Not every lead you generate is "ready to buy," and some leads will absolutely never buy your product. In fact, only 25% of new leads could be considered sales-ready, and upwards of 25% are probably never going to buy from your business.

These facts create a question that must be answered: What do you do with the other 50 percent? The answer is simple.  Manage those leads!

Lead management is a process that:

  • Captures leads when they look for your products or services.
  • Nurtures leads that are not yet ready for sales contact.
  • Scores leads to identify those that are ready to buy.
  • Passes leads to sales people when the prospect is ready to buy.
  • Evaluates your leads to define a good lead.

If you are able to follow this lead management process, your customers will be better informed and your sales force will understand their needs, which will result in more sales.

So how do you conduct lead management correctly? Here are three tips to help you manage your leads.

1. Build Relationships With Your Leads

You should spend time building relationships, or nurturing your leads, before you send them along to your sales team. Many of the leads you capture are still gathering information to help them make a decision. If you can provide information to them about your products/services using the web, email, or social media, you can help to educate prospective customers.

There are three benefits when your lead management process nurtures leads and builds relationships:

  1. The stronger your relationship, the more the prospect will trust you.
  2. You will have a better understanding of your prospects’ needs.
  3. When you get to know your lead, you will be better at scoring that lead when you get to that step of the lead management process.

2. Be a Thought Leader With Your Leads

Lead management and nurturing is about more than just touching base with a prospect with an email or phone call. It's not about just bothering them to see if they are ready to buy.

The sales process is becoming more complex, especially the business to business (B2B) sales process. This means your potential customers need your help to see the different aspects and variables with which they may not be familiar. Therefore, if you share important information with them that will help to inform their decision before they ask for it, they will view you as a thought leader in your industry.

If you can demonstrate a high level of knowledge and expertise about your industry, you add value. This way, you are able to show that your product has value, and also that you are also able to add value to the relationship.

3. Know When the Lead is “Sales-Ready”

One of the important steps I mentioned above was scoring each lead to help you understand when they are ready to buy. This process involves taking a prospect and measuring his or her score against your ideal customer. Therefore, you need to develop a score that represents your ideal customer who is ready to buy before you are able to make any accurate comparisons.

Your marketing team also needs to work with your sales organization to develop a clear picture of your ideal lead. There are three criteria you should include when developing your ideal lead picture:

  1. Demographic Data: Geographic location, company size, industry, position in organization, etc.
  2. Lead Source Data: Knowledge of where the lead came from. Did they come from a search engine marketing campaign, a newspaper ad, or a cold call?
  3. Behavioral Data: Knowledge of whether they visited your website or read your content marketing materials.

If you try to close a sale too quickly, you can lose the trust of that prospect or even lose the prospect altogether.

Lead management may sound simple, but it can get very complicated. And it gets even more complicated if your marketing efforts generate a lot of leads. Use this process and the three tips outlined above for lead management success.

Do you have a successful lead management system in place? What other tips would you suggest?

Image credit: Lincolnian (Brian)


Originally published Sep 16, 2011 12:00:00 PM, updated September 21 2018


Lead Nurturing