What's in this article?
What happens after you capture a lead is just as important as the process of capturing it. This is known as your overall lead management process.
A successful lead management system is built on much more than just lead generation. It involves segmenting your leads, scoring them, nurturing them, and auditing the entire process time and again.
If you’re thinking, sure, my CRM does all of that automatically—that’s great to hear! But if you’re still having trouble maintaining a steady flow of leads, there may be some holes somewhere in your process.
Your lead management process flow should involve a lot of automated tools and software to navigate all those fresh leads, but it also requires some personalized attention to really pack a punch.
Let’s take a look at the steps involved in a successful lead management process, including how to optimize and automate your workflow for maximum sales lead conversions.
What is lead management?
Lead management involves all the steps in a sales lead’s lifecycle.
You’re probably the most familiar with lead generation because many businesses are understandably very focused on the process of capturing leads.
Lead generation is the first step in the process because we can’t create a system to manage leads without any prospects.
But following generation, lead management involves multiple steps to evaluate the lead for their level of interest in what you have to offer, separate them into groups, convert the ones who are ready, and nurture the ones who aren’t.
Much of the lead management process flow can be automated, but to get to this point, there will be some work involved from your sales and marketing teams.
The work begins with re-evaluating who your clients are and what they want, as well as considering their pain points and how you can address them.
Remember, online leads can come from anywhere and will have varying levels of interest and intent.
Lead management establishes and maintains a connection with your leads as they move through the sales funnel. This is how you attract and nurture the most qualified leads for your business.
Do I need a lead management process?
As an established business, you’ve most likely done a lot of the work for your lead management process already.
You have a mission statement and company goals, and you understand the needs of your customers and how your services address them.
But if you’re struggling to capture consistent, high-quality leads, dealing with non-responsive leads, or losing leads, it may be time to re-evaluate what you currently have and fine-tune it.
Let’s take a look at the biggest benefits of establishing a lead management process flow.
Find the right leads at the right time
A qualified lead fits your business’s definition of an interested potential customer who will someday convert.
Qualified leads are the goal of any successful marketing strategy.
Lead management increases the number of qualified leads you receive because part of the process includes defining what this type of lead looks like, and pushing them along the sales funnel.
Unqualified leads will be dropped early in the process, so your sales team won’t be wasting their time on people who never intend to convert.
Provide value to leads
The goal is to build relationships with your leads, so they continue to come back to you for your services.
Lead management offers your potential customers real value via informative, engaging content that matches what they are seeking.
Offering them quality content throughout each stage of the lead management sales process—and especially during the lead generation and lead nurturing stages—will help you establish yourself as an industry expert with all the answers.
Streamline communication with leads
Successful lead management results in an efficient, streamlined process where the right leads are captured, segmented, prioritized, and distributed automatically to the right salespeople.
Streamlined communication reduces lost leads and a lack of engagement from your leads.
Follow these steps to establish your lead management process
Now that you’re familiar with what’s necessary to process leads, let’s dig into the specifics of how to effectively convert leads to sales within your lead management system.
1. Get leads
Capture leads, generate leads, develop leads—no matter what you prefer to call it, in this stage, you’re attracting interested potential customers and earning their contact information.
You’ll “earn” this information by offering relevant, high-quality content on your website or social media that is informative, entertaining, or both.
Within this content, you’ll include calls-to-action (CTAs) such as “download now,” “apply now,” or “contact us,” which will take your future lead to a contact form where they can fill in their information.
One of the most effective ways to capture leads is via lead magnet. Lead magnets are valuable, relevant pieces of content that address a specific need.
In exchange for this valuable piece of content, you will collect the lead’s contact information, such as their email address.
Examples of lead magnets include:
- Case studies
- Quiz results
- Video series
Businesses also use a combination of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), and keyword research to enhance web pages and blog posts with the terms their customers are searching.
Content marketing has a lot to it.
2. Sort/segment your leads
Sorting or tracking your leads goes back to understanding your target audiences.
Creating customer personas can help your team more accurately segment leads based on set criteria that includes:
- Level of interaction with your brand
You can segment your leads in whatever way works best for your business goals, including how often they read your blogs or download a lead magnet, the types of content they are viewing, their age group, or a combination of these factors.
Segmenting helps you direct the right types of content to the right leads and the right salespeople to the right lead.
It also helps when it’s time to build your email drip campaigns for nurturing the leads who aren’t ready to buy.
3. Score your leads
Once your lead has submitted their information and you’ve segmented them based on the attributes of your target audience, it’s time to score or qualify the lead.
