How To Manage Your Sales Leads

Magnet grabbing new leads.

We posted on our Facebook page earlier this week about generating a lead, so we thought for our blog we would stick to the same topic!

The lead management process belongs to your marketing team and your sales team. Marketing brings in the leads; sales converts them.

Both teams need to buy into your lead management strategy. Otherwise, hard-earned marketing leads fall through the cracks when they get to sales. Or marketing drops unqualified, unworkable leads at your sales team’s feet.

A good lead management strategy is the difference between lukewarm leads falling through the cracks, and bottom-of-the-funnel, hot leads handed off to sales for an almost-certain close

Keep reading to learn how to manage a sales lead with these five steps:

Learn everything you can about your ideal leads

Before you can use any of your exciting new lead management techniques, you have to get to know your leads. Who are they? Who do you want them to be?

When you know who to market and sell to, your marketing and sales become more strategic — and more likely to succeed. No more throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks. In marketing, sometimes this approach works! But sometimes, it means wasted spaghetti.

Or a lot of unqualified leads.

Ask yourself:

  • What problems are my leads trying to solve?
  • How important are each of these problems?
  • When it comes to solutions, what do my leads consider must-haves vs. nice-to-haves?
  • What words do my leads use to talk about their problems?
  • How can I speak their language?

To find those answers, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do some customer research. There are a bunch of ways to find out how your leads think and talk about their problems.

But for now, let’s focus on finding (and using) your leads’ online conversations to figure out how they think and talk about their problems. Here’s how:

  1. Figure out where your ideal customers are talking about their problems. Google “[keyword] + forum” to find online communities your leads frequent. If you sell car parts, you might Google “auto parts forum.”
  2. Read up! Look for comments that give specifics about both the problem and the solution. What made the problem worth solving? How does the solution solve the problem?
  3. Build a spreadsheet. Create columns for the customer quote, the topic, your notes, and the source. This will make it easier to search and find your customers’ language on a certain pain point as the spreadsheet grows.

81% of consumers want brands to get to know them and understand when to approach them and when not to.

The more that you can answer these questions, the more you can target your marketing. And the more you can target your marketing, the more you’ll attract high-quality leads.

And even when dealing with qualified leads, personalization matters. 59% of shoppers say that personalization influences their purchase decisions.

Defining audience segments based on the questions above helps your sales team give each lead exactly what they need to see before they become a customer.

Don’t guess what leads are worth. Use lead scoring

Lead scoring helps you focus on your most qualified leads. A good lead scoring model helps you prioritize leads based on:

  • How likely they are to close
  • How much they’re likely to spend
  • How quickly they’re likely to close

To set up a lead scoring system, you have to figure out what behaviors and characteristics matter. When a lead takes an action, what does that tell you about what they want? Based on those criteria, each lead gets a numerical score.

When a lead reaches a new score, you can trigger email notifications and assign tasks to your sales team. Lead scoring + marketing automation = a match made in CRM heaven.

How to set up a lead scoring system

Make a list of all of the behaviors a lead can engage in, and give each item a numerical score:

For example…

  • Fills out contact form (+15)
  • Opens welcome emails (+2 per email)
  • Clicks through an email (+5 per click)
  • Visits the pricing page on your site (+15)
  • Reads a blog post (+2)
  • Downloads content (+10)
  • Signs up for a free trial (+25)
  • Unsubscribes from email (-5)

Lead A:

  • Downloads multiple pieces of content from your site (+10 x 3)
  • Opens and clicks through all three welcome emails (+2 x 3, +5 x 3)
  • Registers for a free trial (+25)

Lead B:

  • Visits your pricing page once (+15)
  • Opens a couple of your emails (+2 x 2)

Lead B has a score of 19. Lead A has a score of 76 — and is a way more qualified lead.

Different activities increase or decrease lead scores based on how important you rank each of them.

The rules for keeping score can be based on:

  • Any contact field (including custom fields)
  • Email behavior (opens, clicks, forwards, replies, etc.)
  • Website behavior (pages visited, time on page, etc.
  • Form sub

Lead scoring can help you automate how you manage your sales leads.

You can also automatically add leads to nurture campaigns based on their lead score or behavior.

Nurture over nature — at least when it comes to leads

Even though sales owns leads, marketing can lend a huge helping hand by nurturing the leads with marketing automations between sales calls and emails.

Not all leads are created equal. That begs the question, “Who should I follow up with and which leads should I leave alone?”

Some leads will self-close, while others need a little nudge in the right direction. Let’s say there are three (super broad) types of leads:

  • A lead who will probably never close
  • A lead who might close
  • A lead who is likely to self-close

People tend to call the first type of leads “zombie leads” — leads that will never end up converting. You can find yourself wasting a ton of time and marketing efforts on zombie leads instead of qualified ones.

