While lead generation is more likely to be a marketing objective for B2B companies versus B2C, nearly any company focused on selling high-value products and services will likely become familiar with lead-based marketing practices, tools, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
In fact, companies that employ lead generation marketing strategies are also very likely to prioritize leads and assign them to sales teams for follow-ups (which are also important steps throughout the customer acquisition journey).
When it comes to lead management, which can also be called customer acquisition management, it’s important to remember that the transition from lead to client/customer isn’t instantaneous.
Purchase decisions can take a long time. You may know this timeline as a sales funnel or pipeline. While there’s no avoiding the funnel, there are ways to speed up movement through it, thanks to lead management tools.
In this blog, we’ll look at who can benefit from a lead management software, what to look for in a good one, and how you should ultimately choose the best fit for your company’s marketing and sales needs.
Who needs a lead management software?
If your company sells products or services that typically entail a long purchase cycle, you will benefit significantly from implementing a lead management system.
When set up properly, the workflows that come with a lead management software result in a greater number of conversions and strong insight into which marketing strategies are most effective.
In fact, some could argue that this type of marketing data is the biggest catalyst behind an increase in sales or customer conversions.
After all, when you have the ability to track how each lead was generated and identify information such as their industry or company name, marketing strategies can be optimized accordingly.
What to look for in a lead management solution
A good lead management solution should provide the following features and benefits:
- Email, landing page, and form creation (for data collection)
- Integration with email providers and landing page builders
- Sales pipeline management
- Lead qualifying and scoring
- Marketing attribution data
Email, landing page, and form creation
By adding forms built within your lead management software to your website, landing pages, and emails, you’ll be able to collect data efficiently.
That way, there’s no need to worry about importing and exporting data collected from other sources to follow up with those leads.
Instead, they’ll go straight into your system. You can aggregate data and follow up with leads in a timely manner, all in one place.
This kind of efficiency can in turn boost revenue, as the time it takes for a company to follow up with a lead is critical to the overall sales process; the faster, the better.
Integration with email providers and landing page builders
In case you’re attached to your existing email and landing page providers (we get it), it’s important that your new lead management software integrates with them.
This allows you to maintain your email and landing page templates, as they can be tedious to recreate, while streamlining data transfers and still following up with leads in a timely manner.
Automated workflow capabilities are the MVP when it comes to timely follow-ups.
You’re able to set triggers and responses that are highly customizable. You can determine the event you want an action to follow, choose to delay an action, and set up conditions so a specific action occurs in response to certain criteria being met and a different action occurs when it’s not.
At the bare minimum, you should be able to automate follow-up emails to leads, as well as notifications to sales reps, upon the submission of a form.
This is a must-have for lead management software. You need to be able to analyze the bigger picture when it comes to sales activity (or inactivity).
You should also be able to easily access data such as sources of leads to gauge which channels are performing best.
Ultimately, reports will help you identify any issues impacting the sales pipeline so you know what to fix, rather than wasting time and resources trying to find what’s wrong, or worse, not being aware of an issue in the first place.
Marketing attribution data
Do you know where your marketing dollars go and what return on investment they generate?
An overwhelming number of companies play a glorified guessing game when determining ROI.
Or, some companies will use tools that almost invariably assign all ROI to the first or last marketing touch point they can track, which is grossly inaccurate – especially for a long purchase cycle.
With a lead management solution, you can track every interaction and paint a more realistic picture of the whole purchase lifecycle, all while evaluating how marketing efforts impacted it.
The ability to centrally view and compare results for digital marketing campaigns helps you calculate your true ROI or total cost-per-acquisition for all touch points—not just the first or last.
This real-time data can help you make better marketing decisions on the fly. The alternative is a guessing game, and the results that a guessing game will get you.
Sales pipeline management
Pipeline management is the process of overseeing, and simplifying, the sales process.
Pipeline management is possible thanks to a few specific functions your lead management software should have: sales forecasting, sales process analysis, and lead scoring and qualifying.
Sales Forecasting: The estimation of revenue that could potentially be generated from anticipated sales. This can help companies make informed business decisions, giving insight into how resources should be managed in light of the potential incoming revenue.
