Understanding Lead Management and How to Communicate it to Sales

Understanding Lead Management and How to Communicate it to Sales

By Maren DickeyMay 30 /2019

You and your team may put a lot of effort into marketing campaigns to bring in new leads, but all your work will go to waste if you don’t align on important definitions and goals with your sales team. In other words, good lead management is the foundation for all sales and marketing activities. The goal of lead management is to identify quality prospects, nurture those who aren’t yet ready to purchase and hand off to sales those who are.

Kuno helped an independent living organization define what actions a contact may take on their website to signify their level of interest. They could be marketing-qualified, but still need to be nurtured, having only visited a few blog posts and various website pages. Or they could have filled out a form on the site and are considering a purchase. Having a clear understanding of the possible user journeys helped this organization set a solid foundation for their lead management strategy, resulting in more qualified leads.

In this post, you’ll learn about the important factors to consider when managing leads and how to get a successful system in place for easier handoffs from marketing to sales.

Defining a Lead

Before a lead can be passed off to sales, it’s important to understand how sales and marketing teams define different lead terms. Some of the most commonly used definitions that should be agreed upon are:

  • Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) - A lead that meets the criteria for your ideal customers and has taken enough action to indicate interest
  • Sales-qualified leads (SQLs) - A lead that has taken action signifying it’s ready to be passed on to your sales team (such as requesting a consultation)
  • Sales-accepted leads (SALs) - A lead your sales team agrees is a good prospect
  • Opportunities - A lead associated with a deal in progress that has not yet been won

These all factor into your lead management strategy and how you choose to set it up.

Having had a discussion with the independent living organization, we determined what actions identify prospects as sales-ready. Then we were able to work backward to recognize the common behaviors visitors took before they reached that point.

Lead Management

Lead management, sometimes referred to as lead acquisition or contact management, typically uses a customer relationship management (CRM) system to organize contacts as you capture their information. While this makes the process of moving leads through the funnel easier, it takes time and effort to set up a lead management system in a way that works most effectively for your business.

Depending on your industry and size, you may be managing hundreds or thousands of contacts. An effective lead management program can help you capture leads, track activity, nurture them into sales-readiness and automate much of the repetitive manual sales tasks.

Using the information we previously gathered for the independent living organization, we set up lead scoring and used automation to trigger a change in lifecycle stage to marketing-qualified or sales-qualified when contacts reach a certain score.

Setting Goals

Before you get all the gears and cogs turning in your lead machine, take a moment to set some goals for both your sales and marketing teams. What are you hoping to achieve and in what time increment? A few questions to ask your teams:

  • What are you hoping to accomplish weekly, monthly, annually?
  • How do you plan to measure success?
  • How will your sales and marketing teams support each other's goals?

For the independent living organization, our initial goal was to make sure the leads we delivered were qualified, so our focus was on quality, not quantity. Now that the sales and marketing teams are aligned, we have shifted focus to generating more sales opportunities.

The Handoff

Using the definitions you agreed upon earlier, you can utilize your CRM to capture data and assign a score based on your website visitors’ behaviors. Lead scoring can quickly become over-complicated, so don’t be afraid to keep it simple. When it comes to determining how to set a lead score, what actions really matter (form fills versus blog post views)? Stay focused on what actions show they’re interested in communicating with you, rather than simply doing research.

One of the ways contacts signify they are sales-ready for the independent living organization is by signing up to attend an event or scheduling a consultation. Once a contact fills out a form for either of these, the sales team is automatically notified. This plan of action helps keep leads prioritized and ensures the sales team can focus its time where it is most effective.

When your prospects need more nurturing before they’re sales-qualified, here are some ways to help them move through the sales pipeline:

  • Share some of your most popular or relevant blog articles
  • Email content such as step-by-step guides or case studies to help them see how your solution could apply to their situation
  • Create educational videos to help them envision the solution you offer

You can also utilize your sales rep’s knowledge of frequently asked questions, common pushbacks and common applications to create content that can tackle these earlier on in the sales process. This can help ease prospects’ concerns while also better preparing them to speak with you.

Are you ready to get an effective lead generation and management strategy up and running? Find out how with our step-by-step guide.

Effective Lead Generation and Lead Management Strategy eBook

Maren Dickey
The Author

Maren Dickey

Maren excels in creating cohesive environments in which creativity flows and people thrive. By helping to build emails and workflows, she has a strong grasp on how things work in HubSpot as well as the purpose of campaigns and assets. This backend knowledge enables Maren to provide recommendations on how to improve performance and deliver better results to clients.