Lead management is a critical element of the sales process that helps small businesses and enterprises alike optimize lead distribution and pursuit. From lead generation to closed sales, it allows for the tracking and managing of sales reps and partners working with potential customers. Also known as Customer Acquisition Management and Contact Management, it is referring to the efforts associated with successfully and efficiently closing sales.
Proper lead workflows and routing are vital for any business as it allows a company to optimize tactics working with a sales qualified leads. For example, it can help to determine what worked in converting a prospect into a sales-ready lead, and finally, to a customer. This way, it can ensure marketing campaigns and sales strategies work effectively and efficiently together in targeting the right people in the right markets at the right time.
The Lead Management Process
Effective lead management is a system that ensures leads are captured and followed up on according to the business-specific sales cycle by either inside or outside sales networks.
Adopting a defined sales funnel strategy for your lead management process offers a step-by-step system to convert leads effectively ensuring beneficial outcomes. The steps are the following:
1. Lead Capture
This is the initial step in the process of obtaining a lead for a potential sale. It is important to always capture, and track leads, so that growth opportunities are never missed.
For example, in 2019, an average home was sold for $500M, resulting in an average customer value to be $30M at a commission of 6%. A LeadAssign customer identified that 14% of its leads were completely missed and/or ignored. If an average brokerage sells 100 homes in a year, this means that potentially 14 homes were missed opportunities, resulting in $420M that did not account to the bottom-line.
Captured leads are your potential sales. New leads can be sourced via:
- Filling in a web form providing a name and phone number
- Signing up for a newsletter providing an email address
- Requiring a quote and booking a meeting
- Downloading a white paper
- Engaging in conversation with a chatbot
- Attending an in-person event or webinar
- Leaving items in an online cart
- Requesting or viewing more product details
There is an infinite amount of ways in which leads are created (which makes marketing management interesting, challenging and rewarding all at the same time). Quality lead capture is critical and needs to be managed well so that each sales opportunity is prioritized, sent out, and followed upon accordingly. Top of the funnel marketing automation tools can help with this stage.
2. Lead Enrichment
Lead enrichment is about obtaining more relevant information about a lead so that sales tactics can be better targeted. It is meant to enhance lead data and filling in areas that can benefit the sales team.
Giving potential buyers opportunities to provide their contact information gives sales agents more of a foundation when the time comes to ask questions and tailor a pitch. Such “inside” intelligence can be gained from:
- Company research
- Website monitoring
- Email campaigns
- Direct communication
- Other engagements
A lead can be considered marketing-qualified or sales-ready. Depending on the behaviours and characteristics of a potential buyer determines how they fit into the defined ideal customer profile, resulting in a specific lead score. For more information about this topic, check out our article on Lead Scoring.
3. Lead Qualification
At this stage, marketing and sales management create a forecast about how likely it is that particular leads will eventually convert and make a purchase. In doing so, leads are put into two different categories: 1) sales-ready leads and 2) unqualified leads. Some examples of defining characteristics include the following:
- Job title
- Company size
- Newsletter/email subscription
- Website views and behaviour
- Event or webinar attendance
- Request for more information
- Connected with the company
- Downloaded a white paper
- Interacted on social media platforms
Think of this stage as the time to make a GO/NO GO decision, where sales-ready leads are considered appropriate to connect with a sales rep in the short term. On the other hand, unqualified leads that are not yet considered sales-ready should not be completely dismissed. Instead, they should be considered appropriate for a “remarketing strategy” where brand engagement activities are carried out.
4. Lead Distribution
Further down the sales funnel, lead distribution happens when a properly sales qualified lead is matched with the best sales representative to work with the potential customer. This is the time when sales teams must focus their attention on high priority potential sales activities and appropriate follow-up tasks.
Companies rely on their sales teams to define customers’ needs, customize a solution, and close the deal in a timely manner. Each salesperson whether they are a company representative or a channel partner have a specific skillset and availability that better suit some types of clients more than others.
Manual lead distribution involves the use of spreadsheets. A team administrator would complete the following steps:
- Gather data from a variety of sources, i.e. webforms, email, etc.
