If you are a parent, or friends with one, you’d know that apart from the joy of parenthood, raising a child isn’t exactly easy. With two kids, it’s still manageable. But, imagine if you had dozens of babies like this, constantly requiring your undivided attention. You can’t exactly pick two kids you like the most, and give them all the attention, while ignoring the others.
That is somewhat similar to the problem of most growing businesses, when they start receiving more inquiries or leads than they can handle. They fail to manage all their leads properly and equally (in terms of giving them attention when they need it), and that’s when their leads begin to scatter like these babies.
That is when lead management software comes into the picture. So,
“Lead management is the process of managing leads, constantly and equally.”
But that is the old-school approach. The modern day lead management software does much more than just managing the leads. In fact, it impacts sales directly, by integrating sales and marketing together. The new definition of lead management would read something like this:
“Lead management is the process of capturing leads, tracking their activities and behaviour, qualifying them, giving them constant attention to make them sales-ready, and then passing them on to the sales team.”
Again, this sounds simple enough. But, in truth, lead management is complex, especially when the numbers are high. Let’s take a very simple example of a new business to understand the complexity:
Now, let’s understand the different stages in a lead management process in a bit more detail:
1. Lead capture automation
Lead capture automation means the leads should get captured automatically in your system. In today’s world, there are infinite sources of lead generation and when the lead volume is high, it is not realistic to enter each lead into the system manually (as you saw in the infographic above). Lead capture automation ensures that each lead is fed into the system right at the point of origin, preventing lead leakage of any sort.
Another aspect of lead capture automation is the capability to automatically assess sources generating most number of leads and revenue for you. You can easily identify both – the high profit, and the money draining lead generation sources. This data is very important for marketing and business intelligence teams as they can re-imagine their budget with this information.
2. Lead tracking
When a lead is captured, the lead management or lead tracking software would start tracking the activities and behavior of that lead – the pages they are visiting, the forms they are filling, the time they are spending on your blog etc. Basically, it gives you valuable insights about your leads which you would otherwise not have. Modern day lead management software also tracks conversations over the phone or chat.
3. Lead distribution
After capturing the leads, you need to pass them on to the relevant sales people. Again, it will take a long long time if you do it manually. A lead distribution system auto-assign the leads based on any logic that you define. For instance:
Pass the lead to USA Team if the location is USA
Pass on the lead to Jack if they are interested in Product A
In most businesses, if a company is able to contact the lead before their competitors, they’d get a definite advantage. (Because if a lead fills up your inquiry form, in all probabilities, they have done the same for 5 more services similar to yours). With lead distribution, you can significantly reduce the response time and make sure that the lead is chased by the most relevant sales person, so that the lead can enjoy a consistent experience, as soon as they make a query (enter your lead management system).
4. Lead qualification
At this stage, the leads are checked to identify if they are worth pursuing or not. These qualified leads are also called sales-ready leads.
Some CRM and Lead Management systems like LeadSquared give a score to each lead based on the chances of their closure. This scoring is called Quality Scoring. Quality score can be customized by the business on the basis of their ideal buyer persona. Let’s take an example:
Here, the quality score of Jim is higher than Lana and Marshall’s, because according to the criteria defined, CEO as a job title is given more weightage than a Sales Head and definitely an Intern.
Quality score makes it evident that Jim needs to be chased first. This helps the sales development team prioritize their tasks and reach out to the most relevant lead first. Although quality and lead scoring helps a user understand the seriousness and the intent of the buyer to some extent, it can never fully replace the human interaction. That being said, it saves a lot of time and energy if set properly.
5. Lead nurturing
There is nothing called a dead lead. Some leads may not buy at the moment, but that can very easily change in the future. Some of them might never buy, but if you give them a good experience in whatever they wanted from you – maybe an e-book, a blog-post, or some freebies – you have a brand advocate for life.
The moment you know why a lead is not interested, you get an idea of how you can get him interested. This category probably makes the largest portion of leads in your database. The ones who are not immediately interested. The Maybe’s.
These somewhat interested leads go into lead nurturing cycle and would come out from there and passed along to sales whenever they become ready to be sold to.
Lead nurturing consists of consistently engaging the leads across multiple channels, by sharing content they’ll find interesting. Now, this multi-channel engagement might be through email campaigns, triggered emails (or drip emails), SMSs or even through social media by means of remarketing. To know more about drip marketing, you can check out this infographic.
So, these are the essential elements that make up a lead management system.
Now that you know what lead management is, and why you need it, you should be thinking of which lead management software fits best for your company. Let’s find out in the next chapter:
Lead Management FAQs
A business lead (or sales lead) is a person who is interested in the product or service you sell. And lead management is a process of capturing leads, tracking their interaction with your sales reps, agents, marketing campaigns, identifying if they’re sales-ready (qualifying them), and engaging with them until they buy your products/services.
The lead management process is a set of definitive steps that organizations take to engage with leads until they become customers. It involves capturing leads from multiple sources, tracking all online and offline touchpoints, such as emails, ad clicks, website visits, phone calls, face-to-face meetings, and recording all interactions. It helps companies understand customers’ pain points, requirements, and influence them to buy your products/services.
CRM stands for customer relationship management. A CRM software helps manage relationships with customers by maintaining a record of their interaction with your company. Lead management is an integral part of CRM as it allows brands to track the entire journey – from lead to customer. It serves two functionalities: lead management to help close a deal and customer relationship management for after-sales support.
Lead management helps businesses understand which strategies bring in the best leads and optimize their sales/marketing campaigns accordingly. It also helps companies understand the customer journey, pain points of the customers, and bottlenecks in their existing processes. Lead management is crucial for successful sales operations.
A sales opportunity (or opportunity) is an individual who has a high chance of becoming a customer. Opportunity also refers to the potential up-selling/cross-selling possibilities with an existing customer.
The main stages of a lead management process include lead generation, inquiry capture, filtering and qualifying leads, lead distribution, lead nurturing, and opportunity management. Opportunity management is a new concept in lead management that involves handling multiple sales opportunities with a single contact.