Lead management is a critical part of any business. If you fail to properly manage, nurture, follow up with and continuously meet your leads’ needs, they will turn cold and eventually leave you with nothing when they escape your sales funnel. A strong sales lead management strategy and planning will help you capture, nurture, and convert your leads into loyal customers. Keep reading to learn about the sales lead management process and what it entails, how to apply the best lead management processes and use the best lead management tools for success, and why lead nurturing is such an essential step of the lead management process.
The Lead Management Process: How Lead Management Works
Lead management is the process of acquiring and managing leads until they make a purchase and become a paying customer.
It’s important to note that lead management and lead nurturing are different. The main difference between the two is that lead nurturing is a specific part of the lead management process that happens towards the end of effective lead management.
Sales lead management is generally made up of four key activities:
- Lead identification: The first step in the lead management process helps you determine what types of buyers you’re looking for.
- Lead generation and tracking: During lead generation, you capture the decided-upon leads by gathering lead data and intel on their interests, needs, desires, and desires.
- Lead processing: Lead scoring and lead qualification are included in lead processing, which focuses on organizing and prioritizing leads by their potential value.
- Lead nurturing: During this step, you focus on building relationships with potential clients who may not be ready to pull the trigger on a purchase. The more you nurture leads, the likelier they will eventually trust you and your product or service enough to become paying customers.
Lead nurturing is a critically important step in lead management. It’s all about keeping in touch with opportunities that are not quite ready to convert. When you consider that 73% of leads are not ready to buy when they give you their contact information, it’s easy to see why lead nurturing is so vital.
Lead nurturing keeps you present where your leads are, allowing you to engage with them consistently to prove your value and, ultimately, increase the probability that they will start a business relationship with you.
Did you know that only 35% of companies today have an established lead nurturing plan? When you consider that 80% of potential lead opportunities are lost because of a lack of lead nurturing, that’s a staggering statistic!
The benefits of lead nurturing include the following:
We all know how important delivering the right message at the right time is. Lead nurturing helps you stay engaged with your leads and communicate with them on time. When you engage consistently and promptly with your leads, you’ll establish yourself as an industry expert, ranking you higher in your lead’s eyes.
The more personalized your content offerings are, the more likely it is to catch your lead’s attention and have them look forward to engaging with your content repeatedly.
Builds Your Brand’s Reputation
Lead nurturing also leads to higher brand awareness. The content you share as part of your lead nurturing strategy allows you to actively interact with your audience while providing value. This strategy will help you grow your brand’s reputation, positioning you as a high-value brand. The end result allows you to build trust between your company and leads while staying connected at every touchpoint. For a lead to make a purchase, they need to trust that your business is credible and that you provide value, two critical things that lead nurturing helps establish.
63% of consumers that ask for more information about a company may not purchase for at least three months, while 20% will take 12 months or longer. This means that during that time, you must do all you can to nurture your leads by engaging with them and consistently proving your value. This work will pay off when you’re at the top of their mind when they’re finally ready to make a purchase.
Helps Generate Revenue from Existing Customers
Lead nurturing helps you win new customers, builds long-term relationships with existing customers, and leverages cross-selling and upselling opportunities to generate continued revenue. For example, providing discounts for add-ons and upgrades is an excellent way to up-sell to your current customers while continuing to prove your brand’s relevance and value.
Increase Your Click-Through Rates
Lead nurturing also helps boost click-through rates. When you provide valuable content that speaks to your target audience, you’ll encourage them to click through to your website, blog, whitepaper, etc.
When you build trust and credibility with your leads through lead nurturing, you’ll also increase your conversion rates by encouraging your leads to do business with you.
How to Effectively Nurture Leads in 2022
Now that you see how important lead nurturing is, here are some strategies to ensure your leads are nurtured until the point of conversion in 2022 and beyond:
Lead Identification: Understanding Your Target Audience
Lead identification is a critical first step in the lead management process. The first question you need to ask yourself is, ‘who are my potential buyers and what part of the sales process are these buyers in?’
