In the last instalment of this series, we talked about core CRM for sales automation. Now we will be discussing the key features and functions that make up core Lead Management aspects of a core CRM deployment. While many associated lead management with “lead generation” we will focus this mostly on the areas of lead management that involves breaking down silos and better aligning marketing and sales teams inside an organization.

So, let’s look at the lead management features that every organization needs to drive more seamless lead-to-cash processes…

Campaign Management

While demand generation tools are far more sophisticated when it comes to running multi-channel, multi-phase and drip campaigns – core lead management must be able to allow for simple campaign execution and tracking. For many B2B organizations, lead generation can mean checking in with known customers and individuals and running promotions into the existing customer base. Core CRM should be able to handle this aspect of lead management.

Core campaign management tools should include simple, step-by-step campaign builder tools – allowing users to easily add target lists, segment target lists by desired filters, and schedule and run email campaigns. Of course, tracking elements like email open rates, click through trackers, etc. must be included.

Web Forms

Web forms, or “web-to-lead” forms are simple yet effective web forms that allow you to easily capture prospect or customer information. An email campaign may include a link to a landing page offering a download of a white paper, or free trial of your product or service. To access this, visitors will populate the form fields – which then get captured inside the CRM and allow sales to follow up and generate opportunities from the leads created.

Forms can be simple – capturing as little as a name and email – and the core CRM’s back end tools or third party data aggregation tools (or a marketing automation nurture cycle) can augment that data, and track additional behavior to better score a lead. The idea is to not simply pounce on a lead just because he or she downloaded a single item – but rather wait until that person has shown a real intent to buy. After all, studies have shown prospects typically download up to seven different assets in a B2B sales cycle before making a purchase decision.

Lead Routing

Once a visitor to your landing page or web site fills out a form or is otherwise qualified through certain activities, they get added to a lead queue. Now, some smaller businesses may only have a few sales professionals covering the entire business’ sales operations. That’s fine, as core CRM tools can simply “round robin” these leads and distribute them equally among the sales reps as they come in.

However, more mature and large-scale sales organizations have more sophisticated sales territories, and hierarchies – as well as sales teams dedicated to certain product lines. That’s why a strong core CRM requires solid workflow to better route new leads to reps. By automating this process, the system can scan a lead for identifying aspects like state or region, products of interest, etc. and automatically route them to the appropriate sales rep or team. This can save critical time allowing your reps to bet your competition to the punch and reach out to prospects first.

Lead Conversion

Once a sales rep has reached out and qualified that a lead is interested, they need to convert that lead to an opportunity. In older CRM systems, this can be a highly manual and time-consuming process. Modern and effective core CRM tools make lead conversion possible with a few mouse clicks.

Lead conversion capabilities must include the automatic creation of related records in the system – such as contacts, and accounts. Also, the lead conversion process must include automated searching for duplicate contacts and accounts, to secure the integrity of the CRM system data.

Lead Reporting

As we noted in the last installment, reporting tools are table stakes for a core CRM deployment. In the lead management area, both sales and marketing teams need transparency into movement of leads down the funnel. By leveraging the strong core workflow tools to better identify and establish lead flow business rules (such as the path from a prospect lead, to a marketing qualified lead, to a sales accepted lead to a sales ready lead etc.), reporting and dashboard tools can provide “at a glance” insight into the lead pipeline, and allow management to take action where necessary.

Additional lead-related reports can provide visibility into the top-performing campaigns, so marketing heads can adjust spend to optimize return on dollars invested. Also, lead-to-opportunity conversion reports can help identify length of sales cycle and help teams better understand what marketing events or assets lead to faster conversions.

So, that is an overview of core lead management functionality in a nutshell. While there are a lot of marketing automation tools out there – lead management for CRM, in our opinion, consists of these core features.

Agree? Disagree? Have an entirely different definition of core lead management for CRM? Let us know in the comments.

In our next installment we will review the core features making up customer service and support automation inside a core CRM initiative.