What is Lead Management? Steps to a Successful Sales Process

By Henri Gisclard-Biondi
Updated: December 24, 2021, first publication: February 2021
how-to backgroundWhat is Lead Management? Steps to a Successful Sales Process

Lead management might seem like a vague concept to some businesses. But it is paramount for businesses to understand each of the phases of the sales pipeline.

These require concrete actions. Nowadays, marketing automation and sales intelligence have made it easier for sales and marketing teams to reach out to leads and nurture leads. But this also means your business should be ready to compete with adapted tools.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to successfully manage your leads and drive up your sales and revenue generated by leads!

Definition of lead management

Lead management refers to the actions your team takes to acquire and transform leads. Its objective is to guide customers through each phase of the sales funnel. In other words, successful lead management should streamline the process of acquiring leads and make sure they eventually turn into prospects, then customers.

Without proper guidance and nurturing, leads won’t consider your offer, and leads won’t make a purchase. Making a sale requires constant attention to the needs of your prospective customers.

Lead management requires a hands-on approach and quality data to ensure leads receive the right information, at the right time. Inching your way toward a sale takes delivering helpful information and deep knowledge of your leads. Who are they, what do they need?

The difference between Lead Vs. Prospect

A lead is therefore a contact about whom we have basic information but who has shown an interest in the company - for example, at a trade fair or by responding to an e-mailing. We cannot yet consider him a prospect, that is to say, a potential customer. We can consider that a lead becomes a prospect when it is considered qualified enough to be passed on to a salesperson.

The fundamental difference between a lead and a prospect is that the former shows interest while the latter asserts an intention. Some companies also talk about cold leads, to talk about people who have expressed an interest but without a real project behind it, and about hot leads, to talk about people who have a concrete act of purchase to make.

Why is lead management important?

Lead management is a must for businesses of any size. Here are three main reasons why lead management is important, especially in sales.

Lead management helps you stay on top of leads

It's kind of a no-brainer, but without lead management, it's almost impossible to track and manage your leads. Without some form of lead management, even a centralized Excel spreadsheet, how do you know who to follow up with, or who called for more information, or if you have any leads?

And a lead management system can take it to the next level because it can automatically track leads (depending on the marketing channel) and automate some of the trackings for sales.

Lead management provides valuable data

You know your customers very well, but wouldn't it be nice to know hard data about how new customers find out about your business, what kind of information they are looking to help them convert, and for how long? Does on average lead to convert into a customer?

Lead management can give you all of this data (and, in some cases, more!). With a lead management system in place, you are able to track how leads find you, common lead questions (or concerns), and the number of points of contact, follow-ups, and e-mails. required mails before they become a customer.

🛠 ZoomInfo is one of these sales intelligence software. It provides the precise data that will help you reach your ideal customer. You do not need to worry about sifting through irrelevant or unnecessary data points.

Here is the free mini-book created by ZoomInfo and Appvizer to help you succeed in the B2B lead management or sales pipeline process. 

How to succeed in sales prospecting in the age of buyer empowerment

Download the PDF here!

Lead management allows you to control the growth of your business

The goal of almost all marketing strategies boils down to growing your sales. But without lead management in place, it's nearly impossible to keep your business growing. You could lose leads, spend your marketing budget on the wrong strategies, or miss an opportunity to get even more leads by not spending enough budget on the marketing strategies that work best.

Lead management benefits your business because it gives you greater management of your growth and provides you with data that help you manage and improve both your sales plan and your business.

Steps of the lead management process

Steps of the lead management process©Appvizer

This infographic gives a visual overview of lead management. As pictured, most customers don’t make a purchase directly!

This holds true for B2B sales and marketing processes especially. In this market, the sales life cycle is even longer, making it essential to consider each period of the marketing and sales process carefully.

Lead capturing and lead generation

Capturing leads is an important, even vital, point in the development of any business. Above all, a lead in BtoB marketing designates a potential customer. However, getting leads isn't always easy. But, fortunately, there are software and tools that can make it happen such as email, website, social media, webinars, and paid ads. Using this software and tools will help you reach out more leads and prospects.

This first phase seems daunting, but there are many methods to build a solid pool of leads for your sales and marketing rep.

You can pick from outbound or inbound marketing techniques. These strategies can work hand in hand as well.

Outbound lead management

Outbound marketing regroups more traditional tactics. These marketing campaigns involve reaching out to leads first. Targeting leads who might be unaware of your value proposition before has its own pros and cons.

  • This initiative can be a great idea to increase brand awareness and analyze the needs of your prospective customers.
  • Outbound campaigns could be plagued by a low Return on Investment (ROI): leads contacted this way might not need your product or your business’ service.

