Lead management isn’t a totally new idea, especially in the demand gen world. But, as your business grows and scales, you’ll need to make sure everyone understands what it is so they can follow the process you’ve built. Empowering your team with visibility into your lead management process not only creates a smoother experience for your team and for your customers, but it also positions your team to give you extra support in refining the evolving workflow. Extra eyes will help you see your blindspots.
What is lead management?
Lead management is efficiently acquiring, nurturing and converting leads into customers. It’s the common thread running through every marketing program and tactic. After all, the shared goal is to make a sale.
As a marketer, you likely depend on a variety of channels to generate leads, from online ads to trade shows and everything in between. Chances are, the leads you collect will enter in different phases of the funnel depending on their “fit” and “readiness” to purchase. That’s ok. It’s normal. The important thing is that you’re set up to nurture the leads down the funnel, regardless of where they start.
There’s more than one way to nurture a lead down the funnel. In fact, most companies implement a process that’s tailored to their business and their personas. Customizing your lead management to meet your unique context and your customers needs will help you close more deals.
Why is lead management important?
There are several reasons. Let’s dive into them.
- Increases sales efficiency: Lead management primes leads and increases the efficiency of the sales process. With lead management, you’re making sure your prospective buyer is getting the information they need to make a purchase: they need to trust you and have confidence in your solution. When that foundation is built, your sales team is better able to pitch them and make a sale.
- Optimizes each stage of the funnel: With a formal lead management process in place, you’re able to see where leads are getting stuck in your funnel—and you can fix it. You can also see where customers are converting quickly, and infuse more of that goodness into your process.
- Builds relationships: Lead management is also important because it helps businesses build better relationships with their future customers. When you have a pulse on your customers needs and wants, you can target them with copy and content that speaks directly to them, solves their challenges and earns their trust. Providing this value through each stage of the funnel (and beyond) is key.
- Keeps your team aligned: When any team within your organization is out of the loop, a lead can fall through the cracks—at any point in the conversion process. A formal lead management process ensures that all teams are on the same page about how a lead moves through the funnel and the strategies that are being deployed to maximize lead conversion.
- Produces better lead quality: Lead management can also help you get better lead quality. When you know where your best leads are coming from or what assets are fueling velocity through the funnel, you know where to invest more. (The opposite is also true.)
7 steps to effective lead management
Lead management is essential for any business looking to maximize lead conversion and ROI. Again, lead management comes in all different shapes and sizes—so make yours your own. However, if you’re just getting started (or looking to refresh yours), here are the 7 steps you should include.
1. Bring in the leads
You can generate leads through a variety of channels: online ads, events, SEO, webinars, content syndication and more. The important thing to remember here is that you’re targeting the accounts that fit your ideal customer profile—beyond the superficial markers of industry, company size and geography. Leading demand gen teams are relying on exegraphic data—insights into how companies execute their mission—to bring in the highest quality leads possible.
With exegraphics, you’ll also gain a better understanding of your ideal customer and their current pain points. This will give you the insight into the subjects you touch on when you’re building content or designing assets.
Your lead generation process should also include a way to track leads and measure the success of your campaigns—and areas that need to be adjusted.
2. Score and prioritize leads
Companies score their leads so they can quickly identify and prioritize the most qualified leads for conversion.
To score your lead (and to get visibility into how likely they are to convert), you’ll assign each lead a numerical value based on qualifying markers (ie. geography) and their activity (ie. interaction with your website). The value of each marker or activity should be weighed according to how much it really signals the lead’s likelihood to convert. Then, add them all up and assign the score to your lead.
However, here’s the thing: lead scoring isn’t a one-time process. You have to regularly review lead data and adjust scores as you learn more about what activities or profile data makes the lead more “ready.”
3. Assign leads to sales reps
After scoring and prioritizing your leads, the next step in lead management is assigning the leads to the appropriate sales reps. This is an important step. If you don’t have a smooth process in place for lead hand-off, your leads will fall through the cracks.
Many teams rely on lead routing software to ensure that leads are assigned to the right sales reps according to specific criteria: lead location, lead industry and lead score.
4. Convert qualified leads
Once you have assigned leads to the appropriate sales reps, the next step is to convert them. This is the process of turning leads into customers. To do that, it’s important that your sales team respond to leads as quickly as possible and with helpful information about how you can help them solve their problem.
At the end of the day, the key to successful lead conversion is to provide a great customer experience. This means providing the customer with all the information they need to make an informed decision about your product or service.
5. Nurture leads that are not quite sale ready
Not all leads are ready to make a purchase right away. Some leads may need additional nurturing before they are prepared to make a purchase. You’ll need to nurture those ones.
You can nurture leads by providing them with additional information and resources to make an informed decision. It includes providing them additional content, such as blog posts or videos, that covers industry topics and information about your product offering.
Nurturing leads is a great way to build relationships with potential customers and increase your chances of converting them into paying customers. This step is also an ongoing process.
6. Evaluate your lead management process
Regularly evaluating your lead management processes allows you to identify opportunities to level up.
Start with your data. What does it tell you? Evaluate the number of leads you’re generating, the number of leads converting, the average time it takes to convert a lead—and what channels and tactics are driving the highest conversion.
You should also evaluate the effectiveness of your lead scoring system. If you find that you’re passing along “qualified” leads that really aren’t ready for a chat with sales, you’re preventing sales from talking to leads that are ready. Or, if you’re not passing along leads that are ready, you’re leaving room for your competitors to swoop in.
7. Make necessary changes to make the process more efficient and effective
You should be making changes to your lead management process as you identify areas that need to be fixed. However, be mindful that it often takes a bit of time to really identify the changes that need to be made. If you just implemented something new, you may need to wait a bit and collect some data before you iterate again. (Of course, this depends on what the issue is. Some changes you might need to make yesterday.)
The bottom line
As a demand gen leader, lead management starts at the very top of your funnel. Above the funnel, even. You have to first understand your ICP and ensure that all your lead gen efforts are targeting the companies that fit your profile.
That first step can’t be overlooked. It will change your entire trajectory.
With Rev, you can bring MQLs into your funnel that have the same characteristics as your best customers. We make this possible through our AI-powered Sales Development Platform, giving you confidence that the leads you bring in will be primed and ready to engage. Contact us to learn more.