Lead Management

How Technology Makes Lead Management Easy

By Danny Wong

A key to long-term success for many companies is a strong and effective sales pipeline. For sales managers to capture the most value from their existing leads and incoming prospects, modern tools now offer a powerful lead management solution. 

Among small and midsize businesses, one thing that may stunt their growth is their current lead management process. Many rely heavily on analog methods, such as pen and paper or even Post-it notes, to record their customer interactions and data. When technology is employed, they rely on spreadsheets and assorted documents, which are subject to human error. 

When your company begins to outgrow your ability to manage leads manually, it’s time to invest in a lead management system to better facilitate lead interactions and conversions.

Why do you need a lead management system?

Managing leads is a complex process. As the number of leads increases in a growing company, use of a manual or outdated lead management system increases the risk of losing sales opportunities. This often happens when tasks are forgotten or go unaddressed for extended periods of time. 

Unsophisticated lead management solutions often result in misplaced or duplicated contact information, mismatches of leads to sales reps, lapses in follow-ups, overlooked steps in the qualification process, and slow response times. Modern lead management software replaces inefficient, unwieldy spreadsheet-based methods and analog systems. 

When companies implement a strong lead management tool, the benefits include: 

  • The ability to collect, organize, sort, and analyze lead data at volume

  • A consolidated dashboard for internal communications regarding lead activity

  • Seamless automation for tasks such as lead distribution, tracking, qualifying, alerts, and reminders

  • A record of all the interactions leads have with your employees, through live chat messages, phone calls, online demos, emails, and more, and with your brand online through website visits, webinar attendance, and social media interactions 

Armed with this information, companies save dozens of hours per employee per year by eliminating manual data entry and the extra communication needed to keep everyone up to date on customers. Additionally, lead management systems help ensure that the data you collect and analyze is accurate and useful.

Implementing a modern lead management system provides an efficient process for organizing and accessing contact information, including details needed for qualifying prospects and closing sales. It also automatically manages the flow of communications to ensure that leads are taken care of and that none fall through the cracks, which can easily happen when companies use older lead management systems. Among advanced lead management tools, another feature is their ability to take all the information and data in the system and provide meaningful insights and recommendations for how to improve relationships with your prospects.

Many lead management tools also integrate with other business applications in your technology stack, which helps to bridge multiple customer data points. As a result of understanding a prospect’s interaction history, your marketing and sales teams can craft better, more relevant messaging and offers for every prospect at each new touchpoint. This gives your reps a competitive advantage when they personalize the customer experience.

How to develop your own lead management process

Young businesses may not yet have processes and structure in place. Over time, having an established sales process is crucial to a growing business, and a standardized process will allow your organization to reflect back on what works and what doesn’t, as well as to plan on how to improve your sales strategy moving forward.

Five steps to follow: 

  1. Start by documenting the common and key steps you take to guide leads from their first introduction to your brand to when they place a purchase order.

  2. Work with your sales reps to refine those steps — to determine what’s missing and what should be removed. 

  3. Establish a new standard lead management process for all team members to follow, effective immediately. 

  4. Regularly analyze the results and report on your performance.

  5. Over time, add to and refine your lead management process to maximize the value you offer prospects at each stage of their journey and to minimize redundancies. Use the data available to help make informed decisions. 

After you formalize a lead management process, you’ll be able to invest in the right software for your needs. It should help you automate different steps, gather valuable insights that will show you the biggest areas for improvement, and show you where there are opportunities to increase optimization within your overall lead management strategy.

What are modern lead management solutions?

While software companies provide stand-alone applications, the majority of lead management programs are built into comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) systems. 

These end-to-end management systems make understanding the customer relationship, from the moment a lead enters the sales funnel to the end of the customer journey, easier, clearer, and richer in information. 

The ideal CRM platform also makes navigating the historical record of each customer relationship faster and more convenient for everyone who interacts with the customer. 

The advantages of lead management technology

When you employ a proper lead management tool or CRM system, there are three ways it can make a significant impact on your overall sales. It can:

  1. Reduce wasted marketing spend, as more audiences turn into marketing-qualified leads and then sales-qualified leads

  2. Improve conversion rates by facilitating better lead nurturing

  3. Expedite the sales cycle, as your lead management software prompts you to re-engage prospects at the right time during their purchasing journey

What should you expect from a lead management system?

The platform you choose should perform several baseline functions. Specifically, it should:

  • Prevent leakage of leads at a source or other point in the management of the sales pipeline

  • Manage leads from the time they enter the funnel through to the close of the sale

  • Delegate leads to the appropriate salesperson based on set criteria

  • Prompt users when they are due to keep appointments or perform various tasks in working their assigned leads

  • Advise the user that they missed a designated task, such as calling a prospect

  • Deliver the appropriate leads as qualified leads to increase the potential for sales

  • Facilitate meaningful conversations between prospects and sales reps by providing reps with useful contextual information

  • Reduce the company's response time for providing prospects with information needed to proceed through the next steps of the process

  • Produce reports to support accountability at each step of the management process

When should you invest in lead management solutions?

Effective lead management allows businesses to make the most of their hard-won sales leads. It helps marketing and sales teams align their efforts and report on key operational performance metrics.

The right lead management technology makes it possible for sales reps and managers to view leads, communicate with prospects, modify files, run reports, and manage and optimize the sales pipeline, all while on the go. This makes it possible for small-to midsize businesses to automate their lead management capabilities and effectively rival their largest competitors. 

Of course, the majority of leads may not materialize as paying customers up front. However, your lead management system will streamline the way you interact with individuals who simply want to know more about your business' products or services, even if they are not ready to convert at the present time. Quality handling of such inquiries contributes to your company's strong reputation and even to its word-of-mouth marketing.

When you invest in a proper lead management solution, you make it easier for all of your talented salespeople to improve their interactions with every prospect. A good lead management software equips your reps with the information and task management resources they need to increase their conversion rates and shorten the sales cycle.

Closing thoughts

As you grow your business, lead management software will become an important and necessary tool to automate the sales process. For optimal results, put a CRM system in place as the technology centerpiece for scaling your sales strategy. As you get more use out of your chosen lead management technology, you’ll find that your overall sales process becomes both easier and more effective.
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<p>Via <a href="https://www.salesforce.com/solutions/small-business-solutions/" target="_blank">Salesforce</a> </p>
 

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