A Beginner’s Guide to Sales Lead Management & How to Win At It

sales-lead-management

If sales are your main focus, it’s important to optimize sales lead management.

Sales lead management is the process of turning sales leads into sales opportunities. As a business owner, you want to build up momentum in the pipeline to ensure that revenue grows.

Unfortunately, generating sales leads can be one of the most frustrating parts for marketing and sales teams because many leads fall through the cracks or aren’t even qualified for sales contact.

If you want your sales engine running smoothly, you have to optimize major processes including lead management.

In this blog post, you’ll learn about: 

  • Sales leads
  • Sales lead management
  • The stages in a sales lead management system
  • How to generate sales leads like a boss
  • How a CRM software can transform your sales lead management.

Read on!

What Is Sales Lead Management?

Sales lead management is a system that sales teams rely on to keep their sales engine running smoothly. It helps salespeople build up momentum in their pipeline to ensure that revenue growth is steady. In sales lead management, sales leads are organized and identified as to the stage they’re in. The sales team follows up accordingly with these sales leads until a sale is closed or it becomes obsolete.

When you think about sales lead generation, defining what a sales lead actually is can become overwhelming fast because there really isn’t one universal definition that fits every company.

For example, if your business sells software used by small businesses to manage finances for them, then anyone who downloads your free trial would be considered a potential customer or sales lead! This means that anytime someone comes across any piece of information from your brand, whether physically or digitally (i.e., website visitors, social media followers) — this person could be a sales lead.

As a salesperson, you can’t just have everyone who comes across your brand’s information to be considered potential sales leads because then it would cost thousands of dollars for you to even reach out to all these people individually.

This is one downside of having too broad a definition for sales leads, which means that there are countless sales opportunities waiting on the other end but they’re not in any way organized or prioritized.

The good news is that when companies want to grow and scale their business, more often than not, they can rely on certain tools like sales lead management software to manage their data effectively. This way, they don’t lose track of anyone [and] thus generate more revenue!

Read also: A Guide to Sales Prospecting — A Few Modern Techniques

What Are Sales Leads?

A sales lead is a potential customer. Sales leads are people who have shown interest in what you have to offer, but they might not be ready yet to purchase from you right away.

As sales managers, your job is to evaluate sales opportunities and keep track of all sales leads so that we know which ones are the highest priority to follow up with.

There are many different sales lead management systems out there that can help you classify sales leads based on their stage.

Sales managers spend their time constantly evaluating sales opportunities and trying to close them as quickly as possible. They need a way to organize the sales process into manageable chunks, and it’s important for them to be able to prioritize those chunks as well.

Related blog: How to Build a Perfect Sales Strategy

The 5 Stages of a Sales Lead Management System

We talked in an earlier section about why sales lead management as part of a system is so crucial for your business. But, how exactly do you create a sales lead management system?

We’ll discuss the stages involved in detail now.

Sales lead management: Stages
Source: Propeller CRM

Lead Capture

Before you can judge whether a lead is qualified or not, you have to first capture it. Lead capture is just another way of referring to lead generation.

There are many different ways you can capture a lead: marketing campaigns, social media advertising, lead magnets, etc. You can offer downloadable checklists and guides in exchange for a lead’s contact information. Such an incentive is known as a lead magnet.

During the lead capture stage, you don’t necessarily know if your leads are qualified or not. Regardless, you want to generate a healthy and consistent number of leads for your company over time.

The reason for this is that not every lead will convert. Your conversion rate also varies by industry. The lead capture rate in the health & wellness vertical differs from that of a SaaS company. 

To combat your sometimes-low conversion rates, having many leads as part of your lead gen process is crucial. 

Lead Tracking

Once you’re done gathering the contact information for your first group of leads, they move onto the second phase of the management system, and that’s lead tracking.

Through lead gen, you were able to gather cursory information on the lead, such as their first and last name, their phone number, email address, home address, and even perhaps their occupation.

Having this information is handy, but it’s not all that you need. You also want to gather behavioral data on your leads. This is where lead tracking comes in.

By tracking your leads, your sales and marketing teams can begin planning their approach. You want to qualify your lead based on behavioral data, which can help you figure how willing a customer may be to pay. 

