In this post, we’re going to talk about lead management, how to do it more effectively, and how CRMs transform the sales process.
Every business needs revenue, and to get revenue — every business needs leads.
To get more leads consistently, you’re going to need an excellent sales lead management system.
If you make the mistake of mismanaging your leads, you’ll be contributing to the trillions of dollars lost every year from mismanaging leads:
Here’s what we’ll be covering:
- What is sales lead management?
- Lead management vs. customer relationship management
- The lead management process
- Using a CRM to manage leads
- CRM lead management tips
- How to make your lead management easier today
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What is Sales Lead Management?
When your team acquires new prospects, the vast majority of those prospects will not buy immediately. You’ll need to take them through the sales process.
And while they’re on the customer journey, you’ll need to keep track of them and every other lead your team acquires along the way.
And this process is called lead management.
How is Lead Management Different from Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?
Now, you may have heard of another similar term by now: CRM, or Customer Relationship Management.
But despite the very similar names, lead management and customer relationship management are two different things.
Or rather, lead management is just a smaller part of customer relationship management.
CRMs cover a much broader spectrum than just lead management. They play a part in marketing, sales, data management, and more for SMBs and agencies alike.
Want to learn more about Customer Relationship Management? Check out our guide on everything CRM.
What is the Lead Management Process? The Steps of a Lead Management Program
In order to efficiently manage your leads, you’re going to need a structured path to get them from initial contact to the sale.
The lead management process is the process your lead goes from before interaction with your company to a closed sale. Sales & CRM lead management is a smaller part of sales management.
This path might look different for every business, but there are some similarities we can touch on here to give you a better idea of what yours should look like. And if you’re a B2B business, these steps are especially crucial for you you.
So let’s cover some of the most important steps along the way.
The First Step: Define Your Ideal Lead
Before you sit down to create the perfect strategy and process behind lead management, you should ask yourself one thing:
Who’s your ideal lead in the first place?
As you probably know, for any given business, there’s going to be a subset(s) of people that your product is meant for; those are the people you want to target for potential sales.
And so, the first step to lead management is defining who your ideal leads are. If your targeting is spot-on, then your sales will be more efficient and effective.
Think to yourself:
Which kind of customer best fits your product?
The most common factors to consider are:
- The size of the company you want to work with
- The authority of the lead to make a purchase
- The budget of the lead
- What the lead needs — is your business a good solution for the lead?
Once you’ve got a hang on that, it’s time to get on to the rest of your lead management process.
Imagine trying to search for an item while not knowing what that item looks like, sounds like, or where the item will generally be.
That’s what trying to generate leads without first identifying your ideal leads is akin to.
But once you’ve identified the perfect leads, you have a much better idea of where to find them, what they want, and how to sell to them.
Identifying ideal leads means you’re much more equipped for the lead generation step.
Lead generation will be executed differently depending on whether you’re doing inbound or outbound, or direct or indirect marketing. But the main strategy is very similar: find where your ideal leads are — and build your marketing campaign to target them.
Once you’ve brought a lead into the customer journey, there’s another crucial next step that needs to happen before starting the nurturing process.
Lead qualification is one of the first steps in your sales funnel.
Qualification is the process of determining whether or not a customer has the potential to buy in the first place.
If there’s no potential to buy, moving a prospect down the funnel is just a waste of time and resources. We call these people “dead-end prospects.”
And if there is potential for them to buy from you in the future because the timing wasn’t right, then congrats, you’ve found yourself a qualified lead.
There are two main ways to qualify a lead:
- Through the marketing process, which is all about targeting.
- Through the sales process, which should be done in the discovery phase.
And for everything to be on point, you’ll want to do both.
Your qualifications are up to your business and its goals, but they’ll probably be related to budget, needs, authority, and timing.
Want to learn more about how to filter through the dead-end leads by qualifying leads? Check out our guide here.
Tracking, Scoring & Classifying Leads
Once you’ve qualified a lead and have decided to move them along the funnel, it’s time to start tracking where they lie along the path.
After all, a prospect who’s fresh off of a discovery call with a sales rep is probably a bit further away from the sale than a prospect who you have on a proposal call.
However, there is a common problem that shows up with this step.
As your business continues to scale, it becomes increasingly harder to keep track of all the leads it deals with. This tends to affect those businesses’ productivity and bottom lines as the admin tasks take up more time than the actual selling part.
It was found that sales reps tend to spend only a third of their productive time actually speaking to prospects, with the rest of that time mostly allocated to less critical tasks.
Luckily, sales lead management programs and CRMs help you do this on autopilot to save time and money.
Take VipeCloud, for instance.
VipeCloud has a dashboard to let your team members keep continuous tabs on each prospect in the funnel. That way, they can save time and allocate it to the tasks that directly generate more revenue.
Lead Nurturing: Converting Cold Leads to Hot, Qualified Prospects
Taking a lead from freezing-cold to red-hot and ready to buy is a process in and of itself.
After you’ve classified your leads and know where they are on the cold-to-hot scale, it’s time to nurture them.
You need to take a lead wherever they are on a scale from 1 to 10 — and bring them up to a smoking hot 10.
But how do you nurture that lead to a 10?
Once you qualify and identify that your prospect needs what you’re offering, it’s time to prove you’re the one to fix their pain point.
What a prospect needs before buying will depend on a case-by-case basis. And if you’re still not sure what will take them to a 10 — you can always ask:
What would you need from me for you to be ready to buy?
Much of the time, you’ll be relieved with the enlightening honesty of the prospect.
Want to learn how your team can do it consistently and reliably? Check out our guide on how to approach (and sell to) cold, warm, and hot leads.