- Input the data into a lead scoring spreadsheet.
- Enrich the data over time as more data is collected.
- Once a lead is sufficiently qualified, communicate to a sales manager that a lead is sales-ready and identify which salesperson should follow up.
- Provide lead information to the salesperson.
- Wait to hear confirmation of lead acceptance.
- If the lead is accepted, finalize the lead management spreadsheet. If the lead is not accepted by the salesperson, repeat steps 4 to 6.
- After a set period of time, check in with the salesperson who accepted the lead for feedback on how the sale went.
- Determine if there is anything in the sales process that can be improved upon. Check in again if request goes unanswered.
- Collect referral fees, if applicable.
- Use business intelligence after a number of salespeople have provided feedback.
To eliminate these pain points, an automated lead management solution can streamline this step. In doing so, a qualified lead can be connected with the most appropriate sales agent instantly.
5. Lead Nurturing
At this stage, sales reps can take the opportunity to provide customized solutions to the potential buyer’s need. Personalizing content and product offers can push potential customers in the direction of making a positive decision and closing the sale.
The leads can be nurtured by reaching out either through a salesperson or customer service representative. The potential customer should have all the relevant information they need to feel comfortable in making a decision. Most importantly, the decision makers should also be involved in the discovery conversations at this point.
Automated lead pursuit tools can help to support this step by initiating feedback data requests without significantly interfering with higher priority day-to-day activities.
Lead Management Best Practices
Businesses want to increase the volume and quality of their sales pipeline, and so focusing on the best leads in a timely manner is the most desired scenario. The best lead management strategies convert leads into sales, cultivate repeat customers or referrals, and streamlines the associated administrative tasks. Lead management best practices include:
Define a solid lead profile
- Define the persona of the most ideal potential customer, who is ready, willing and able to make a purchase.
- Address potential challenges they come across, incorporate what is of interest to them, and identify their most used methods of communication.
Provide targeted content
- The ability to influence a potential customer’s decision can come from providing value through thought leadership before any actual transaction is made.
- Presenting targeted expert knowledge can also be an opportunity to incorporate calls to actions.
- Examples of this include blogs, social media posts, and data-backed research.
Create a nurturing sales funnel
- Develop relationships with potential customers while keeping interactions with lesser qualified leads for the future.
- If potential customer is not a qualified lead, they should still be considered part of the lead nurturing process.
Match the best leads with the best sales agents
- A lead provides no value to a company if it doesn’t convert, and it won’t have a chance at converting of the lead is not responded to by the most appropriate and available salesperson. We can help with that.
Shorten response time to potential buyers
- Did you know that 78% of customers buy from the first sales responder.
- Furthermore, the chance of closing a lead decreases by 80% if not contacted within the first five minutes.
- Optimize your lead workflow by adopting an automated lead management platform.
Have a feedback loop
- Regardless if a lead successfully resulted in a closed sale or if the lead is lost for a particular reason, collect the feedback information.
- Look at the good and the bad and use that business intelligence so that lead management processes can be improved on where needed.
Keep the data clean
- CRM software can present data in a way that presents team performance and increases conversion rates. Data that is inaccurate or unavailable loses its value.
- Requiring salespeople to keep up to date CRM profiles and portfolios may be tiresome and painful. Use integrated tools to increase software tool adoption and usage.
Make sure marketing and sales teams work together
- Use an integrated CRM system of customer data with sales team and marketing campaign activity. The more data the teams have, the better they can enhance the customer experience and close sales.
Managing and Assigning Leads to Sales Reps and Channel Partners
There are various ways to approach how leads are managed and assigned to sales reps and channel partners. Spreadsheets and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software are two of the most common strategies.
Spreadsheets, such as Excel and Google Sheets, are readily available, but they take time to manage. They tend to need manual data input and other administrative tasks to manage, which is inconvenient, tiresome, and costly.
There is also the issue of slow response time. Data will always have to be updated, transferred, and linked between individuals, departments and partner networks. Due to the time it takes to collect and input, the data is instantly considered out of date providing less value then intended.
Spreadsheets also increase risk associated with client information safely stored. They can be easily transferred and misplaced, increasing the risk of customer data loss or leak.
