You capture leads, but they never respond back to you? Your sales department complaints about the quality of the leads? You struggle to generate leads that turn into real sales?
These are common symptoms of a bad lead management process or a complete lack of one.
Capturing leads is one thing, but what’s the point of collecting contact information if your leads never buy from you.
Without a cohesive lead management process, the feast and famine cycle will continue. Perhaps, some months you’ve earned a fortune, while other months, you’re barely scraping by.
Acquiring customers can be attributed to perfect timing. When you connect the right person to the right solution at the right time, everything seems to just fit. Connecting with your leads too early means they aren’t ready to buy. However, waiting too long means they probably already moved on to a competitor, and you missed an opportunity.
There isn’t a magical timer that will ding whenever prospects are ready to buy, but creating an effective lead management process would let you determine where your leads are in the buyer’s journey and guide them to experience value with your product or service.
Lead management is all about capturing and tracking your prospects at every step of the customer lifecycle, so that you can tailor your marketing and sales efforts based on the quality of the lead and their sales readiness.
In this article, we’ll cover a step-by-step guide on creating a lead management process for your business. Let’s begin!
What is lead management?
Lead management is the process of capturing, tracking, and nurturing qualified leads until they become a paying customer.
The lead management process can be broken down into several stages:
- Lead capture and identification
- Lead tracking
- Lead qualification
- Lead nurturing
- Lead distribution and sales conversion
Consumers have become smarter, and competition has increased drastically. No longer do pray-and-spray marketing techniques work. A lead management process is designed to build a relationship with your leads and track their behavior as they progress through your funnel.
The sales and marketing teams must work in sync to design a cohesive lead management process that supports a seamless customer journey from the first touchpoint with your brand until someone converts.
Benefits of a well-executed lead management process
Prevent leakage of good leads
Without a marketing automation funnel to properly nurture your leads, you’ll have a leaking bucket. There are several reasons why leads can become disinterested:
- Failure to provide enough value.
- Content or product isn’t relevant to their needs.
- Prospect isn’t ready to buy.
- Failure to follow up.
Using a marketing automation tool like Encharge and other analytics software, you can identify where the leakage is coming from and address the problem.
For instance, Encharge provides plenty of metrics like click-thru rate, total email clicks, open rates, and more. Email metrics are, of course, just a part of your overall funnel metrics. Tracking the whole customer journey is hard but certainly not impossible with the right tools.
Filter Hot, Warm, and Cold leads
With lead scoring and segmentation, you’ll be able to determine the readiness to buy for each lead in your pipeline.
For example, if a customer takes the time to book an appointment, there’s a high probability they’re looking to purchase. If they’ve visited your pricing page, that’s another buying signal.
However, if the prospect doesn’t open any of your emails, they may not even know your offer exists.
Lead scoring and segmentation would allow you to identify the hot leads and prioritize your sales efforts towards them, minimizing the time spent on tire kickers and people who will never convert.
Follow up with leads at the right time
There’s a fine line between pushy and following up appropriately. If a prospect books a consultation call, you can pass the prospect on to your sales team.
But what if a prospect responds to a marketing email? Or if a prospect reaches out to your live chatbot?
These are opportunities for your marketing team to send these leads to a sales agent. Using a CRM tool, they can see whether this prospect has made any previous contact with your brand and decide when to follow up.
How to set up your lead management process
Every business in the world wants more leads. But what about maximizing the leads you’re already getting?
A lead management process lets you bring in more high-quality leads and convert more of them into paying customers.
Below we will examine a 6-step lead management process that you can implement in your business.
7-step Lead Management Process
- Attract and capture leads.
- Segment your leads.
- Qualify your leads.
- Nurture your leads.
- Send leads to the sales team.
- Create a follow-up strategy.
- Analyze your lead management process.
1. Attract and capture leads
Every lead management process begins with a lead generation strategy. This includes attracting interested prospects into your business and converting them into leads.
Leads are potential customers who have shown interest in your brand by taking action. They have likely shared their contact information with you.
Let’s cover a few lead generation strategies. Keep in mind there are many strategies out there, and you’ll want to experiment and determine the right strategies that are most effective for your business.
Rank on Google to bring organic leads
There are 5.6 billion searches on Google daily. Plenty of potential customers are searching for your products or services. They want answers or solutions to their problems.
By optimizing your website and blog content with relevant keywords, you can rank high for specific keywords, especially for words that express buying intent. Thus, ranking on Google lets you attract more visitors to your website.
