Executive Guide to Lead Management Systems + 5 Ways They Benefit Businesses
We explore lead management and how it can be optimized with the right lead management system.
You’ve likely invested countless hours and expenses into getting leads flowing for your business. When leads enter your CRM, do you make the most of them?
Many companies struggle with this and miss sales opportunities.
An improved lead management system can help you navigate thousands of incoming lead data points, translating that rich data into actionable sales and marketing activities to increase conversions.
Whether you’re re-evaluating your current lead management system or are in the process of shaping a new one, you need to know the key features that will bring your business success.
Let’s explore lead management and how it can be optimized with the right lead management system. We’ll also show you 5 ways this benefits your business and give you the tools to choose your best lead management system.
Is your lead management missing key features? Schedule a demo with Databowl to see what else is possible.
What is lead management?
Lead management is the process of organizing, tracking, and working prospective customers you’ve acquired, with the ultimate goal of converting those leads into customers.
Managing leads is commonly used for online businesses as an important part of their sales and marketing efforts. To manage leads, you need software that can track the data and behavior for your leads, marketing campaigns, and sales team. With lead management, you’ll be able to understand how your sales and marketing tactics actually impact lead conversion.
The process for lead management, which includes managing leads, how you qualify, nurture, and work leads, can be optimized within a structure called a lead management system.
What is a lead management system?
A lead management system is a structure that supports lead management, encompassing many parts of how a business acquires, prioritizes, works, nurtures, and converts leads.
From acquisition to conversion, a lead management system collects leads as they make initial engagement with your business. An optimized lead management system will then include features that use lead data and behavior to help your sales and marketing teams qualify, prioritize, and distribute each lead.
Lead management systems have improved with software that now makes managing lead data easier than ever, compared to managing stagnant data with stale rules and theories about how a lead should be worked.
Why is a lead management system important?
A lead management system is important because it creates a structure for leads to flow through smoothly, from initial outreach through to conversion — and even back through lead nurturing for repeated sales.
Without a lead management system, businesses receive thousands of lead data points that they waste because there is no system to organize and prioritize those leads.
On the other hand, using a lead management system within a software platform that optimizes lead data, allows businesses to make the most of the leads they buy or generate. This saves time and resources as the lead management system automatically qualifies and prioritizes leads.
Tracking lead data and behavior within a lead management system also informs ongoing sales and marketing efforts, giving businesses feedback on what truly engages prospective customers.
Once leads flow into your system, how does your sales team optimize next steps? Read our Executive Guide to Lead Distribution Strategy.
Key features of lead management systems
A reliable and effective lead management system should have many components that work together to optimize the flow and conversion of leads.
The right lead management platform will have the features described below.
Lead capture forms
To get prospective customers to engage with you — and to collect their lead data — you first need lead capture forms on your website.
Lead capture forms work best when paired with an enticing CTA for the consumer, which tells them how you can help or what you have to offer if they connect with you. A user then fills out your form, providing a few data points. They become a lead at this point, and you have new ways to connect with them based on the data collected.
These forms can ask for something as simple as someone’s name and email or could go deeper to learn details like a lead’s job title, company, areas of interest, budget, etc. Form questions can help you score and qualify leads, but asking too many questions can also turn leads away.
Lead scoring and prioritization
As leads flow in, scoring or ranking them allows your sales and marketing teams to see how qualified leads are to work, meaning how likely they are to convert to a sale.
Leads are scored based on various criteria that are weighted depending on how likely each data point is to impact the prospect converting. With a lead management system, lead scoring and prioritization can be automated so that sales teams can take informed action as leads are captured.
Using lead scoring also allows sales teams to prioritize which leads to work first and even how long to work with them, leading into how contacts and opportunities are managed.
Contact and opportunity management
At the point where sales teams need to take action on managing leads, contact and opportunity management simplify when to contact leads, how long to try reaching them, and how to move them through the sales funnel as engagement changes over time.
A lead management system helps sales teams organize these actions for the best likelihood of getting a response from a lead, which could include how the lead is contacted, when they’re contacted, and who contacts them.
Analytics and reporting
According to 2023 marketing strategy and trends, data-informed marketing strategies have become vital.
As leads flow through their various journeys with your sales and marketing efforts, your lead management system should track their data, behavior, and experiences to allow for reporting and analytics.
Lead management system analytics and reporting gives you insight into what does and doesn’t work within your lead management, marketing campaigns, and sales activities.
This data-backed insight informs how the system may be adjusted to continually improve how likely leads are to convert.
Lead scoring and prioritization
Of the key features needed for an effective lead management system, lead scoring and prioritization is especially important. As the first step in making sense of a lead, it’s impact trickles through that lead’s entire experience with your business.
So let’s dig a little deeper into how a lead management system does lead scoring and prioritization well.
How it works
As mentioned, when leads flow in they’re scored or ranked to allow sales and marketing teams to see how qualified leads are, meaning how likely they are to convert to a sale.
Some lead management systems do this by using conditions to segment data based on certain criteria. Once a lead is scored, this provides sales and marketing with insight into how to prioritize the lead.
These scores can also be set using a more in-depth method, known as machine learning. In this case, AI identifies patterns in data and assigns a score to each lead based on a complex combination of factors that make the lead more or less likely to convert. Machine learning models continuously learn and improve what factors are most important when ranking leads.