By removing the zombie leads from you workflow, you can free up time to nurture qualified leads.

Once you know who to follow up with, building lead nurture campaigns through your marketing automation platform helps you:

  • Warm up cold leads
  • Shorten the sales cycle
  • Share different information depending on how familiar they are with your brand
  • Customize the content based on what they’ve clicked, downloaded, or shared
  • Create a personalized experience throughout the sales funnel

Master the handoff from marketing to sales

Lead management is a lot like a relay race: the handoff is key.

Your marketing team has to pass off qualified, sales-ready leads to your sales team. This is where a lead can slip through the cracks.

How can you make sure your sales team gets qualified, warmed-up leads?

Combine automation and sales.

How to distribute leads automatically

Use your CRM to automate lead distribution.

You can distribute leads based on:

  • A round robin format
  • Lead score
  • Win probability
  • Territory
  • Deal value

Say you’re a B2B company. Your target audience: other business owners.

Your sales team splits up leads based on company size. As we talked about in #2, the number of employees a company has can indicate deal value. Bigger companies tend to have more needs — and bigger budgets.

  • Salesperson A handles leads with fewer than 10 employees
  • Salesperson B handles leads with 11-50 employees
  • Salesperson C handles leads with over 50 employees

Here’s how automatic lead distribution works:

  1. A lead submits a form on your website requesting more information about your company
  2. In the form, you collect information on business size. This lead’s company has 20 employees.
  3. Your CRM automatically assigns this new lead to Salesperson B
  4. Salesperson B receives a notification and a task assignment to follow-up with the lead with a phone call

Make sure to connect your marketing automation to your CRM. This keeps your sales team up-to-date on everything your leads have done so far:

  • Lead source
  • Lead score
  • Website activity
  • What content they’ve looked at
  • Which emails they’ve received
  • Segmentation

Having this info on-hand helps you provide a personalized, well-informed experience to each lead.

You can include notes, assign tasks to your sales team, and view deal information, all within the contact record.

Stop sales tasks from getting forgotten or piling up. Use sales automations to assign tasks to your sales team when a customer completes a certain action or reaches a certain lead score.

For an even smoother handoff, give your team sales enablement materials.

Moving a lead from marketing to sales should feel like a natural progression — not a leap. One-pagers, talk tracks, and other helpful content make sure that your sales and marketing teams are sending the same message.

Track everything to keep improving

Once you put all of the above in place, how do you know if your lead management strategy works?

Set measurable goals for your sales team. These can include:

  • Average deal value: How much your average deal is worth
  • Lead conversion rate: What percentage of leads become customers
  • Lead velocity: How quickly a lead closes
  • Sales quota: The number of deals each salesperson is responsible for closing within a specific period
  • MQL: Marketing qualified leads. The number of leads that the marketing team deems qualified and ready for sales
  • SQL: Sales qualified leads. The number of leads that the sales team confirms as prospects who (1) have a problem your solution can fix and (2) can buy your solution

Once you have numeric goals set:

  • Track them
  • Improve based on what you find
  • Watch your conversions increase

Using CRM sales reports can help you identify which parts of your lead management process need improvement. You can identify bottlenecks in your sales process, like if deals tend to get stuck in a certain pipeline stage.

Stages represent the steps included in your pipeline (or sales process).

Imagine this is your sales pipeline:

  • To contact: Lead that still needs to be contacted
  • In contact with: Lead you are currently talking to
  • Follow-up: Lead that needs to be followed up with
  • Proposal creation: Lead who you need to build a pricing proposal for
  • Proposal sent: Lead to whom you’ve sent a pricing proposal
  • Deal won: Lead who has closed. Yay!

Now, let’s say you see way more leads sitting in the proposal creation step than any other step. There’s clearly a bottleneck here, and leads are building up.

How can you help your sales team move these leads to the next step more quickly? Is there a way to automate some of the proposal creation process? Do you have proposal templates? If so, are they easy to use?

Find the stage where leads get stuck – then get them moving (and closing).

With a sales performance report, you can:

  • See where deals sit in the sales process
  • Customize the report based on your goals
  • Get real-time visibility into which deals you’re closest to closing

If you want to measure sales productivity, you can get even more granular. View the status of tasks assigned to each salesperson:

When you set and track measurable goals, you can improve how you manage sales leads at each step of the process.

Once you identify areas of improvement, try something new!

If you need help getting started on this process, please visit our website and contact us! We would love to help you first start generating leads and secondly convert them into clients who will help your business grow! Let’s get started today!

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