Your strategy to generate traffic with organic traffic could be:
- Find topics and relevant associated keywords that people are searching for within your industry
- Create optimized content around these keywords
- Continue to create more valuable content and even guest posts to generate backlinks back to your website.
Let’s say you run an affiliate marketing business around coffee.
You can use a keyword research tool to see each keyword’s search volume, competition, and bidding rate.
In this example, notice that there are some low competition keywords such as “french press” or “bulletproof coffee.” Relatively new websites should focus on less competitive keywords and target long-tail keywords. That’s because long-tail keywords are more likely to convert.
After doing more research, you may notice that bulletproof coffee is an excellent niche to rank for. The search volume is relatively high, and there is plenty of low competition medium to long-tail keywords. For example, keywords like “MCT oil in coffee,” “bulletproof coffee keto,” and “keto coffee weight loss” can be excellent topics to blog about.
Advertise to tap into new audiences
Direct response marketing is a form of advertising that evokes an immediate response and encourages them to take action immediately. Nearly every platform offers a way to run native ads on their platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube, and Google.
Let’s focus on how to use Facebook as a lead generation technique. Facebook lets you build a contact form natively on their platform so that your audience doesn’t have to click off of the platform. As a result, it improves conversion rates.
So why Facebook? The advantage is that you can target people based on various demographics and psychographics.
For instance, if you sell CRM software. You can target people who have “liked” the HubSpot page; therefore, you target people who already know what a CRM is. You can further narrow the search by other filters so that you’re reaching a niche audience that is more likely to respond to your ad.
We recommend creating an ad that is enticing and relatable. For example, AdEspresso is a platform that helps business owners and marketers manage their Facebook ads and improve their ROI.
Many business owners struggle with their Facebook ads. This direct response advertisement directly hits the core of the problem that these business owners face. By demonstrating that you understand their problem, they’re more likely to engage with your ad and trust you enough to opt-in to your lead magnet.
Use lead magnets to capture leads
Lead magnets are used to capture visitors and get them to share their contact information with you in exchange for something of high perceived value.
Consider developing multiple lead magnets for each buying stage of the customer journey:
Top of funnel
Your prospects are just becoming aware of their problems, so it’s important to offer easy to consume and educational content. The goal is to offer insight into their problem and direct them towards a solution.
Lead magnets in this stage may include:
- Worksheet or Workbook
Middle of funnel lead magnets
Leads who have made it to the middle of the funnel understand the basics of their problem. They want to educate themselves on the solution. The lead magnet in the middle of the funnel should focus on how your product can solve its problem. Consider lead magnets, such as:
- Video training
- Case study
- Email course
Bottom of funnel lead magnets
Prospects who have made it to the bottom of the funnel are ready to buy a solution. However, they may not be ready to purchase from you exactly. You’ll need to convince prospects that you’re their best option. These lead magnets should demonstrate why your product is better than what your competitors offer. These lead magnets may include:
- Live demo
- Free trial
- Discount or coupon
- Comparison chart
- Free consultation
2. Segment your leads
Once your leads have opted in for your lead magnet, it’s time to group them.
Market segmentation means splitting up your audience into more focused groups based on specific criteria.
If you’ve done your homework on your target audience, you’ll know what groups of people are more likely to buy from you.
Imagine you’re selling software to high-level executives. If you don’t have a way to segment your leads, you could end up communicating with a bunch of people that aren’t a good fit for your product.
The best ways to segment your leads are through the following four categories:
Demographics include a wide variety of consumer information such as:
- Number of children
For instance, millennials would have completely different interests and needs compared to baby boomers.
Psychographics can be defined as an individual’s personality, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyle.
Suppose you’re a SaaS company that offers productivity management software. You may look for people with specific interests. People who follow Tim Ferris may be interested in maximizing their workflow and improving productivity.
User behavior is a great way to determine the prospect’s level of interest. If a prospect initiates contact with you, such as emailing you or messaging your live chatbot, they are already familiar with your brand and looking to purchase soon.
If you sell multiple products, it’s a good idea to create a lead magnet for each product. You could even create several lead magnets for each product. Seeing which lead magnet a prospect opts into lets you know which email sequence or funnel to direct them through.
Let’s say you run an agency that builds funnels for businesses. A prospect runs a retail business and mentions their retail company in your lead form.
