If you want to drive people to your business, you need to guide them through the sales funnel. That’s where lead management comes in.
Lead management is a strategy that allows you to move people from the first point of contact to the moment of purchase as efficiently and effectively as possible. That means understanding who your leads are and making sure that every touchpoint is geared toward their interests.
The Importance of lead management in a business
Lead management helps you close faster and build better relationships. It lets you streamline sales, use your resources more effectively, and have better conversations.
Today’s sales customers demand personalization. According to 99Firms, 77% of B2B sales leads expect vendors to personalize communications.
With lead management, you learn who your leads are and make sure that every touchpoint is geared toward their interests. Your conversations instantly become more relevant and you can move each qualified lead along the pipeline faster.
Lead management also benefits your business by creating a paper trail for conversion. With lead management, you track and record every quality lead’s progress through the pipeline. You can see which tactics work and which don’t.
The result is a more purposeful, less reactive marketing and sales process that enables you to speak to each lead’s interests.
The steps of lead management
Lead management is a multi-phase process. Each phase sets up and informs the next.
1. Lead generation
Before you can manage leads, you have to get them on board with lead generation. There are two forms of lead generation — inbound and outbound — and it’s important to have both as part of your sales process.
Inbound lead generation happens when prospects find a company and initiate a conversation. Content marketing and paid ads are both inbound techniques, as are your website and social media accounts. Outbound lead generation is when someone from your marketing team initiates the conversation, often through a direct email or cold call.
Next comes the lead capture element when you confirm interest and collect contact information. Some people think of this as the moment when a prospect becomes a lead.
2. Lead scoring
The only way to have an effective lead management system is to determine who’s a qualified lead and who isn’t. To do this, you’ll need to evaluate leads based on their interest levels and engagement. The process is called lead scoring or lead qualification. Every sales lead gets a numerical score that tells you how serious they are about buying.
Lead scoring is a part of CallRail’s tracking process. If you use CallRail as part of your phone marketing management strategy, a score will be automatically assigned to each potential lead on the other end of the phone line. It tells you who has potential as a lead and helps you move them along the funnel.
3. Lead routing and initial one-on-one contact
The next phase in the lead management process is determining which member of your sales staff will take charge of each qualified lead. The sales manager has to be aware of lead scoring results because those with the highest scores will need to go to the most qualified reps.
The sales manager should also consider the source of the lead. If it came from a particular campaign, especially if that campaign promoted a particular solution or product, the lead should go to the sales rep with the most knowledge of that solution.
This step closes with the first direct contact between the assigned rep and the lead.
4. Lead nurturing
Most of a lead’s progress through the funnel happens during the nurturing phase. In fact, according to Marketo, businesses that excel at lead nurturing can generate up to 50% more qualified leads at one-third the cost. It’s all about reaching out with personally relevant content that’s geared to the interest and buying stage of each individual lead.
Lead nurturing may involve one-on-one follow-ups, drip email campaigns, or a combination. The point is to cultivate relationships with leads by building each touchpoint on the success of the previous one, offering more and more value until you can close the sale.
Lead management best practices
Your lead management system will be more effective when you’re tracking each lead’s source back to the marketing campaign that first sparked their interest. With this information, you can craft more relevant marketing communications because you’ll understand what sparked the lead’s interest.
Using a Hybrid of Automated and Manual Touchpoints
It doesn’t make sense in today’s business world to build a lead management system that’s entirely manual. It’s too difficult to scale, especially if you’re aiming for growth. Automated drip campaigns scale much more easily, but it’s much harder to close a sale if you don’t have at least one personal conversation.
The best solution is a hybrid model. You can use sales and marketing automation tools to send out informational emails geared toward a lead's interests, then follow up based on each person's response.
Tools for Effective Lead Management
Effective lead management requires you to use what you know about a potential customer. That means incorporating lead management software of various kinds, including:
- Lead generation software: programs that let you capture prospects’ contact information and turn those prospects into leads
- CRM software: tools that organize your lead information and tell you who’s interested in what, which sales reps have been working with which leads, and what they’ve been talking about. Salesforce is a well-known example of a multifunctional CRM.
- Tracking tools: solutions that let you trace a lead’s interest back to a certain marketing campaign. That way, you can reach out with information about the solution or promotion that interests a person most, nurturing more relevant conversations and closing sales faster.
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