Sales wants more, better leads. Marketing wants sales to call all of the leads they're delivering. How do you improve lead management so leads aren't wasted or contacted before they're ready, and both sales and marketing can live together in harmony?

With or without a lead management system, you likely still face these types of problems. That's because great lead management is kind of, well...hard. It has lots of moving parts, and sometimes too many cooks in the kitchen with very different motivations. If your lead management isn't operating as smoothly as you wish, read through these 14 kick-ass lead management tips. If you're not doing all of these things, start incorporating them into your lead management processes for greater success.

14 Kick-Ass Tips for Better Lead Management

1. Set up SMarketing.

SMarketing is the adorable and talented lovechild of sales and marketing, and you need it for lead management success. Meet on a weekly basis to ensure you’re both speaking the same language, have aligned and reasonable goals (do you have a service level agreement in place?), and are meeting those goals you've agreed upon. Forcing a weekly meeting may seem unnecessary or uncomfortable at first, but you’ll find that the little things you normally let slide or complain about actually start to get addressed. In the long run, your relationship will be better for it.

2. Determine the validity of a lead.

What constitutes a junk lead? Do you not sell to agencies, for example? Do you only sell to a specific geographic region? Have a SMarketing agreement on who these people are, and mark them as such in your database so you don't waste calories on these folks.

3. Set up lead nurturing.

Remember that not all leads are ready to buy right away. In fact, only 25% of new leads are sales-ready, and another 25% are probably never going to buy from you. Determine what your leads need from you and when they need it so you can make the most out of the leads that have the potential to buy from you. We've written a lead nurturing guide that tells you how to get started, as it can be a complicated process.

4. Adjust form fields to better qualify and distribute leads.

Do you have your sales department divided based on location? Industry? Do you know that information about your leads? You probably should, otherwise the money spent on acquiring those leads will be lost when they are routed to the wrong sales team. Perform A/B tests on your landing pages to ensure you can capture the information you need to qualify and distribute leads correctly and avoid losing conversions in the process.

5. Consistently scrub lead data.

We definitely recommend de-duplicating leads based on email address at the very least, but you should also verify information such as zip code, phone number, and email address when possible to keep lead records up to date, and thus, functional.

6. Iterate on your lead nurturing tracks.

Nurtured leads have a 23% shorter sales cycle, but you won't get it right the first time. Watch how leads respond to the type of content you deliver, the method of communication, and the frequency and timing of the communication to improve your lead nurturing and shorten the sales cycle.

7. Score your leads.

Instead of having salespeople sift through leads to find what they deem to be the best ones, have an automated system do it for them. Over time, you'll learn which sequence of events and behaviors indicate a "hot lead." With a marketing automation system, points can be attributed to a lead when those activities are performed, and when a pre-determined "sales-ready" grade is reached, the lead can be automatically bubbled up to your sales team. Talk about easy lead distribution.

8. Ensure Sales keeps an up-to-date database.

Because of the volume of communications in which your sales team is engaged, it's easy for lead records in your database or CRM to get out of date. Train your sales team to keep records updated after every conversation so you can continue to accumulate meaningful lead data and better personalize your communications through the sales cycle.

9. Make it easy for sales to keep an up-to-date database.

This means you can't expect your sales team to input loads of data. Be strategic and specific about what information you need out of their communications, what questions they should ask, and make it quick and easy to document it in your CRM.

10. Update lead records continuously.

Everything your leads are doing should be recorded. Every time they come to your site, what pages they visit, what items they download, and any other ways they interact with your company. This lets Sales know what leads are interested in talking about, and it lets Marketing refine its lead nurturing communications.

11. Speaking of which, personalize your lead nurturing.

Make sure your sales follow-up and nurturing communications are personalized based on site actions and social behavior. Deliver personalized follow up over a long period of time, as not all leads are sales ready, nor will all leads purchase during their first sales cycle.

12. Provide timely follow up to inquiries.

According to Harvard Business Review, companies that try to contact potential customers within 1 hour of receiving an inquiry are nearly 7 times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker. Don't let good leads slip through the cracks (and to your competitors); set up alerts to ensure leads with a high quality score are pinged to your sales team.

13. Consider the frequency and timing of your nurturing.

Are people unsubscribing at unusually high rates? Are your calls getting dodged? Are you forgetting about time zone differences? Just as you can nurture your leads too little, you can certainly overdo it. Once you nail down your message, experiment with communication frequency and timing to move more leads through the sales funnel.

14. Use closed-loop analytics.

Track and analyze the cost of acquiring a lead, nurturing that lead, turning them into a customer, and the speed at which they convert. Use closed-loop analytics to analyze this for all prospects based on persona, industry, and vertical so you know how many leads you need to bring in over a given period of time, what types of leads are needed, and how much you can spend to acquire them.

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Originally published Dec 21, 2011 9:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017


Lead Nurturing