How to improve lead management

Illustrated treasure map

Lead generation is a business’s bread and butter. Companies are constantly looking for new ways to generate and reach leads as they adapt to changing norms and a rapidly shifting marketing landscape.

But even if you know lead generation is important, it can be difficult to know where to start or what to do with the leads you have. How can you tell a quality lead from a dead end? How do you effectively move a new lead down the sales funnel?

For a savvy B2B marketer, a strong lead routing system is the key to success. Here, we’ve outlined some of the tools you’ll need to improve lead management across your organization.

How does a lead management system work?

Put simply, the lead management process involves guiding a qualified lead into becoming a paying customer. The process usually follows some version of these steps:

  1. Lead generation
  2. Lead qualification
  3. Lead tracking
  4. Transferring the lead to sales
  5. Sales follow-up

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that no two sales pipelines will look exactly the same. Your business may even have to adjust its sales and lead generation process over time as customer expectations shift.

Why is effective lead management important?

These days, the sales process doesn’t work the way it used to. Customers are increasingly looking for experiences that meet them where they are and anticipate their needs. With inbound marketing and proactive lead management, you can keep up with the demand for more relevant sales experiences.

Effective lead management means taking a focused approach to generating leads. Rather than wooing every single potential customer, your team can find the most qualified leads and move them efficiently through the sales pipeline. More time and energy is spent on generating and maintaining high-quality leads, so more of them are likely to convert. This way, the value of each potential customer is maximized.

Tips for improving your lead management strategy

Whatever industry you’re in, you can always benefit from tightening up your lead management system. Constantly monitoring your marketing efforts to determine what works and responding to relevant trends will put you a step ahead of the competition.

But what else can you do to make sure you’re not just surviving, but thriving right in today’s market? How can you keep your pipeline full of interested people?

1. Create buyer personas for your ideal customer

If you want to improve lead management, the old saying still holds true: know your customer. To avoid wasting time pursuing the wrong leads, you have to know who would be best served by your business.

Customer personas help map out exactly who you should be reaching. These personas are bios of the people who represent your ideal buyer. You can shape these profiles by asking questions like:

  • Where do the people who are most likely to benefit from your business live?
  • What’s their annual salary?
  • What are their goals?
  • What problems do they need solved?

Once you have a picture of your ideal customer, you can design a marketing campaign for them. These details also tell you what kind of content to produce. For example, with a product like clothing or furniture that lends itself to visual media, you can use photos and videos to get your ideal customer’s attention. Once you have their interest, you can move to convert.

2. Use the data to your advantage

Today’s CRM systems and lead management software are capable of providing businesses with detailed data, including page visits, purchases, demographic data, and more. That makes it easy to personalize your marketing efforts.

Stay in touch with your existing customers or those still considering a buy, via email marketing. Personalize the email with their name, offer deals they might like, or simply thank them for their purchase. It’ll let people know you appreciate their business, which makes them more likely to return.

It’s also a good idea to regularly cross-reference your customer data against the personas you made. Track any patterns or changes in the people doing business with you to see if your vision of the ideal customer holds up. If not, who actually is buying your product or service?

Customizing other segments of your lead generation process besides email can also help. Consider:

  • Using custom web forms. Instead of using a catch-all form for every person on your site, try modifying the form to fit the purpose of their visit. If they’re enrolling in a free trial, for example, you’ll need different information than if they’re signing up for a paid plan.
  • Using chatbots. If you have a small staff, chatbots can save you time when collecting personal data. Even if you have plenty of employees, bots can still free up time to spend on other aspects of the business or helping with more complicated customer issues.
  • Using A/B testing. Run different versions of pages on your site to see what converts. Different CTAs, different button styles, and different forms can all have an impact. A/B testing lets you narrow down what works quickly.

3. Score your leads

Lead scoring is basically ranking leads by how ready they are to buy, based on a set of predetermined criteria (like page visits, email signups, etc.).

If you’ve got the right software, you can score leads automatically. The system will analyze the data, rank prospective customers, then send high-scoring leads to your sales staff. Automating this process takes a lot of the hassle out of deciding who to contact, and the people you do contact will be more likely to convert.

Automated lead scoring also means responding to prospects faster. According to a survey by Harvard Business Review, just 37% of companies surveyed followed up with leads within an hour, and only 16% followed up between one and 24 hours. The sooner you follow up with a lead, the more likely you’ll be to catch them when they’re ready to buy.

You can also use lead scoring to identify people with a high propensity to buy in the future, and plan to get in touch with them later when the time is right.

4. Target your content to your leads

Nurturing leads once they’re established is just as important as generating them in the first place. Lead nurturing involves giving special attention to leads that are qualified, but not ready to buy yet. More of a relationship needs to be developed before they convert.

Continuing to engage and interact with leads via targeted content lets you further establish yourself as an authority while guiding people toward their first conversion. It’s also a good opportunity to separate out the leads who are truly ready to buy before sending them on to sales.

You can boost the success of your targeted content efforts by mapping out what content to send to people according to what phase of the buyer’s journey they’re in. That way, interested leads see the right thing at the right time to move them further toward a purchase.

According to Demand Metric, content marketing brings in three times the prospects of outbound marketing but costs less to implement. A study by Strategic revealed lead nurturing emails get up to 10 times the response rate compared to cold emails. Targeted content works, and lead nurturing is worth the time and effort.

5. Keep your database tidy

You get a wealth of data from your leads and customers. To get the most out of it, you need to make sure you’re keeping that data secure and practicing good “digital hygiene.”

You should be using the tightest security measures available to you to protect sensitive data. Hackers target large databases to try and mine them for people’s information — you want to make sure your customers can trust you to keep theirs safe.

Manually pruning your data is a lot of work, so invest in automated solutions to make the process as easy as possible. Not only does that let you clean up your database now, it also makes it easier to keep that data organized on an ongoing basis.

Every so often, scrub duplicate records from your database to keep it organized. Certain marketing automation software can be used to delete duplicates as you get them. You can also try automatic verification in the forms you use on your site. Sometimes, people will submit false information to a business in order to remain anonymous. Automatic verification makes it less likely that your database will be clogged with phony names and emails.

Data analytics has often been called a “garbage in, garbage out” system. As long as you make sure you’re getting quality input, you’ll get data you can use. If not, you’ll have a lot of garbage to wade through.

Manage leads like a professional

With features like form tracking, call tracking, and conversion intelligence, CallRail can help you laser-target your leads. Our platform is results-driven and made to scale with you — whether your business is big or small, we can help you get to your sales goals.

Improve your lead management. Start a free trial of Lead Center.