The Ultimate Guide to Lead Management

Every business needs to acquire, manage, and nurture as many quality leads as possible, in order to convert them into paying customers. This process is known as lead management. It’s a delicate science, so your approach could really make or break your business. Here’s is the ultimate guide to lead management that will help you get the best results possible.

What Is Lead Management?

Lead management refers to any activities related to the acquisition, organization, qualification, and nurturing of the prospects that a business generates. Companies execute these activities with the ultimate goal of transforming leads into paying customers.

Lead management is very important because businesses have to pay for each lead they generate. These businesses must make the most of their investments and give each lead the appropriate level of attention that he or she deserves.

But when companies generate a large volume of leads, it’s easier said than done. Therefore, businesses must generate a deliberate, effective approach to lead management. This approach gives businesses the power to properly assess each lead and boost their bottom lines.

Each business will shape its own approach to lead management, according to factors such as the product or service it offers and the industry it operates within.

Generally, the lead management process is divided into a range of deliberate steps. We’ll take a closer look at the lead management process later in the article. Before we do, let’s take a look at why an active approach to lead management is so important.

Why Should You Actively Manage Your Leads?

Every business has to understand its customers and know where its revenue will come from. Therefore, lead management is critical to the success of any business. Here’s a closer look at the main reasons you should actively manage your leads.

Make accurate predictions.

Do you know how many leads are in your pipeline? Do you know how many new leads you generate each day? Active lead management can give you those answers. This rich information can give you the insights you’ll need to create accurate forecasts and make strategic decisions, such as whether to hire a lead generation specialist.

Shape your sales process.

Effective lead management makes it easier for you to differentiate between your leads. If you use the right processes, you can identify their viability, potential value, and much more. This process will help you prioritize certain leads, add structure to your sales process, and create a lead generation funnel that actually works.

Improve your buyer experience.

If you engage in deliberate lead management, you’ll know how and when to contact your leads because you’ll have already gathered the appropriate information, which includes key firmographic and demographic data. This information will help you make the buyer experience smoother and more targeted.

Enhance your marketing.

Great marketing is all about optimization. The best marketers use rich data to make small adjustments that bring in a greater quantity of high-quality leads. If you engage in lead management and pay attention to the sources of your leads, your marketers will be able to effectively optimize their marketing.

What Does the Lead Management Process Look Like?

There are lots of different approaches to lead management. These approaches vary from one business to the next, according to a range of factors. Here’s a closer look at the appearance of a general lead management process. 

1. Lead generation

The first step in lead management involves acquiring leads. Marketing teams fuel their sales funnel with leads from three key sources:

  • Paid leads generated through channels such as PPC and advertising campaigns.
  • Earned leads generated through referrals, reviews, and recommendations.
  • Owned leads generated by social media, content, and search engine marketing.

The majority of marketing teams will try to secure a steady ratio among the sources of their leads. Therefore, some businesses might find that some leads are more prominent than others.

The best marketing departments can adjust their approaches over time, in order to maximize the number of high-quality leads they generate. This delicate task requires lots of marketing knowledge and experience.

2. Lead pre-qualification

Marketing departments often hoover up a range of leads during the lead generation process. It’s inevitable that marketers will find a mixture of leads, in terms of quality, viability, and applicability.

So you should have a pre-qualification stage, which will act as a quality control filter that allows you to automatically remove any low-quality or inappropriate leads.

For instance, you might decide to immediately remove leads from a certain region if you don’t do business there. You might also find that some businesses simply aren’t appropriate leads for a number of reasons. If so, you’ll want to remove them from your pipeline as soon as possible.

The pre-qualification stage can often be automated, too. So your chosen CRM system will be able to filter out leads according to the criteria you create.

3. Lead nurturing

Now that you’ve filtered out inappropriate leads, it’s time for you to focus on ways to move approved leads through your lead generation funnel.

Most businesses decide to divide their lead generation funnel into key stages. Again, this funnel will vary according to your business, as well as a host of factors that make it unique. But here’s a look at the general groups that businesses use.

#Attention

During this stage, businesses try to spread awareness about their products or services. They capitalize on the initial interest that the lead demonstrated by sharing a variety of content and CTAs.

#Interest

Once the lead is educated about your product or service, it’s time to stoke some more interest in your product or service. To build interest, you should share a wide range of relevant information and content.

#Desire

Now that your leads have all of the information they need, you’ll want to think about brewing desire within him or her. So you’ll want to book meetings and encourage your leads to reach out to you.

#Action

At this stage of the lead generation funnel, you should take action. In other words, you should pass the lead from marketing to sales. Then the lead can be qualified, and your salespeople can work their magic. 

