Potential customers are everywhere - they may stumble across your social media page, hear about your business through friend referrals, or regularly read your blog posts.
It’s your job as a business owner to set up a proper management system that captures these customer leads and nurtures them until they are finally ready to buy. The process of gaining and managing leads throughout their buyer’s journey is known as lead management.
In this guide, we will be explaining why lead management matters to the success of your business, and what steps you can take to set up lead management for your small business sales.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What Is Lead Management?
- Why Is Lead Management Important?
- How to Implement an Effective Lead Management Process
- Lead Management with CRM Software
- Lead Management FAQ
What Is Lead Management?
A lead is an individual, company, or corporation that could potentially become your customer. Lead management - also referred to as customer acquisition management - involves tracking, managing, and nurturing your leads.
Now, every business is different - there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to the lead management process. Companies are free to choose a set of techniques and marketing strategies that work best for them in attracting and persuading leads.
With that being said, generally, lead management encompasses the following processes:
- Generating consumer interest and leads through a chain of sales tactics.
- Prioritizing and filtering leads based on their likelihood of becoming a customer.
- Distributing leads to the sales team.
- Nurturing leads until they become sales-ready.
Lead management is only the first step of the sales process. You will still need to push leads further down the sales funnel by delivering a sales pitch, addressing objections, and following up after the sale to make sure they’re satisfied as customers.
If you want to learn how to effectively put the sales process into motion for your business, head over to our beginner’s guide on the sales cycle.
Why Is Lead Management Important?
Setting up a lead management process provides your business with useful and measurable data on your leads, and how they’re responding to your marketing tactics. You can clearly see at which point in time your lead numbers get stuck, slip away, or skyrocket, and analyze this information to identify improvement possibilities that will ultimately increase sales and productivity.
At the same time, consistently keeping in touch with your potential customers and nurturing them through the sales process puts your product at the top of their minds. So, when leads finally become sales-ready, your business is the first they call. This allows you to create stable relationships with your leads and customers, improve the buyer’s experience, and stay ahead of the competition.
If you want to learn more on how to increase your business’ sales and productivity, check out our complete guide on small business sales.
How to Implement an Effective Lead Management Process
Here’s how to set up an effective and sufficient lead management process:
1. Lead Generation
Lead generation is usually done through two main channels: inbound and outbound marketing.
Inbound marketing aims to generate quality content that attracts leads to your business through tactics such as:
- High-value content marketing, which can come in the form of an ebook, infographic, video, or any other kind of content that grabs your leads’ attention.
- A website where your leads can find everything they need to know about your business - your mission and values, the service that you offer, pricing, contact information, and more.
- An informative business blog can establish you as an expert in your industry, as well as become a destination where leads look for the best practices in that industry.
- Social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram are great for spreading the word about your business. Everyone uses it, so social media can easily build you an organic following and attract new leads.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your online content so that it shows up at the top of the Google results when people search for a certain keyword. So, by learning about what your leads search for the most and building your website around those specific keywords, you can help leads find you and learn about your business.
Outbound marketing, on the other hand, is a more traditional approach to generating leads. It involves digital distributions in the form of radio broadcasts, TV advertisements, email marketing, event sponsorships, and so on. With this approach, rather than letting leads find your business on their own, you’re directly initiating conversation and seeking out your prospective customers.
2. Identify Your Buyer Persona
Once leads start to come in, you have to figure out who your ideal lead or buyer persona is so that you focus most of your marketing efforts in one place.
Now, there’s no easy way to do this. You may be generating sales from multiple unrelated individuals with very little in common, while your “ideal lead” can be as objective as, say, the best painter or writer.
With that being said, it’s still good practice to try and create a profile based on the group that most often buys from your business. Measurements such as demographics and firmographics are a good starting point.
Demographics consist of attributes like gender, age, income, education, nationality, and marital status. Whereas firmographics are useful for categorizing businesses and include attributes such as geographic location, revenue, industry, size, and type of organization.
The more attributes of your buyer persona you can identify, the closer you will get to who the ideal lead is for your business.
3. Qualify Leads
Lead qualification evaluates which prospective buyers are most likely to make a purchase while dismissing the unfit ones. To properly qualify leads, you first have to gather as many insights as you can about them and/or their company.
A portion of these insights can be gathered and ranked automatically, through Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.
CRM software comes with a contact scoring tool that ranks your leads based on their interactions and engagement with your brand. So, points are awarded each time they take certain actions, such as a blog visit, price review, email response, social media comment, and much more. The more points a lead gets, the more that lead is prioritized and qualified.
