Essential Lead Management System Features: Guide to Choosing the Right Software

What are the key lead management system features?

The key lead management system features are lead capture, tracking, scoring, routing, and nurturing tools. These should all be accessible through an intuitive campaign management dashboard and can be monitored using built-in reporting functionalities. In addition, a good lead management platform should provide you with options for communication, security, and integration.

Lead management software has certainly made a difference in the way that marketing and sales personnel work. It has accelerated the conversion process ten-fold and made it easier to connect with potential customers all over the world. Critically, the automation of lead management increased the revenue of companies that use it by 10%, according to Strategic IC.

However, with the overwhelming amount of software providers out there, it will be quite difficult to zero in on which one is the best lead management software for you. So, to simplify the process, we have come up with a guide to the essential lead management system features that you should look out for when purchasing the software. This way, it is easier for you to know whether or not a particular platform will be able to cater to the needs of your tools. We’ve also included a few other factors that you should consider before deciding on a specific product.

lead management system features

The digital nature of today’s sales process comes with a handful of perks. Increasing brand awareness worldwide is easier, advertising is much cheaper, and connecting with leads on a granular level is more convenient.

However, it also comes with its downsides. For starters, customers tend to be more impatient nowadays and they expect businesses to keep up with their needs. Otherwise, they’ll simply move on to the next company that can accommodate them. This is one of the reasons why 30% of sales professionals believe that converting leads is getting harder. So much so that it was even found to be the top challenge for marketing professionals in 2018.

Source: 2018 HubSpot State of Inbound Report

To prevent this churn, it pays to prepare a lead management plan. This is the process of managing customers from the moment they engage with your brand up to the point where they are converted into paying clients. It often involves generating prospects, capturing data, filtering and scoring leads, distributing qualified prospects, and nurturing them—all tasks that can be tedious when done manually.

Fortunately, there are plenty of sales software with lead management tools that lend to business of any size measurable returns. Specifically, the benefits of lead management software to small business is more apparent in terms of cost-efficiency and access to a wider market. So, you shouldn’t worry about running out options. The only problem you might encounter, though, is finding out what is the best lead management software for you.

So, to help you narrow down your choices, we have prepared a guide to the essential lead management system features With this, you will know exactly what kinds of functionalities you should be looking for in your lead management tool.

Essential Lead Management System Features

1. Lead Capture

The lead management process starts when you generate prospective clients. To do that, it is pertinent that your software has a lead capture feature. This is what will let you identify leads across your different sales channels and collect information about them that will help you optimize the lead nurturing process.

Lead capture is a standard feature in marketing software, often integrated with campaign management. You may also find lead capture among the top help desk solutions, customer service being a treasure trove of engaged leads, whether for upselling, reselling or converting tickets.

Oftentimes, this feature allows you to create forms, post-click landing pages, and other types of data harvesting tools that will let you capitalize on web traffic. With this at your disposal, it is easier to get all sorts of information from your leads ranging from their name and contact details to their buying preferences and where they heard about your brand. After which, you can store these data for future reference or use them as a guide to improve your marketing efforts.

Lastly, this feature should provide you with a way to rapidly import and export your existing lead lists so it is easier to merge information from different systems.

2. Lead Activity Tracking

Let’s face it. No matter how skilled your sales representatives may be, there is no way that they can keep tabs on all the interactions they’ve had with each client. This is especially the case for high-growth companies and large enterprises that deal with an overwhelming number of customers on a daily basis.

If you truly want to maximize your customer interactions, it is best that you have lead activity tracking tools. Usually, you can see them in CRM software. With these, you can jot down the activities that happened as your leads traverse down your sales funnel. These include everything from face-to-face meetings and other forms of correspondence up to details on what they are looking for in your products and services. After which, these are saved in a database that you can look up every time you talk with them. This way, anyone from your sales team can pick up where the previous agent left off and move the conversation forward instead of asking your prospective clients to repeat themselves.

3. Lead Scoring

According to Marketing Optimizer, roughly 80% of marketing professionals forward prospective clients to sales agents without qualifying them first. Because of this, sales representatives often waste time converting leads that aren’t really that interested in what their company has to offer in the first place. Not only does this put a damper on your overall productivity; it also delays your responses to hot leads and lessens your chances of closing deals.

To curb this problem, your lead management system should come equipped with a scoring tool. This feature is what will help you sift your pool of leads for qualified prospects—separate the grain from the chaff if you will. It will then score your hot leads according to predefined metrics so that you know which ones your sales representatives should be prioritizing. This way, you can make the entire sales process more efficient and increase your conversion rate faster. Freshsales sports an excellent example of a lead scoring tool, which uses AI to finely comb through your base of prospects.

4. Intelligent Routing

Once you’ve scored your leads and figured out which prospects to bump up in your queue, you need to find a way to transfer them from your marketing department to your sales team. This is where intelligent routing features come in.

These will allow you to send qualified leads to the right sales personnel so that they can tap them at the right moment with the right message and maximize the chances for conversion. With this, you can accelerate follow-ups and instantly distribute leads without overwhelming your representatives.

But, of course, you shouldn’t simply send a lead to the first sales agent you see and hope for the best—you need to entrust them to representatives with the appropriate knowledge and skill set to help them. To do this, you can simply program the platform to route leads to representatives according to predetermined characteristics. This may include the hierarchy of agents, territories, or even product specialization. This way, you have higher chances of closing deals at a faster rate.

Keep in mind, though, that while plenty of lead management systems come with its own routing system, not all of them are automated. So, be sure to do your research when looking for a software or better yet, ask the software provider if they have this feature.

5. Lead Nurturing

Keeping leads interested in your brand is just as difficult as getting them to notice your company in the first place. To make sure that you’re prospective clients aren’t falling through the cracks, you will need solid lead nurturing tools. These are what will let you establish rapport with your customers from the first interaction up to the time of conversion.