You can track leads by sending them surveys, through email marketing, or even by analyzing website visits. Having this information can clue you in on what the lead’s needs may be, or at least what they’re interested in.

What happens from here, including the sales pitch, outreach, and messaging will all keep in mind the information determined during the lead tracking phase.

Lead Scoring

Sales lead management - lead scoring
Source: Leadsquared

When you score a lead, you’re assigning them a value that determines how likely they are to convert. Having a common lead scoring system that the entire sales team can use is of the utmost importance to ensure all leads are scored on the same criteria.

You can create your own lead scoring system based on contact information, opportunity size, lead behavior, etc. No matter the strategy you design, lead scoring helps salespeople prioritize which leads to follow up on. 

For example, let’s say your lead signed up for your newsletter, giving you their contact information. They may earn themselves one point. Next, the lead receives an email from you and takes the time to respond. This may net the lead two points. If the lead went out of their way to speak with you on the phone for 20 minutes, you might give them something like five points.

Like we said, it goes both ways. If a lead unsubscribes to your newsletter, you might subtract three points. If they schedule a meeting with you and then don’t show up, you could deduct 10 points.

You then tally up all the lead scores and see which leads have the highest scores. This is the group you want to target first.

Lead Distribution

Sales lead management
Source: Sandro Pereira, dribble.com

With your leads scored, you now move onto the fourth phase, which is lead distribution system.

You can assign leads to your salespeople as you see fit: random, based on geography, company size, etc. The sales team will begin contacting the lead through phone or email, which is called lead nurturing. We’ll discuss this in detail later. 

If you’re still unsure about your leads, you can execute a drip campaign. Most qualified leads, especially sales-qualified and marketing-qualified leads (SQLs and MQLs respectively) should react positively to a well-executed drip campaign.

The information and education the lead will receive via this campaign can push them in the direction of either buying from your company or ending the customer journey early.

Read also: Top 8 Product Manager Certifications: Let’s Do This

Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is the stage where you focus mostly on discussing the lead’s pain points, not pushing a product or service. Just because they displayed an interest in your product or service, doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy.

You want to build a relationship with the lead — understand their issues and expectations. You can then present a solution (through your products and services) that seems tailored to the lead.

Nurturing and engaging with leads does not only have to be done on the phone. In-person meetings are one such way to push the professional relationship along, as is email.

How to Generate Sales Leads Like a Boss

Now that you have a better understanding of the sales lead management process, let’s rewind it all the way back to the beginning of it.

You need sales leads to begin lead gen. How do you even find these leads? You can rely on plenty of methods, so we’ll discuss some important ones here.

Host Networking Events

You don’t only have to pull in leads from the Internet. Sometimes, your next great customer is standing right in front of you at that expo or convention.

If you can, try to target events that are related to your industry or niche. The people who attend these events do so because they have an interest in your field. 

If you’re attending a networking event as a guest, then make sure you print out lots of business cards to pass around. You don’t immediately have to start selling, for now, it’s all about striking up a conversation. 

Host Webinars

Another option you have to attract leads is to host a webinar.

By targeting the related industries or interests of your leads, you can gain their attention. The leads who want to check out your webinar will have to sign up to do so, giving you their contact information.

You can also host joint webinars with other related businesses and drum up interest that way. Joint webinars offer you a wider audience base. 

You can send a lot of emails pertaining to the webinar that can also act as lead nurturing. Outside of the reminders that the webinar is coming up in X days, you might email your attendees and ask what they’d like to hear about in the webinar.

Send feedback requests after every webinar, because if you don’t understand the impact of your effort, it can go to waste.

Use SEO for Lead Generation

If your company’s website isn’t already at the top of the heap when a user searches for certain keywords, then that’s something you’re going to want to strive to change immediately.

Search engine optimization or SEO determines which websites get to the top, which matters a lot for lead gen.

The best practices surrounding SEO continue to change as Google algorithms update. If you can learn about which factors most determine your rank as a company, that’s best, as you can make the necessary changes to give your site a boost.