The process of scoring a lead varies by company but generally involves assigning points to a lead based on their actions and behaviors.
This should be an automated process that takes place in your CRM, but you’ll have to establish how you want your system to score leads.
Basically, you need to determine the pattern that makes a lead “good” or “bad,” so it can be pushed to the right salesperson.
For example, let’s say Lead No. 1 has downloaded a lead magnet and opened a few links in an email.
Lead No. 2, meanwhile, has scheduled an appointment with you online.
Lead No. 2 has indicated they are ready to move ahead with you, while Lead No. 1 is more in the discovery phase.
They are both valuable leads, but No. 2 appears to be closer to converting, so they would be assigned a higher score and pushed to the appropriate salesperson for action.
4. Follow up and nurture
Have you been flat-out dropping leads who aren’t ready to convert?
If so, you’re missing out on an entire stage of your lead management process flow!
Lead nurturing is arguably the most important part of your process, after lead generation.
The best part is all the work you’ve done so far has set you up perfectly to execute a nurturing strategy based on the lead’s specific behaviors and other attributes.
Using an email marketing platform that works seamlessly with your CRM, you can set up email drip campaigns that target each of your lead segments.
Take a look at the following drip campaign examples for inspiration:
- If you have a lead who likes to read your blog posts, check out the types of content they are viewing and send them links, videos, or guides on similar topics
- If you have a lead who is inactive and unresponsive, send them informative, entertaining videos, photos, or infographics about your services to educate them and encourage them to take action
- If you have a customer who hasn’t purchased from you in a while, send them news on your latest products or services
- If you have a customer who isn’t likely to convert again for a while, send them personalized birthday and holiday greetings to keep your services on their mind
According to Invespcro, nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
But Demand Gen found that only 29% of brands nurture their customers beyond their initial purchase.
Get creative with email drip campaigns to effortlessly nurture your leads for their future purchase.
5. Revisit leads who didn’t bite
Your lead came so close to converting, but they didn’t bite. What happened?
Leads that don’t convert might look like anything from an unpurchased item in a cart to an application for loan pre-approval that never moved beyond that stage.
Now, the lead never opens your emails or visits your website.
You may be tempted again to just drop the lead, but we say to always go back to nurturing and give them more chances to convert.
If you’re a mortgage lender who was working one-on-one with a client, feel free to personally reach out and check-in.
If it was a qualified lead who dropped their status, you can create and execute an email campaign for this type of lead.
Some companies will nudge leads with an email subject line that reads “Where’d you go?”
Others will implement retargeting ads that are more focused on entertainment or a bold news headline to capture attention and remind the leads about their brand.
Try to retarget and re-ignite the interest of your leads in a way that’s true to your business.
6. Audit process
Start here if you already have your lead management systems in place!
To understand whether your lead tracking process works, you have to properly measure your results and make the appropriate adjustments.
Make sure you’re measuring your number of leads vs. your conversion rate, your sales growth or the number of closings, and the length of time your customers have been with you.
Track the success of your blog posts, lead magnets, email open rates, and social media engagement.
Gathering all of this information will help you understand where and how you’re losing leads.
You can then adjust your processes to improve performance.
For example, are you low on leads but high on conversions? Your content probably needs some work to draw in more qualified leads.
Are your leads converting and leaving? You’ll want to find new ways to create value for those who have been loyal to your business.
Elements of good lead management flow
You could have all the best tools for lead management, yet leads are still slipping through the cracks.
In that case, you’ll need to evaluate the flow of your leads and determine where they are getting lost.
Let’s take a look at the elements of a good lead management flow to avoid lost leads.
1. Your leads are in order
No matter where you get your leads, the input has to be consistently collected and formatted.
This means that whether your leads are streaming in through online channels, phone calls, or in-person events, the information is consistent so your CRM can appropriately and accurately push the lead forward.
CRMs can collect lead information automatically from phone calls and web forms, so make sure you’re set up to take advantage of these processes.
You also will need to train your sales team to fill in specific information they gather from the lead that isn’t captured automatically.
Making sure your leads are in order from the start serves multiple purposes:
- No leads are lost due to human error
- Your lead segmenting and scoring processes are accurate
- Your sales team will receive the most qualified leads
- Leads that aren’t ready are pushed to nurturing
Now, your lead management process can take in all your leads more efficiently, and quickly distribute them to the right place.
2. Leads are distributed efficiently and timely
Once your leads are accurately in the system, the next step is to refine your segmenting and scoring processes.