4. Lead scoring

It’s difficult to know when to move your leads through your lead generation funnel. If you do it manually, it can take a lot of time. So businesses automate the process with lead scoring.

As the name implies, lead scoring is the process of assigning scores to your leads, based on their actions and firmographic information. Once your lead reaches a certain threshold, he or she will be moved to the next section of your lead generation funnel. 

You can also deduct points for certain behaviors, which means you can rest assured that your leads will always be in the right stage of the funnel.

5. Lead qualification

In the second step of your lead management process, you’ll already have pre-qualified leads.

Let’s say your lead is named Bernard. Now that he’s ready to be passed along to sales, it’s important for you to qualify him again before passing him onto sales. This step is usually performed by a business development specialist. He will reach out to you and make direct contact with your leads, in order to make sure they’re the best fits. 

Once your business development specialist gives you the green light, he or she will pass Bernard along to a salesperson to work his or her magic.

6. Lead distribution

Now that your leads are qualified, you have to distribute them to your salespeople. To make sure you get the best results, you’ll want to deliberately and strategically distribute your leads. 

You should assess which salesperson has the best chance of closing a particular type of lead. You may find that some salespeople are better at handling leads’ objections, while others have an uncanny ability to close high-value deals.

Lead Management Best Practices

Now that we have a better idea of the structure of your lead management process, let’s dive into some best practices. If you keep these tips in mind while you create your lead management process, you’ll be destined for success.

#1 Harmonize sales and marketing.

The modern business landscape demands that you create strong links, as well as a sense of harmony between your sales and marketing departments.

In the past, these two departments were often seen as totally distinct. But today, they have to work together to make sure you have a clear, consistent approach to lead management.

Your sales team should feel empowered about providing feedback about the quality of their leads to marketing. Meanwhile, marketing should have a vision for the way the lead generation funnel looks in both departments.

#2 Use buyer personas.

You’ll get the best lead management results when you properly understand your leads. To close a deal, you need to have a clear idea of their expectations, their preferences, and ways to engage with them.

Initially, the best way to get an insight into your leads is to create rich buyer personas. You can use this handy tool to categorize your leads and personalize your communications with them.

Buyer personas can also help you harmonize your communications and your strategy. So it’s important for you to make sure everybody understands your buyer personas and the ways they can drive value throughout the lead management process.

#3 Plan your lead generation funnel carefully.

Your lead generation funnel provides the skeleton for your entire lead management process. So you have to make sure it’s healthy and has the appropriate structure.

Really take the time to make sure that your lead generation funnel reflects the reality of your product or service. Does it make sense for you to spend lots of time educating your leads, or should you expedite the transition from generation to qualification?

To make sure your lead generation funnel works as well as possible, you need to use as much data and insight as you can. 

#4 Manage your data.

If you’re engaging in lead management en masse, you have to make sure your data is clean and accurate. You can’t afford to have outdated or inaccurate data in your systems. If you do, your entire lead management process could be impacted.

You should make sure to use the best lead generation tools. The most trusted options only provide you only with accurate, high-quality data that’s regularly tested. When you use this data, you can rest assured that you won’t constantly run into frustrating moments that involve chasing dead ends.

#5 Make the most of your content marketing.

When it comes to planning your lead generation funnel, you’ll see the true value of content. There will be lots of opportunities for you to share and use your content to its fullest effect.

You should make sure that all of your content is up-to-date and of the best possible quality. So it’s a good idea to maintain a shared cloud location, where all of your sales and marketing professionals can access the latest iterations of your content. You don’t want to send outdated content to your leads.

#6 Revise and review your lead management system.

Your system shouldn’t be rigid and inflexible. Instead, you should make sure to regularly review its performance and accuracy. You might find that it becomes outdated as your customers and products change over time.

Take the time to regularly review your lead management system, and keep an ear to the ground. You should keep a close eye on your KPIs, and see whether any deficiency could be the consequence of the lead management system you’ve implemented.

#7 Draw feedback from the entire team.

Your lead management process will shape the way your sales and marketing teams work together. In other words, you should make sure you listen to both of these teams and regularly speak with your managers.

Feedback from your team will help you determine whether your lead management process is helping or hindering your progress. For instance, you might find that your salespeople are unhappy with the quality of the leads they receive. This outcome could be an indication that you need to make an adjustment somewhere else.

This proactive approach will ensure that your lead management process works for you and gets you the results possible. 

Conclusion

We hope this piece has helped you see lead management in a new way. As you can see, it’s a complicated task, so you have to use the right tools to give yourself the best chance of success. To get your lead management activities off to a great start

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