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You've got them, now what? How to manage your sales leads effectively

I’ve been a salesman for more years than I care to remember. Most people think sales is all about convincing people to part with their money. But it really isn’t. It’s about building relationships with people who are already in the market for a product you’re selling.

That relationship gives those people, those leads, the confidence to purchase from the business you represent. A relationship that isn’t just about schmoozing someone. It’s about understanding their pain points (the problem they want to solve) and how you can help alleviate them.

It involves a lot of effort and background work to get right.

I often use the swan example: a good salesperson looks like they’re gliding serenely along the water, but they’re working like crazy just below the surface.

And that’s because salespeople aren’t just trying to build a relationship with a single lead. They’re working on building relationships with lots of people…and effectively keeping all those plates spinning takes real effort and skill. As any business owner can attest, that's one of the secrets to closing deals.

When you get right down to it, it’s all about the management of lots of pieces of data about your lead, your product, and your business.

In this blog, I’d like to talk about how to manage sales leads and the top three things your sales team has to do to effectively win sales:

  • Make sure your data is right (scrub your list if you have to),

  • Have the right marketing/sales automation tools, and

  • Keep clear records of conversations

Getting the initial data right

I know, it sounds like an obvious one, but you might be surprised at how difficult this first step can be.

The way I see it there are three things you have to get right when managing your lead data, and before you do so, you’ll want to ensure that you have a good B2B lead generation process in place:

  1. Stored in the right place,

  2. With accurate information, and

  3. Be segmented in a way that is useful.

I’d like to go through each to discuss their importance and some tips on how to achieve them.

Getting your data in the right place

I will always think that a CRM is the best place to manage your process throughout the sales cycle. But I know that not every marketing team or sales team uses a CRM system like OpenCRM. If you’ve got another lead management process or lead management system that you use, that is perfectly fine, provided you are meeting a few key requirements:

  • Do you have a way of separating your leads from your customers?

  • Can you gather all relevant information about these leads?

  • Is there a way to track when they are converted from a cold lead to a warmer or piping hot lead?

You will need all of the above, as a bare minimum, to effectively manage your sales leads. Whether that’s in a CRM sales lead management system or an Excel spreadsheet.

Of course, using a good CRM is preferred because it can do so much more for your business. Sales teams use them to track their sales process, for lead scoring, and to automate outreach to qualified leads. And digital marketing teams have CRMs in their toolkit for lead capture and lead generation campaigns. All in all, CRMs make excellent lead management software.

Making sure your data is accurate

Once you’ve got all your lead data in a central location, you need to make sure that data is both relevant and accurate. What you need, is quality leads.

The accurate one is fairly obvious… if the data you hold is wrong, you aren’t managing sales leads. You’re just managing junk data that resembles your leads and wastes your time.

This could be anything from inaccurate data, such as the wrong phone number to not knowing what they want to purchase from you. A CRM system can help stop inaccurate information, for example removing email addresses that have bounced. But a lot of it will be down to your own management of the data you record.