The topic of lead management may seem like a basic or routine topic to many marketers, but having a proper lead management framework in place is so essential for today’s top-performing marketing organizations.
As marketing’s role focuses more and more on generating qualified, sales-ready leads, it remains crucial for demand generation teams to efficiently and effectively nurture leads, maintain a well-defined demand funnel, and properly transition quality leads from marketing over to sales.
So, it’s worth a refresher on what lead management is, the processes involved in developing and operationalizing a lead management framework, and why lead management is an absolute must for any high-performance marketing team.
What is lead management?
A lead management framework is the underlying process behind supporting pipeline movement, converting customers, and ultimately uniting sales and marketing. In other words, lead management is the backbone that supports all marketing and sales processes, procedures, and technologies.
Most modern marketing organizations today rely on some type of lead management process or customer acquisition strategy in order to identify, engage, and educate buyers. Without a lead management process in place, there is no insight into where a particular lead might fall within the buyer’s journey. By not knowing an individual’s level of interest, marketing will most likely be sending the wrong communication to that person and sales will be wasting precious time on reaching out to junk leads.
Teams that adopt these practices for managing leads are better positioned when it comes to defining funnel stages, tracking the progression of leads through those stages, turning prospects into valuable customers, and reporting on the effectiveness of each and every marketing campaign.
One of the major elements of a fully equipped lead management framework is a demand funnel, which categorizes leads into different stages and determines what type of communication they should receive to best help them as they convert down the funnel. With a proper demand funnel in place, leads are better segmented and sales and marketing teams know which resources to best allocate to which leads.
It’s worth noting that nurturing and engaging particular individuals doesn’t stop after they become a customer. For most companies, the majority of their revenue comes from their installed base, so utilizing lead nurturing to enhance the customer experience or to upsell can provide great return. There is so much opportunity from investing in customer expansion, which is why the DemandGen Framework™ takes the shape of an hourglass.
Operationalizing a lead management framework
Marketing and sales alignment
The first step in putting together a lead management framework is to focus on bringing sales and marketing together and boosting alignment between these two teams. Sales and marketing need to agree upon the same definitions, procedures, and processes before passing leads back and forth. Sales and marketing can work together more efficiently by:
- Defining specific categories for leads at different stages
- Understanding how various leads will be evaluated and assigned
- Setting clear expectations and performance goals
- Building ongoing communication
Developing buyer personas and creating a taxonomy for a particular company’s prospect buying process are also critical. Understanding who the customer is and how they can be guided across the finish line will play a major role in the success of any given lead management framework. Some key things to consider include the buyer’s job function, role in the buying committee, key motivators, and pain points.
Lead nurturing and scoring
Once a solid lead management process is in place, lead nurturing and lead scoring strategies can be implemented to build a more robust framework.
By delivering personalized content and resources, lead nurturing tailors communication to the interests of potential buyers. According to Marketo, companies with excellent lead nurturing programs generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost.
Coupled with lead scoring, marketers are actually able to gauge the interest levels of prospective buyers. Lead scoring takes behavioral intent as well as many qualification factors into account and serves as a prioritization tool for sales to determine who is most likely to make a purchase. The methodology behind lead scoring will indicate if a lead is truly sales-ready while eliminating a lot of time and manual work in the process.
Once an initial lead management framework is setup and running, the only thing left to do is monitor which leads are being passed over to sales, evaluate and measure performance, and refine processes as needed. Some important metrics worth keeping an eye on include:
- Pipeline velocity and stage progression
- The number of leads entering the funnel at each stage
- The cost of acquiring and nurturing a lead
- Average amount of time it takes for a lead to become a customer
- Which marketing campaigns had the biggest contribution to pipeline and revenue growth
By monitoring the performance of lead management activities, marketers will be able to maximize results and have an even greater impact on achieving organizational goals.
A strategic approach to lead management
The reality of B2B marketing these days is that only a very, very small fraction of leads actually convert into customers. Implementing a lead management framework is the best way to communicate and educate buyers in an automated fashion. By leveraging technology and strategic lead management efforts, marketing teams can gain a better understanding of the leads in their funnel and adapt to sending only the best and most qualified leads over to sales.
If you’re interested in lead management, you’ve come to the right place! DemandGen is an expert at building lead management frameworks and implementing the technology and processes needed for success. Learn more about how we can help!
As a Marketing Associate, Justin Chormicle manages DemandGen’s social media, leads the company’s video marketing strategy, and supports many other demand generation efforts that help connect tomorrow’s Marketing Heroes with the support and knowledge they need to get started on their digital marketing journey.