Skip to main content ↓

Close More Deals With These 18 Lead Management Best Practices

two people shaking hands with a 100 dollar bill imprinted on their skin

Keeping track of what’s going on in your sales pipeline is critical. Your pipeline gives you an inside look at how your sales process is performing, and whether or not improvements need to be made.

Unfortunately, prospects can get lost in the shuffle or end up becoming inactive. So what should you do when you find that leads are dropping off or getting stuck?

Use lead management best practices so your sales team can focus on nurturing prospects who need your offerings and closing more urgent deals.

If you’re looking for ways to have an effective lead management process, you’re in luck. In this blog post, we’ll discuss 18 of the most effective lead management best practices.

What is lead management?

Lead management is the process of collecting lead information and nurturing them until they convert into customers. Monitoring your leads’ interactions with your business is also part of an effective lead management process, as it helps you better understand your consumers.

What are the major steps in lead management?

a design illustrating the cycle of the steps in lead management

There are several stages involved in the lead management process, and it’s important to optimize your process at each step of the way. These stages are:

  • Lead generation: The first step in lead management is lead generation. This stage is all about creating interest in your company. You can collect leads via forms on your website, social media, email marketing, and through other channels.
  • Lead qualification: Once you have a lead, you need to qualify it to determine if it’s a good fit for your solution. Some leads may not be your ideal customer, and spending too much time on them isn’t the best use of resources. Qualify them early on to save effort and energy.
  • Lead scoring: In this stage, you determine the value of a lead using a combination of criteria that matter most to your company. A lead’s score then dictates how much time and effort your team puts into winning the deal.
  • Lead distribution: When a lead is qualified and scored, it can be distributed to the right salesperson on your team for nurturing. You can use automation to send leads to the rep most qualified to work with them based on experience, geography, performance, or other factors.
  • Lead nurturing: The lead nurturing step might take some time, as its end goal is converting the lead into a customer. This is the process of keeping in touch with leads through valuable content and follow-ups designed to maintain their interest and provide them with the information they need to make a decision.
  • Lead conversion: Finally, you’ve won the sale! The lead conversion step is a big win, but don’t rest just yet—as you maintain the customer relationship, you may have opportunities for cross- or upsells.

What causes leads to get stuck in a sales pipeline?

When you do a bit of digging, you’ll likely be able to link inactive leads to a few specific causes.

Not reaching the right person

If you don’t have the right contact information for the decision-maker at a company, you won’t be able to make a sale. Alternatively, a prospect may enter an email address that they don’t use very often when they fill out a form on your site. This is a problem in both cases because your message isn’t getting in front of the people who need to see it. Take a look at the bounce rates for your emails. If they’re high, that’s one indicator that you aren’t selling to the right person (or anyone at all).

There’s a problem with your product/service

Another reason why a lead might be stuck is that they are having trouble using your solution, or they think it’s too expensive when compared to similar options. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to find and fix any issues that are within your control. While you won’t be able to please every prospect, making the right changes can have a great impact on your bottom line. For example, if you’re finding that a lot of users abandon the account creation process on your site, do your best to reduce friction at that step.

Your buyer isn’t ready yet

It might be that your prospect isn’t sure that they want to make a change and adopt your solution. The majority of people won’t be ready to buy the minute they enter your pipeline. As a result, you have to focus on nurturing and education during your early pipeline stages. Not doing so can leave some prospects hanging without the confidence to make a purchase. You can increase the chances of making a sale by being helpful and relevant.

18 effective lead management best practices

Once you know what’s getting your prospects stuck, you’re faced with another challenge: How do you remove those snags and advance them through your pipeline?

The good news is that when you put the right lead management tactics into action, you can get those leads moving forward again. Let’s go through 14 lead management best practices that you can emulate to close more deals this year:

1. Optimize your lead sources to attract more leads

As the first step in the lead management process, generating the right kind of leads is critical. Other lead channels might include:

  • Blog posts
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media
  • Your website
  • Referrals
  • Industry events
  • Media coverage
  • Partnerships
  • Email marketing
  • Paid digital advertising

Put your efforts into the lead channels that are most likely to provide you with high-quality leads in your lead segments. Don’t dive into every channel if you can’t put the right amount of effort in, or if that channel isn’t where your ideal customers are spending their time. Consider your company and industry to determine the channels that are most valuable for your business.

2. Sharpen up your communication strategy

What’s your strategy for communicating with prospects in the different stages of your pipeline? Sending out an email blast to every person on your list once a month isn’t going to cut it if you want to steadily encourage prospects toward a purchase.

First, think about your sales process and what your leads need at every stage. Then, segment those leads into different lists. You should have a strategy that speaks to your leads’ curiosity, concerns, and pain points.


Write less email, get more replies.

