Brian Carroll

Lead management software becoming a hot topic

What do you do with leads or inquires once you generate them?

This basic question is overlooked by so many and yet it’s the leading cause of failure in what would otherwise be effective lead generation programs.

The common-sense answer to this challenge is easier said than done: Have your best people respond to them quickly and consistently in order to qualify them into sales ready leads. The ones that aren’t qualified yet (but are a fit) you put into a lead nurturing process.

The need to better manage leads and inquires has given rise to a slew of new software companies offering a variety of lead management or marketing automation solutions. 

An interesting conversation was started recently by Laura Ramos on the Forrester Marketing blog about lead management software. I’m really glad to see an analyst giving their opinion and I look forward to more insights. Ramos’ post, “B2B Lead Management Market Heats Up,” is definitely worth checking out.

According to Ramos, there are four primary buckets of technology solutions aimed at solving the “how do I make lead generation activities more effective?” They are:

  1. Web analytics
  2. Database services
  3. Marketing automation
  4. “Pure play” lead management

With that said, I think it is important to realize that lead management software and marketing automation tools are only one part of an effective process. Here’s what I’ve learned…

Software will not spontaneously generate collaboration between sales and marketing, nor will it create solutions that match your processes and it certainly will not generate sales-ready leads on it’s own. However, for many the allure of easy execution and fast results are difficult to resist. It’s easy to overlook that these systems require a great deal of hands on input and maintenance to be fully appreciated.

My company has spent well over a million dollars and almost ten years to develop our lead management software system that we use as part of our services and we’re learning what works (and what doesn’t) everyday through testing and trial and error. That said, I can say that developing a good process takes more time than you think and developing people to execute the process consistently is even more difficult.

I regularly encounter organizations that invest in expensive software before they fully understand the fundamental operational processes that it will be supporting. This was and still is true of CRM and SFA systems. Lead management software has turned out to be no different. If you want to fully leverage your lead management software, you’ll first need to develop operational discipline and focus on good execution.

Start by understanding your lead generation requirements and design a suitable process to support it and insert the software into the process where it will be most effective and actually used. Most importantly, don’t under estimate the need for a dedicated team of people that will drive the process and make the inputs into the system.

Begin by mapping out a clear process. At InTouch we use process flow and data diagrams to collaborate with clients when designing lead management programs.  Make sure you involve and collaborate with everyone who will be part of the process. Their buy-in will be key to the programs success. Then identify if there are still any gaps in staffing. Finally, once people and process are mapped out, select the tools or systems that will help your people efficiently manage the process.

Lead management is the bridge between sales and marketing that connects the beginning and middle of the customer acquisition process. It requires engaged people to execute the right process, which is then supported by the right software.

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CRM, Human Touch, Lead Generation, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Qualification, Marketing Strategy, Sales, Sales Leads, Web/Tech



  1. Peter Chemisov
    | #1

    “It requires engaged people to execute the right process, which is then supported by the right software.”

    If not too much to ask, could you please provide your definition of ‘engaged people.’ How would you recommend going about getting an engaged workforce to work leads which are ultimately handed off to sales people who get the benefits of direct selling. And, how can you begin to measure results? This is a question I am most concerned about.
    Thank you.

    Thanks you.

  2. | #2

    “Software will not spontaneously generate collaboration between sales and marketing…”

    How true. The arguments between sales and marketing over lead quantity and quality will continue forever. But those arguments can be mitigated with a common definition of a qualified lead. Sales will have a definition. Marketing will have a definition. Somewhere in the middle is the truth. Without it there can be no real progress and any kind of lead management process is doomed.

    Thanks,
    –Dave

  3. | #3

    Great post, Brian – and I have to agree with the comments above.

    I work for Pardot, an on-demand provider of this “new-fangled” marketing automation software. The tools in place are very powerful, but they are not a magic pill – it takes dedication and planning from the marketing teams to successfully integrate the program with their campaigns. One of the advantages of newer players in the market, like Pardot, is a lower price point and the accessibility of software as a service.

    Even internally we struggle to balance sales and marketing goals on a daily basis. But the programs we use certainly help make the hand-off a smoother one.

    Thanks again, I love to get perspectives like this from the B2B community!

  4. | #4

    Technology without the right business processes is doomed to failure, so I completely agree with your take on this. The good news is organizations who can align business processes and the right technologies and tools there are huge gains to be made.

  5. Mark
    | #5

    I understand what your saying here, I have the unenviable task of evaluating and selecting a Lead Management tool for our business.

    Who would you advise we look at? Eloqua, Marketo, VTrenz, Active Conversion any tips or companies I have missed out?

    Also if anyone can give me their opinion as a user of one of these that would be good.

  6. | #6

    Hello. I read your blog regularly and noticed that you shy away from “endorsements”. However, on this topic, you musthave a suggestion or recommendation for a good automated lead nurturing software or platform? In my blog post, I discuss the pros and cons of Eloqua and Pivotal MarketFirst (two that I like alot). I’d love to hear what you guys use or suggest for customers that want an in-house/automated solution. Thanks.

    http://blog.sensiblemarketing.biz/newsletter-or-nurture

  7. | #7

    In the smaller enterprises I deal with the issue of business process continues to be a barrier.

    Most of there is no documented ‘path’ from lead origination through validation and final engagement/enrollment of the insurance professionals we seek. A good portion of the time that could be spent on website development or refinement of the online presence is consumed in working out the internal communications with the client.

    Elaborate tools have to wait until the more basic marketing requirements can be addressed,

    Dennis Foreman

  8. lead management software developer
    | #8

    I agree. A business is doomed without the proper processes in place and the right technology can establish the right process.

  9. Dilip
    | #9

    @lead management software developer

    lead management software developer :

    I agree. A business is doomed without the proper processes in place and the right technology can establish the right process.

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