What Is Lead Management? Definition, Tips, and Tools
Let’s say you’ve just completed a successful lead generation campaign—your pipeline is now filled to the brim with a list of potential customers who want to buy your product. Congrats!
But when it’s time to convert, you find out most of them are a bunch of tire kickers, and meeting your quarterly sales goals is starting to look like a pipe dream.
Before you start pointing fingers, have you checked your lead management process to see if it’s rock solid? If not, deals falling through might indicate your lead management system is in shambles and needs your attention.
To help you build a solid lead management process, we'll share our best tips in this article, as well as what's included in the lead management process and the tools you'll need to tie it all together.
Ready? Let’s go!
What Is Lead Management + How Does It Work?
Your product most likely faces stiff competition and has complexities that leads might find challenging to navigate. Lead management is how you guide prospects from the moment they realize they have a problem to the point where they adopt your product as the solution.
To understand why it’s important, take a look at this finding by Sales Insights Lab: Half of your leads aren’t a good fit for your business. That means you have only half of the entire list of leads you generate to convert.
But it gets worse: Some findings suggest that only two percent of sales occur at the first meeting.
Even those leads that are good quality can take dozens of touchpoints before they convert, which is what lead management helps you do effectively.
Other benefits of lead management include:
- Identifying good leads and fast-tracking deal closure
- Preventing loss of good leads
- Filling your pipeline with more warm and hot leads
What Does the Lead Management Process Look Like?
You're probably familiar with the steps in the lead management process. However, knowing which steps to take first and how each step complements the other will go a long way toward improving the effectiveness of your lead management system.
Let’s look at each stage of the process:
1. Lead Capturing
Without leads, you’ll have nothing to manage. So, every lead management program begins with an effective lead generation strategy.
Aside from your marketing efforts, such as PPC, content marketing, cold emailing, and so on, which drive leads to your business, you must implement measures to ensure prospects don’t leave without dropping their contact information.
You can accomplish this by:
- Putting web forms in place for easy collection of lead contacts
- Offering them something in exchange for their contact info
- Having a live chat option in case leads decide to talk to your reps in real-time
2. Lead Tracking
Lead tracking is essential to determining which efforts generated leads and where they are in your sales funnel. Ideally, you want to know where leads came from and what they’re doing on your website so you can double down on what works and streamline their buying journey. This can be done in your CRM–for example, in Close you can use the lead pipeline view.
3. Lead Qualification
Without lead qualification, knowing which leads to focus on can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. It’s a surefire way to undermine the effort of your sales team, as they’ll treat both cold and warm leads equally. This means reps waste time on leads that aren’t in your target audience. Plus, a lot of warm leads will have left before your reps reach out to them.
Research shows that 50 percent of lost sales have been attributed to reps not properly qualifying leads before taking them through the sales process. To prevent that issue, you need lead qualification.
4. Lead Distribution
Lead distribution ensures each deal in your pipeline is overseen by the most appropriate salesperson. Sending the right leads to the right salesperson prevents misalignment in customer relationship building.
Suppose a lead has been identified as a C-suite executive from a Fortune 500 company with extensive industry experience.
Would you assign the lead to a sales rep that’s just ramping up or a rep with a reputation for closing large accounts? If you’re like most of us—and we’re damn sure you are—you’d want your best brains to handle your best leads.
5. Lead Nurturing
Most leads aren’t immediately ready to buy, and that’s okay. It falls on you to nurture them and nudge them toward making a purchase.
Make sure to follow up on leads, send them personalized emails, and provide them with content that revolves around their pain points, with the aim of helping them transition into buyers.
5 Tips for Effective Lead Management
If you’re about to rush off to begin immediate implementation after learning about the lead management process, hold on a sec…
You can see the lead management process is pretty straightforward. However, taking strategic steps to improve the process will also improve your conversion rates. 🙌
Follow our best lead management tips below to get the best results.
Track Lead Capture Efforts the Right Way
If you want a steady flow of leads in your pipeline, you need to understand where your leads are coming from and how well your lead capture activities perform.
To get the full picture, make sure to track the most important leads, including:
- Lead source: To know if your leads come from social media ads, Google ads, organic search, email marketing, etc.
- Clickthrough rate (CTR): To check if your ad and landing page copy is effective.
- Lead conversion rate: To find out if you’re attracting the right types of leads.
- MQL to SQL: To know how many of your marketing-qualified leads convert to sales-qualified leads.
- Cost per Acquisition (CPA): To see how much you spend acquiring new leads.
- Time to Close: To better understand how long your reps take to close deals.
Dig Deep into Lead Qualification Metrics
Not everyone who ends up in your sales pipeline is interested in or can afford your product. The best way to find out is to assess the lead qualification metrics, which can reveal whether a lead fits your ideal customer profile (ICP).
