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Lead management is the process of tracking and managing prospective customers, called leads. It combines a set of methods and practices for gathering, qualifying, and pursuing leads who come through outbound and inbound channels. Without high-quality leads, there’s nothing worthwhile for a sales team to pursue. That’s why effective lead management is considered the backbone of a successful sales operation and a critical first step in the sales cycle.
Lead management software is critical for sales success because it supports increased complexity as a company scales; managing 200 leads is a lot different than managing 2,000 or 20,000 leads, let alone even more. Once some of those sales leads turn into customers, businesses must continue to nurture those relationships to ensure lasting customer success. That’s why lead management software and customer relationship management are so closely intertwined.
While most lead management tools are part of CRM platforms, there are some standalone solutions that focus primarily on managing leads. Here are some of the most popular lead management software options that are not part of a CRM system:
LeadSquared is a marketing automation and lead management software that helps businesses capture, track, and nurture leads from various channels such as web forms, chatbots, emails, and social media.
The platform’s lead scoring system assigns scores to leads based on their engagement and attributes, enabling sales teams to prioritize leads and focus on those with the highest potential for conversion. LeadSquared tracks lead interactions across various channels and records their activities, providing valuable insights into lead behavior and preferences. Additionally, the platform offers customizable workflows and automation rules, enabling businesses to create tailored lead nurturing processes that suit their specific needs and objectives.
Leadfeeder is a lead generation and management tool that helps you identify website visitors and turn them into potential leads. It integrates with your website and provides real-time analytics on website visitors and provides lead scoring and segmentation based on your website visitor’s behavior.
LeanData is a lead routing and management software that helps users manage leads across different channels and campaigns. It automates the lead routing process and ensures leads are assigned to the right salesperson. It also provides real-time insights on lead activity and engagement.
Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions have revolutionized lead management by providing businesses with a centralized platform to track, nurture, and convert leads into loyal customers. These tools enable businesses to monitor and analyze lead interactions, prioritize high-quality prospects, and personalize marketing and sales strategies. With the help of CRMs, companies can foster stronger relationships with leads by streamlining and automating the lead management process. These are some of the leading CRM solutions with robust lead management and sales pipeline tools:
One of the key features of Salesforce is lead capture, which allows businesses to capture leads from multiple sources, such as web forms, social media, and email campaigns. Salesforce also offers lead scoring and nurturing capabilities, allowing you to prioritize leads based on their engagement and automate lead nurturing campaigns to move them through the sales funnel. Additionally, Salesforce allows you to route leads to the right sales reps based on predefined rules and criteria, ensuring that they are handled by the appropriate team members.
Salesforce also provides real-time insights into lead activity and engagement, allowing you to track their progress through the sales funnel and adjust your strategy accordingly. The platform integrates with a wide range of third-party tools and platforms, such as marketing automation and sales engagement software, allowing you to extend its functionality and streamline your lead management process.
HubSpot CRM is a comprehensive lead management solution that offers a range of features to help businesses manage their leads effectively. One of the key features of HubSpot CRM is contact and lead management, which allows businesses to manage their contacts and leads in one centralized location, providing a complete view of all interactions and activities associated with each lead.
HubSpot CRM also provides lead capture forms that can be customized to match a business’s branding and capture the information they need to qualify and follow up with leads effectively. Additionally, HubSpot CRM offers lead scoring and nurturing capabilities, allowing businesses to prioritize leads based on their engagement and automate lead nurturing campaigns to move them through the sales funnel.
Sales pipeline management is another important feature of HubSpot CRM, providing a visual sales pipeline that allows businesses to track their leads through each stage of the sales process, providing real-time insights into their progress and enabling them to identify potential bottlenecks and opportunities. Finally, HubSpot CRM integrates with a wide range of third-party tools and platforms, such as marketing automation and sales engagement software, allowing businesses to extend its functionality and streamline their lead management process.
Zoho CRM provides lead scoring and nurturing capabilities, allowing businesses to prioritize leads based on their engagement and automate lead nurturing campaigns to move them through the sales funnel. Additionally, Zoho CRM offers real-time insights into lead activity and engagement, allowing businesses to track their progress through the sales funnel and adjust their strategy accordingly.
