Without the ability to accurately track and manage sales and marketing campaigns, are you really doing all you can to nurture your leads and optimize your sales pipeline? A lead is a person or business that may have the potential to do business with you—perhaps even be your biggest customer ever. Maintaining consistent lead management is a critical component of your sales pipeline.

What is lead management?

Lead management is a set of philosophies, technologies, applications and best practices designed to turn leads into customers. Lead management is accurate tracking of all customer and prospect data acquired through marketing and sales activities. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is your gateway to efficient lead management.

Here are five reasons why:

Data-Driven Lead Intelligence: CRM applications provide a comprehensive picture of your leads. The prime advantage of data-driven lead management is stronger sales and marketing productivity—and a more streamlined and controlled sales pipeline—thanks to leveraging intricate lead data capable of helping you to better convert your leads into your customers.

Robust Marketing Analytics: Providing an analytical view of each lead, CRM software automates the process of managing, tracking, marketing and selling to new and existing customers. CRM lets you create, track and manage marketing campaigns effectively. Whether it's outbound calls, email marketing or social media campaigns, CRM automates the process and provides data-driven results to accurately measure—and improve—marketing efforts.

Interactive Monitoring & Reporting: CRM solutions provide you and your sales team with the tools and information required to close sales faster and monitor sales performance. Interactive dashboards, such as those featured by Sage CRM, simply daily tasks and activity management with intuitive functions that monitor opportunities, manage calendars and appointments, engage with key social media channels and manage all key accounts, from one place. With point-and-click reporting and geographical representations, you can select from a diverse display of reports, create new reports using wizard-based report tools and easily filter out the data you don’t want to see. Even gaining a comprehensive, real-time view of your sales performance at any moment is easier, with CRM tools consolidating forecast information quickly. With automatic reporting delivering deep sales insights, lead management performance improves.

Enterprise Collaboration: CRM solutions drive employee productivity and knowledge exchange with social-style collaborative tools, including peer-to-peer learning and employee engagement. Mobile access, an increasingly critical functionality in business productivity software, grants your team 24/7 access to vital customer information, schedules, projects and history. The better your business collaborates to serve, market and sell as a unified entity, the better your lead nurturing performance.

True Lead Understanding: CRM stores data about all leads and creates lead reports that show you the components that make up your leads and how your leads best fit into your sales pipeline. CRM solutions allow you to customize your lead reports, all the while providing you with automated, end-to-end lead tracking designed to manage leads accurately through your sales pipeline. You can even automate your follow-up activities for greater efficiency in cultivating and nurturing lead relationships. CRM automates the way you acknowledge, manage, analyze, market and sell to your leads—total lead relationship management.

Angela Nadeau is CEO of CompuData, an award-winning business technologies leader. Nadeau maintains a deep knowledge of the trends driving businesses today to be more productive and profitable by leveraging technology.