Learn more about AI, download our free ebook: AI Will Improve Your Lead Generation Revenue
Setting criteria for scoring
Leads are scored based on various criteria that are weighted depending on how likely each data point is to impact the prospect converting.
In the past setting this criteria was probably the biggest challenge as it required businesses to pour over data and guess or make assumptions about what factors make a lead more or less qualified.
Now, improved lead management systems take the guesswork and manual labor out of setting criteria, allowing businesses to rely on data instead. Criteria often includes implicit and explicit lead data. Implicit data is the basic factual information that can be gathered for each lead, whereas explicit data is information leads show you through their actions, behavior and engagement with your sales and marketing efforts.
Prioritizing leads based on their score
Using lead scoring allows sales teams to prioritize which leads to work first and even how long to work with them. A salesperson won’t just see a lead with an assigned number that may seem arbitrary. Instead, effective lead management systems also help sales teams understand how to prioritize each lead, based on how they were scored.
From there, leads are distributed to salespeople and sales is given a clear plan of action in terms of how to prioritize that lead compared to the others they were either already assigned and working or those additional new leads that continue to be assigned.
Rather than allow leads to pile up, prioritization helps sales teams connect with leads and manage ongoing contacts and opportunities.
Using lead scoring to improve lead conversion
Lead scoring and prioritization can be automated so that sales teams can take informed action as leads are captured. This simplifies how the lead management process begins and it prioritizes qualified leads.
When the process for working leads begins with this clear process, it trickles through the entire sales process and customer journey, improving lead conversion by optimizing leads and your sales teams right from the start.
Are you getting the most from your lead management system? Schedule a demo with Databowl to see what you might be missing.
5 ways lead management systems benefit businesses
With the key features listed above, a lead management system offers major advantages to businesses that understand the importance of managing leads within an optimized structure.
1. Filtering leads and lead sources
By not only making sense of lead data as it flows in, but also tracking and analyzing how it performs, a lead management system allows you to gauge the quality of each lead. With this information, you can spot patterns with your various lead sources to determine which source generates the most qualified leads.
2. Streamlining the lead conversion process
Sales teams no longer have to stumble over who takes what leads, which leads to contact first, or how to manage their other sales activities without guidance. A lead management system makes sense of various lead and sales factors, which allows your sales team to more clearly and effectively run with what they do best — working those leads and converting as many as possible.
3. Improving the efficiency of lead generation efforts
Through the organization and tracking of lead sources, marketing efforts, and sales processes using a lead management system, businesses gain boundless insights into what lead generation efforts are most effective. This data informs how campaigns and processes need to shift to better attract prospective customers and meet them where they are.
4. Providing valuable insights into lead behavior
By making sense of thousands of lead data points, a lead management system opens your business to a clearer understanding of lead behavior, revealing both obstacles and opportunities. With an organized system, you can track and monitor what impact leads and what makes them more or less likely to convert.
5. Enhancing customer engagement
As your sales and marketing teams gain insight into how leads behave, you learn better ways to reach them, whether it's through improving processes or connecting with leads on new channels. A lead management system also simplifies the processes of sales and marketing, improving the day-to-day of your teams, which also translates to smoother, improved customer engagement.
Choosing the right lead management system for your business
As your lead management system impacts customer conversions, sales, and ultimately your revenue, you want to make a thoughtful choice when deciding what is the right system for your business.
Consider how these main areas of interest will impact your choice as you look into your options.
Identifying your specific needs
There are many different lead management systems available, each offering various tools and features meant to serve a wide range of businesses across industries. To decipher which system is right for you, identify your specific needs before you take the leap into a new system.
This includes your current paint points and frustrations, as well as your business objectives and KPIs. Additionally, how might a new lead management system work within your existing system? Can it integrate with current tools you like and eliminate frustrations with those you don’t or provide new solutions you’ve been needing?
Evaluating different options
Before you choose a lead management system to work with, compare your options.
Request a demo to see exactly how each system performs. Consider how its structure and features will or won’t meet the needs of your teams and your potential customers.
Also take note of how responsive customer support is and how easy the system may or may not be for your team to understand and use.
Considering cost and scalability
As you compare lead management system options, consider what you’re paying for and how this fits into your future goals and objectives.
If your business grows, how will the lead management system grow with you? Would it limit your capabilities with cost and features or support you as you scale?
Gauge this flexibility to also understand how things would shift if you needed to scale down. Are there certain features that can be added or taken away as needed?
How important is having a quality lead management system to your business?
Highly-effective lead management systems have become crucial in today’s business landscape. Managing thousands of lead data points is now the norm.
Being able to quickly make decisions and act on managing each lead can mean the difference between converting a customer and losing a lead to a competitor. Companies that respond first were found to get 35-50% of sales. This also makes for a better experience for your customers.
A solid lead management system will benefit businesses of all sizes. To be effective in optimizing your leads, marketing campaigns, and sales activities, your lead management system needs the key features — lead scoring and prioritization.
If you’re considering revamping your lead management system or need a system and don’t know where to start, we can help.
Schedule a demo with Databowl.
We’ll learn about your specific needs and see whether our lead management system and additional services can help you optimize your leads.
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