Whether you’re an established enterprise or a small startup, your business depends on leads to survive. Lead management helps you keep track of future prospects and make the most of each one.
No matter what size your business is, it relies on leads to stay in the black. From those visiting your website for the first time to motivated prospects who’ve been nurtured down the funnel, leads are potential candidates your sales team hopes to convert. They have different levels of engagement, but one thing is true of all leads — they can turn into profit, and lead management boosts your chances of conversion.
More than just a spreadsheet with contact info, the lead management process entails organizing, engaging with, qualifying, and tracking viable leads and directing your team toward those who are most likely to become your next customer. It takes a lot, but we’ve put together this lead management guide to help you create a system that works for you.
What Is Lead Management?
In the broadest sense, lead management is the process of systematically collecting and parsing information on leads and leveraging those insights to maximize conversions. Manually keeping a record of potential customers and gauging their interest is part of lead management, but such outdated methods often fail to keep pace with rapidly growing companies. They also fail to provide the granularity and visibility needed for sales teams to make the best moves. That’s why modern lead management systems go deeper.
We’ll take a closer look later, but lead management often consists of these components:
- Gathering information on each lead’s background and status in the funnel.
- Organizing that information into an insightful profile of each lead so that sales reps and marketers will be able to engage.
- Distributing it to the right agent at the right time so that they can convert.
- Tracking touchpoints with your business and the performance of campaigns to identify what works.
By collecting vital intel on each lead and consolidating it into one intuitive platform, lead management software keeps prospects from falling through the cracks.
Why You Need Lead Management
Even small startups find that their leads can add up fast. Between website visitors, webinar attendees, email subscribers, and personal contacts, an effective digital marketing strategy should generate many interested prospects, many of whom come with varying levels of interest and viability. That’s why old-school spreadsheets and clientele lists can sometimes spiral out of control, leaving sales teams overwhelmed and ill-equipped to engage.
Lead management helps solve all of those problems. Quality lead management platforms offer a host of benefits to companies of any size, like:
- Higher conversion rates. Lead management platforms help sales teams sort through their list of potential customers and also keep track of how leads have been engaging with your business. This gives agents context as they interact with your leads, arming them with extra knowledge that they can use to make more sales.
- Less leakage. When obsolete lead management systems cause prospect lists to pile up, valuable business can be lost. Automated lead management platforms consolidate lead data, automatically update it, and give agents a clear idea of each lead’s position along the buyer journey so that no lead will be left behind.
- Longer relationships. Some leads are ready to buy now, but others take more time. Many can be valuable clients long-term, and lead management systems help agents nurture relationships so that they can go the distance.
Lead management systems also seamlessly integrate into many CRM platforms and other software that your marketing and sales teams use every day. That allows them to simplify the rest of your team’s workflow, yielding higher productivity, a faster response time, and a boost to the bottom line.
The Lead Management Process
Effective lead management isn’t just about keeping track of clients. It’s about intelligently directing your resources toward each lead in a way that gets results. A quality lead management strategy should help agents guide clients through the funnel by breaking down the process into phases, namely:
- Lead Capturing. The first stage of acquiring new customers is finding them. Website content, advertisements, webinars, emails, and social media campaigns are a few ways that businesses can generate new leads, and lead management platforms can integrate this data into many CRM systems.
- Lead Enrichment & Tracking. Once initial lead data has been gathered, lead management software can go further by creating a profile complete with publicly available information. This gives salespeople a clearer idea of their audience, allowing them to give a more relevant pitch to the prospect’s needs.
- Lead Qualification. For insights on which lead to pursue, lead management programs use contact scoring to rank each prospect by their interest. That way, agents will contact the lead who is most likely to convert first and nurture those at the top of the funnel until their interest piques.
- Lead Distribution. Sales teams are busy, and if left to themselves, they may not be able to reach every lead as promptly as they’d like. Whether they use a random, round-robin, or custom technique, lead management systems automatically assign each prospect to an agent who is ready to help.
- Lead Nurturing. When leads aren’t sales-ready, the next step is to educate and demonstrate value. Lead management systems can show agents where leads are along the journey, what content they’ve been exposed to, and how they can keep the relationship going until they’re ready to buy.
Outdated methods won’t do when sales teams have so many leads to keep track of and so much profit at stake. By giving insights into how best to connect with a potential customer, lead management systems optimize the use of all of a company’s resources so that they can achieve their ultimate goal: converting leads into clients.
Lead Management Best Practices
As you build out each phase of your lead management system, these best practices can help you along the way:
- Assess your current needs. They may be at different stages in their development, but enterprises and startups alike must continually be on the lookout for new leads. Before you begin the lead generation phase, evaluate how many you need to gather and how many you expect to convert.
- Form a plan. Once you’ve estimated how many leads you’ll need, develop a lead generation strategy to help you reach them. Marketing and sales should collaborate closely to create campaigns that both resonate with your base and that agents can leverage to nurture the leads you gain.
- Be nurturing. Since a diverse campaign strategy will deliver leads that are at different tiers of the funnel, you’ll need a plan for how to nurture each one. Prepare educational assets like e-books or articles that display your product’s value, and build alert systems so that agents can keep in touch with leads who aren’t quite ready to buy.
- Develop qualifiers. There are many ways to do it, but your lead management system must have some way of ranking leads to see which ones warrant the most pursuit. Contact scoring can be as simple as “Very Interested,” “Somewhat Interested,” or “Not Interested,” and while it will likely entail more variables than that, it will keep your agents pursuing the most viable leads.
- Clearly communicate. If your lead management system is too hard to follow, your agents’ productivity will be weighed down. Keep your lead profiles concise yet insightful so that agents have all their data at their fingertips.
- Continuously monitor. There’s always room for improvement, and the buyer’s journey should never stop with the initial sale. Lead management systems can display many valuable metrics to give insights into your teams’ performance, so leverage these to find what is working and where you can improve.
Fundamentally, your lead management system should organize lead data, give helpful insights for engagement, and help agents triage their long list of prospects. If it does that, you’re likely to see your conversions rise.
Take the Lead With Aktify
Today’s business world demands that sales teams pursue more leads than ever, and keeping track of it all is no small task. Aktify’s AI-powered messaging solution creates authentic conversations between early-stage leads and connects interested prospects with agents when they’re ready to talk. The result is fewer lost leads and more conversions — to the tune of a 10x higher ROI for our clients.
If you’d like to see how our machine-learning algorithms can boost your sales team’s performance, contact our team, and take the lead today.