While many customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation (SFA) vendors provide the ability to manage leads within their software, some offer solutions specifically designed just for this function. Lead management software provides companies with an automated way to track leads and nurture them until they become buyers.
There are numerous types of lead tracking software available on the market that provide lead management CRM capabilities. To help buyers narrow down their choices, we created this guide, which outlines the typical features found within these systems, the types of buyers that generally evaluate this type of software and other important considerations to weigh before making a decision.
Here's what we'll cover:
CRM systems help companies gather and store information on prospective and existing clients to better organize and manage relationships. Lead management software, however, helps organizations automate the movement and tracking of leads through the lifecycle from acquisition to conversion, helping increase efficiency and qualification and conversion rates. While features vary from one vendor to the next, the following are common to most lead management systems:
Lead storage and distribution. Lead tracking software allows companies to manage the flow of leads captured through various channels (e.g., email, Web forms). These leads are stored within a database, where they can be evaluated and distributed to the right employee within the organization based on certain criteria.
Lead nurturing. Companies can use nurturing tools to check the status of leads and automate the process of following up with and delivering relevant content to these leads. This helps maintain and strengthen the relationship until the lead is ready to make a purchase.
Lead scoring. Lead scoring is the process of grading leads using certain attributes to identify those most likely to result in a sale. Lead management software facilitates this process by filtering leads according to job title, demographic, online behavior and other variables companies deem most desirable.
Lead analytics and reporting. Creating and analyzing lead reports provides companies with an overview of marketing and sales results to help understand which leads are converting at the highest rates and which campaigns are most successful.
Streamlined lead lifecycle. A lead management system automates the lifecycle of leads once they’ve been captured, preventing them from being overlooked and ensuring they’re promptly followed up on to increase the chance of conversion.
Improved lead prioritization. By using software to evaluate and score leads, sales and/or marketing teams can increase the speed and efficiency of conversions by highlighting those leads most likely to result in a sale.
B2B buyer. These buyers work for firms that sell their products or services directly to other businesses, as opposed to consumers. Because the lifecycles of these sales interactions are typically longer, B2B buyers need robust lead nurturing and scoring features to successfully maintain and grow the relationship with prospective customers.
B2C buyer. Professionals who market directly to consumers often need lead tracking software to help organize and prioritize the large amount of data associated with individual consumers. They also usually require analytics features found in these solutions to identify and break down consumer segments to improve their marketing strategies.
Web-based vs. on-premise. Recent Software Advice research indicates that just six years ago, 88 percent of prospective buyers across all markets we spoke with wanted on-premise software. Today, 87 percent prefer Web-based solutions. This figure is even higher for CRM buyers: according to our 2013 CRM BuyerView Report, 96 percent of prospective buyers prefer Web-based software.
Social media integration. Social media is used by nearly one in four people worldwide, and companies have realized that monitoring these channels is critical to engage and build relationships with prospective buyers. Many vendors have followed suit, and now offer advanced mobile apps to help professionals manage leads via smartphone or tablet, no matter where they are.
We're able to offer this service to buyers for free, because software vendors pay us on a "pay-per-lead" basis. Buyers get great advice. Sellers get great referrals.