Lead tracking is a basic component to any successful marketing effort, but studies show from 40% to 79% of leads never reach a salesperson or are allowed to languish. It doesn't matter which percentage you think is right, the fact remains: Thousands of leads are wasted.

Doug Nelson, a $3-million-a-year Burnsville, Minn., remodeler, gives six reasons to track leads. Doing so means you can:

  • Pinpoint the best sources
  • Maintain lead quality
  • Analyze marketing performance
  • Manage future sales
  • Manage and modify marketing plans
  • Assess individual sales performance

Through lead tracking, you collect and monitor information systematically. You don't lose track of what happens to any call.

To track leads, begin with a paper lead sheet that helps whoever answers the phone collect information such as who called, what their interest is, where they can be contacted, when they called, and how they heard about your company.

Make an owner or sales manager responsible for collecting leads daily. Then compile leads into meaningful information. Nelson uses an Excel spreadsheet for this. He assigns each lead to a designer and tracks the designer's progress from follow-up to conclusion. Once assigned, the designer fills in other important information, such as project timetable and the client's budget, and makes progress updates. By collecting all the spreadsheet requires, little is left to chance.

--Stephen Wilson is a partner with Reston, Va. marketing/communications firm Biz-comm Inc., stephen@biz-comm.com.