How to Keep Track of Sales Leads: Best Practices
Sales tracking can be a menial and confusing process, but when done right, you will be rewarded with better techniques and improved insights on your process.
There are different ways to keep track of potential buyers, and choosing the method that works best for your organization depends on your individual needs.
So, how do you keep track of sales leads? Organizing follow-up schedules, defining a lead cycle, and keeping the pipeline fresh are all great methods of tracking leads.
Read on to learn the top six ways to track sales leads, no matter what size your organization is. Not sure which practice is most relevant for your team? We also discuss helpful criteria that will guide you in adapting these tracking practices.
Why Track Them In The First Place?
If you think paying customers are the only ones you should pay attention to, or that the only leads that matter are those who have taken an interest in your business, think again.
Leads are the lifeline of any company. They’re not only profitable, but they can also help you generate insight on what works (and what doesn’t) in your sales process.
What Is A Sales Lead: Setting a Definition
A sales lead is any entity or organization that has taken an interest in your products and services. Maybe they responded to your Facebook ad or signed up for your monthly newsletter. No matter what the initial point of contact, a lead is an opportunity that you can convert into profit for your company.
One of the biggest mistakes of sales teams is not having a universal definition for what they consider a lead. One team might only focus on leads that are coming from one channel, while another team might only prioritize leads that have asked for a quote.
Setting criteria for lead selection and qualification will make it easier to prioritize leads that enter the funnel, and focus the right resources on high-profile leads. The process of distinguishing good leads from bad leads becomes more streamlined, and ensures that leads spend less time in the pipeline.
Benefits of Tracking Your Leads
Tracking sales leads is a form of lead management. It’s a tried-and-tested strategy that will help keep your pipeline fresh and prevent lead stagnation.
Without any sort of management, you could be unknowingly targeting the wrong people or wasting your resources on dead ends.
Start tracking leads if you want to:
- Produce more accurate financial predictions: Lead tracking is a great way to understand volume and quotas. By studying monthly and yearly patterns, you can see fluctuations in performance, find your average, and create better financial forecasts. This helps with budgeting, resource allocation, and setting sales goals.
- Optimize sales process: Some leads will inevitably drop out. While it’s impossible to get in their heads and understand their individual reasons for opting out on your business, you can get a general overview on when and why leads are dropping.
If you notice that 40-60% of your leads tend to drop out during the quotation stage, it’s a clear sign that they are not impressed with what you’re offering. If you notice that 20% of the leads that drop out happen to be those who have not been contacted within 4-5 days of contact, it’s a clear indication that you need faster response times.
- Lessen leads leaking: The sales funnel is a great way to track the stage-by-stage conversion of leads. As we said in the last point, leads will inevitably drop out. By keeping track of leads, you can find out pain points in your sales funnel and seal up loose ends to give your sales reps a better chance at convincing your next possible customer.
- Improve operational problems: Sales and marketing team integration is a crucial but often neglected part of the process. When you’re tracking leads, you’re figuring out materials (marketing) and techniques (sales) that work better than others.
You can mitigate friction and put your marketing and sales force on the same page by illustrating how lead management can benefit both departments. Instead of competing for resources and goals, these departments can be unified using the same set of data to pursue shared key performance indicators (KPI).
How Do You Monitor Sales Leads?
How you monitor potential buyers depends on your needs as a company. When selecting methods for lead management, evaluate the following to find the most beneficial method of tracking your business:
What is my budget?
Lead tracking can be as simple as managing them on an excel sheet or as sophisticated as using a customer relationship management (CRM) system. While CRMs do make your life easier, you have to allocate monthly payments for this tool. Figure out your budget before signing up for tools you don’t actually need.
What is my lead quota every month?
Understanding the volume of potential clients you are expecting and targeting will help you anticipate how much time and energy is needed organizing the leads. Should you redistribute tasks to existing team members or hire a different team entirely?
How many employees do I have?
Lead management involves many processes. To keep leads warm and interested, you’re expected to send out emails, make negotiations, schedule calls, develop content, track analytics, while prospecting for new leads.
Knowing what your team is capable of will help you decide things like subscribing to a software VS doing everything manually, or outsourcing content development VS developing it in-house.
Which parts of the process is a bottleneck?
Let’s face it, not every part of the process will be glamorous. Some will be confusing, menial, and downright boring. Maybe the problem is that you have no idea on how to perform a specific but important task, such as developing an email drip sequence.
Whatever the challenge is, identifying aspects of your operations that are neglected or ignored, willfully or otherwise, will improve your overall sales process. You’ll be able to assign tasks to relevant team members and maximize your available resources.
What are the weaknesses of your current lead management system?
Even if you don’t have a written document detailing how to move leads through the funnel or pipeline, you still follow a series of steps that guide you from point A to point B.
In order to identify the weak points of your current system, simply identify the best and worst things about your leads. If they drop easily even with high-quality resources, you need to be attracting and targeting better leads.
