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Staying on top of sales leads can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t have a way to organize and keep track of vital information about your prospects. Once you know what features are necessary to keep track of your prospects, you’ll find a wide range of customer relationship management tools available. These tools range from easy-to-use, budget-friendly applications to extensive software featuring all the bells and whistles.
No matter what tool you use to organize your sales leads, you need a few basic features to make the most of your prospect data. Besides the names of your prospects and their contact information, you also need to keep track of when you last made contact with them. A way to keep notes with each prospect’s record is also vital for tracking needs as well as discussions about your products and services. The ability to add a “next contact date” is critical, allowing you to keep track of when to next call each lead. Finally, keeping track of the types of leads, such as indicating whether a prospect is a hot, lukewarm or cold lead, helps you focus on those most likely to result in a sale.
One of the least-expensive ways to organize leads is to create a spreadsheet with columns for each piece of information you want to include. Developing a spreadsheet allows you to quickly sort the information so you can use the data in different ways. For instance, sorting your database to identify the “hot” leads helps you project the sales you expect to make in a specific timeframe. Some companies, such as Vertex42, offer free customer relationship management templates you can import into Excel. The Vertex42 template provides fields for basic information as well as advanced data, such as estimated sales value and demographic information.
Software built specifically for sales leads organization ranges from free applications, such as Base CRM and Sales Tracking, a free app for iOS and Android, to cloud applications and large CRM systems that handle tens of thousands of leads. Many of the software packages help you create and keep track of sales goals and how prospects hear about your company, such as through referrals, email marketing campaigns or social media. This allows you to identify which marketing tools work and which need to be improved or scrapped altogether. Look for software that allows you to document demographic information so you can analyze your customers and know which target markets to approach to find more interested buyers.
If you work with a team of salespeople, look for CRM software that provides all of your sales staff with access. This allows each member of your sales team to get updated lead information within seconds instead of needing to track down whoever has the notes for a specific prospect. Look for software that provides document collaboration or mind mapping to give your team the ability to keep track of ideas generated during team brainstorming sessions. Team sharing software is also helpful when a salesperson leaves your company, as all of the information about his sales leads is easily accessible, and you’re able to quickly assign accounts to someone else.
Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.