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What is Lead Management in CRM?

Every business needs access to high-quality leads to sustain. 

While all enterprises focus on lead generation, many of them tend to overlook how these leads are handled once they are acquired. 

Not having proper control over incoming leads compromises organizational efficiency and leads to loss of important sales opportunities. 

Businesses need a well-established process of capturing and managing leads. This can help guide them through the sales funnel and ensure that deals do not slip through the cracks. 

With a lead management process in place, sales representatives can easily track which leads are due for a follow-up, which leads require immediate attention, and where each prospect currently stands in the sales cycle. 

Managing sales leads effectively is critical for maximizing sales outcomes. 

To handle a large number of leads, sales teams need to implement the best lead tracking strategy and use a powerful CRM.

This blog covers the best practices to manage your sales leads and the role a lead management CRM can play in the process. We also list the 9 best lead management tools that you can use to streamline your sales activities. 

What is Lead Management?

Lead management involves tracking and managing all sales opportunities from when they are acquired until the final decision stage.

It involves the efforts that go into converting a prospect into a customer.

Lead management definition describes it as a process of acquiring leads, encouraging them to make the purchase, and managing every aspect of the sales cycle along the way.

It typically encompasses the following:

  • The first step is generating leads for the business. There are several ways a business can create interest in the product or service and acquire potential customers. 
  • Once a lead expresses some form of interest in the business, its information is recorded for future use.
  • These leads are then qualified, prioritized, and assigned to sales representatives. 
  • The next step is lead nurturing, where the leads are provided with more information about the product or service and educated about how it can be a reliable solution for them.
  • In the final stage, the lead either becomes a customer or is dropped from the sales cycle.

Lead management is critical for businesses to track how leads move through the sales funnel and identify areas that can be improved. Managing leads efficiently can help maximize ROI and advance business growth. 

What is a Lead?

Before we get deeper into the various lead management practices and tools, it is essential to establish what a sales lead is and how it is different from a customer.

In simple terms, a lead is a person or an enterprise that falls in your demographic and is likely to become a customer. 

A prospective customer that wishes to learn more about your product or service is termed as a lead.

For a prospect to qualify as a lead, they have to express some interest in your product or service. This can include signing up for the mailing list, filling a web form, etc. 

There are several sources that a business can use to acquire leads, including:

  • Sales intelligence tools
  • Surveys
  • Inbound marketing
  • Live chat
  • Advertisements 
  • Events 
  • Social media platforms 
  • Referrals 

Once a lead is acquired, its information is captured and stored in the company’s database. 

This information is then used to qualify the lead based on pre-set criteria to identify whether it would be a right fit for the organization. 

After this step, the lead has to be nurtured and guided toward conversion. 

Once the lead makes the purchase, it can finally be termed as a customer. 

Importance of Lead Management 

Lead management allows you to keep track of all opportunities and ensure that important deals do not slip through the cracks. 

It helps acquire better control over the sales process and convert more leads into profitable customers. 

Let’s look at what makes lead management one of the most critical business processes:

1. Prevents Lost Opportunities

A lot of effort goes into acquiring leads. 

Not paying attention to how these leads are handled ends up being a wastage of time and resources for the company. 

Important sales opportunities can get missed out on just because they go unnoticed or are not followed up on time. 

To avoid this, you need effective lead management. 

With enhanced visibility into sales leads, representatives can prioritize prospects that require immediate attention. 

2. Drives More Conversions

Better management of leads results in an improved bottom line. 

Organized lead information helps craft more personalized experiences. This, in turn, drives more conversions. Proper management of sales leads helps improve customer satisfaction for businesses. 

3. Boosts Productivity

With a clear picture of all available leads and where they currently are in the buying process, sales representatives can work more efficiently. 

A sales lead tracking software with automation capabilities can boost team productivity by eliminating repetitive data entry and follow-ups.

4. Determines Conversion Potential

Lead management helps filter out low-quality leads and focus on important ones.

This cuts down costs by preventing the wastage of resources on leads with a lower probability of conversion.

5. Tracks Lead Sources

Lead management also helps you track how the lead entered your sales funnel. 

By helping identify sources that produce better prospects, lead management improves the allocation of marketing resources. You can optimize your marketing strategy based on insights gathered from lead management. 

How to Manage Sales Leads

By implementing sales lead management best practices, you can convert opportunities into profits. 

