarterly, and annual forecasts.

Effective Lead Nurturing

Once you have a lead in your sales funnel, you need to nurture it. Unless you live in the magical land of Narnia, most people don’t become paying customers within minutes of entering your sales pipeline. You need to anticipate their needs and follow up multiple times.

With lead tracking, nurturing is easier than ever. If you use CRM software like Salesforce or Zoho, you can even automate many of your nurturing activities, saving time and allowing your sales reps to focus on high-value activities in the sales cycle.

5 Steps for Tracking Sales Leads in 2024

Have we convinced you that lead tracking is critical to your company’s success? Good. Then it’s time to learn some tested strategies for lead management. Here’s what we recommend for tracking sales leads in 2024.

1. Ensure You Understand the Buying Process

If it’s been a while since you took Marketing 101, it’s a good idea to brush up on the stages of the buying process. This is sometimes called the customer journey since it’s a series of steps that customers take as they move toward buying a product or service. Here’s a quick refresher on those steps.

  1. Problem recognition: Your potential customer has a problem. Their DVD player broke, their favorite pair of jeans has a big hole in it, or they’re about to fail calculus. Whatever the problem is, there’s probably a product or service that can solve it. In this case, a new DVD player, a new pair of jeans, or a calculus tutor.
  2. Information search: Once the customer is aware of their problem, they start searching for a possible solution. They may use a search engine or ask friends and family members for advice.
  3. Evaluation of alternatives: Most consumers consider several potential solutions before choosing one. For example, a student in danger of failing calculus might research the pros and cons of signing up for Khan Academy versus hiring a professional tutor.
  4. Purchase decision: This is when the buyer makes a decision.
  5. Purchase: Many people think purchase decision and purchase are the same thing, but they’re not. During the previous stage, the potential customer decided whether to make a purchase or walk away in favor of another solution. Now they’ve decided to buy something.
  6. Post-purchase evaluation: Once the customer uses the new product or service, they evaluate it to determine if it meets their needs.

The success of your marketing efforts depends on reaching potential customers at every stage of this journey. For example, once the customer starts searching for potential solutions, you want them to find your company. That means you need to have an attractive website with plenty of information about your products or services.

At the purchase stage, it should be easy for people to buy from you. Broken websites, convoluted sales processes, or surprise additional fees drive away potential customers instead of giving them a warm welcome. The better your sales reps understand this process, the easier it is for them to reach their goals.

2. Use a Lead Tracking Software or CRM

When it comes to tracking leads, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Instead of storing customer data in Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, or a similar tool, invest in lead tracking or customer relationship management (CRM) software. Pipedrive, Hubspot, Zoho, Salesforce, and other CRM tools take the guesswork out of lead management, leaving your salespeople with more time to close deals.

If you’re ready to buy a lead management software package, look for these features:

  • Integrations: The best CRM software integrates with apps and other tools, increasing efficiency and making it easier for sales teams to achieve their goals.
  • Dashboards: A dashboard gives team members access to real-time sales data, enabling them to adjust their priorities as needed.
  • Customization: A lead management system isn’t all that helpful if it’s not compatible with your company’s workflows. Look for software that offers some level of customization rather than forcing you to change your lead management process.
  • Social media: Good CRM systems allow you to monitor social media without having to switch platforms.
  • Email marketing: With the right integrations, it’s possible to set up email campaigns without leaving your CRM interface, making it easier to reach leads at each stage of the funnel. 

3. Define Your Data Fields

To reap the benefits of sales lead tracking, it’s important to have well-defined data fields in your CRM. Good lead management tools tell you exactly where each lead came from. They also tell you the status of each lead and where your leads are in the sales cycle. If you want your sales team to see that information, you must define appropriate data fields in your CRM.

Make sure you have these fields, at minimum:

  • Contact type: It’s important to distinguish prospects from vendors, subcontractors, employees, affiliates, and existing customers. This field makes it easier for salespeople to determine where to focus their efforts.
  • Life cycle stage: When salespeople access lead information, they should be able to tell if someone is a sales-qualified lead versus a marketing-qualified lead.
  • Status: Imagine if your sales reps had to guess the status of every lead stored in your CRM. It would be total chaos! Keep everyone on track by setting up a status field to indicate whether each lead is open, unqualified, dropped, or in progress.
  • Lead source: The lead source field should indicate where each lead came from, such as paid advertising, conferences, and trade shows.

4. Implement a Lead Scoring System

Lead scoring is the process of assigning a rating to each lead your company generates. How you set up this scoring system is completely up to you, but most businesses use a 100-point rating scale. The higher a lead’s score, the closer they are to being your ideal customer.

Here’s a real-life example:

Michael Scott is a sales rep for Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. His ideal client is a large firm that needs at least 5,000 reams of copy paper each year. Mr. Scott typically works with men between the ages of 35 and 55 who work as purchasing agents or buyers. A new lead just came in, and Mr. Scott needs to assign a score.

According to the lead data, the potential customer is a 50-year-old purchasing agent who works for a health insurance company. His employer uses 7,000 reams of paper per year. Based on this information, Mr. Scott assigns a rating of 95/100.

5. Customize Your Lead Generation Forms

Many companies use templates to save time, but it’s better to customize your lead-generation forms. Custom forms make it easier to collect multiple types of contact information, ensuring that you always have a way to get in touch with your leads. Using customized lead forms also makes it easier to tailor your messaging to each prospect instead of using canned messages. When a lead feels like you understand their unique challenges, they’ll be more likely to move through the sales funnel. 

Lead Management Mistakes to Avoid

Now that you’re ready to put your new knowledge into practice, here are some common mistakes to avoid.

Focusing Your Lead Scoring System on the Wrong Metrics

Focusing on the wrong metrics makes it difficult to prioritize leads, so make sure your scoring system makes sense. You don’t want to focus exclusively on user behavior if you’re committed to serving a specific demographic. In that case, you’d give demographic characteristics a little more weight in your scoring system. 

Clearly define the metrics that matter to your business and get buy-in cross functionally. You need sales, marketing, and customer success working towards the same goals to make meaningful progress toward your revenue targets. 

Forgetting to Track All Lead Sources

If you don’t track all lead sources, you may have no idea where your best leads are coming from. Once you create the lead source field in your CRM, make sure you have labels for as many sources as possible.

This will help you prioritize spend and channel your budget into the most effective channels. Talk about ROI. 

Not Following Up or Nurturing Leads

It can take upwards of 40 touchpoints to close a new B2B customer. One of the worst mistakes you can make is calling a lead once and then never bothering to follow up with them again. Nurturing campaigns are critical in keeping your business top of mind. Make sure you nurture each lead regularly, whether that involves making phone calls or sending out email messages.

Manage Your Leads with Ease

We’re not kidding when we say that sales lead tracking can completely transform your business. Once you have a tracking system of your own, subscribe to The RevOps Team newsletter for helpful tips on lead management.

By Phil Gray

Philip Gray is the COO of Black and White Zebra and Founding Editor of The RevOps Team. A business renaissance man with his hands in many departmental pies, he is an advocate of centralized data management, holistic planning, and process automation. It's this love for data and all things revenue operations landed him the role as resident big brain for The RevOps Team.

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. An unapologetic buzzword apologist, you can often find him double clicking, drilling down, and unpacking all the things.