If you get tons of profitable leads from sharing free resources, but lose over half of them when you start talking about quotes, it could be a sign that you need better prices or better solutions.
Knowing your weakest points is key to finding the best sales leads tracking practices that will help grow your business.
Tracking your leads can be as easy as setting up spreadsheets or using a CRM. Whether your goal is better customer service, better social media integration, or just more time on your hands, understanding your organization is the first step to tracking sales leads.
6 Best Practices for Tracking Sales Leads
1. Prepare an Email Sequence
A huge part of lead management is nurturing leads. Before you even send your first email, make sure you have an entire sequence ready that you can send out over the course of weeks or months.
Why It’s Important: One email and one follow-up aren’t enough to understand how effective your campaign is. Email tools allow you to track opens, click-throughs, replies, and bounce rates — all of which are crucial metrics in determining how effective your email marketing efforts are.
With a structured email sequence, you have a controlled variable, and individual lead responses will count as your results. With this info you can track the interested ones and those that need a bit more convincing.
2. Schedule Follow-Ups
Not all leads that enter the funnel will be ready to buy. Some require extra work before successful conversion. This is crucial for businesses that invest in lead generation tools and lead automation software. By neglecting to actually nurture and talk to your leads, you’re wasting good money you’re spending acquiring them in the first place.
Why It’s Important: Tracking 10 potential clients throughout the pipeline is easy work, but that changes when you go up to the 100s. Losing track of where leads are in the pipeline (which ones have received proposals, which ones are reading what content) can be detrimental to your process.
You might end up overselling before enough resources have been shared to the prospective customer, or you might forget about them all together.
By scheduling follow-ups, you know exactly where the prospect is in the pipeline, and what the next step should be.
3. Follow a Lead Cycle That Makes Sense
Lead cycles can go on for months and take out more resources than it’s worth. While it’s useful to nurture long-term leads instead of going for the short-term ones exclusively, sticking to a lead cycle that actually makes sense with your business model can increase your profits.
Why It’s Important: B2Cs tend to have shorter lead cycles than B2Bs. If you’re an e-commerce site, a two-week nurturing campaign is sufficient. For B2Bs, lead nurturing can last as long as 4 months, with some lasting up to a whole year.
Imposing a lead cycle that makes sense is important because you don’t want to keep engaging with the same people over and over again. At the end of the day, there’s a difference between a possible lead and a dead end.
Shortening your lead cycle will help keep the pipeline fresh, and ensure you’re pursuing new leads and connecting with new opportunities regularly.
4. Track the Pipeline
If you’re just keeping track of your sales funnel, consider integrating the pipeline into your process. The funnel focuses on stage-by-stage conversion, whereas the pipeline reflects what’s on your plate at this very minute.
Why It’s Important: When you track leads through the pipeline, it becomes easier to remain aware of what each lead needs. Think of pipeline stages as steps. Each stage represents an action that needs to be taken. When you organize leads this way and track them according to their placement along the pipeline, you create a standardized process on how to approach leads.
As a result, your team becomes more organized and the nurturing process is simplified. You can perform mass actions and build relationships with your leads as a group, reducing your efforts to simple processes, without forgoing personalization.
5. Practice Lead Scoring
Lead scoring is the process of distinguishing leads of the highest priority down to leads of the least priority. You can score leads based on project size, urgency, or availability of resources. Instead of treating all leads as one and the same, you can focus more resources, effort, and personalization on leads most beneficial to your business.
Why It’s Important: If you’re a smaller organization with limited resources, practicing lead scoring ensures that your sales team is prioritizing high-profile leads. It increases the probability of securing that deal and onboarding a beneficial client.
Lead scoring also has its uses for medium to enterprise-level businesses. When you’re sifting through hundreds of data points every day, you want crucial information to stand out immediately. Lead scoring will help you identify which leads warrant the best resources and are actually worth pursuing.
Implementing lead scoring in your process also makes it easier to know when it’s time to remove unresponsive leads from your pipeline. Your sales team can make decisions at a glance without worrying about making uninformed choices.
6. Use a CRM
Ultimately, all these practices can be performed by a single tool. A customer relationship management software is dedicated to lead management and nurturing. With built-in tools such as email automation, lead tracking, and project management, a CRM can perform these tasks simultaneously and without fail.
Why It’s Important: Above everything else, CRMs return data. You can spend hours looking at spreadsheets and assigning scores to leads, but the effort required to stay on top of ongoing and new leads will increase as your contact list grows.
A CRM software will help you understand the best offers leads respond to, the best performing sales team/member, as well as their movement along the pipeline.
With report generation, you can see trends in your sales process, allowing you to identify strong and weak points in your operation.
The Best Way to Keep Track of Sales Leads
When we built Commence CRM, we wanted to make sure we integrated one of the most important aspects of sales: lead management and tracking.
Our goal has always been to empower businesses to do more with less, so companies can focus on more profitable aspects of their work. Say goodbye to spreadsheets and hello to automation
Building relationships with your next new customer has never been easier. Call us today to schedule a demo.