Are you falling off your prospects’ radars? With Nutshell’s personal email sequences, we’ll remember the follow-up for you.



a drawing of gears and envelopes against a black background

3. Get to know your leads better

Are your prospects casually considering a product/service like yours or are they in urgent need of a solution? If leads are stuck in your pipeline, it might be that they don’t need your product or service yet. Maybe they can’t decide if your solution is a good investment for their needs. Knowing this allows you to nurture them properly.

Understanding where your leads are in the buyer’s journey helps you market to them more effectively. You can find out what your leads are thinking by asking them to reply to an email or by sending out a survey. For all new leads, you might want to consider setting up a questionnaire so you can easily collect more information about them and their business.

Identify and proactively target potential customers with PeopleIQ

With PeopleIQ, you can track and identify the companies and people visiting your website even before they fill out a form, enabling you to proactively target potential customers.



a person is standing on a stool next to a graph with an arrow pointing up

4. Segment your leads

Marketing, sales, and customer service teams all benefit from segmentation. Persona segmentation helps marketing teams craft effective campaigns with relevant messages for different buyer personas.

Service teams can segment customers to improve their support efforts for different groups of customers. Do some customers prefer email support or phone calls? Your customers will need assistance with different features or aspects of your product or service.

Meanwhile, sales teams can segment leads to customize the buying process for different prospects. Does it make sense for your team to segment leads based on products they’re interested in, their location, or the number of times they’ve purchased from you?

Organize and segment your leads according to categories that will help you improve their customer journey and make your process more efficient. Then create content and messaging tailored to each segment’s needs.

5. Utilize lead-scoring techniques

When your sales team gets to work each morning, how do they prioritize leads? Just starting from the oldest and working toward the newest may not be the most effective way to drive sales. But how do you decide which leads should get your attention first?

Lead scoring is an efficient way to determine your most valuable leads so you can prioritize them. When you score leads, you give them a ranking based on important factors to let your sales team know which leads they should follow up with first.

There are lots of lead scoring models out there, and your company’s needs will determine the one you should use. Generally, businesses consider the following criteria when scoring leads:

  • Industry type
  • Company size
  • Annual revenue
  • Demographic
  • Online behavior
  • Campaign engagement

6. Make sure your leads’ data and data format are correct

Do you have a standardized and organized way of collecting lead data? If you don’t, it’s time to systematize your lead collection and ensure each lead data follows a standard data format.

A standardized and organized way to collect lead data may not impact your sales process today. As you grow your business and nurture relationships with these leads, having correct lead data and using a uniform format can save you time and avoid confusion.

Not sure how to start? Here are some tips:

  • Set up your form’s fields for the correct data format
  • Remove duplicates
  • Organize and clean inconsistent formatting as soon as you spot it

7. Have a secure repository of your lead data in a customer relationship management (CRM) software

To effectively manage your leads, you need a more robust tool than a spreadsheet. You can ensure your lead data and profile are always up to date with a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, as everyone on your team can access it after every lead nurturing activity.

Do you need to send follow-up emails? A CRM can help you create email drip campaigns so you don’t miss sending out follow-ups. You can avoid sending duplicate emails with a CRM, as everyone can view the most recent transactions and conversations with each lead.

8. Take advantage of your CRM’s automation tools

Manual data entry is not only inefficient but also a possible source of error. Minimize errors and maximize efficiency with the different automation tools available in your CRM. Some of them are:

  • Assigning leads to sales reps: Automatically assign leads to the best-suited sales rep for the job. Nutshell even helps your sales reps succeed at closing deals by enabling you to provide reminders to them.
  • Moving leads in your pipeline: Let your sales team focus on selling, and let your CRM help move your leads in your pipeline. Nutshell automatically advances leads from stage to stage based on the goals you’ve set. It can also update lead confidence.
  • Following up with leads: You may also be able to automate communication to streamline lead engagement. For example, sending new leads an automated email drip sequence can keep them engaged longer and lead them on a journey of discovery as they get to know your company and offerings.
  • Lead scoring: How likely is a lead to convert, and how soon will they do it? Let your CRM help you prioritize which leads to nurture by automating lead scoring. Nutshell has simplified this process with lead confidence.

Looking for an easy-to-use CRM with all the features you need to boost sales?

Nutshell has what you’re looking for.

Explore Nutshell’s Features

an illustration of a group of people on a computer screen

9. Look for stalled stages

Are lots of leads getting stuck in one stage of your pipeline? If so, re-evaluate that stage of your sales process. To understand how to fix these stalled stages, you need to think about two things: what’s happening, and what should be happening.

What are your specific goals for each stage in your sales process? How close are you or your prospects coming to meeting these goals? What can you do to make it easier for your leads to move to the next step or make a decision?

10. Use insightful reporting dashboards

Do you have a healthy sales pipeline? Track and measure your lead data using insightful reports and dashboards.

