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What is lead management?

Drive buyer interest by managing your leads

A comprehensive B2B marketing strategy always includes a game plan for lead management. Lead management is the process of identifying, qualifying, engaging, and managing potential buyers. On the spectrum of B2B marketing initiatives, lead management falls somewhere between broader activities (branding and advertising) and direct, one-to-one efforts (direct or channel sales).

How to get started with lead management

Lead management starts with lead generation, which is accomplished through a range of marketing tactics including: social media, public relations campaigns, blog posts, technical papers, advertisements, webinars, and events. Potential customers respond to your marketing by giving you their contact information, and a sales lead is created. Lead management programs focus on building prospect interest and engagement as they move through the sales cycle.

How lead scoring helps filter the pipeline

Lead scoring assigns a ranking to each sales prospect based upon your understanding of their level of interest and buying intentions. As prospective buyers remain engaged and begin to educate themselves on a particular market space, they may begin to display signs of buying interest. By keeping track of these signs of interest, you can identify when prospects are ready to buy and determine the right time to connect them with sales.

How lead scoring works

Lead scoring can’t begin until marketing and sales agree on what constitutes a qualified lead. Working together, marketing and sales should develop a lead scoring strategy that determines which leads are worth pursuing and where all of the leads fit within the company’s purchasing cycle.

How do you go about deciding if a lead is worth pursuing? You have to look at a prospect’s identity, background, and level of interest including:

  • The explicit information you know about a prospect’s role, industry, company, and revenue
  • The implicit information you have about a prospect’s activities such as their favorite topics and level of interest helps to determine whether they’re ready to begin a conversation with sales

Even after you’ve developed your lead scoring system, it’s not over. Over time, a lead’s level of interest might waver, increase, or plateau for a multitude of reasons. A qualified prospect’s lead score will change with every action they take—whether it’s downloading a business brief or browsing your website. A comprehensive lead management system triggers a rescoring process so that you can stay on top of their behavior and be able to time the delivery of relevant content. It’s all about keeping your potential buyers interested and engaged throughout the sales process.

Building brand preference

How do you keep those leads engaged? Lead nurturing uses highly relevant educational content that answers their questions and offers solutions to their problems. Successful lead nurturing delivers the appropriate content to keep your audience interested as they move through the sales process. If you do it properly, lead nurturing can help you build a strong brand and solution preference in your prospects long before they have become actively engaged in a buying process. Lead nurturing software tracks qualified sales leads and automates content delivery through various marketing channels.

There are three key components of a good lead nurturing program:

  1. The prospect has given you permission to keep in touch. This is critical. Make sure that you have your prospects’ permission to engage with them. If you don’t, they won’t hesitate to unsubscribe, mark your messages as spam, or delete your messages.
  2. Establish key points, ideas, or comparison points through education. A potential buyer may not actually enter the buying process for a long time. The lead nurturing phase is where you can educate prospects, positioning your company and solutions in their minds for when they do become buyers. Make sure that your content delivers the right marketing messages at every stage of the buyers journey.
  3. Watch for signs of progress throughout the buying cycle. Watch your prospects’ digital body language to get an idea of where they are in their buying process. Digital body language tracks and monitors their online behavior—how often they’ve visited your website, content they’ve downloaded, etc. Digital body language can help indicate when a prospect has progressed to a point that they are ready to engage with sales.

Making lead nurturing work

Lead nurturing helps you develop relationships with your prospects. When you execute the process successfully, you establish buyer preference for your solutions while you gain an understanding of buyer timing. But this will only be possible if your lead nurturing programs deliver content that’s of sufficient value and interest to prospects throughout the sales process.

How do you know what types of content to use for which prospects? Your content marketing strategy for nurturing your leads will depend on a variety of factors including your company’s products and unique sales cycle as well as your prospects’ preferences, background, and where they are in the sales process.

When creating relevant and interesting content to nurture leads, keep the follow in mind:

  1. Personalization. Tailor your lead nurturing approach as much as you can. Personalization helps build an authentic conversation with your prospects. Make sure your content is specific to issues that your potential buyers are dealing with. Does it help them solve their business problems? Is it delivered in a format that they prefer? Is it relevant to their position, industry, or the software they use?
  2. Don’t forget your current customers. While you’re keeping prospects engaged, don’t ignore your current customers. After all, you have an established business relationship with them. So stay in touch. Chances are that your existing customers will need a service or product update, or there’s cross- or up-sell opportunity.

Adopt the right lead management mindset

Both lead scoring and lead nurturing are critical components of a comprehensive lead management strategy. Remember that your prospects and customers receive vast amounts of marketing messages every day across multiple channels. To properly nurture and manage a lead and have a hope of converting them into a customer, your messages have to stand out.

To stand out in a crowded media environment, focus on how your products or services help your prospects solve their business problems. More than anything, your content should be able to clearly communicate how your products will help your customers. Whether it’s ebooks, blogs, or webinars, your marketing material must be relevant and useful to drive your prospects’ engagement and interest.

It all starts with marketing and sales working together. With sales and marketing sharing information and strategizing together, you can create a consistent, personalized experience for the prospect that will nurture and manage leads effectively through the sales lifecycle.