Effective management of sales leads requires a well-defined process. To establish this process, you need to:

1. Know Your Ideal Customers 

Set clear expectations for what qualifies as a good prospect. A well-defined buyer persona can help the sales and marketing team stay on the same page and focus on leads that can translate into profitable sales.

2. Identify Sources

Find out which lead sources are bringing in the most profitable opportunities. Being aware of the most effective lead generation channels allows you to utilize your resources efficiently and gain access to better prospects.

3. Score Leads

It is important to score and qualify leads to identify more profitable opportunities. Assign a lead score based on metrics that are most relevant to your business. By identifying the possibility of conversion of leads, you can ensure that precious time is not wasted chasing leads that are not likely to convert.

4. Assign Effectively 

50% of sales are won by vendors that respond to leads quickly. 

Timely distribution of leads is therefore critical to the management process. You can automate this process to assign prospects to sales representatives. A lead management system can automatically assign leads to the most suitable representative based on the current number of leads they are working on. 

5. Use CRM

Lead management systems can help keep track of lead information, manage activities, view deadlines, automate repetitive tasks and drive more conversions. With a lead management solution such as a CRM tool, all your data is accessible from a single platform. This makes for easier management and tracking of leads. You can also use this information to personalize your outreach and improve the closing rate. 

6. Regularly Review

Strive for continuous improvement of your lead management efforts. You can accomplish this by generating sales reports that measure conversion rates, the performance of sales representatives, and other relevant metrics. Periodically reviewing your lead management process can help you identify possible roadblocks and devise a strategy to overcome them. 

Lead Management CRM Benefits

Keeping track of a handful of sales leads isn’t much problematic. 

However, as you scale your business and start acquiring new leads, keeping track of every lead manually becomes incompetent. 

This can result in missed follow-ups or a lack of personalization in outreach.

To overcome this challenge, you need a powerful lead management tool. 

CRM or customer relationship management software help build and manage customer relationships. 

CRM and lead management are closely linked.

At this fundamental level, CRM acts as a repository of customer information. This can prove to be beneficial for lead management since all the required information can be accessed from a single platform. 

1. Automation 

Automation helps improve lead management by ensuring that leads are followed-up with at the right time. It boosts organizational efficiency by keeping data updated and synchronized.

With automated reminders, sales representatives can get in touch with the prospects at the right time.

2. Sales Pipeline

A fundamental feature of CRM is sales pipeline management. 

A visual pipeline allows businesses to keep track of all leads and monitor their progress through the sales cycle. A lead management CRM system with sales pipeline management capabilities helps maximize sales by providing better visibility into available prospects.

3. Lead Nurturing 

With a lead management CRM, you can craft drip email campaigns to nurture leads easily. These campaigns adjust based on the position of the lead in the sales cycle. 

A CRM tool with email marketing integration allows you to deliver relevant content to the leads at the most appropriate time.

4. Reports 

The reporting module of CRM equips you to analyze the performance of your lead management efforts. 

You can use the tool to generate reports that measure the effectiveness of your sales efforts and identify stages of the cycle where the most opportunities get stalled.

5. Personalized Interactions

“It’s no longer about interrupting, pitching, and closing. It is about listening, diagnosing and prescribing.” – Mark Roberge.

With such a broad range of options available, customers expect a hyper-personalized experience from the business they choose. To stand out from the competitors, you must deliver more relevant and personalized services to the customers. 

A lead management CRM allows you to track essential details regarding your leads. This boosts engagement and makes it easier for your sales team to drive more meaningful conversations with the prospects. 

6. Collaboration

Team members can work in more seamless collaboration with access to a powerful lead management CRM

It enables easy sharing of data, task tracking, activity reminders, notes, and several other tools that can streamline your business operations and bring everyone on the same page.

7. Remote Access

The remote access to data provided by CRM helps connect with prospects at the most suitable time and drives more conversions.

Sales representatives can easily track the position, previous interactions, and other essential details associated with the leads from any mobile device. 

How to Choose the Right CRM?

Finding the most effective CRM system for lead management requires a thorough requirement analysis. You must consider your goals and challenges before you consider various options.  

To find the most effective CRM for managing your sales leads:

1. Seek Feedback From Team Members

Collaborate with team members to identify the challenges that they currently face during lead management. Since your sales team is going to use the CRM eventually, you must incorporate their product feedback into the decision-making process. Find out which features carry the most significance for your team members and look for a tool that provides all of these features. 