Identifying buyer types and buyer personas is key to helping you identify your ideal leads. You can create buyer personas by identifying the following:
- Demographics: Where do your ideal customers live? What industry do they work in? How big (or small) is the company they work for? What problems are they facing at work? What are their wants and needs?
- Behavior: Does your ideal customer get the bulk of their information from online blogs and whitepapers, or do they depend on word of mouth and networking?
- Source: How do your best leads find you? Is it your website or social media platforms? Do they read thought leadership articles you’ve written?
Finding the answers to the above questions will help you get into the mindset of your leads and give you an idea of how their decision-making process works.
Lead Generation: Collect Intel About Your Leads
Lead generation is the method of attracting and converting strangers into potential customers. It is the first step in the sales cycle and the lead management solution. But, generating leads is an art and science and takes much more planning and consideration than merely Googling and flipping through the white pages. You need to target strong leads that make sense and have a high likelihood of converting so all of your efforts are not wasted. This is known as lead quality.
Most marketing executives agree that lead quality is one of their top priorities. One study found that 61% of marketers believe generating high-quality leads is the most prominent challenge they’re currently facing. Also, according to another report, generating more leads is a significant headache for 63% of marketers.
So, how can you generate more high-quality leads? There are a few ways, but the crux is offering compelling content or offers in exchange for contact information. For example, some companies may offer whitepapers on topics of great interest to their leads. The leads can access the whitepapers for free if they provide their name, email address, and/or phone number.
Here are some more examples of inbound lead generation strategies that also lead to a high-quality customer experience and increased website visits to your site:
- Content Marketing: It’s no secret that content is king these days. The fact is that people on the internet crave valuable content that can teach them something, entertain them, evoke emotion, or inspires them to take action. You can offer high-value content through blog posts, email campaigns, social media, whitepapers, ebooks, videos, webinars, case studies, press releases, etc. In addition to offering a value exchange to your leads, high-quality content lets you tell your brand story, establish a brand voice, position yourself with authority in your industry, and lets leads connect with you on a deeper level.
- SEO: You can offer the best content on the web, but without a strong search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, you’re not going to attract the right eyes. Strong SEO strategies include keyword optimization, backlinking, consistent content, and engagement. For more details on optimizing your content to generate more leads, check out Google’s 200 factors ranking list and MOZ’s guide to SEO.
- Social Media: You cannot thrive — or survive — in 2022 and beyond with a strong social media strategy and presence. In fact, social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing! Social media lets internet users find and learn about your products and services. From LinkedIn and Pinterest to Twitter and Instagram and Facebook and TikTok, there’s no shortage of social media channels to connect with your target audience. Being on social media is key to connecting with consumers and establishing a strong brand voice. Actively participating on social media results in new leads, free publicity, and unwavering support for the brand. We’re not saying you have to amass millions of followers on every social network. But, it’s important to set up a few different accounts and post consistently until you find the one where your content connects with your audience, allowing you to build up a decent following of loyal fans. Take a look at this article that discusses which demographics are on which social network so you can better understand where you’d like to start.
Now let’s take a look at outbound lead generation strategies:
- Display advertising: Display ads are useful at every sales funnel stage, including lead generation. From programmatic marketing, social media ads, or targeted display advertising, use your objectives and target audience to make an informed decision about where to show up. A big advantage of display advertising networks is they will provide you with key insights in the form of data that will help you fine-tune your messaging and show up in the right place at the right time to reach your target audience.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads: PPC advertising will help you draw attention to your latest campaigns and offers. PPC ads can also be highly targeted and lead to high-quality leads.
- Email marketing: Email is still a strong form of marketing in 2022 and beyond. In fact, 77% of marketers report increasing email engagement over the last year. When combined with marketing automation, emails deliver the best value. What’s more, according to a study, email remains the number one lead generation channel to this day. So don’t miss out on the value and engagement of email marketing.
