Leads, customers, and prospects are critical stages within your business cycle. When you properly track leads, business results become more clear. In addition, properly tracked leads indicate how well a salesperson is doing their job and how to improve your sales process for better results.
Leads should be organized by source, level of interest, and other prioritization metrics. Organizing leads by these categories allows you to track and manage deals in your pipeline. While it’s possible to set up and track leads with spreadsheets or other tools, by far the best way to organize and track leads is by using customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Salesforce is an example of a trusted CRM that allows you to consolidate leads, activities, and contact details using a single application. Prioritizing leads allows you to spend time on those that are most likely to close. Salesforce Essentials makes it easy to capture leads from your website directly into your CRM with a simple lead form generator. Pricing starts at $25 per user, per month for up to 10 users. You can even start a free trial to begin capturing your website leads today.
Below are seven steps you can take to organize and track your leads effectively:
1. Determine & Define Your Lead Sources
One of the most important things you can do in your lead tracking efforts is track where your leads are coming from. Knowing the origin of your leads allows you to make the most of your marketing budget. You can track leads by establishing a marketing source code system, in which codes are assigned to different types of leads so you can identify where they came from. Gathering this information allows you to create tracking reports so you can measure lead generation performance.
With spreadsheets, marketing source codes make organizing sales leads by source easier. However, there’s still the challenge of manual data entry and tracking interactions. CRMs or email campaign tools make tracking lead sources easier with automation. For instance, many CRMs have web-to-lead forms that bring leads from your website into your CRM.
Here are a few ideas for using marketing source codes to track your lead sources:
- Establish a simple naming convention: It’s important to establish a simple yet descriptive naming convention that allows you to recognize the source of the lead quickly so that you’re not wasting time trying to figure out what codes go with what leads.
- Consider using discount and promo codes: If your target audience is motivated by discounts and special promotions, these codes will tell you if they came through an ad or other content featuring a discount or promotion.
- Consider using web forms with embedded codes: Many web forms and landing pages come with embedded codes; the advantage here is that many lead tracking tools allow leads to be imported with the code or source attached to the lead.
Marketing source codes can help you isolate and track how well certain lead generation channels are performing. The ability to track the source of your best performing leads is crucial for determining where to invest your marketing, advertising, or prospecting dollars. It’s also beneficial for isolating specific groups to test and track targeted marketing messages.
2. Evaluate & Select Lead Tracking Options
The first step to organize your leads is to choose the software you’ll use. The earlier you can implement lead tracking software like a CRM, the better.
To evaluate software options, consider the following questions:
- What is my budget for lead tracking software or other lead tracking tools? Even if your budget is $0, there are still CRMs that could work for you.
- How much time can I devote to entering lead data manually? All entrepreneurs are busy, making time your most precious resource. Decide whether you or your sales team are willing to enter sales lead data manually.
- How much time do I have to learn how to use lead management software? Be honest about the amount of time you or your sales team will want to spend learning to use lead tracking software.
- Do I expect my lead generation activities to ramp up slowly or quickly? Spreadsheets can become unmanageable if your lead generation activities take off and you suddenly have large volumes of data to manage.
Here are a few lead tracking options, along with their benefits and drawbacks:
Lead Tracking CRMs
There are hundreds of lead generation platforms on the market, ranging from general purpose to industry-specific to task- or feature-focused. Certain CRMs have an emphasis on lead tracking and managing deals through the pipeline. For an in-depth look into the best lead management software options, see our article on the six best lead management CRMs.
Below are a few lead tracking CRMs you should consider:
- Salesforce: Salesforce has an Essentials plan that includes the features small businesses need to effectively track leads and convert them to customers, along with advanced reporting dashboards to keep everything organized.
- Freshworks CRM: Freshworks CRM is great for sales teams wanting to manage and work leads while out in the field because you can access your leads through a robust mobile app; it also has sales activity tracking features like email tracking and call recording.
- Pipedrive: Pipedrive works well for more visual business owners and sales professionals wanting to visualize lead management activities on a Kanban board quickly and easily; it’s convenient for tracking and acting upon lead nurturing activities.
Since we last updated:
Freshworks CRM, formerly Freshsales, recently rebranded with a new name, new service plans, and access to Freshmarketer automation software. Forever-free plans are still available and include mobile apps, 24×5 support, live chat, and more.
While spreadsheets are not the best options, many small businesses use them to organize and track leads. Using spreadsheets is a viable option in the short term or while you shop for a CRM. If you know how to use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, it’s fairly easy to set up a tracking system using either of these tools. In fact, we’ve written an article on how to use Google Sheets as a CRM. Since spreadsheets require tedious manual data entry, use this method with caution.
Email Campaign Tools
Email campaign software is another option for tracking and organizing sales leads. This is a viable option, especially if you plan to use email communication as a core part of your lead nurturing strategy. Most email marketing tools allow you to store contacts, send mass email campaigns, and track important metrics like open and click-through rates. The downside to using an email campaign tool alone is that you won’t always be able to track other activities like calling or website visits.
To help with that, make sure that you choose one that integrates with your CRM. In addition, some CRMs actually include email tools that can help you track your communication with leads and customers. Salesforce Inbox, for example, combines the power of your CRM and email without having to switch applications, allowing you to sell smarter with customer insights in your inbox.
Once you’ve evaluated a number of lead organization and tracking options, it’s time to select the one that’s right for you. Choose an option that will grow as your business and lead generation activity grows.
3. Set Up Your System & Test It
Once you’ve selected your lead tracking and organization tools and you’ve created a method for tracking lead sources, it’s time to create your CRM strategy and test it. Regardless of which tool you use, whether it’s spreadsheets, CRM, or an email system, it needs to be properly set up. Once your system is properly set up to receive the data and house your leads, you can begin tracking them.
