This article is part of a larger series on CRM.
Lead tracking is the process of storing, organizing, and updating prospect data and sales activity information. It involves using a lead tracking tool or method and then defining the types of data you want to collect. Once that’s established, keep the information updated as you generate, assign, qualify, and nurture leads and finalize sales deals. In this article, we explore how to properly organize lead information and why it’s important to track sales leads.
Free Sales Lead Tracking Template
Lead tracking is essential to a standardized sales operation. To make it easier for you to get started, we’ve created a free template. You can use this spreadsheet to organize prospects or to help guide you on defining and setting up your own lead tracking system.
If you would prefer to track your sales leads through alternative means, we will also go over how to keep track of sales and give insights on other tools and software with lead tracking capabilities. No matter which tool you use, here’s how to organize your lead data and activity in a way that ensures your teams are working with up-to-date information in seven easy steps:
1. Select a Lead Tracking Tool
The first thing to do is to determine the tool or method you’d like to use. Depending on your technical knowledge of sales leads software, the complexity of your sales process, and the amount of information you need to manage, there are a few routes you can take to track sales leads:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software: Most likely the best overall option, CRM systems such as Freshsales offer an all-in-one, pipeline tracking, task management, communication, and lead management software. Users can store information on leads and collaborate on sales tasks while creating reports on their progress, performance, and activity.
- Spreadsheets: Arguably the easiest way to track leads, spreadsheet tools like Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel use a column and row table system to input prospect and activity information. From there, users can update cells, sort data, and share their sheets with other team members to view or edit. These platforms even offer CRM templates for sales data fields. Use our free lead tracking template to get started with this method.
- Project management tools: Known as a CRM alternative, project management tools such as monday.com and Trello give the simplicity a spreadsheet offers but with more dynamic visual options such as Kanban or dashboard views. Additionally, the Crmble power-up feature in Trello offers CRM features.
- Email marketing platforms: Email tools like Mailchimp are excellent for storing email contact information as well as designing, deploying, automating, and analyzing email marketing campaigns.
While there are many methods for organizing sales information, 72% of businesses agree a CRM offers better access to customer data. The most important thing, however, is that you and other users are storing applicable data and updating the CRM records, spreadsheet cells, project management items, or email contact lists as events take place.
Looking for robust CRM software that meets your small business needs? Download our comprehensive CRM e-book to learn more about choosing and implementing the right CRM for your team.
2. Define Your Data Fields
Once you’ve decided how to organize the prospect and deal information, there’s a small but necessary step of defining data fields before you can set up and begin tracking. Fields are where you collect information associated with a lead record. For example, an important data field for a lead is the lead contact’s first and last name. Some types of data fields you should define and include are the following:
The first type of field involves contact data associated with a lead that helps identify a record because the information is unique to them. The most common examples you want to collect for each lead include their name, organization, address, email address, and phone number.
Tracking lead sources helps you monitor where opportunities are coming from to help optimize marketing budgets and sales resources to the most effective channels. Some examples of lead sources frequently used include trade shows, networking events, social media, online ads, inbound calls, referrals, online research, or a specific organization. Keep in mind that a lead source is simply where your prospects heard about you or first interacted with you.
Tags are pieces of information attached to a record that identify a group of prospects based on similar interests, priorities, or statuses. They help in your sales process if you want to filter or share leads based on certain shared characteristics.
For example, say you wanted to identify certain contacts based on buyer preferences to help your sales reps when they engage them and the marketing team nurture them. You might create one tag called “Price Sensitive,” one called “Product Usability Demanded,” and another called “Customer Service Focused.” As each lead comes in, you would tag them with one or two of these tags.
The advantage is that if you were to generate an email list to deploy a marketing campaign to nurture each of these leads, you can do it according to their preferences. In other words, you’re able to filter and divide your lists based on those with the same tags.
Deal information fields include data regarding their purchase potential and product or service interest. Common examples include deal size ($) and the product line the lead is interested in. This category also encompasses any information that impacts pricing, such as the number of employees, which often dictates how much insurance, software, or a consulting service costs.
Pipeline Stage or Activity
These data fields let you monitor where you are in the sales process with each opportunity. You might have established predefined pipeline stages that indicate the internal activities required to close a deal, such as lead qualification, nurturing, or sending proposals. Alternatively, you might take a more simplified approach and just take note of your interactions with them.
For example, if a prospect called into your business on August 1, you’d note in their record “Aug 1: Lead generated – called with interest in products.” Then, if you followed up with them on September 1, you’d add to the record “Sept 1: Followed-up on lead by calling them, couldn’t speak but asked me to send an email, email sent.”
3. Set Up Your Lead Tracking System
Once you’ve determined what you want to track, begin setting up your lead tracking system. Start with adding those data fields you find important. If you’re using CRM software, each product will have default fields to work with or its own custom settings for adding and editing custom fields for each module.
