The Lead Management Process 

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.  

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. 

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.   

For example, in 2019, an average home was sold for $500K, resulting in an average customer value to be $30K at a commission of 6%. It is common for 14% of a brokerage’s leads to be 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 $420K that did not account to the bottom-line. This is a concern and should be addressed.  

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. 

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 number 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 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: 

Demographic Information 

  • Location 
  • Job title 
  • Department 
  • Industry 
  • Company size  

Behavioral Information 

  • Newsletter and 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: 

  1. Gather data from a variety of sources, i.e., webforms, email, etc.  
  2. Input the data into a lead scoring spreadsheet.  
  3. Enrich the data over time as more data is collected.  
  4. Once a lead is sufficiently qualified, communicate to a sales manager that a lead is sales-ready and identify which salesperson should follow up.  
  5. Provide lead information to the salesperson.  
  6. Wait to hear confirmation of lead acceptance.  
  7. If the lead is accepted, finalize the lead management spreadsheet. If the lead is not accepted by the salesperson, repeat steps 4 to 6.  
  8. After a set period, check in with the salesperson who accepted the lead for feedback on how the sale went. 
  9. Determine if there is anything in the sales process that can be improved upon. Check in again if request goes unanswered.  
  10. Collect referral fees, if applicable.  
  11. Use business intelligence after several 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 relate to 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 deciding. 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.

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