Do You Really Need a CRM to Manage Leads?
Well, yes and no.
If you don’t want your business to scale as quickly as possible, want to waste time and resources, or don’t want to improve your bottom line, then you probably don’t need a CRM to manage your leads.
If, however, your business is like most businesses, scaling is likely one of your goals.
In which case, CRMs are a necessary part of the puzzle.
To explain why that is, let’s talk about the traditional way of managing leads.
The Problem With Traditional Lead Management
Generally, if you manage your leads without a CRM, you’re doing one of two things. Either:
- You manually track everything via spreadsheets (or if you’re very old-fashioned, on paper files) or —
- You use multiple programs and have to manage data across all of them at once.
There’s a problem with both of these approaches.
The problem with option 1 is that you’re wasting time that could be saved by implementing automation via an application.
The problem with option 2 is you’re wasting time with the inefficiency of working on multiple programs.
If all of your data, sales, and marketing were on the same platform, you’d be able to operate much more efficiently.
And this is the problem with the ‘traditional” method of managing leads:
It’s inefficient, wastes resources, and leaves more room for error.
How CRM Lead Management Software Increases ROI
CRMs are a whole different story.
The reason is that they do a few things very well. Including (but not limited to) the following:
- Consolidate your data,
- Automate menial processes to save time,
- Remove a significant amount of room for human error,
- Integrate well with external apps like email and social media.
- Keep sales reps on track with scheduling, reminders, and automatic lead tracking
- And much (much) more
With all that said, are CRMs right for every company?
Let’s talk about that.
What Kind of Companies Need CRMs for Lead Management?
To give the short answer:
Any B2B business looking to scale quickly and/or streamline its internal processes is a perfect candidate for a CRM.
With B2C teams, a CRM is still a worthwhile consideration, but it’s a necessity for B2B companies. B2C companies that sell to high-ticket consumers in a multi-touch sales cycle will also get a ton of value from utilizing a CRM.
The B2B sales cycle tends to be much more drawn out, and each prospect is a high-value lead that must be nurtured with care.
Keeping track of that many business leads at once without a CRM might be possible for a small business, but as you grow, so will the amount of admin work.
As previously mentioned, CRMs take care of that admin work so you can focus on prospecting, nurturing, and closing rather than tasks like data entry managing complex schedules.
Now, with that quick distinction out of the way, let’s get to the good part:
CRM Lead Management Tips for a Smooth Sales Machine
Even with the sharpest sword in the world, you’ll still need to know how to swing if you want the most out of it.
And just like with the sharpest sword, even with the best CRM to help you, you need to utilize it correctly to get the most out of it.
So let’s cover some of the most useful tips to help you get up and running straight off the bat.
Getting Your Team Onboard and Squared Away with How to Manage Leads
If you want your team to manage leads efficiently, you’ll have to train them on how to do it.
Or, more specifically, you’ll need to train them on how to use a CRM to do so.
But luckily, VipeCloud can handle a large part of that problem for you. We provide customized implementation plans, training, and even lead teams through demos to help train them to use the service.
Using the Right Amount of Automation
One common problem for sales and marketing teams alike is over automation.
Automation is an excellent way to save time and resources if implemented properly. But over automating can do the exact opposite.
Think about it.
Sales is largely a process of building trust and connection with your prospects.
And as humans, it’s pretty difficult to build that essential trust with an autoresponder or automated voice call.
So while automation is fantastic, make sure you’re adding a human touch during the necessary points of the sales cycle. Things like discovery calls and closing should never be handled by an automated process.
Those are jobs for the sales reps.
Properly Implement Your CRM
Another area that’s vital for your team’s future success with its new CRM is the implementation process.
Implementing a CRM into your pre-existing sales processes isn’t an instant thing, and it takes some careful planning and consideration. Unfortunately, though, many companies tend to rush this process and not get the results that they intended to from the CRM.
Without taking the proper steps and setting a strong foundation, you’re setting your team up for disaster down the road. That’s why it’s so important to find a company that can help you along that way.
Not only does VipeCloud provide free implementation and data migration support, but we’ve also written a guide to help you do it, which you can check out here.
Map & Plan Everything from How You Generate Leads to Converting Leads
A high-performing team needs a high-performing plan.
If you’re not operating off of a structured process, then you’re practically flying blind.
Do you really want to leave your profit up to chance?
Instead of gambling your business’ success, plan out every part of the process. You should know what your ideal lead looks like, how you’re going to get more of those leads, and how you’ll take them from first-contact to close.
Align Your Marketing & Sales with Your Lead Management
In addition to properly implementing your CRM, you’ll have to make sure that your organization isn’t pushing against itself.
You want to ensure that every part of your sales and marketing machines are moving in the same direction and supporting each other.
So keep tabs on things and make sure to fix any “misalignments” that come up when they’re small problems rather than waiting until they become massive headaches.
Your marketing efforts need to be aligned with your sales efforts. And in this case, your marketing-qualified leads must be what your sales efforts need.
What is the Best Lead Management Software?
Another critical step towards getting the most out of your CRM?
Picking the right CRM in the first place.
And luckily for you, you’ve found it.
VipeCloud is a CRM that combines, streamlines, and helps you revamp your marketing and sales processes to help you improve your bottom line and decrease wasted time.
Using VipeCloud to Streamline & Update Your Lead Management Process
Another thing to know about VipeCloud is that we think actions speak louder than words.
So instead of talking about how great our platform is, we’d rather show you — for free.
Request your free demo with VipeCloud today to see how it can transform your sales and marketing processes first-hand.
We’ll even help you get it implemented and migrate your data for no extra charge.