You may have a team of salespeople who have different expertise in specific industries. If a prospect is in the retail industry, you might want to assign a sales agent who understands the industry to the consultation call.
Geographic location is important whether you’re an online or offline business. For brick and mortar locations, it is vital that you’re reaching prospects within your local area. However, online businesses can benefit from geographic locations as well.
Over time, you may notice a trend that certain regions are more interested in your product than others. Thus, you might be able to lower your ad costs by only targeting those regions.
Notice how the term “snowboarding” on Google Trends shows that the keyword is heavily searched for in states like Vermont, Colorado, Utah, Alaska, and Idaho.
With any term, you can search regions that have a great affinity for your product. In some cases, you can even look for regions with low affinity and omit those regions from your geographical targeting when running ads.
When developing your email sequences, it’s important to segment your leads, then personalize the message and offer to the right leads.
You can personalize your emails in many ways, including their name or stating a specific action they’ve done or common interests.
3. Qualify your leads
Lead scoring is the process of assigning numerical values to each prospect. It’s how you can separate between the good and bad leads.
Lead scoring has an ROI of 138% compared to 78% for companies that don’t score leads.
You can score your leads based on many attributes, such as how they’ve engaged with your website and email sequence and the professional information they’ve submitted to you.
Encharge allows you to score users based on engagement and attributes.
Set the attributes or behaviors that increase their score and behaviors that would decrease their score.
Here’s an example of a scoring system:
- +5 points when a prospect subscribes to your email list
- -5 points for canceling an appointment
- +25 points for scheduling an appointment
- +5 points for opening an email
- +10 points for clicking on a link in an email
- +10 points for visiting your pricing page
- +15 points for replying to your email
- +25 points for starting your free trial
- -10 points for not opening any emails
- -25 points for unsubscribing to your email list
When setting your lead scoring system, make sure to set a lead scoring threshold.
The threshold is a numerical point value where a lead is considered sales-ready and should be passed onto a member of your sales team for further outreach or follow-up.
If a lead isn’t yet qualified, it’ll increase your chances of burning the relationship with the prospect. If the scoring threshold is too high, you may lose your prospect to competitors.
It takes some time to figure out the right point threshold that can almost definitively tell you when a lead is qualified for sales activity.
The hallmark of a great lead scoring system is identifying attributes and behaviors that differentiate a good and bad lead.
It’s important to track the lead management process. Eventually, you’ll recognize a pattern of behaviors and attributes among paying customers.
For instance, perhaps your software is geared towards companies with a revenue of $100k and above. Therefore, you may want to change your marketing to weed out business owners who don’t fit your criteria.
The entire lead management process should qualify the right prospects while simultaneously disqualifying bad prospects.
Pro tip: With the two-way sync integration of HubSpot, you can score your leads in Encharge using in-app behavior actions, site visits, and more and then have that score in HubSpot. Your sales reps can create views and active lists in HubSpot with contacts that have a specific lead score.
4. Nurture your leads
A nurturing campaign involves sending a series of emails to your leads. For the best results, we recommend sending different email sequences based on their behavior, segmentation, and which lead magnet they’ve opted into.
Consider these unique types of emails that break the mold of the usual “cut-and-dry” nurturing emails.
Further reading: How to Write a Killer Welcome Email Series (with examples)
Webinar emails: Video is a great way to get commitment from your prospects since they have to be engaged while listening. A webinar takes it to another level since the prospect has to block out time to attend a live broadcast (or pre-recorded one).
Webinars take the pressure away from the prospect since they aren’t pressured by a salesperson. It’s a great way to educate the customer on your product and generate sales on auto-pilot.
Creating a webinar that is jam-packed with valuable information can increase your conversion. The email below demonstrates how Mind Valley is promoting a free webinar to get buy-in from leads, thus increasing the chances of purchasing the instructor’s course.
Upgrade emails: If you’re running a free trial business model, you’ll want to nudge your prospects to upgrade gently.
Medium is a publication that lets anyone write and create content. This email conveys the benefits that upgrading would give them, such as access to unlimited stories. Share the benefits and give reasons why your leads should consider subscribing.
Engagement emails: Before a prospect becomes sales-ready, you’ll likely need to engage them. A great way to engage readers is to educate them on something they care about and add some humor to it.