Another important feature of Zoho CRM is sales pipeline management, providing a visual sales pipeline that allows businesses to track their leads through each stage of the sales process, providing real-time insights into their progress and enabling them to identify potential bottlenecks and opportunities. Finally, Zoho CRM integrates with a wide range of third-party tools and platforms, such as marketing automation and sales engagement software, allowing businesses to extend its functionality and streamline their lead management process.
While there are several different models of the lead management process out there, most people agree that it can be broken down into five steps:
Lead generation refers to gaining new leads through both inbound and outbound marketing techniques and collecting their contact info. Tactics can include blog posts, advertisements, white papers, social media, events, webinars, public relations (PR) campaigns, and more marketing strategies.
Lead tracking refers to using tools to track how prospects are engaging with sales and marketing tools. For lead tracking, sales teams may look at who is clicking on web pages, opening emails, signing up for giveaways, and so on.
Lead scoring involves deciding which prospects are most likely to make a purchase and rating them accordingly. Businesses use many different criteria for lead scoring, including whether or not they have the budget to buy the product or service and whether or not they have the authority to make a purchase.
Lead distribution involves matching leads to the sales representative who is most likely to convert them. This is helpful for businesses with large sales and marketing teams who have leads across many different products, services, and/or industries with vastly different needs.
Lead nurturing involves building relationships with leads with the intention of eventually converting them into buyers. Lead nurturing can take many different forms, including follow-up phone calls, drip marketing campaigns, product demos, and more.
Lead management and customer relationship management (CRM) are two separate processes, but they are closely related. Lead management focuses on the pre-conversion part of the sales and marketing process, whereas CRM considers the entire customer life cycle. Similarly, lead management tools are mostly used by sales teams, whereas CRM platforms are used by both sales and marketing departments.
Lead generation and customer relations strategies must be aligned for sales and marketing success. Not only is it six to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an old one, but a simple 5% increase in customer retention can also increase company revenue by 25–95%. If a sales strategy is focused on pursuing leads while completely neglecting post-conversion customer relationships, a lot of hard work and potential profits will be wasted.
For this reason, lead management is often included as a subset of features in a CRM software solution. For instance, Salesforce’s lead management tools are bundled into its comprehensive Sales Cloud, and HubSpot CRM includes lead management features as well. Stand-alone lead management options exist, but an integrated system will most likely be more streamlined and affordable.
The best lead management tools are a marriage of CRM and marketing automation systems. They are built to handle leads from inquiry to sale, dripping leads down each level of the sales funnel with nurturing content or interactions until they close.
The best lead management software systems can have a myriad of functions, but they’ll usually also include all or some of the following features:
If you’ve even tried to track all of your qualified leads in a spreadsheet, then you know how frustrating and inaccurate manual lead management is. A manual lead management system can be incredibly cumbersome and, in some cases, impossible to maintain, especially for large businesses that have an overwhelming volume of incoming leads.
Manual lead management also greatly increases the chances of human error when it comes to data input. A salesperson may incorrectly capture customer contact info, assign the wrong qualifications to the wrong leads, and/or make another error that negatively impacts the lead management process.
Lead management software allows many of these processes to be automated, which not only saves time but also provides data-backed insight into areas for improvement.
For starters, lead scoring leads prevents sales reps from wasting time with unqualified leads who have a very low likelihood of ever converting into customers. Instead, they can identify the most promising leads and balance their time between converting hot leads and nurturing warm or cold ones. Lead management systems also prevent calls, demos, and meetings from falling through the cracks.
In addition, lead management software helps businesses understand which tactics are bringing in the best leads, so they can optimize their overall sales strategy to be more effective and efficient. Since lead management software documents a lead’s full history of interactions and experiences with a company, sales teams can analyze exactly how a person was converted from a prospect to a lead to a customer and use that knowledge to better inform future sales practices.
When properly implemented, lead management software helps sales teams operate more efficiently and boosts the bottom line. It also ensures the entire sales team has visibility into one another’s work by centralizing everything in one platform, which makes team collaboration easier as well.
All of these practices help create more sales opportunities and therefore contribute to the business’s bottom line. According to Marketo, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost, which means better leads for less money and greater overall profits.