- Events: Now that the Covid-19 pandemic is behind us, it’s time to get back to event marketing. Events help brands demonstrate their solutions and establish a strong brand image while connecting with leads intimately, often in person. Events are valuable opportunities to connect with prospects, show off what you’re all about, and make lasting connections — whether you do so by hosting or attending webinars, trade shows, or other types of networking events.
Statistics show that 45% of qualified sales leads will purchase within one year. While every business is different, this statistic does provide a general benchmark that can help you gain perspective. Will your leads buy from you or the competition? Lead qualification can play a significant role in making sure your leads are more likely to buy from you. Then with some lead nurturing, you can take care of your leads until they feel confident enough in your brand, product, and services to pull the trigger and make a purchase.
Although the definition of a qualified lead is different for every business, the underlying principle stays the same — a qualified sales lead is one that is suitable for you to do business with.
During lead qualification, you review, contact, and qualify your leads before delivering them to the sales team.
While finding people to contact is pretty easy, it’s not wise to simply compile a list of random people and reach out to them with the hopes that someone will take a chance on your company — talk about a waste of time! You must properly qualify your leads by thoroughly vetting them to make sure they’ll be receptive to your sales team to avoid wasting your time, money, energy, and resources chasing down leads that will not result in a sale.
Here are some steps to qualify your leads:
- Get as specific as possible with your qualifying information. Rather than looking for one broad qualifier, look for a few criteria that may indicate someone would have a genuine interest in working with your business.
- Focus on asking the right questions to gauge your services’ importance to your leads.
- Make sure the companies you go after have the budget to support the services you sell.
- Make sure you educate your leads thoroughly so they can fully understand the value of your products — this is another area where your content plays a pivotal role, especially if they can share it with other members of their team.
- Focus on the leads that have the potential to lead to long-term relationships rather than those that will be “one and done” purchases.
- Figure out the decision-making process at each lead’s company. When you find out what’s holding your lead back, whether it’s budget, time, or anything else, you can address their hesitation head-on and help them convince other decision-makers at their company that your solution is worth it. Remember, each decision involves an average of 6.8 people, so your lead may not even be the one who makes the final call. When you empower them with as much information as possible, especially about any areas they’re feeling trepidatious in, they can work to appease their fears and hesitations as well as those of everyone else on their team. When you find out early on who’s part of the decision-making process and focus on hurting your relationships with those people, you’ll increase your chances of winning the sale while also being able to address everyone’s concerns.
Lead scoring is a key step in the lead management process to help you understand the lead’s interest in your product or service. You can think of lead scoring as a process in which you rank the sales readiness of each lead using a uniform methodology that looks something like this:
- Create buyer personas: We discussed the importance of creating buyer personas earlier in this article. They also play a key role in the lead scoring process to clearly understand your customers.
- Determine which data points to score: Once you’ve established your ideal buyer and what they look like, you must decide which attributes you’ll assign a point value to. Lead scoring is broken down into two main categories (as mentioned in the lead identification phase above): behavior and demographic. Some examples of demographic information include:
- Size of Company
- Role and seniority
- Behavioural criteria refer to actions your leads take when interacting with your company, such as:
- Free trial requests
- Form submissions
- Email open rates
- Email Subscription
- Web page visits
- Content downloads
- Social media engagement
- Webinar Registration
- Event attendance
- Assign point values: It’s important to note that each business will weigh each criterion point differently, which is why it’s important to define your goal and assign point values to each trait. You may want to give your blog subscribers two points and people who download your whitepaper 30 points. You can also assign value based on company size. If your best customers tend to come from companies with more than 2,000 employees, give higher scores to leads who come from companies with more than 2,000 employees and lower scores to leads who don’t quite meet that criteria.