Neville Medhora is a copywriter that uses both. He uses interesting infographics that immediately grab your attention to illustrate his concepts. Consider adding interesting images, infographics, big texts, and even funny stories to convey your ideas to the readers. When your readers are engaged, they’ll be more likely to look forward to your emails every day.
FAQ emails: Before customers are ready to buy, they may have questions about your product or service. This is a great way to handle objections, especially before the prospect hops on a sales call.
Trusted House Sitters is a popular platform that connects homeowners and house sitters. They are sending a video that answers a common question about whether you should trust a stranger to take care of your home while you’re away.
Consider sending personalized FAQs to help prospects familiarize themselves with your product. A video can be more effective since it can set the right tone for your leads and show them you’re a friendly and trustworthy business to purchase from.
5. Send leads to the sales team
Lead distribution is when you’re forwarding inbound leads to your sales team. Ideally, you’ll only want to pass these leads on once they’re marketing qualified. Thus, the leads must be properly nurtured and have a strong interest in your product before your sales team attempts to close the sale.
Every lead that enters your marketing funnel is unique. Each has different problems, needs, and goals. Additionally, your sales representatives also have different experiences, skills, and product knowledge.
For example, you may want to send enterprise clients to your most skilled sales reps. Or you may want to segment your sales teams by industry.
Lead distribution involves evaluating what makes your leads unique and routing them to the right sales rep.
Instead of manually allocating leads, it’s important to have an automatic lead distribution system that automatically analyzes key information for you and automatically directs prospects to the most appropriate sales rep.
This saves you time from doing the manual work of sorting and figuring out which prospect should go to which rep.
You can choose to distribute leads using either method:
- Round-robin is a method where leads are routed to your sales reps on a rotation. If you have five sales reps, each rep will receive a based on their position in the queue. Once the cycle is complete
- Lead assignment rules are a method where leads are assigned based on rules that further define which leads are routed to each sales rep.
You can use Encharge automation flows to create HubSpot deals and assign specific leads and their associated deal(s) to specific HubSpot users (i.e., deal owners). In the example below, a deal is automatically created for the “High Score Leads” segment of people, and a specific owner is assigned to the deal. This whole process is completely automated and works in the background.
Here are some factors to consider when distributing leads to your sales reps:
- Expertise: Sales reps who have expertise in a specific product or market will better understand the prospects’ pain points and clearly describe the benefits of your product to them. These reps will tend to perform better in rapport building, handling objections, and closing the sale.
- Experience: Some situations may require an experienced sales rep to handle. An experienced sales agent may be more adept at handling prospects looking for complex solutions or enterprise leads.
- Performance: Rewarding sales agents who perform well can motivate your team. Consider gamifying your lead distribution by sending more leads or bigger deals to reps who performed well the previous week or month.
- Geographic location: If your business has sales rep across different regions, consider routing leads to the agent in the appropriate area.
- Availability: Make sure your sales rep is available before forwarding them leads.
6. Create a follow-up strategy for leads that didn’t buy
Not everyone will buy when you want them to. Sometimes life gets in the way. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on them.
Your business likely has spent money to acquire each lead. Don’t let that money go to waste!
Always create a follow-up strategy for each type of lead.
It may be best to have a personal sales rep follow up with a sales-qualified lead, especially if they have already made contact with a sales agent.
In contrast, if marketing qualified leads don’t take the next step to book a live demo, consultation call, or upgrade to your paid subscription, you’ll want to take a marketing approach to follow-up. For example, you can either show retargeting ads to them or send witty follow-up emails that reignite their interest in your brand.
Retargeting ads have a 10 times greater click-thru rate than regular ads and have up to 150% higher conversion rates.
MindValley bluntly calls out readers who haven’t opened their email. Often this straightforward message can capture the interest of email subscribers. That’s because your leads might be interested in your product but simply haven’t viewed your emails as important. These emails serve as a reminder to readers.
Further reading: How Successful SaaS Companies Use Nudge Emails
HubSpot uses many types of remarketing ads to pique their prospects’ interests. They know that simply running one ad won’t cut it. They A/B test different retargeting ads to see which ones perform the best.
Great marketers will spend a lot on retargeting ads because they provide a better ROI since the audience is already aware of their brand. Furthermore, they’ll run lots of ads to give the leads a sense of omnipresence.
Consider running remarketing ads on multiple platforms like Facebook, Google, Instagram, and YouTube.