Every company defines lead qualification in its own way, usually by assigning points to lead activities on their site, such as page visits, material downloads, and so on. And the more points a lead accumulates, the more sales-ready she is.
However, to get the most accurate picture, we recommend you look into two places:
- Lead profile Information: Check the information provided by the lead, such as industry, company size, job role, business location, and so on, to see if it matches your ICP. You can also use prospecting tools to qualify sales leads.
- Behavioral Data: A lead's interaction with your company can also provide insights into their buying intent. Page visits, email open rates, discussions with sales reps, special material downloads, and other metrics are useful here. Add points to these actions based on their significance, and the more points a lead accumulates, the more likely she’ll convert.
Most of this data will be in your CRM, so make sure you’re checking out leads before following up.
Prioritize Leads so Sales Can Focus on Hot Leads Faster
A classic study by the Harvard Business Review found organizations that try to reach a prospect within the first hour of receiving a query are seven times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with a key decision-maker.
Admittedly, that’s an older bit of research, but as technology evolves, I’d say the window of opportunity has only gotten smaller. However, you probably don’t have the time or the resources to go after every single lead, which is where data-driven prioritization comes into play.
Lucky for you, you don’t have to do this manually, as Close Smart Views allows you to filter leads, categorize them, and prioritize the hottest leads so that your sales team can get on hot leads immediately.
Nurture Leads to Improve Conversions
Once a lead shows an interest in buying what you sell, the rest is a matter of building momentum by establishing trust and credibility.
Leads have likely seen the value in your offering at some point, but may drop out of the funnel if you don’t keep them on track. That is where lead nurturing comes in.
How well you nurture your leads has a significant impact on your conversion rate and, as a result, your bottom line.
Case in point: the other day, I wanted to purchase an Outranking.io subscription, but for some reason, I couldn’t proceed. A few minutes later, I got an automated email from the Outranking Team, offering the help I needed in the email below:
To provide some context, something was wrong with my debit card that day. But when I received this link, I was able to complete the transaction. Deal closed due to great nurturing.
Lead nurturing is all about purposefully engaging leads with relevant information, being there to offer help when they need it, and making their entire customer experience remarkable.
Some of the ways to do this are:
- Send targeted content: Make your content contextual to the lead’s unique pain points and the most pressing needs across multiple touchpoints.
- Use drip campaigns: Use high-intent activities to trigger email sequences from you.
- Use multi-channel engagement: Engage leads on any platform they’re using to reach out to you, i.e., social media platforms, live chat, email, and so on.
- Provide relevant learning materials: eBooks, infographics, whitepapers, and webinars can help prospects take the next step.
For best results, use customer relationship management software to optimize lead nurturing.
Use Data to Improve Your Efforts Over Time
When you have more conversions, it's easy to say your lead management strategies are effective. While that might be true, even a solid management process can benefit from tweaks over time.
Establish and closely monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you improve lead management over time. Below are some good examples of KPIs you should track.
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
- Total sales
- Conversion rate
- Time to close
- Churn rate
- Customer lifetime value (CLV)
- Average deal size
5 Top Lead Management Tools for Businesses
There are tons of lead management tools out there. But thank goodness you don’t need all of them—just one that fits perfectly into your pipeline workflow.
To help you make the right choice, we’ve included a list of the best lead management tools available on the market below.
But before we go into it, there are some key features to seek out in any tool of your choice, and they’re as follows:
Industry fit: While some lead management tools are applicable to almost all industries, others are restricted and cannot be used in industries such as fintech and health tech due to regulations. Hence, it’s important to determine whether a tool is appropriate for your industry.
Affordability: Money is an important factor in everything. Before you commit to any lead management software, make sure that its pricing structure fits within your budget and that there are no hidden fees.
Ease of use: Ease of use is a given if you want your team members to adopt your tool of choice and become efficient. Having a tool that is difficult to use is one of the surest ways to waste money on tech stacks.
Scalability: When selecting a tool, think about the future of your business. Can it accommodate your needs as your business grows?
That said, below are our top picks for the best lead management tools.
Close: A Full-Service CRM + Lead Management Tool
If you’re looking for a tool that’s built for a seamless lead management experience, Close is an excellent choice. It’s an all-in-one CRM software and lead management tool that helps sales teams manage leads effectively and close deals.
Three things set Close apart from any other CRM: First, you don’t always have to enter lead data manually because Close CRM tracks and syncs all your emails, calls, and notes. That way, following up on conversations becomes pretty easy.
Second, Close Lead Filtering and Smart Views allow you to filter top-priority leads and automate emails and calling workflows to close them. This underpins the idea of prioritizing your warmest leads to fast-track their conversion.
And oh, there is the Pipeline View, a Close feature that gives you an at-a-glance view of your pipeline so that you can see how deals are coming along and make accurate sales projections.