2. Compare Pricing

You can easily find affordable CRM tools offering a broad range of advanced features. Make sure that you go for a tool that provides value for money. Compare the pricing options available for multiple tools before you make the final decision. Make use of the free trial offered by CRM tools to find out if it will be a suitable choice for your business. 

3. Go Through User Reviews 

Get deeper insights into the functionality of the CRM tool by going through user reviews. Choose a credible source to get access to user reviews that provide a detailed account of the tool’s advantages and shortcomings. 

4. Consider Scalability 

Consider the long-term growth strategy of your business when you look for a lead management solution. Investing in a scalable CRM can save you from the trouble of looking for other tools when you expand your business operations. Go for a tool that has the ability to grow with your business. 

Best Lead Management CRM

Finding the right CRM can be overwhelming. 

There are countless options to consider and several factors to keep in mind. 

Since you cannot try every available tool, you need to shortlist the most suitable tools and compare them against your needs. 

To make this choice easy, we have compiled a list of the 8 best lead management software.

The list has been made based on the following:

  • Pricing: We have included the most affordable lead management CRM tools in this list. These tools are affordable and offer great value for their price. 
  • Ratings: This list includes top-rated CRMs that are users’ favorites owing to their extensive functionality and reliable performance. 
  • Flexibility: We have listed tools that are customizable and can be adapted according to your specific needs. 
  • Scalability: All these tools are highly scalable and can grow with your business.
  • Functionality & usability: These sales lead CRM systems to offer the most advanced features to help organize and track leads.
Software Best Features Pricing
BIGContacts Marketing automation
Sales pipeline tracking
Social media tracking
Smart reports
BIG- $5/user/month
BIGGER- $15/user/month
ENTERPRISE- Custom pricing
Salesforce Artificial intelligence
Lead prioritization
Accurate forecasting
Cloud-based access
Essentials- $25/user/month
Professional- $75/user/month
Enterprise- $150/user/month
Unlimited- $300/user/month
Zoho CRM Sales prediction
Deal management
Lead nurturing
AI assistant Zia
Free for 3 users

Starter- $14/user/month
Professional- $23/user/month
Ultimate- $52/user/month

Insightly Automated workflow
Remote access
Drag & drop UI
Email alerts
Free for 2 users

Plus- $29/user/month
Professional- $49/user/month
Enterprise- $99/user/month

Zendesk Sell Contact lists
Activity tracking
Pipeline management
Real-time alerts & notifications
Sell Team- $19/user/month
Sell Professional- $49/user/month
Sell Enterprise- $99/user/month
Pipedrive Lead capturing
Visual sales pipeline
Lead routing
Automated processes
Essential- $12.40/user/month
Advanced- $24.90/user/month
Professional- $49.90/user/month
Enterprise- $99/user/month
Bitrix24 Lead generation
Sales pipeline management
Email integration
Automated sales funnel
Free version available

Basic- $39/month for 5 users
Standard- $79/month for 50 users
Professional- $159/month for unlimited users

EngageBay Custom reports
Contact management
Email sequences
Webform connection
Free version available

Basic- $11.99/user/month
Growth- $39.99/user/month
Pro- $63.99/user/month

Let’s look at the features, pricing, pros, and cons of the 8 best CRM for lead management.

1. BIGContacts

BIGContacts by ProProfs is a top-rated CRM tool for SMBs to keep contact data organized. This easy-to-use CRM solution with automation capabilities is a reliable way to keep track of leads. You can use BIGContacts to build a sales pipeline with custom stages. This pipeline allows you to visualize the movement of every lead through your sales cycle. BIGContacts also offers email marketing to help you nurture leads effectively.


The best features of BIGContacts include:

  • Drip email campaigns 
  • Custom reminders
  • Reporting & analytics 
  • Workflow automation
  • Mobile application


  • Webform connection for lead capturing 
  • Third-party integrations 
  • Activity tracking & to-do lists 


  • Mobile CRM needs a better UI.
  • Searching for contacts should be more intuitive. 


The pricing tiers available for BIGContacts are:

  • BIG- $5/user/month
  • BIGGER- $15/user/month
  • BIGGEST-$25/user/month
  • ENTERPRISE- Custom pricing 

2. Salesforce

Salesforce is one of the most well-reputed names in the CRM industry, and for a good reason. This CRM offers a broad range of functionalities that can help you optimize your customer experiences. Salesforce is a cloud-based solution that enables you to track your leads and take actions from any device. It can boost collaboration for your team and help you achieve better sales productivity. Additionally, Salesforce can help track and manage support tickets to craft better customer experiences. 