You can also gather additional data by directly communicating with your leads and asking possible qualifying questions like:
- How did you hear about our business?
- Do you make the decisions within your corporation?
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- What is your budget?
- When are you expecting to see results?
Typically, qualified leads are educated about your business and what you offer, have a clearly defined budget to pay for your services, and are in control of purchasing decisions within their organization. At the same time, qualified leads will also fit into your pre-defined buyer persona and target industry.
Meanwhile, unqualified leads don’t know much about what your business offers, can’t afford what you’re selling, don’t need the solution that your business provides, and haven’t been nurtured enough to be considered a successful lead.
To learn more about the set of factors that can be used to qualify leads, head over to our guide on understanding sales qualification in 2021.
4. Distribute Leads to Your Sales Team
Lead distribution involves assigning leads to different sales representatives. The goal of this step is to match leads with the salesperson who is best fitted to close the deal.
The distribution can be done either manually or automatically, through CRM software.
The manual process relies on your sales team choosing leads based on their level of expertise and availability. If you obtain thousands of leads daily, this method can be long, impractical, and tiring to both you and your sales team.
Online CRM software allows you to input predetermined lead criteria into the system, and automatically distributes leads to the right sales representative. Say you’re a business that sells merchandise in California, Florida, and Washington. When a lead from California contacts you on social media for pricing details, the software will automatically assign lead management to an available sales rep in California.
Want to learn ways you can motivate your sales team and influence your team’s sales performance? Then go over to our guide on sales motivation.
5. Nurture Leads
Not all leads are sales-ready from the get-go. Many will take their time researching your business and getting to know your products. That’s why it’s important to nurture leads throughout this process, depending on what they seek.
One way nurturing can be done is by defining your sales funnel.
The sales funnel refers to the different stages a lead goes through, from the moment they hear about your company until they decide to make a purchase. By knowing where in this funnel your prospective customer is currently at, you can tailor programs and messages to their point of the journey.
So, for instance, if a lead is in the early stages of the sales funnel, and simply wants to learn more about what your company has to offer, you need to focus on sharing advice and information, rather than delivering your sales pitch. But if a lead is evaluating your product and looking at competitors, it may then be appropriate to switch up your approach and reach out to them through email marketing campaigns.
For a deeper understanding of the sales funnel, and how you can make sure your funnel moves the most qualified leads forward effectively, you can check out our full guide on the sales funnel stages.
Lead Management with CRM Software
Sales automation with CRM software is essential for the entire lead management process. It provides you with an organized method of classifying and scoring leads, automatically responds and maintains contact with potential customers, and distributes them to the appropriate sales representatives.
One of the best customer management platforms in today’s market is Deskera CRM. Deskera CRM is an intuitive software designed for startups and small business owners that can help you smoothly run your sales, in a matter of minutes.
With Deskera you can manage your lead data across various channels, get real-time insights with automated reports, generate new leads through email campaigning, and so much more- all in one integrated dashboard.
Take control of your lead management, and start automating with Deskera, for just $149 a year.
Give the software a try right away, by signing up for our free trial. No credit card details necessary.
Lead Management FAQ
#1. What Is a Junk Lead?
A junk lead is a lead that may have shown interest in buying your goods and services, but isn’t qualified, and will therefore not be pursued or prioritized.
This disqualification can occur for several reasons, such as these leads having no financial ability to buy, being in the wrong geographical location, lacking the authority to decide within their company, and more.
#2. What Is a Lead Capture Page?
A lead capture page, or landing page, is the web page that appears when you click on a link that is part of a marketing email, online advertisement, or marketing promotion. Usually, a lead capture link will take the visitor to a page that contains an inquiry form, phone number details, or any contact method for the business.
The goal of a lead capture page is to convert site visitors into leads and prospects, as well as analyze the URL’s activity to determine said advertisement’s success.
And that’s a wrap! We hope this guide helped you understand what lead management is, and what steps you should follow to set up a proper lead management system for your business.
Let’s do a quick recap of the main points we covered:
- Lead management involves tracking, prioritizing, and managing individuals and businesses that could potentially become your customers.
- The process provides you with useful and measurable data on your leads, increases sales and productivity, as well as puts you ahead of the competition.
- The five main steps you need to take to set up a sufficient lead management process include:
- Generating leads through inbound and outbound marketing
- Identifying your buyer persona
- Qualifying leads through CRM software and qualifying questions
- Distributing leads to the most suitable sales representatives
- Nurturing leads until they become sales-ready
- With CRM software like Deskera, you can streamline almost every part of your lead management process through one intuitive software.