- Determine the point threshold that qualifies your leads: Once you assign a score to each data point, you’ll total up all of the points each lead racks up, and you’ll get their final lead score. But what score means the lead is qualified? This is something you will have to determine ahead of time to make the lead scoring process as streamlined as possible.
- Use marketing automation tools to help: If you like the sound of lead scoring but are feeling a bit overwhelmed thinking about doing the process by hand, don’t worry. Marketing automation tools are extremely helpful in making the time-consuming process way less of a headache and improving its accuracy! The good news is that a good marketing automation tool will automate parts A to Z of the lead scoring process for you. All you’ll have to do is input your scoring criteria, and the automation tool will work on scoring leads as they come in and even update the scores as they change!
The Benefits of Lead Scoring
As you can tell by now, lead scoring has some pretty impressive benefits, including:
More Effective Marketing Campaigns
With lead scoring, you can identify the campaigns and channels most likely result in high-quality leads. Then, you’re able to fine-tune your marketing strategy to generate more qualified leads.
Align Your Sales and Marketing
Neglecting to have an effective lead scoring system in place is the biggest contributor to the misalignment between sales and marketing.
Once you have a distinct rule set for lead scoring, you ensure that each lead you pass on to sales will be qualified. This streamlined process strengthens the relationship between the sales and marketing departments, allowing them to work in harmony while fostering a sense of alignment between the two departments.
Increase in Revenue
A solid lead scoring strategy allows the sales department to prioritize which leads they should follow up with first. When you’re able to reach out to the most qualified leads in a timely manner, your revenue will benefit greatly by:
- Identifying which marketing efforts are producing the most qualified leads.
- Segmenting and communicating with leads based on their level of sales readiness.
- Improving the sales team’s time management.
The Benefits of Lead Management
The most significant benefits of lead management include the following:
Build an Instant Connection Point
Did you know that as many as 50% of all sales go to the salesperson who responded first to a lead’s inquiry? Managing your leads will help you create instant contact that may be enough to convert the lead into a customer. To make sure you keep a continuous flow of leads in your sales pipeline, it’s critically important to give every lead immediate attention. Today’s world moves fast, and leaving these connections to chance or manually replying to inquiries when you “get back in the office” can cost you the sale.
Responding as quickly as possible to leads creates a professional and caring image and shows your leads you are committed to their business and helping them grow.
Once you have established this initial contact, lead management software will help you stay in constant communication with your leads and know the appropriate steps and messaging based on where each lead is in the sales funnel. Software options that automate email campaigns are an excellent tool to help you enhance and qualify your leads fast.
Track, Store, and Access Lead Information
Lead management provides one easy-to-access place to track, store, and access all your lead information. No more misplaced phone numbers or email addresses or losing a sale because you are uninformed on each lead’s needs and place in the sales funnel. When you have all of your lead information in one convenient spot, it’s much easier to plan and prioritize your leads as efficiently as possible.
Access Sharper Insights
It’s vital to keep your finger on the pulse of what your highest-priority leads are doing. Lead management platforms help you do this with advanced tracking capabilities that allow you to follow them on their customer journey while providing sharp insights into their decision-making process.
Improved Team Coordination
Lead management tools provide endless amounts of data to keep you as informed as possible on every campaign. These key insights help your sales and marketing teams work with the same data sets, resulting in a focused sales funnel that fosters increased lead generation and conversion.
When everyone is on the same page, your chances of making mistakes and miscommunicating or double communicating with your leads are much less likely.
How Teamgate Can Help
If you’re looking to automate your CRM process and streamline lead nurturing and management, Teamgate can help. Teamgate produces and delivers one of the top CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems. The Teamgate system provides a complete means of interaction with your current and future customers, helping you manage every aspect of your connections, sales, and evaluation processes along the way. To see how Teamgate can help you strengthen and simplify your entire sales process, contact us today for a free demo or get started with a free 14 day trial.