The most powerful features of Salesforce include:

  • Forecasting 
  • Contact management
  • Email tracking
  • Visual workflows
  • Remote access


  • Built-in intelligence 
  • Social media activity tracking
  • Lead segmentation


  • The tool can be overwhelming for small businesses.
  • The pricing of the tool is expensive when compared to other options. 


Salesforce offers the following pricing options:

  • Essentials- $25/user/month
  • Professional- $75/user/month
  • Enterprise- $150/user/month
  • Unlimited- $300/user/month

3. Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM is an effective CRM lead management software that can drive more sales for your business. This CRM tool enables you to capture, qualify, nurture and convert leads efficiently. With powerful features such as marketing automation and sales prediction,  Zoho CRM can help you convert leads into highly profitable customers. The tool enriches contact profiles to provide you with relevant information to craft more personalized experiences. Furthermore, you can rely on the AI-powered tool to get valuable insights into your business processes and identify areas of improvement. 

Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM offers the following features:

  • Workflow automation
  • Customer segmentation
  • Real-time notifications
  • Predictive sales 
  • Contact management 


  • AI assistant 
  • Revenue forecasting
  • Customizable modules 


  • The interface of the tool can be too clunky for some users.
  • The customer support needs improvement.


Zoho CRM is free for 3 users. 

The following pricing options are also offered for the tool:

  • Starter- $14/user/month
  • Professional- $23/user/month
  • Enterprise-$40/user/month
  • Ultimate- $52/user/month

4. Insightly 

Insightly is a comprehensive CRM for sales lead management. It enables sales teams to route and convert leads more effectively. The automation capabilities of the tool eliminate repetitive tasks and contribute to improved sales performance. Insightly also provides lead nurturing functionality by helping craft and deliver personalized emails to prospects. You can connect all your business applications with Insightly and manage lead data easily. 


Insightly offers the following features:

  • Automated workflow 
  • Bulk emails  
  • Custom user roles
  • Drag & drop UI 
  • Mobile access 


  • Email integration
  • Custom workflows
  • Data visualization


  • The free version of the CRM tool only offers limited functionality.
  • Insightly requires improvement in terms of technical support. 


Insightly is free for 2 users. It has the following pricing options:

  • Plus- $29/user/month
  • Professional- $49/user/month 
  • Enterprise- $99/user/month

5. Zendesk Sell

Zendesk Sell helps you manage leads effectively by keeping track of all your conversations and ensuring that important deals are not lost. The tool offers instant alerts and reminders, email tracking, and profile enrichment to further enhance your lead management. You can use Zendesk Sell for accurate forecasting, connecting with your prospects, and crafting delightful customer experiences. The lead CRM software enables you to build and manage a custom sales pipeline to keep better track of available sales opportunities.

Zendesk Sell

Here are the best features of Zendesk Sell:

  • Marketing automation
  • Lead filtering 
  • Open APIs
  • Activity reporting
  • Mobile CRM


  • Customizable sales pipeline 
  • Customer segmentation
  • Automatic data capturing 


  • A better deduplication feature is required. 
  • The pricing is expensive for small businesses and start-ups. 


Zendesk Sell has the following pricing tiers:

  • Sell Team- $19/user/month
  • Sell Professional- $49/user/month
  • Sell Enterprise- $99/user/month

6. Pipedrive 

Pipedrive offers powerful pipeline management capabilities that can help you manage sales leads effortlessly. You can use this tool to get access to more leads and convert them into customers. You can use Pipedrive to store custom information for your leads and qualify them more efficiently. The tool allows you to identify the probability of the conversion of the leads to prioritize high-value prospects. Pipedrive’s insightful reports provide deeper visibility into the performance of your lead management efforts. 


The best features of Pipedrive that make it a suitable CRM lead tracking solution are:

  • Lead routing 
  • Automation 
  • Communication tracking 
  • Reporting dashboard 
  • Activity reminders 


  • Sales Pipeline
  • Lead capturing 
  • Mobile access 


  • Pipedrive is not very effective for large teams.
  • The customer support of Pipedrive needs improvement. 


