is a set of methodologies, systems, and practices designed to generate new potential business clientele, generally operated through a variety of marketing campaigns or programs. Lead management facilitates a business's connection between its outgoing consumer advertising and the responses to that advertising. These processes are designed for business-to-business and direct-to-consumer strategies. Lead management is in many cases a precursor to sales management
and customer relationship management. This critical connectivity
facilitates business profitability
through the acquisition of new customers, selling to existing customers, and creating a market brand. This process has also accurately been referred to as customer acquisition management.
The general principles of lead management create an ordered structure for managing volumes of business inquiries, frequently termed leads. The process creates an architecture for organization of data, distributed across the various stages
of a sales process
, and across a distributed sales force
. With the advent of the Internet and other information systems technologies, this process has rapidly become technology-centric, as businesses practising lead management techniques have shifted much of the prior manual workload
to automation systems, though personal interaction with lead inquiries is still vital to success.
Along with its other related business practices – marketing, brand development, advertising, and sales – the goal of an effective lead management initiative is to generate new business revenue, increase visibility, and improve the general attitudes of potential clients and the public at large
for future business development.
A typical outline of a lead management process might follow the following steps:
- Business engages in a range of advertising media (Lead generation).
- Recipients of advertising respond, creating a Customer inquiry, or lead.
- Respondent's information is captured (Inquiry Capture).
- Captured information is then filtered to determine validity (Inquiry filtering)
- The filtered leads are then graded and prioritized for potential (Lead grading)
- Leads are then distributed to marketing and/or sales personnel (Lead distribution).
- Leads are contacted for prospecting (Sales contact).
- Contacted and uncontacted leads are entered into personal and automated follow-up processes (Lead nurturing).
- End result is a new business sale (Sales result).
While simple in scope, lead (or inquiry) flow process can become complex as clients, prospective clients, and sales professionals interact. Interactions and subsequent actions create a variety of potential outcomes, both productive and counter-productive to business development. This ever-increasing number of scenarios creates functional disconnects, in other words, critical opportunities to mishandle an inquiry that reduces or destroys its potential value. Appropriate management of these scenarios is the function of lead management and is the basis of software such as marketing automation.