Zoho CRM, for example, lets you select field types such as single line text, date, email, or a check box and then label the field with the relevant name such as Social Security number, lead name, or lead source. Users can also edit properties for each field in the CRM if you require data entry for the record, want to prevent duplicates, or want to secure the data with encryption.
4. Generate Leads & Input Your Data
Once all the fields are designed to your liking in the CRM, start adding contact and prospect records as leads are generated. Though you can manually enter data records, this can also be automated by linking a web form to your CRM system.
For example, HubSpot allows you to customize forms for marketing campaigns such as newsletter sign-ups, social media forms, or online ads. From there, if an interested prospect submits their information, they automatically have their data transferred to the CRM as a lead record.
If you do, however, choose to take the manual route, make sure you add all of the information you initially require. For example, let’s say you were conducting online research to find prospects and set up your CRM process to require a phone number as a data field before a record can be created. In that case, you’d want to make sure you find that phone number even if it just means using their organization’s primary number.
5. Assign Leads for Outreach
As leads begin pouring in, have a process ready that assigns them to a dedicated sales rep or account executive. You might consider doing this on a manual basis, but if the volume of potential customers coming in is high, it becomes challenging to stay organized.
Some CRMs, such as Zoho CRM, have automated lead assignment features you can use. Users can configure their system to assign opportunities and notify specific reps based on characteristics such as lead source, product line, or potential deal size.
If you’re using a spreadsheet or CRM alternative, indicate which rep is responsible. Once assigned, your sales team members can begin doing initial outreach via cold calling or email and update their records or cells on each lead’s progress. For instance, they can update the pipeline status on the record if they called and scheduled a sales presentation or product demo.
6. Nurture Leads
Most prospects won’t give you a straight yes or no answer immediately. One estimate shows that 63% of leads who inquire won’t convert until at least three months. During that time between the initial conversations and deal-closing activity, continuously nurture your leads. Nurturing is maintaining relationships with potential and current customers through communications.
You can use automated email marketing campaigns to constantly stay in touch with those in the pipeline. Additionally, your sales reps can do more personalized nurturing by sending direct emails to prospects or making follow-up phone calls to see where your leads stand.
Just as you would with the lead generation and assignment steps, log your activity in your records, spreadsheet tables, or project boards so everyone can see where a prospect is in the pipeline. CRMs, including Salesforce, have activity tracking in their lead records. From a profile, users can document notes to track sales calls, emails, tasks, or event information.
7. Prioritize Leads
Finally, lead prioritization is the last step in the lead tracking process. This refers to focusing efforts and time on prospects with the best chance of becoming won customers. Manually, you can use your instincts to see which leads stand out as great opportunities based on your interactions and customer attributes such as buying power, fit for offerings, and interest expressed—all of which you have been tracking.
A more advanced method, however, is using what’s called lead scoring—which uses a point system to identify the best leads. While you can design criteria by hand, you’ll gain more streamlined and automated results by doing it in a CRM system. Freshsales is an excellent example of a CRM that lets you customize lead score criteria to add points based on activity and lead attributes, then assigns points as events take place.
Benefits of Organizing & Tracking Sales Leads
Sales lead tracking is considered its own stage in the lead management process. After a lead is generated and their information captured, you need to have a system that organizes and updates that data as they go through the sales process. The importance and benefits of tracking sales lead can be categorized into a few main reasons:
- Keeps contact data organized: Having a centralized system that stores the names, company info, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of a lead makes it easy to find information as you need to contact them or find their data record.
- Lets you view activity history: Tracking the activity of leads interacting with your brand or sales reps keeps you in the loop and up to date on when you last engaged them—allowing you to plan your next campaign or outreach tasks.
- Allows you to evaluate deal progress and pipeline health: Treating each lead as a trackable sales deal undergoing the sales process lets you view individual pipeline stage statuses for each lead as well as the total number of leads within each stage. It also enables you to evaluate conversion rates within the pipeline to see how effective your sales team is at closing deals.
- Helps prevent lost sales opportunities: Tracking leads and assigning them to sales reps ensures someone is held accountable in the event an opportunity is lost due to a lack of follow-up or nurturing.
- Enables you to create marketing segments: Storing contextual information about a lead, such as their job title, industry, product needs, or common behaviors, lets you categorize them into marketing segments where you can sell to them a certain way or deploy specific marketing campaigns toward them.
Pro tip: Customer personas are excellent tools for determining your ideal buyers and your strategies for targeting them. Our guide on creating a customer persona teaches you how to define your ideal targets and use lead tracking tools to see who fits into what segment.
Tracking sales leads is storing and updating prospect information as they’re generated and undergo the sales process. It’s essential to keep your sales data organized to ensure reps have access to the most recent and relevant information to work with. A robust lead tracking system requires you to select a method you’re comfortable with (such as a CRM), identify the information you want to store, and keep updating records as events take place.