Spreadsheets can be useful initially, but ultimately, the inefficient process can by quite costly to businesses in time.
In contrast, using CRM software can save time by consolidating data and shortening lead response time. CRM software can automate sales operations, keep data safely stored, and reduce administrative tasks,
Even though there are many benefits to CRM software, there can also be some downsides. Sales tools applications tend to have low adoption and usage rates by sales reps. For example, 80% of senior executives reported that their biggest challenge is getting their staff to use the systems they had installed.
Finally, CRM software can work well for inside sales, but may be less effective for outside sales. If sales and marketing software are not directly integrated, we revisit the issues around spreadsheets and manual data input.
Types of Lead Management Software
Lead management software is a tool used to prioritize and respond to qualified leads by the most appropriate and available salesperson. It supports sales pipeline activities of new client sales, such as collecting lead data, assigning leads to salespeople, prompting follow up actions and requesting feedback insights.
Data such as lead profile, sales response, value of closed sale, etc. can be collected, analyzed and used to support business decisions. Business intelligence can be extracted from lead management software, in which case it can be considered a tool for both sales and marketing operations of any company.
A customized lead management system goes above and beyond what a CRM can accomplish on its own. Based on the specific operations of a business, lead workflows are streamlined so that response time is optimal. Also, lead sorting and data collection tasks are kept at a minimum.
There are two types of lead management systems: 1) Rule-based and 2) AI-based. Both can act as stand-alone programs or can be integrated into a CRM system network. Through direct integration, lead management software enhances what CRM tools attempt to do.
Rule-based lead management system
Rule-based is used to assign sales leads based on a set of rules that have been clearly defined. This will include things such as availability, territory, customer deal size, workload, product, or niche expertise. The benefit of the rule-based lead management system is the simplicity and conciseness of the lead workflows once logic is applied. However, any sales and marketing manager is aware that change is constant. Lead workflow rules may be required to be updated based on future strategies and economic conditions.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) lead management system
An AI-based management system also distributes sales leads to the best sales rep, but with the added benefit of continuously improving over time. With the ability to extract insights, the lead management system can use historical data for behavioural prediction to better determine which sales representative is most likely to respond and close the sale successfully.
Partner Lead Management
Partner lead management differs from inside sales management as partners are not full-time employees, and thus are not under the control and direction of the selling company.
Instead, as an indirect salesforce, partners can be influenced by the supplying company. One way a company can achieve this is by conveniently providing partners with sales opportunities.
How LeadAssign improves partner lead management
Distributing leads can be streamlined by lead management software, such as LeadAssign. Our platform captures and directs leads to the sales reps and partners that are the most qualified to deal with them, instantly.
LeadAssign specializes in helping businesses with a distributed sales force communicate lead data to partners with the use of AI. It is purpose-built for lead management and ideal for partners and value-added resellers. The platform funnels a potential lead to the correct partner by looking at their expertise, competency, location, and other important features.
LeadAssign customers use its dashboard analytics to assess sales teams and partner performance as well as marketing campaign strategies. They make data-backed strategic business decisions to continuously improve their lead workflow operations.
Get Started with Lead Assign
Managing leads for sales reps and partners is critical for all company owners and department leaders. Help your brand stand out with effective response to potential clients with our leading AI-based lead management platform that can also enhance your CRM software.
Lead Assign is positioned as the go-to software for organizations looking to optimize their distributed sales model. Organizations from across the country have used our solution to improve their lead management and distribution no matter their sales model. Calculate how much more Revenue Opportunity you can generate from your marketing leads by implementing lead management.
Our real-time lead management solution offers simple integration with multiple CRMs so you can get the visibility and data you need without adding any more software. Eliminate the waiting period for your leads by texting or emailing their info to the right partner within minutes of their engagement. The platform’s AI-based lead scoring and routing automatically distributes leads to the most qualified channel partners for the deal. See your potential success with the Power of Automation.
If you want to hear more about how Lead Assign can help you improve your distributed sales model, we’d love to talk with you. Schedule a demo with one of our specialists to get started.
Are you a small business in need of a quick implementation? Get started here.