A quick guide to mastering your sales lead management process

Turning leads into valuable paying customers is an art form. It is difficult to know how to go about finding quality leads, and how to nurture them once found. Without an effective leads management system, conversion rates seem to come down to guesswork. Read this guide to simplify your sales lead management.

Jessica True
marketing funnel data analytics

Jessica True is a Senior Director, Marketing Strategy & Operations at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that turns conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns.

The 5 stages of a sales lead management system

Lead management doesn’t have to be complicated. Using this framework, you can break down the entire process into five easy stages.

The 5 stages of a sales lead management system illustration

Stage 1: Lead capture

Lead capture is another way of saying lead generation. It’s about finding as many people or companies as possible who could be potential customers. 

There are a few ways to capture potential leads’ contact details. Think marketing campaigns, social media advertising, lead magnets, contact forms, e-books and webinars, and more. 

At this stage, you don’t need to worry too much about whether leads are qualified or not – this can be determined later. More important is generating a healthy and consistent number of leads for your company, because you cannot do anything with leads you do not have. 

It’s also worth noting that not every lead will convert – conversion rates vary by industry and case. That’s why you want as many leads as possible to work from at the beginning of your sales lead management process.

Stage 2: Lead tracking

Through lead capture, you’ll likely have gathered some basic info on your potential leads, like names, numbers, and email addresses. 

Now it’s time to move on to the second phase of the sales management process: lead tracking. Moving beyond cursory information, lead tracking is where you gather more detailed behavioral data on your leads. For example:

  • Where are your leads coming from?
  • What kinds of content do they engage with?
  • What actions do they take on your website?
  • Which pages do they visit the most/least?
  • What CTAs (calls to action) do they click?
  • What stage of the buyer’s journey are they in?

Lead tracking allows your sales and marketing teams to plan their approach. By qualifying the lead based on behavioral data and other metrics, they can determine how likely an individual is to convert down the line. Then, they can be strategic in their outreach approach, marketing channels, and messaging techniques to turn the prospect into a paying customer. 

You can track leads manually, but many businesses choose to invest in a customer intelligence platform to help gather and organize transactional data in the most efficient way for future uses.

Stage 3: Lead scoring

Next is lead scoring. Looking at your list of leads, alongside the data you have collected on them, you need to assign each one a value depending on how likely they are to become a paying customer. 

The lead scoring system used can be individual to your business. The important thing is that all leads are scored on the same criteria across the entire sales team to ensure consistency. Then, your team knows which leads to prioritize and follow up on.

Here’s an example of a manual scoring system to get you started when building your own:

  • Liking a social media post = +1 point
  • Signing up for the newsletter = +2 points
  • Responding to an email = +5 points
  • Signing up for a webinar through your event ticketing platform = +8 points
  • Scheduling a meeting = + 10 points
  • Unsubscribing from the newsletter = -5 points

Lead scoring system illustrating

While the numbers may seem arbitrary, it’s all about what matters to you. Think about your ideal buyer persona and the actions they would likely take before making a purchase. Then, you can work backward to decide on a scoring system. 

You’ll also notice that negative scores are part of lead scoring – unfortunately, it goes both ways! Tally up the positive and negative and see which leads have the highest scores. 

Lead scoring empowers you to focus your efforts on the best leads – the ones who qualify as strong prospects. This way, you allocate resources to converting high-quality leads (thus increasing sales and revenue) rather than wasting time on leads who will never actually convert. 

“The important thing is that all leads are scored on the same criteria across the entire sales team to ensure consistency”.

Stage 4: Lead distribution

Once your leads are scored, it’s on to the fourth phase: the lead distribution system. Also known as lead routing, lead distribution is the act of assigning leads to your sales representatives. 

Think of it this way. Each lead coming through your marketing funnel is unique. It has its own needs, problems, and goals. Equally, your employees are unique – they have different skills, experiences, specialties, and levels of product knowledge. 

When you’re thinking about how to improve call center efficiency, for example, optimizing lead routing is a great way to start. You wouldn’t want a brand-new employee to be tasked with your trickiest lead, for example. Lead distribution, then, is about allocating the right lead to the right representative.

woman in black-silver headphones

There’s no one “correct” way of doing this. Some companies prefer to keep it random, perhaps using the round-robin method – meaning leads are assigned to agents by cycling through them in a sequential order – while others make decisions based on factors like geography, experience, etc. 

Whichever method you choose, remember to communicate transparently with employees. Also, remember that while a positive interaction may push an individual to make a purchase, leads may also choose to end the customer journey early if they have a negative experience with a sales rep. 

Additionally, effective lead distribution is crucial for aligning with sales compensation plans, ensuring that each representative has a fair and equitable opportunity to engage with potential customers and contribute to the overall sales success of the organization.

“while a positive interaction may push an individual to make a purchase, leads may also choose to end the customer journey early if they have a negative experience with a sales rep”.

Stage 5: Lead nurturing

The final stage is lead nurturing. The work is not over – lead nurturing is as crucial to the process as any other stage. Using all the data gathered and organized so far, lead nurturing is the process of cultivating your high-quality leads until they are ready to buy. 

Just because someone has displayed an interest in your product or service, does not necessarily mean they are ready to buy. The assigned sales representative needs to build and strengthen a relationship with the lead, understanding their issues, expectations, and pain points. Then, they can present a solution which is tailored to the individual. 

Lead nurturing can be done via a variety of channels, whether it’s in-person meetings, phone calls, or email exchanges. All that matters is that your efforts are gently pushing the professional relationship along.

An operator wearing headphones

For businesses dealing with complex sales processes, incorporating refunding services as part of lead nurturing can be pivotal. This not only enhances customer trust but also demonstrates confidence in the product or service being offered. This gesture can significantly impact the decision-making process of potential customers, ultimately increasing the likelihood of conversion.

Using CRM

Many businesses choose to use a CRM (customer relationships management) system to help master their sales lead management process. While it is possible to manage leads manually, things can get complicated quickly. Why? Because effective lead management is not a solo endeavor: there are lots of different people and teams involved, each with their own processes and workflows. So, it makes sense to use the tools available to streamline the sales process. 

Good CRM software equips your team with all the tools to create great contact profiles, edit and track relevant information for all contacts from one simple dashboard, score your leads, and automate workflows.

Final thoughts

A successful sales lead management process is one where each stage is taken seriously. Each one – from capture to tracking, scoring, distribution, and eventually lead nurturing – adds up to form a successful process, encouraging conversions for your business.

Additionally, you want to think about streamlining workflows so that each stage moves swiftly onto the next – for this, you may consider CRM or customer intelligence software to make the job easier for your teams.

*The purpose of this page is solely to provide information and should not be considered as financial advice.
**Melio does not provide legal, tax or accounting advice; you should consult a professional advisor before making any financial decisions.