First off, look for lead nurturing tools that will provide you with ways to segment your qualified leads into groups. This way, leads that belong to similar criteria like age bracket, interests, or location can easily be pooled together for targeted campaigns. Secondly, these tools should come with trigger email options so that it is easier for you to set up email marketing campaigns. Lastly, your lead nurturing tool should have a funnel reporting system that will help you know the status of each lead in your funnel. This makes it easier to know what steps you should take next in engaging them.

6. Campaign Management Dashboard

Another crucial feature of lead management systems is the campaign management dashboard. This is what gives you a 360-degree view of your lead generation, scoring, and nurturing efforts.

A majority, if not all, lead management SaaS products have campaign management dashboards. However, it is best to note that these dashboards are not created equal. The only rule of thumb you can follow here is that this should allow you to:

  • Pinpoint the campaigns that generate the most leads
  • Determine your most qualified leads
  • Monitor your key lead management metrics
  • Check your average customer lifecycle
  • Get a view of your agents’ overall performance and productivity

In case you want a more flexible dashboard, you should opt for a software that comes with open API capabilities or, at the very least, allow you to choose from different widgets that can extend the functions of the dashboard.

7. Analytics and Reporting

Managing your lead management operations is only one part of the equation. If you want to proactively make the most out of all your sales opportunities, you need to have robust analytics and reporting tools as well.

These features will allow you to not only monitor your acquisition rates, conversion statistics, and other vital lead management metrics; it also provides you with the whats, hows, whys, and whens of your data. This way, you’ll get all the information you need to assess the progress of your efforts and understand how you can move your business forward.

8. Built-In Communication Options

Your marketers and sales representatives are the faces and voices of your company. This is why they should act as one entity when they interact with your leads and existing customers. For them to do that, they need to be able to communicate with each other efficiently.

Luckily, there are plenty of lead management systems out there with email integration, built-in voice communication options, SMS tools, as well as live chat functions. With these, they can speak with each other to touch base on lead management efforts as well as be able to talk to clients without having to exit the platform.

Another great thing about these built-in communication options is that they have intelligent notification systems that are programmed to alert all concerned parties regarding the progress of particular sales accounts. This makes it faster and easier to relay information across departments.

9. Advanced Security Options

Prospective clients entrust you with their personal data, so it is your job to keep their information safe. This is especially important because of the rise of cyber crimes over the years. In fact, according to CyberSecurity Ventures, the annual damage of these cyber attacks are projected to reach $6 trillion by 2021.

If you want to avoid these costly security breaches, protect your confidential information by finding a lead management system that comes with its own security tools. These could include everything from two-factor authentication, single-sign on (SSO) options, unified password and management tools to SSL encryption, vulnerability scanning, and malware detection. You can also look for products that have garnered security certifications over the years if you want to make sure just how effective their anti-cyberattack measures are.

10. Integration with Other Business Systems

Lead management may cover everything from generation to conversion, but it is only one aspect of both the marketing and sales process. As such, you should find a lead management tool that can play well with your existing business systems. After all, there’s a good chance that you are using different software solutions for your marketing department and for your sales team.

In order to make sure that you won’t have compatibility issues along the way, try to find a lead management software that offer open API, REST API, custom application builders, or even open source solutions. Tools with these capabilities can often support an extensive range of third-party applications, add-ons, and widgets.

How to Choose a Lead Management System

There is no shortage of good lead management systems out there. So, you might be tempted to blindly choose industry leaders such as HubSpot Sales, Salesforce CRM or Pipedrive for your operations. After all, they can provide you with all the abovementioned features as well as some specialized tools to boot.

However, you should know that these features are only a small fraction of what you need to consider when choosing a lead management system. Here are some other factors that you might want to add to your list:

  1. Value for Money. Make sure you not only look for the software with the cheapest plan. Check out what is included in their rates and, more importantly, find out if you will have to pay extra installation fees, training costs, data migration costs, and other charges as these are what will determine the total cost of ownership of a lead management tool.
  2. Available Customer Support. Try asking your prospective vendor what types of customer support they offer. Ideally, you should opt for a provider that has 24/7 customer support and can be contacted via email, phone, and live chat. Moreover, find out whether or not they charge customers extra for certain technical support services.
  3. Scalability. Make sure that your lead management platform can scale up or down to the changing needs of your business. One example you could opt for would be software solutions with modular architecture as these will let you add or remove certain functionalities as necessary.
  4. Ease of Use. Whether your sales and marketing teams are tech-savvy or technically averse, there are lead management tools out there for you. You can choose from software solutions with what-you-see-is-what-you-get interfaces, SaaS products with open-source architecture, and platforms that can provide you the best of both worlds. It all boils down to what you and your users prefer.

Keep in mind that not all of this information will be readily available on your prospective software’s site. So, be sure to do your research and if all else fails, contact the vendor. They will be more than happy to answer your queries and explain to you how their software will be able to help you. You should also look at the bigger picture, lead management being just a part of the entire conversion process. You can read how to increase your revenues 6x here and see where the lead management piece falls into place.

Adam Goldberg

By Adam Goldberg

Adam Goldberg is a senior market research analyst and one of the key customer experience technology and CRM pioneers working for the FinancesOnline review team. He has been cooperating with FinancesOnline for over 5 years now. During that time Andrew has analyzed more than 2,000 CRM solutions and he’s well-known for his honest reviews and his unique perspective on challenges and opportunities posed by customer-centric innovation. He’s a strong believer in business process automation and the role it plays in customer data management, conversational intelligence, and customer engagement. His work has been mentioned in many major publications and media sites, including MSN, Springer, TheNextWeb, and CIO.

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