How to Effectively Manage B2B Leads in the Startup World

Fireberry Team
Fireberry Team

A robust lead management process is essential for B2B business growth. It helps you not only identify your most qualified leads, but also guide them through their journey to paying customers. Lead management also gives you a considerable edge over your competitors, as it's also something many businesses get wrong. 

According to a recent report, 50 percent of marketers consider lead generation to be their top priority. At the same time, 44 percent of sales reps struggle with poor lead quality, while the average conversion rate across all industries is 2.9 percent. This means that on average, more than 97 percent of leads never convert.

Lead management can help your business greatly reduce that figure, streamlining both sales and customer success. But what exactly does it involve?  

What is Lead Management? 

Lead management involves management of the entire sales funnel, from initial contact to paid customer. It encompasses not only lead generation, but also qualification, nurturing, and customer success. It's essentially a holistic approach to managing your lead pipeline and increasing conversions.   

Understanding the Lead Management Process

Lead management consists of the following stages: 

  1. Lead Generation. Identifies prospects that may be interested in your business. Typically goes hand-in-hand with lead capturing, which involves building up data about prospects in your CRM. 
  2. Lead Tracking. Monitors leads at each stage of their journey and each touchpoint. This allows your business to determine where each lead originated while also identifying possible bottlenecks in the buyer journey. 
  3. Lead Qualification. Determines which leads are a good fit for your business while providing more information about your products or services. 
  4. Lead Nurturing. Guides qualified leads which are not yet ready to purchase through the sales funnel, cultivating a relationship with them in the process. 
  5. Proposals and Quotes. Connects with leads near the bottom of the sales funnel, providing them with more information in hopes of securing a sale. May include a product demonstration or a proof of concept trial. 
  6. Negotiations and Commitment. Defines the working relationship between lead and business, ideally concluding with the lead making a purchase. 
  7. Retention. Follows up with recently converted leads to ensure satisfaction and ensure they remain customers. 

The Importance of Effective Lead Management

In a startup's earliest stages, it's possible to succeed without a unified approach to lead management. As a business grows, however, lead management becomes increasingly necessary in order to: 

  • Differentiate between unqualified and qualified leads. 
  • Direct your marketing strategy and ad spend. 
  • Improve the customer experience through targeted, personalized outreach. 
  • Shorten the sales cycle. 
  • Ensure cohesion and collaboration between marketing, sales and customer success. 

The Challenges of Managing Sales Leads as a Startup

Lead management is uniquely challenging for startups. You're likely an unknown quantity competing against larger, much more established brands. This makes it incredibly difficult to stand out, particularly if you're in a market that's highly competitive or crowded. 

Resource constraints further exacerbate the problem. Even though you have to work with a smaller budget and a smaller team, your leads have the same expectations of you as they do of any vendor. For example, one recent study found that 73 percent of B2B buyers want the same personalized experience as they'd receive from a B2C brand. 

And most of them aren't willing to wait for a sales team that's struggling to keep up. A white paper co-authored by Google and the Corporate Executive board found that on average, B2B customers have made it nearly 60 percent of the way through their decision-making process before engaging directly with sales. Those customers expect a swift response — after the first five minutes, your conversion rate decreases by roughly eight times. 

Your sales team must not only stay consistent in both engagement and follow-ups, but also ensure they can reach out to leads as quickly as possible with targeted messaging. This means they can't afford to waste time with unqualified leads. They must be able to quickly identify who is likely to convert so they can focus on where they'll make the most difference.

Budget aside, there's also the matter of technology. Many sales and marketing tools focus on only one aspect of the lead management process. Others only integrate with certain platforms. 

The end result is that your employees are forced to jump between several different applications to guide leads through your sales funnel. This approach is already untenable for a startup. As you grow, it will become unsustainable. 

So what can you do about it? 

Best Practices for Better Lead Management


First, you need to know your audience. A well-defined lead capture process is the first stage in making this happen, as it will allow you to populate your CRM with valuable customer insights. Armed with this knowledge, create segmented email lists to deliver targeted content based on a customer's position in the sales funnel.

Other options for segmentation include: 

  • Which content a subscriber expressed interest in. 
  • Industry. 
  • Open rate.
  • Reply rate. 

Score or Grade Leads

Lead scoring is a means of identifying which leads are likeliest to convert. With a lead scoring system in place, your sales team can better prioritize their efforts. Lead grading is an alternative to lead scoring that segments leads into categories based on how qualified they are.  


Your marketing, sales and customer success teams likely spend countless hours on administrative tasks instead of attracting, converting and onboarding leads. This lack of efficiency can and will hinder your growth. Automate your lead pipeline is the solution. .

Through automation, you can free up your team to focus on lead management, closing more sales while also improving the overall customer experience. Targets for automation include: 

  • Email flows. 
  • Targeting and retargeting ads.
  • Lead scoring and grading. 
  • Lead distribution. 
  • Segmentation and database management. 
  • General outreach.
  • Analytics and reporting. 


Lead management is ultimately about cultivating a relationship with customers. The sale comes secondary to that. Identify the critical touchpoints in your sales funnel, and make sure your sales team knows how to reach out to leads at each one. 


Don't simply abandon old qualified leads if they don't convert. Instead, implement a lead recycling strategy. Determine the best timeframe in which to reach out based on your sales cycle, and flag potential lead recycling targets for your team. 


As with any other business process, you should always be looking for ways to improve your lead management. Pay attention to both your own analytics and customer feedback to identify bottlenecks, strengths, and weaknesses in your sales funnel. 


Finally, since you can't really accomplish any of the above while juggling multiple tools, you should invest in lead management software. This will allow you to consolidate your lead management technology and greatly improve the efficiency of your sales process. We can help with that. 

Fireberry's Unique Approach to B2B Lead Management

B2B lead management can be challenging even for large organizations, never mind startups. You need a platform that allows you to not only automate critical processes, but also one that can either integrate with or replace the rest of your tech stack. 

Fireberry has built exactly that. Our industry-leading CRM emphasizes customization and adaptability through multiple integrations and a powerful API. Not only can you easily use our CRM to manage leads, you can also streamline nearly every step in your sales process.

Reach out to us today and we'll show you how.