Create a Lead Management Process in 6 Easy Steps

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Sales Management : 9 min read

Create a Lead Management Process in 6 Easy Steps

A lead management process covers all the actions you take to acquire new prospects including lead capture, activity tracking, qualifying, nurturing, and eventually passing them from Marketing on to your Sales team.

Having a system in place to manage your leads is crucial because without one, not only will you generate fewer leads, but the ones you do generate will be more likely to fall through if you don’t have a plan on how to handle them. In other words, taking the time to map out a solid lead management process will save you tons of time, money, and resources in the long run.

That’s not to say all lead management processes are created equal. If you’re going to cheap out on anything in your business, your lead management process isn’t where to do it. Inefficient lead management systems can do more harm than good and risk losing you leads due to lack of organization, a slow-moving sales cycle, or inconsistent timing (all side effects of using not-so-great tools).

Basically: not having a good lead management process in place is a costly situation you don’t want to be in.

But fear not, this post will walk you through how to create your own effective lead management process in six simple steps.

Step 1: Identify your ideal lead + their buyer journey.

You can’t effectively design a product, plan marketing campaigns, or sell said product if you don’t know who your audience is.

For this reason, it’s critical to identify who your ideal leads are and what their buyer’s journey looks like before you can figure out how to manage them.

Your ideal leads are the people out there who are most likely to buy your product or service.

The task of figuring out who your most likely customers are usually falls under Marketing. They look at your customer data—or general industry data if you’re just starting out and don’t have much data of your own—in order to identify different buyer types and what their unique buying behaviors look like.

These buyer types are documented as “buyer personas” and should be shared with the rest of your company.

Things to include in a buyer persona include:

  • Job title
  • Demographics (age, sex, location)
  • Company size
  • Income
  • Short bio
  • Goals
  • Frustrations

Once you’ve got your personas built out, it’s time to map out the process they go through to make a purchase decision, also known as customer journey mapping. This way, you’ll be able to ensure you’re creating content for each stage in their decision-making process.

creating a buyer journey
Creating buyer personas and mapping their journey through their typical buying process empowers your team to target them more effectively.  

Step 2: Generate leads.

“Generating leads” can be a lot harder than it sounds. With the right tools, however, it doesn’t have to be.

lead gen tools
Sales and Marketing teams will need to unanimously decide which lead capture tools to use in your lead management process.

Step 3: Gather intel about your leads + segment them.

Segmenting your leads means dividing them based on certain qualities in order to better target them with relevant content specific to their situation.

There are different ways to segment your leads. For example, you could segment them according to:

  • Buyer persona: which of your buyer personas do they best identify with?
  • New or existing lead status: is this a repeat visitor or a brand-new lead who has never interacted with your company before?
  • Product-specific: if you offer multiple products or services, which product in particular did this lead show interest in?
  • Purchase history: which products did this lead buy previously?
  • Engagement level: how many times has this lead interacted with your company?

In order to segment leads, however, you’ll need to know who they are. That’s where gathering intel comes in.

A lot of people could be visiting your website on a regular basis. If you don’t have systems in place to identify them with, you may never get to actually talk to them.

Here are examples of ways you can gain information about your leads:

  • Track your website visitors through software such as Leady.
  • Use Google Analytics to generate tracking tokens and attach them to links in your email and online marketing campaigns to help you see which of your content attracts the most leads and how they interact with it.
  • Use lead-capture forms to prompt leads to enter their email address and other desired information in exchange for valuable content such as an ebook or whitepaper.
Revenue & Associates collects intel on their website visitors by placing an ebook behind a lead-capture form.

The insights you gain from knowing your audience and following them on their buyer journey will help you in the remaining steps of your lead management process.

Step 4: Score your leads.

Lead scoring is the process of quantifying a lead’s potential interest in your product by assigning points based on predetermined scoring factors. The higher the score, the more likely they are to buy your product.

Scoring your leads is super helpful because it gives you a variable to prioritize your leads by when prospecting.

Some examples of scoring factors could be:

  • Location: does the prospect live close to an area your product is sold?
  • Engagement: does this prospect visit your website often? Do they open all of your emails?
  • Role: is the prospect the decision-maker for your product or service in their company?
  • Buying stage: which stage of the sales funnel are they in?

Of course, just as points can be added for meeting certain criteria, points can also be taken away for factors such as failure to open your last marketing emails or return your phone calls, having too low a budget to afford your product, or providing a persona email address versus a business one.

Marketing and Sales teams should work together to determine which factors are most important to them and come up with a lead scoring system together.

a lead scorecard example.

Going back to our point of making sure you have the right tools: marketing automation software can be programmed to automatically update a lead’s score when they perform (or fail to perform) certain actions.

Integrating your marketing software with your CRM will allow you to see all your leads and updates in one place. For example, here's how it looks in Copper:

Step 5: Nurture your leads.

By this point, you know who your leads are, what they like, and what they’re looking for.

To get them to the sales stage, you’ll need to nurture them. You can set up different nurture campaigns for the different stages of your sales funnel and tailor the content of each campaign to different lead segments.

For example, if a lead is in the Awareness stage of your sales funnel, nurture them by providing educational content that will help them start to see you company as a solution to their problem or as the missing piece in achieving their business goal.

example of a sales funnel

Learn more about the types of content to share at each stage of the sales funnel here.

Here are some tips to incorporate into all your nurture campaign material:

  • Make sure you have valuable content at each stage of the sales funnel.
  • Personalize your emails and use good subject lines.
  • Always include a call-to-action (CTA).
  • Use analytics software like Google Analytics to track how your campaigns are doing.
  • Apply lead scoring to each component of your nurture campaigns.

Remember, the goal of nurturing your leads is to continue building relationships with them and push them towards Sales.

Step 6: Pass your leads on to Sales.

By this point, your lead is nice and nurtured and (hopefully) ready to buy.

You’ll know your leads are ready for this stage once they’ve reached certain lead scores—even better if they’ve gone ahead and requested a free trial or demo of your product. Your CRM can then automatically assign these leads to an appropriate rep from your Sales team.

It’s extremely important that leads aren’t moved to Sales too early as if they’re not well-nurtured; they’re not likely to buy what you’re selling, which will be a waste of time and effort for everyone involved—including the lead. So, it’s critical that all steps up to this stage are done carefully and done right. If your scoring, segmentation, or nurture game is off, your sales reps won’t always be able to compensate for it.

Ready to start managing your leads like a pro?

Companies with a good lead management process in place tend to perform at a higher level and convert more leads into paying customers—and now you know why. Be sure to invest the time and resources necessary to optimize yours and maximize your chances of long-term business growth and success.