Outbound lead management methods include cold calling, cold emailing, advertisement, and even webinars.

Inbound lead management

Inbound marketing aims at enticing leads to come to your business. You will need to pour time and effort into this approach for it to be effective. However, it gives you the opportunity to nurture leads earlier in the sales funnel.

This makes it easier for your sales and marketing reps to clinch a deal. Inbound leads are often captured with content marketing. Producing quality topics and following SEO guidelines will give more visibility to your website.

👉 Lead management process is a broad concept you can explore to gain an edge over your competitors. Attracting leads is the key to the sales and marketing successful process: without leads, no lead management. Lead management tactics are varied and depend on the customer persona.

See also: The Best B2B Sales Lead Management Strategies

Use a CRM

Regardless of the method you choose to attract leads, you will need to collect and organize their info. CRM software can help you sort and keep track of your leads. CRM software is an essential tool for sales and marketing teams worldwide.

🛠 You can use software like HubSpot CRM to store information about your leads and customers, as well as all your exchanges. CRM software is essential to any effective sales and marketing strategy.

Lead qualification

Once your successful lead management campaigns have helped you capture more prospective customers, it is time for your sales and marketing team to spring into action. Their job will be to qualify leads, then turn them into customers.

Converting unqualified leads into viable leads means understanding their needs, and how your company could provide them with the best solution. This requires a deep knowledge of each lead. You could exploit data such as:

  • the landing page through which your lead filled out a contact form, which indicates their favorite source of interest
  • relevant data such as the place they live, their age or gender
  • the actions they took on your website: which web forms they filled out, which CTA they responded to…
  • what content they’ve visited or downloaded: white papers, case studies…

This data is precious for your sales and marketing representatives: they can use it to attribute a score to each lead.

The lead scoring process consists of qualifying and analyzing each lead. This scoring system helps the sales and marketing team determine which leads they should focus on, and at which period of the sales funnel they currently are.

Although lead scoring is a powerful tool, it has to rely on extensive and up-to-date data to be accurate. Collecting such data could prove difficult. Visitors might only give you their email address, or not fill out the contact form at all.

B2B leads databases can enrich your CRM software with reliable information about your leads. They automatically crawl the web to match your data with relevant information, such as their position according to their LinkedIn profile, or even their phone number.

Lead distribution

By using dispatch categories, you can automatically assign leads, contacts, or sales opportunities to team members that are part of the group.

Some rules apply to the use of dispatch groups:

  • All users can see the distribution categories.
  • If a user has reassignment permissions, they can manage leads, contacts, and sales opportunities to distribution categories.
  • Only administrators can create and manage distribution groups.
  • You can assign an allocation group to any location in sales where you assign an owner to a lead, contact, or sales opportunity.
  • You can set up a dispatch category for leads, contacts, or sales opportunities. You cannot mix these different record types in a single distribution group.

Lead nurturing

Once you have managed to turn your leads into customers familiar with what your business has to offer, you should strive to keep their interest alive.

Leads should be reminded of your brand regularly. B2B customers are more likely to take more time to complete a purchase, as decision-makers need time to choose carefully.

In the meantime, you should never stay idle. Leads need attention and relevant topic before they transform into customers. You should ensure the communication they receive is personalized according to their needs. Base your marketing on their own customer journey to stroke their interest.

Nurturing your leads raises your chances of concluding a sale. But it does not necessarily take up a lot of your sales and marketing team’s time if they’re using the right tools and software. Marketing automation is a great idea to push personalized recommendations and relevant themes to your leads. This software leverage data analysis and tracking to automate tasks like sending push notifications, emails, or schedule, and manage calls with leads.

Imagine they regularly visit web pages related to a specific topic, or that you’ve obtained their email address from a specific landing page. You could create and send them personalized newsletters related to this topic or other closely related subjects.

🛠 Simple software like Mailchimp can automate large-scale marketing and email campaigns. They integrate with most CRM software, so you can organize information about your leads under a unified platform.

Conclusion

Attracting leads and converting leads into customers is a complex operation. It requires a careful approach to guide leads through each phase of the conversion process.

Lead management should be ingrained in your sales and marketing team philosophy. Adopting a personalized selling tactic is the only reliable plan to drive up the revenue generated by leads.

Make sure to reach out to your leads by using the most relevant channels. Nowadays, inbound marketing techniques are a good plan to generate qualified leads for your business. Content marketing could add value to your sales and marketing plan.

Sales intelligence software and marketing automation will help your sales and marketing team focus on the right leads and find the best argument to turn them into customers with an attentive nurturing process.

Lead management is an essential part of marketing and sales operations. With the right software and mindset, your sales and marketing team could boast mouth-watering conversion rates!

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