In the first example, HubSpot brilliantly handles a common objection by their prospects. They know that some prospects are hesitant to sign up with HubSpot because they are hesitant that it may take too long to set up and might be confusing to use. This ad helps to quell those fears and tells them that their software can save them up to 124 hours per year.
Sometimes HubSpot may take a bold approach that evokes an immediate reaction from their prospects. This gets their audience to stop and generates curiosity. Most people want to click on the ad simply to know what the ad is about. The video portrays a fun story while also tying the story to their product.
7. Analyze your lead management process
The only way to improve your process is to measure the results at every step of the lead management process.
“What gets measured gets managed.”Peter F. Drucker
Here are the most useful data points you’ll want to track from your lead generation process down to the lead conversion:
You’ll want to measure the number of opportunities you receive. This is be broken down into types of leads such as:
- Information-qualified leads (IQL): Completed a form to receive a lead magnet that provides them with more information, such as a cheatsheet or ebook.
- Marketing-qualified leads (MQL): Completed a form to learn more about a solution such as a product or service and visited the pricing page.
- Sales-qualified leads (SQL): Interested in speaking with a sales rep or has a clear interest in your product or service.
- Free-trial users: Subscribed to your free trial to receive access to your software.
You can have the world’s greatest backend funnel, but that won’t matter unless you’re bringing people to the door.
If people love your product or service, but it doesn’t seem like you’re attracting much attention, there’s a good chance you don’t have a good lead generation process. Many service businesses skilled at their craft have a high conversion rate because they can demonstrate their leads but don’t have the marketing prowess to generate attention.
2. Conversion rate
It’s important to measure the opt-in and sale conversion rates. If your opt-in rates are low, perhaps the lead magnet isn’t attractive enough, or the blog content or ad isn’t relevant.
Many factors could affect sales conversion. Perhaps, you need to provide better sales training to your reps. Or, it could be that you haven’t nurtured your leads properly or maybe the leads aren’t sales qualified when they hop on a call with your reps.
You can calculate the conversion rate by following these formulas:
Total leads/total visitors x 100 = opt-in rate
Total total conversions/total leads in funnel x 100 = sales conversion rate
As you tinker with your lead generation process, segmentation criteria, lead scoring system, nurturing, and conversion process, you’ll begin to see your conversion rates increase.
3. Customer lifetime value
The lifetime value of a customer lets you measure how effective your business model performs in the long term. Having a lot of customers but a low customer lifetime value means you’ll continuously have to spend an enormous amount of time and effort on lead generation.
Instead, it can be more beneficial to maximize each customer by increasing their lifetime value. We recommend offering a subscription service or higher-tier products to deliver more value to customers and increase their loyalty to your brand.
4. Total sales
Are you growing month over month? Tracking total sales over a period of time is crucial to determine whether your business is growing or declining.
5. Sales cycle time
Some markets have a longer sales cycle. This requires a more in-depth lead nurturing process. For example, a productivity tool can have an immediate sales cycle since the customer can decide right away. Conversely, a fintech software used by investment bankers could take months or years to complete. It may be beneficial to figure out how to shorten the sales cycle.
6. Acquisition costs
The cost per lead (CPL), average deal size, and customer lifetime value should be diligently tracked. If you’re running ads, you’ll want to know how much it costs to obtain each lead.
For example, is your CPL greater than your average deal size? If so, you may want to choose other forms of lead generation that cost less. Ultimately, your cost per sale should be lower than the average deal size (or average revenue generated).
However, sometimes, it may be advantageous to break even on your CPL and average deal size, meaning you’re not profiting on the initial sale. That’s because some businesses have a recurring subscription base model or back-end funnel system where they know they have a high customer lifetime value.
This can benefit businesses looking to scale because they can outbid their competitors with advertising for competitive keywords or interests; therefore, they can snatch leads away from other businesses.
Although the cost of acquiring a customer may be expensive, if you can retain a customer for years, it can be worth it.
“It costs 7 times more to attract a customer than to retain an existing customer.”Neil Patel
Automate your lead management process with Encharge!
Don’t let your leads go to waste. If your leads are ghosting you, you may want to track your leads and engage them better.
Building a lead management process lets you properly filter out the hot, warm, and cold leads. Not to mention, it does all the heavy lifting by nurturing leads until their sales-qualified before sending them off to your trusty sales reps.
Get the ball rolling and start seeing results with your lead conversions. Sign up for a free 14-day trial with Encharge and create email marketing automation campaigns to better manage your leads.