- Pipeline View
- Sales Reporting
- CRM integrations
- Power Dialer
- Call coaching
- Email campaigns automation
- Predictive dialer
- Intuitive design
- Great follow-up and sales tracking system
- Robust integrations
- Global calling built-in
- Great customer support
- Built-in email automation
- Can require a bit of setup to use effectively, but easier than enterprise-level tools, like Salesforce. (And the Customer Success team can help with this!)
- Pricing is somewhere in the mid-range. If you’re looking for a cheap tool, it may not be a good fit.
- Free trial: 14 days
- Monthly billing: $29 per month per user
- Annual billing: $25 per month per user
HubSpot: A Lead Management Tool for Enterprise Level
HubSpot's lead management and tracking software is one aspect of a giant CRM tool that covers marketing automation, sales automation, and customer service.
Regarding lead management, one area where HubSpot excels is the ability to record customer calls from within your browser and log them into the contact record. This allows you to easily access and review the customer's most recent interaction with you before meeting with or calling them again.
It also aids in ensuring consistency in your brand message to a contact, regardless of who spoke to her most recently. This enables any member of your team to have a thorough understanding of a lead's requirements and follow up accordingly.
- Automated lead scoring
- Automated lead distribution
- Integration with Gmail and Outlook
- Robust data and information storage
- Great lead tracking system
- A huge knowledge base for users
- Good user experience
- Customer service isn’t highly trained on the tool and you may need to figure out stuff yourself by reading the resources
- It has a steep learning curve and requires special training for your team members to fully understand
- It’s very pricey
- Free trial: 14 days
- Monthly plan: $50 per month per user
- Annual plan: $50 per month per user
Zoho CRM : A Multi-device Lead Management Tool
Zoho is another good lead management software option for critical lead management steps such as lead qualification, lead nurturing, tracking lead information, and measuring the ROI of your marketing campaigns.
In addition to assisting you in identifying and monitor potential leads on Twitter and Facebook, Zoho also allows you to set up scoring rules to prioritize leads. This could range from prioritizing leads from a specific region to scoring leads based on their industry or where they were captured.
The cherry on top, in my opinion, is its omni-channel communication, which means you don't have to limit lead communication to email and phone calls. You can interact with leads through social media platforms and even live chat.
- Smart web form
- Seeing the leads’ engagement in your CRM
- Lead information enrichment
- Has a mobile app
- Highly customizable
- Easy to use
- Reasonably priced
- Its excessive features and customization options can be overwhelming
- There is no room for data visualization or advanced reporting
- Many users have reported very slow customer support
- Free trial: 15 days
- Standard: $12 per user per month, billed annually
- Professional: $20 per user per month, billed annually
- Enterprise: $35 per user per month, billed annually
- Ultimate: $45 per user per month, billed annually
Pipedrive: The Beginner-friendly Lead Management Tool
Pipedrive is another CRM tool that helps sales teams capture and nurture leads more efficiently.
Starting with lead capture features, Pipedrive provides web forms for collecting contact information from website visitors. For onsite visitor engagement, it also has a chatbot and live chat.
It also has a feature called Messaging Inbox, which allows you to see all of your customers' Facebook Messenger chats in Pipedrive and assign Facebook conversations to sales representatives.
Furthermore, its pipeline management features code-colors contacts so you can see which deals are the warmest.
- Web forms
- Live chat
- Leads inbox
- Pipedrive is big on deal tracking and pipeline visualization
- Collaboration and inter-departmental communication is easy
- Has a mobile app
- Great user experience
- Customization is easy
- Not quite suitable for large organizations
- Limited integration with third-party tools
- Limited customization options
- Clunky dashboard with some features you may not necessarily need
Salesforce: The Enterprise Lead Management Software
Salesforce lead management software helps you automate lead scoring and routing and also focuses heavily on tracking your marketing activities across different channels.
The benefit is that you can see the impact of your marketing activities on your pipeline and make smart decisions on marketing and sales efforts.
- Lead scoring automation
- Lead routing automation
- Marketing campaigns tracking across different channels
- Exists both on a desktop and a mobile device
- Intuitive design
- Robust customization options
- Huge initial setup cost
- Costly to maintain for small businesses
- There is a learning curve
- Free trial: 14 days
- $25 to $300 per month per user, billed annually
Lead Management: The First Step in Building a Solid Sales Process
Lead management can mean the difference between having a high conversion rate and having a low conversion rate.
It ensures a smooth and quick conversion of leads into paying customers by allowing you to focus on the best lead sources, track their activities, identify the most qualified leads, build relationships with them, and accelerate their conversion.
While lead management isn’t rocket science, the lead management tool you select plays a significant role in improving your lead management process.
Looking for the right lead management tool? Sign up for a 14-day free trial of Close now. No credit card is required.