The following SEO tactics are also always a good idea to institute if you’re not already doing so:

  • Have an active social media presence, posting valuable content regularly
  • Prioritize the loading speed of your website
  • Optimize your site for SEO, but don’t forget that the user experience matters most
  • Write educational yet entertaining blogs and post them regularly
  • Make sure your site is mobile-optimized

Advertise Online

Another way to connect with leads who can become potential customers is to use online advertising.

Pay-per-click campaigns through Google AdWords is an especially recommended avenue to consider. You design your ad and determine where it goes. Then, through PPC, you can track clicks.

Online advertising doesn’t just work completely on its own.

You’re redirecting customers to your website, so your site has to be ready to capture the information of these leads so you can move onto the second phase of the sales lead management process.

Don’t forget that outside of website advertising, such social media platforms as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all have their own paid advertising programs.

Add Live Chat to Your Website

chatbot
Source: Chatbot.com

Does your website have a live chatbot? If not, then you might want to add one via a chatbot builder sooner rather than later.

This chat widget will greet your leads as soon as they arrive at your website. If the lead has a question about your company, what you do, and what you sell, they can ask the chatbot and get an informative answer.

Besides just answering questions, the chatbot could serve as a means of communication, sharing relevant phone numbers and even scheduling meetings.

By keeping a log of all the chat records the chatbot has on the daily, you can see which topics and pain points your leads query about the most.

Read also: What is a Chatbot and How to Use It For Sales & Marketing

Try Social Listening 

If you know the key search words that your leads associate with your company, you can use social listening tools as a means of generating leads. Lead management software offers various social listening tools that you can use. 

You can monitor the conversations around your brand, interact with your customers, resolve queries, and drive engagement. It’s also a great way of building a brand image.

Make the Most of Email Marketing

One lead gen option your company certainly wants to use is email marketing, with email sequences especially coming in handy at this early phase of the lead management system.

Lead management software helps you create email sequences to reach your customers at the right time. 

First, you want to send an email that shows your company connects to the lead’s pain points. Next, you slowly introduce the value of your products and services but without being pushy or salesy.

Maybe four or five emails in, you finally recommend some products and services that can help the lead overcome their pain point so their life is better, happier, or less complicated.

You’d follow up if necessary and the sequence would end.

By this point, the lead will have hopefully bought your product or service. If so, then you can start a whole new email sequence now that they’re a verified customer.

Start a Referral System

Word of mouth marketing still remains the most persuasive form of advertising. This process doesn’t involve the leads directly, but rather, your customers.

Reach out to some of your most long-term, loyal customers and request that they turn to their social circle and suggest prospective customers to you.

In return for their help, you could offer the customer something, such as an exclusive discount code or even a freebie.

Why a CRM is the Best Lead Management System 

Lead management is not a one-person show. It involves a lot of different people who have their own processes and workflows. If you don’t effectively streamline the sales process, it can turn messy and complicated.

A CRM software empowers you with the tools you need to create great profiles for all your contacts. You can edit, update, and track all pertinent information from one common dashboard, for thousands of contacts.

You can even use the CRM software to score your leads. Since you’re trying to create a consistent lead scoring system as part of your sales lead management system, using a CRM solution for this purpose is a no-brainer.

If you have multiple sales pipelines, you can use a CRM software to organize and automate all those workflows. 

EngageBay’s CRM is a great choice: thousands of business owners around the world love the affordability and simplicity it offers. You get such key lead management features as:

  • Call integrations
  • Lead scoring
  • Email syncing
  • Sales team leaderboards
  • Sales reporting and analytics
  • Customer interaction records
  • Automated data entry logging, follow-ups, meeting scheduling, and more
  • Advanced view of the deal pipeline
  • Contact management

The best part? You get all of this even in the free plan!

Conclusion

Are you looking for a better way to manage your sales leads?

If you’re not using a CRM software, you’re probably wasting time and money on ineffective lead management. You can be sure that if you don’t have the right tools in place, your sales team is going to struggle with managing their pipeline.

In this blog post, we covered all aspects of sales lead management and the importance of implementing a system that works for your business.

A good sales lead management system should help improve communication between all members of the team, so everyone knows where they stand when it comes to meeting goals and quotas.

It should also provide accurate information about each prospect from initial contact through closing deals, so nothing falls through the cracks or gets lost along the way.

Want great sales lead management tools? See how EngageBay can help your business.

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