Leads should be distributed based on their behaviors, including the actions they’ve taken and their level of engagement.
All leads should be contacted immediately, but not in the same way.
If your sales team is frustrated that they’re getting leads that aren’t ready to convert, your lead scoring measurements may need some work.
Remember, leads that have high email open rates or high engagement on your website may still be in the research phase, so it’s important to evaluate the specific actions a lead is taking prior to sending them off to a salesperson.
Discovery-phase leads need nurturing until they’re ready to convert. You don’t want to push a lead to convert before they’re ready.
On the other hand, a lead that has reached out to make an appointment needs to be immediately pushed through and contacted.
Make sure you’re accurately defining what it means to be a qualified lead within your company, and appropriately distributing them through the correct channels.
3. Your sales process is managed consistently
When a qualified lead is successfully in the hands of a salesperson, the work is just beginning!
This process has to be defined and executed just as clearly as any other manual or automated step in your lead management flow.
Set requirements for the level of interaction you need your sales team to have with a lead so they don’t lose them this late in the game.
This might look like the following:
- Brief pre-contact research to confirm and understand needs
- Immediate initial contact
- Minimum level of follow-up
- Plan for pushing lead back into nurturing after conversion, or if the lead stops responding
The secret to successful lead allocation is to provide leads based on sales. Consider incentivizing your sales team to encourage enthusiasm about the lead process.
4. Every lead is followed up on
Depending on your industry, you might find that calling a qualified lead multiple times just won’t cut it.
In fact, this could turn some qualified leads off, believe it or not. Many leads prefer to be contacted via email or even text message before they’re ready to convert.
I say this just to emphasize that “follow-up” means a lot of things these days, including email and text message drip campaigns that automatically send out greetings, reminders, and sales alerts.
It’s lead nurturing at its finest: Catering to the lead’s preferences, offering them something of value, and naturally encouraging a conversion.
Cross-check these basic fundamentals of automated marketing against your lead management process:
- Every new lead in the database gets an intro email or text
- Text/email templates are available for follow-ups to calls
- Email drip campaigns are working on sales pipelines
- Lead nurturing campaigns are getting more from unconverted leads
Increasing sales pressure in a passive way gives you the advantage of marketing automation working on your pipeline while sales are pressing with live calls.
5. Reporting and analysis of processes are done frequently
The bonus of automated tools in a lead management process is the access to your data and analytics.
Measuring your processes and results at every stage will help you zero in on what’s working, what’s not, and where you need to improve.
Your CRM and email marketing platform alone can offer insights into all customer interactions, engagement, purchase history, open rates, click-through rates, and more.
You can accurately identify exactly where a lead fell off, and work to nurture them back into the game.
Automating these processes also will make it much simpler for new hires to jump on board and seamlessly transition into your standardized sales process.
6. Lead management is improved based on findings
Sales and marketing processes are always evolving to reflect the changing needs of our customers.
Your lead management process is the key to a successful customer experience throughout the sales cycle, from start to finish and back again.
It has the potential to nurture personalized, long-term relationships with customers, as well as create a positive, happy sales team with a consistently full bucket of leads.
Based on your tracking and measuring abilities with an automated process, you can pinpoint areas of weakness and work with your team to improve these processes.
The bonus: An automated lead flow frees up hours of work for your team to focus on the leads that need your attention the most.
Ways to automate lead management
The No. 1 way to improve and automate your lead management process flow is with a quality CRM.
If you have a solid CRM but aren’t using it to its fullest potential, consider reaching out to the company for some one-on-one assistance or working with a lead generation agency to help you get the most out of the tools.
Within your lead management process, here are some of the biggest ways to use automation tools:
- Pull leads into your CRM and fill in their profiles
- Push leads to the right person or process
- Immediately contact new leads
- Nurture leads that aren’t ready to convert
- Create invoices or contracts
- Track customer engagement and conversions
- Measure your success
Some of the most popular CRMs include Salesforce, Zendesk, and Hubspot.
Constant Contact and MailChimp are a few of the most commonly used email marketing platforms on the market.
But the best lead management software and tools for your business depend on your unique needs and goals.
Build your new and improved lead management strategy with Kaleidico
Building a successful lead generation process flow is hard work.
Whether you’re a mortgage lender, lawyer, or another industry professional, lead generation and management are essential to maintaining a steady flow of clients and hitting all your business goals.
Kaleidico has been generating sales leads online for over 15 years. We can help you find, set up, execute, and measure all the tools you need to be successful, based on your unique needs.
Photo by RODNAE Productions