Here are a few tips for setting up and testing your system:
Take Advantage of Tutorials
Your tools will more than likely come with tutorials or educational materials. There may even be some videos on YouTube you can use to give you pointers on how to set it up. Learn as much as you can about your tools or system before getting started. If you’re using a CRM, set up an onboarding session with your vendor. In this session, tell them how you want your leads organized and what you plan to track to meet your tracking and organization goals.
Test Your New System
Once you’ve learned more about your tools, and they’re set up to work for your lead tracking and organization strategy, test it. You and one or two other people on your team should test it out before making it available to the whole team or purchasing the product. Most tools come with free trials, so take advantage of them to gauge whether they’re right for you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Changes
Once you’ve set up your system and tested it, don’t be afraid to make changes. You’ll learn what’s working and what’s not working in your first few weeks. Tweak your new system based on what you’ve learned. If you’re using a CRM to organize and manage your leads, you may add tools and features like emailing or calling prospects from within your CRM.
4. Roll Out Your Lead Tracking System
Once you’re done setting up your system and testing it, roll your lead tracking system out to the larger group. To ensure a successful rollout, generate some excitement around your new tools. Provide adequate training and make it mandatory for your team to use the system. Getting employee buy-in on your lead tracking system is crucial to getting a return on investment (ROI).
Below are a few things you can do to ensure a successful lead tracking software rollout:
- If in a free trial, commit to a package: If you signed up for a free trial to test lead tracking tools, enroll in a free or paid plan that will work for you. Be sure you’re able to upgrade or downgrade as your needs change.
- Get buy-in: Get your sales team as excited as you are about using the new CRM by demonstrating how it will help increase sales and make their lives easier.
- Train your team: Make sure your team knows how to use your lead tracking software and that they take advantage of the tracking and organization features.
- Make it mandatory: Reinforce that using the new system is not optional. Let them know that it is a mandatory part of your sales process while offering incentives for quick adoption of the tool.
5. Input & Assign Leads
Now it’s time to input leads and assign them to appropriate team members. Leads can be entered into lead tracking systems in a variety of ways. Salespeople can manually enter leads or they can be imported from other software tools or spreadsheets. After leads are entered, assign them to the right people so they can nurture and close them. Spreadsheets require manual assignment whereas a CRM will use automation.
Below are lead input considerations for spreadsheets or lead tracking software:
Lead Input & Assignment With Spreadsheets
Unless you have advanced Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets skills, entering and assigning leads with spreadsheets is time-consuming. Both data entry and the creation of lead assignment formulas could take hours, especially with large lead volumes.
Lead Input & Assignment With Lead Tracking Software
Using a CRM takes the pain out of entering and assigning leads manually. CRMs like Salesforce automate the steps involved in the data entry and lead assignment process. Automation saves time so you can use your skills in higher priority activities and make a bigger impact on your business.
You can set up specific email campaigns based on lead characteristics. Targeted emails reduce the number of unsubscribes while increasing open and click rates. CRMs keep track of all these campaigns, giving you the ability to identify and flag leads most likely to respond to your campaign.
6. Nurture Your Leads & Track Activities
Lead nurturing is one of the most important components of business-to-business (B2B) or complex business-to-consumer (B2C) sales. Nurturing leads is a set of activities that turn cold prospects into loyal customers. In addition to tracking leads by deal size, record activities like meetings and email conversations to ensure your team is following up with leads. Staying on top of these tasks helps move deals through the pipeline faster.
Many CRMs offer tools to track your lead nurturing activities, including:
- Call recording: This feature allows you to record calls to refresh your memory of past conversations.
- Email tracking: The ability to track your emails allows you to A/B test and measure the effectiveness of campaigns.
- Website and in-app engagement: CRMs allow you to dig deeper into how prospects interact with your website and apps, allowing you to see which products garner the most interest.
If you’re using a spreadsheet to track lead nurturing activities, format your spreadsheet with columns for notes and drop-down boxes to categorize lead tracking activities. For example, if your lead nurturing categories included meetings, phone calls, webinars, and events, set up a drop-down menu in the lead nurturing column and select which activities were used.
7. Prioritize Your Leads
With adequate lead nurturing and tracking, you’ll eventually have enough information to prioritize leads. Lead prioritization is critical for following up and staying on top of leads. There’s a saying in sales: “Time kills all deals.” Statistically, the chances of a deal closing decrease the longer it takes salespeople to contact leads.
Full-featured CRMs like Salesforce offer lead scoring and prioritization tools. For example, Salesforce ranks leads by both characteristics and behavior. It also allows for customization of your own lead scoring system to fit your sales process and organization. A CRM offers automated prioritization whereas a spreadsheet requires advanced features and know-how.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is lead tracking & organization?
Lead tracking and organization is the process of identifying lead sources and arranging them so that the sales team can easily prioritize and manage sales activities.
What is lead tracking software?
Lead tracking software is a technology that helps to automatically organize and track leads. While spreadsheets can be configured to track and organize leads, CRMs are the most common form of lead tracking software.
Should I use a lead tracking spreadsheet if I’m on a budget?
Unless you have an abundance of time and advanced skills in Excel or Google Sheets, it’s best to use a CRM for lead tracking and organization. There are many free and affordable CRM options available, so a lack of funds doesn’t have to hold you back.
Organizing and tracking your leads is key to managing long sales cycles. Lead tracking can be done with spreadsheets, but the most efficient way is with CRM. Using automation, CRMs allow you to stay organized and track important metrics. The insights from your lead tracking software give you vital insights such as which lead sources to invest in, which sales activities to continue, and which leads to prioritize.