The pricing options available for Pipedrive are:

  • Essential- $12.40/user/month 
  • Advanced- $24.90/user/month 
  • Professional- $49.90/user/month 
  • Enterprise- $99/user/month

7. Bitrix24

Track leads and their associated information easily with Bitrix24. This is a free CRM that offers powerful lead tracking and management capabilities to grow your sales. You can use this CRM to generate customized reports, collaborate with team members, and stay on top of all customer interactions.  Bitrix24 helps you connect with the customers using their preferred communication channels. Additionally, you can use this tool to automate email campaigns to enhance your engagement efforts further.  


The most powerful features of Bitrix24 are:

  • Lead generation
  • Sales analytics & forecasting
  • Mobile application
  • Automated sales funnel
  • Social media integration  


  • Marketing automation
  • Sales pipeline management 
  • Webform connection 


  • The tool has a clunky interface. 
  • Bitrix24 can be overwhelming for new users.


Bitrix24 is free for unlimited users. 

It has the following pricing options:

  • Basic- $39/month for 5 users
  • Standard- $79/month for 50 users 
  • Professional- $159/month for unlimited users
Read More: Top 7 Bitrix24 CRM Alternatives in 2024

8. EngageBay

EngageBay provides centralized access to all the information you require to manage leads efficiently. You can use this CRM to track the position of all sales leads and reach out to them at the right time. EngageBay also allows you to score leads and personalize your outreach efforts to get more conversions. Using this tool, you can automate a variety of sales activities, including lead distribution and follow-ups. With a 360° view of all leads and their current positions, your team can easily focus on prospects that require more attention. 


The following features make EngageBay a popular CRM choice:

  • Contact management 
  • Sales automation
  • Powerful analytics & reporting
  • User-friendly UI 
  • Third-party integrations


  • Marketing automation
  • Lead nurturing
  • Email tracking 


  • Better training resources are required. 
  • The tool could be easier to navigate with some improvements in its design.


EngageBay is free for unlimited users. 

It offers the following paid options: 

  • Basic- $11.99/user/month 
  • Growth- $39.99/user/month 
  • Pro- $63.99/user/month 

Find the Right Lead Management CRM

Here’s an overview of the best sales lead management software to help you find the perfect match for your business:

Software G2 Ratings Capterra Ratings Sales Pipeline Management Social media profile enrichment Free Plan Free Trial
BIGContacts 4.4/5 4.3/5 Yes Yes - 30 Days
Salesforce 4.2/5 4.4/5 Yes Yes - 30 Days
Zoho CRM 4.0/5 4.3/5 Yes Yes Yes 15 days
Insightly 4.1/5 3.9/5 Yes - Yes 14 days
Zendesk Sell 4.2/5 4.3/5 Yes Yes - 14 days
Pipedrive 4.3/5 4.5/5 Yes - - 14 days
Bitrix24 4.1/5 4.0/5 Yes Yes Yes 15 days
EngageBay 4.6/5 4.6/5 Yes - Yes -

Manage Leads Effectively for Better Sales Outcomes!

Lead management is a critical business operation that determines the success of your sales efforts. 

In order to get the most out of your lead management process, make sure to invest in a scalable and functional CRM tool.

Take time to identify your specific needs and keep your long-term growth objectives in mind when looking for a lead management CRM

Compare the best-rated products against your needs to find a tool that can work well for your business. Look for tools that offer trials to help you get a first-hand experience of using them. Include your sales team in the selection process to find the most appropriate solution. 

With a proper analysis of requirements, market trends, and customer demographics, you can find a suitable CRM solution that streamlines your lead management and helps you meet your sales goals easily. 

A reliable CRM lead management tool such as BIGContacts allows you to track every available lead with ease. It helps you qualify leads, engage with them and encourage them to make the purchase decision by delivering personalized experiences. This, in turn, can maximize your sales and help you achieve better business outcomes.

Do you want to make more sales?

BIGContacts is the #1 contact management software & CRM to close more sales.

About the author

Caleb Mitchell is BIGContacts' senior product manager with a deep-rooted passion for tech and customer relationship management. He holds a Master's in Business Analytics from the University of Pennsylvania. Caleb steers the way for CRM innovation with a blend of analytic prowess and technical expertise, drawing from his extensive background in data analytics and software development. He's a fervent writer on CRM, SaaS, automation, customer relationship management, AI, and predictive analytics, with his work regularly published in TechCrunch, SaaS Mag, and Customer Think. Connect with Caleb through his LinkedIn profile for insights on CRM strategies and to engage in solution-oriented discussions.