These dashboards show how your team is performing. Having reports that break down the performance per stage lets you identify the stages where your sales team struggles or which are highly efficient.

Nutshell CRM sales tracker interface with a graph showing the number of new leads in each month

11. Nurture your leads effectively

Have you ever purchased from a business that sent you a follow-up email about a product you added to your cart but never purchased? Awkward.

You need to carefully track where each lead is in your pipeline so you can send them content and messaging tailored to their current needs. Then schedule communication promptly to avoid letting leads slip through the cracks.

Keep your leads engaged with your business, so they smoothly move through your sales funnel. Send timely and personalized emails that guide your prospects to purchase from you. A cart abandonment email or an email offering a sales demo are some excellent lead-nurturing examples.

12. Offer help

If you determine a lead is having trouble making a decision or getting buy-in from their company, what can you do to help? What can you give your leads to establish more trust? You could offer a free e-book, trial, consultation, coupon code, or other resources. An important thing to remember is that a good offer is valuable to your audience. It should also be made available to the right buyer at the right time.

Again, the key here is to make sure that your contact list is segmented properly. You don’t want to send a guide explaining why your type of service is important to a lead who is already in the decision stage of the buyer’s journey.

13. Create urgency

If your prospect is not feeling an urgent need to make a purchase, set an expiration date or offer a discount. Adding urgency to your email marketing efforts can significantly increase open rates, click-through rates, and transactions. To make the most of urgency in your emails, include the offer and the time limit in your subject line.

Note: Be cautious when using this strategy. If you’re going to create urgency, make sure that it’s based on something real. Claiming that a trial offer will be available for one day only but keeping it up for weeks is a quick way to lose credibility.

14. Ask questions

Can’t get a lead to close the deal? Start listening. Ask them questions so that you can understand their issue or hesitation. If you ask your prospect a question that will engage them, you have a good chance that they’ll reply. Then, you’ll gain insight into exactly what’s holding them back. This is another good opportunity to use a survey or send an email with a short and specific question. Send something that your leads can answer in just a few minutes.

15. Set up and document your sales process

You probably have a sales process in place. If you don’t have one, it’s time to create one to structure your sales team’s activities. A sales process shortens the sales cycle and guides your sales representatives as they close deals.

Create a live documentation of your sales process to identify inefficient efforts and duplicated tasks. Knowing these bottlenecks is half the battle. The other half is addressing them to streamline your selling process.

Make sure you keep your sales process documentation updated!


16 sales process templates for B2B pipelines

Whether you’re building your first sales process or overhauling an existing one, these Nutshell-approved templates will give you a great head-start.



blue paper boats in a row with the words "Nutshell 16 sales Process templates for b2b pipelines"

16. Test and review your lead generation process

It’s also important to continue optimizing your lead generation process. Just as you want your sales team to make the most of every opportunity, you should also ensure your marketing efforts are generating real results.

Set up a schedule for continual testing for each of your lead generation channels. A/B, variant, and other kinds of testing like heat maps provide valuable insight into what messaging and content resonates best with your customers and leads.

Monitor how well each of your marketing campaigns performs and compare the results with other campaigns to continue improving your strategies.

17. Boost communication between sales and marketing teams for better hand-off

For the best lead generation and nurturing results, your sales and marketing teams need to be in perfect sync. Your sales team can give your marketing team valuable information about the kinds of leads they’re generating, while your marketing team can learn what leads are really looking for when they investigate your business.

A good CRM can help break down siloes between sales and marketing departments. By giving both teams access to the same customer and lead data, you ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to lead behavior and needs.

And with a built-in email marketing tool, you can track every touchpoint with a lead, from meetings and phone calls to email opens and clicks, to optimize your interactions.

18. Practice good CRM data hygiene

The average rate of data decay is 30% every year. Keep your lead data healthy by practicing good CRM data hygiene, which helps ensure that your data is as accurate as possible.

Regular CRM data cleansing is a helpful activity that removes inaccurate, incomplete, duplicate, and corrupted data. Do some of your emails go unopened? Does a lead stop engaging with your business after a certain period? It’s a good idea to let go of these leads.

Effectively manage your leads with Nutshell

Managing your leads is a crucial piece of your sales process. With the help of a robust but user-friendly CRM like Nutshell, you can nurture leads more efficiently and effectively. Nutshell has powered more than $600 million in sales per year.

In addition, our partners over at WebFX are lead management experts, having helped its customers generate more than 7.8 million leads. Together, Nutshell and WebFX can help you with your lead management process and drive results for your bottom line.

Want to see how Nutshell can help your business? Try it for free for 14 days.

Try Nutshell free for 14 days!



an illustration of a website with a Nutshell Pro logo
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Join 30,000+ other sales and marketing professionals. Subscribe to our Sell to Win newsletter!