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A guest post by Sarah Goliger of HubSpot.

When it comes to converting your leads into sales, lead management is a crucial and powerful tool. Most of your leads will not be ready to engage with a salesperson after their first conversion, but are potentially qualified and require further nurturing and development.

Lead management gives you the tools you need to filter out your less-qualified leads and provide them with educational content through targeted lead nurturing campaigns, which will bring them closer to being ready for that sales call.

However, this is only one of many functions of lead management, which can actually benefit your marketing and sales teams in different ways. Here are seven benefits of implementing really great lead management.

1. You can determine when your leads are sales-ready. Lead scoring, which is part of good lead management, allows you to gauge your leads’ potential interest in your product or service based on factors that are important to your business, such as job titles, what forms they’ve filled out, or other criteria that is important to you. You should work with your sales team and marketing analytics to decide upon the criteria that you will use to score your leads. As you continue executing your lead management strategies, you can collect information to help you further optimize your lead scoring schema. You can compare your leads’ scores against that of your ideal customer or your sales team’s top-quality leads to help you understand when your leads are ready to be handed over to your sales team.

2. You don’t lose your unqualified leads. About 50% of B2B sales leads are not ready to buy after their first conversion, according to a Gleanster survey. Instead of wasting your sales team’s valuable time or just tossing these leads out the window altogether, you should place them in lead nurturing campaigns. By using well-timed campaigns with matching content to their original interest, you can guide your leads along the path from unqualified to qualified or determine who is permanently unqualified. Sounds a lot better than losing out on half the ROI of your lead generation efforts, doesn’t it?

3. Your sales team can operate more efficiently. Lead intelligence tools allow you to provide your sales team with various important and highly useful pieces of information, such as the level of activity of a lead, which pages of your website they have visited, what marketing emails they have received, and more. Lead scoring is another helpful tool for allowing your salespeople to prioritize their calls based on which leads are the most sales-ready (or “warmest”). Thus, effective lead management allows your sales team to work more efficiently and convert more leads to customers in less time.

4. You can position yourself as a thought leader in the industry. The main idea behind lead nurturing is that you are providing content to your unqualified leads to educate them further about your field, your company, and/or your product or service. By sharing this information with leads to help them with their decisions, especially before they ask for it, you make it more likely that they will view you as an authority in your industry. It is also likely that they will share your content with others, thereby spreading the word about your company and your offers.

5. You can get a better understanding of your leads’ needs. Lead intelligence tools can help you determine your leads’ behavior patterns on a higher level. They’ll show you which offers your leads downloaded, in what order they downloaded them, which pages of your site they visited, how many times they visited each, and so on. The trends you find in this data can be used to inform your content strategy (e.g. 23% of our highest quality leads downloaded this ebook) as well as your lead nurturing campaigns (e.g. the email send for this webinar was most effective for leads who had downloaded that whitepaper).

6. You can establish trust by building relationships with your leads. By understanding your leads’ behavior and needs, and using this with closely targeted lead nurturing campaigns, you show your leads that you know what they are looking for---and you’re ready to help them. This not only educates them about the specific topic or product in which they are interested, but also builds more trust, thereby making them more likely to convert to customers.

7. You can better measure your marketing and sales ROI. Lead management gives you the tools to track and analyze your lead metrics throughout the entire sales cycle. Even after your leads have been handed off to your sales team, you can continue to refine, score, and evaluate as needed. You should be able to identify what works (and what doesn’t work) for your business and your lead management process, and optimize accordingly to yield the highest possible ROI.

Lead management isn’t always easy. The deep understanding of your leads and their needs is not something that anyone develops before diving into lead management. Creating and refining your strategy takes time, but you will end up with a seamless lead management process that will provide you with more qualified leads in less work for your sales organization.

Sarah Goliger is an inbound marketer at HubSpot, a marketing software company based in Cambridge, MA that makes inbound marketing and lead management software.

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