Sales Process Analysis: The exercise of analyzing the sales process to ensure an optimal customer experience. This allows errors to be identified and amended quickly and efficiently. It can also be a more accurate method of measuring employee productivity.
Lead Scoring and Qualifying: The process of attributing scores to leads based on specific actions and gauging their quality accordingly. This can inform sales team decisions, as they can choose to dedicate their time and resources to the most qualified leads first.
Lead scoring and qualifying
Yes, we just mentioned it above, but this feature is essential for prioritizing leads and ultimately acquiring clients.
The actions you assign values to can vary depending on who you want your product's or service's target customers to be. For example, if you want to sell to companies of a specific size, you can assign point values to the options included in the “Company Size” question on your form.
In this case, more points should be assigned to the company sizes you want to target. If there’s a company size you’d like to avoid, you can assign that option a negative value.
Sales reps can easily use these scores to identify when a lead moves closer to becoming a viable client. After a certain number of points have been attained, reps can confidently reach out to cinch the deal.
How to choose the best lead management software
Now that you know what an ideal lead management software should do, let’s discuss how you can pick the best one for your specific business needs.
Like most major software decisions, you will need to assess your goals, priorities, requirements, and of course, a budget range you can afford.
Most of the time, these platforms contain more features than companies know what to do with.
Rather than confusing your sales team or paying for superfluous bells and whistles, ask yourself the following questions to help guide your decision:
- Do your business needs require a more complex software versus a simple one?
- What’s your company’s size?
- What’s your industry?
- What’s your budget?
- Does it integrate with your existing tools?
Complex versus simple software
Typically, advanced features and customization options will require a more complex platform.
This initially seems desirable, but you’ll need to consider whether those features are needs or wants.
If you determine they’re needs, you’ll next need to consider whether the amount of training required to make the most of those features is in your company’s best interest.
If you think that time could be better spent elsewhere, you’ll need to consider a simpler software solution.
Keep in mind, going for a simpler solution doesn’t mean you’re compromising quality. As long as it’s got the features we mentioned above, you’re in a good spot.
Your company’s size will play a big part in your software decision. Some platforms are specifically made for small businesses, while others are better suited for medium or large companies.
There are also more flexible options, so it’s important to also anticipate (and be realistic about) your company’s future growth.
If it’s highly likely that your company can grow at a tremendous rate, choose a lead management software that can handle it.
Similar to company size, your company’s industry may influence your software decision.
Again, there are platforms that are flexible enough to be used across the board, but you may prefer to use one better suited for B2B-only or B2C-only operations.
If you’re looking for an industry-specific lead management software, Software Advice allows you to filter by industry to find the best match for you.
While it may seem tempting to go for the cheapest option, you may find yourself stuck with the most basic software. Those impressive features you saw in a demo likely have to be purchased a la carte, and they’re not cheap.
It’s possible that a more expensive but all-encompassing option is better for you. Plus, you never know how some of those features you didn’t initially want could come in handy.
Another important factor to consider regarding budget is whether you’d be paying a monthly fee or enter into a yearly contract.
Typically, you end up paying more by the month than by the year, but you also have the flexibility to cancel at any time and stop paying versus being locked into paying until your contract expires.
Lastly, technical support and consulting often comes with a price tag, so be sure to consider this when deciding how simple or complex of a software you choose.
Going with a complex platform will cost more and potentially require more training (read: more money), but it could be worth it in the end if the ROI outweighs the cost.
Again, our best advice is to be realistic when it comes to projecting things like company growth and revenue.
We mentioned it earlier as a feature your lead management software should have, but integration capabilities are so important that we’re emphasizing it again here.
The integration capabilities of a software you’re considering should be one of the main factors guiding your decision making.
If you plan to continue using specific tools for things like email marketing, landing pages, or e-commerce, check and check again that your new lead management software integrates with your existing tools.
If not, you run the risk of losing time, money, and irreplaceable data.
Implementing a lead management software has a high chance of improving your marketing and sales performance, but it’s important to take the time to choose the right one.
That is, a platform containing essential lead management features that’s also best suited for your business needs.
With all this in mind, we hope we’ve equipped you with all the information you need to go into your lead management software search with confidence.Lead management is a general marketing term that describes the process of optimizing lead-based marketing activities. These marketing activities typically entail modern, inbound strategies for producing sales leads or prospects.