A Software as a Service company was generating interest by having visitors to their website download a white paper. Visitors had to fill out a basic form which included a phone number in order to perform the download. After discerning which suspects were “real” the company engaged It’s Your Call’s b2b telemarketing services to further qualify those suspects.
A script was developed that was used more as a guide for having a conversation rather than having the telephone reps read verbatim. Additionally, qualifying questions were developed and prioritized. The phone reps were given a demonstration of the software from the SAAS company’s VP of business development. With this knowledge the telephone reps were comfortable enough to conduct intelligent phone conversations with the SaaS company’s prospects.
After 200 hours of calling 44 appointments and the program which had expanded into doing some cold calling was achieving an overall 5% positive response rate. What makes this more interesting is we were competing with a performance based compensated telemarketing firm and not only did we achieve better results but if we were to charge on a performance based structure the cost would have been 3x more!
This is a great article discussing b2b lead qualification. Often times marketers think more is better and just gather lead to be successful. B2B lead generation is great but never qualifying the leads results in wasted time and money. Many of IT’S YOUR CALL‘s customers know this and utilize our b2b telemarketing services to further qualify their leads.
Lead qualification is one of the primary jobs for B2B marketers, and a great deal of time and money is spent on this step of the sales cycle. Now that I’ve stated the obvious, I see both good and bad lead qualification processes in the market. As an information junkie, I sign up for many webinars and download white papers on topics of interest, and subsequently am called by the sponsoring company to qualify me.
While there have certainly been improvements in the lead qualification process over the last 10 or so years, I still am surprised when I’m a victim of a poor qualification process by companies who should know better. Which leads me to 5 Do’s and Don’ts of B2B lead qualification.
- Do: know who you’re qualifying
Only on about 2 out of 10 lead qualification calls I receive does the caller know anything about my company. Yes, they know the company name, but have no idea of what we do. They immediately launch into their script that focuses on what they want to know for qualification vs. first understanding who we are and what we do. As a result, my responses are rather curt (sorry callers) as I feel this is a waste of time.
Here’s why this matters and certainly is critical when calling senior level executives. It is well accepted that senior executives expect that you will have done some research on their company that includes, but is not limited to, visiting their website. The more you demonstrate your knowledge about their company and industry, the more you will open them up to answer the qualification questions. If this is true for senior level executives, it will also work for others in the decision tree as well.
Do your homework first!
2. Do: follow-up promptly
There is no question that a speedy follow-up converts more inquiries to leads and sales. We all tend to have short- term memories, and there is likely to be a vague memory of a webinar a week or more after attendance. On the other hand, if a follow-up call is made instantly after the webinar, the individual likely will not have digested the information sufficiently to answer the qualification questions, and/or the webinar sponsor may come across as too desperate for sales, and a bit creepy if the call is made too quickly.
A good practice is to send an email within an hour after the webinar that predicates a call within the next day, and even providing the name of the caller if possible. This gives you a chance to deepen the follow-up by providing the presentation slides or attaching some additional relevant content. It also allows time for the research recommended in #1 above.
Follow-up fast, but don’t be creepy.
3. Don’t: spin your wheels
Most companies have a good idea of who their best market segments are either due to customer profiling and/or input from product and market managers. The first level targeting matrix is industry code (SIC or NAICS) and company size. This matrix is frequently called the “sweet spots” for marketing. Yet, many lead qualification efforts do not first distinguish best prospects from others, and spin their wheels on non-likely prospects.
Telemarketing is an expensive touch, and should be focused on those individuals who fit the best prospect profile – another reason to do up front research. Before launching a telemarketing lead qualification process, separate the best prospects from others. To separate a small number of prospects, a look-up process, and/or website visit should tell you if the company meets the best prospect criteria. If the number of responses or inquiries is large, then a data enhancement and profiling step should be done first. This is particularly true when returning from trade shows with a large number of booth visitors.
For other prospects that do not fall into any sweet spot, an email follow-up is sufficient assuming it contains an offer for response that might help in further qualifying them for a telemarketing call.
Do prevent spinning your wheels by profiling.
4. Do: progressively qualify
One of the failures of BANT (yes I was at IBM) was attempting to answer the four qualification criteria during the first contact. As a result, many potential leads were lost due to the inability or the individual to answer the Budget, Authority, Need and Timing questions. Frequently, the individual just didn’t know these answers and were then scored “not qualified.” We certainly have progressed from those days, or at least I think we have, until I get a call that does exactly this.
If you are using BANT or a variation of this lead scoring model, don’t attempt to determine the answers to these questions too quickly. In fact, any of the qualifying criteria might take a period of time before an accurate answer can be given by the individual.
For example, several years ago I was involved in a lead generation and qualification program for a client where it took 22 months for the lead to finally say the timing was right. Obviously, this was a long lead nurturing process, but within a month of all the criteria being scored (“timing” was the last one to fall into place), the software sale was made to the tune of over $150,000. Well worth the wait!
Do be patient and qualify over time.
5. Don’t ditch old lead lists
It’s only natural for marketers to strive to generate new leads by launching campaigns, attending trade shows, etc. But at best, only 10% of qualified leads convert to sales and thus 90% or more do not. In addition to buying from a competitor, other reasons exist for lack of sales conversion, and the big one is postponement of the decision and/or no decision. If the sales staff hears that the timing is “down the road,” or some other reason for a “no decision,” they will likely move on and drop the lead. Some studies have shown that as much as 30-50% of leads do not convert for these reasons.
Most companies do not have a process for passing back the lead if it does not convert to a sale. Therefore, there are many leads that have been generated and qualified, but not converted. On the premise that “where there was once smoke there still might be fire,” these “old” qualified lead lists will generally outperform newly generated lead lists. The only thing that is required is a “pass-back” system to compile leads that did not convert. In most cases, these leads never come back to marketing. If you institute this process, be sure to validate that the individual still is in their position or find out who has replaced them. In B2B, interest in a product or service is almost always institutional and not personal.
Do re-market to old lead lists.
Lead generation and qualification is a BIG topic and I’m sure there are more than five do’s and don’ts. Try one or all five and your prospect-to-qualified lead-to-sale process and result will improve.
When most folks think about cold calling, they don’t get a warm feeling. Even experienced sales people can be intimidated by the prospect of picking up the phone and calling a new business prospect that doesn’t know them and is not expecting to hear from them. There are plenty of reasons why cold calling gives some the chills. They’re shy. They’re easily disappointed. They feel like they’re bothering people.
While these feelings are legitimate, it’s no excuse not to make the call. The fact remains that cold calling is a necessary and highly effective tactic in the vital campaign to build a successful new business pipeline and grow your company. Yet although cold calling is a significant component in generating leads, it is often given the lowest priority.
Today’s easy access to email doesn’t help matters either. Too often an email is substituted for the more personal and useful interaction that occurs when individuals actually use their voices to speak to one another. Cold calling is the first step toward winning new business. It’s the process by which we identify strong prospects and generate worthwhile leads. Trust that that the actual you, not the virtual you, is the best way to begin these relationships.
The following five tips should help you overcome your anxiety and improve your success rate:
1. It’s No Bother…It’s Just Business
It’s important, if not essential, to remind yourself that when you are cold calling prospects, you are doing business, during business hours, with other businesspeople.
You’re not calling someone’s home just as they’re sitting down to dinner after a long day at work. Your targets are at work, and they spend a great deal of their workday doing business on the telephone. Think of it this way. When your phone rings at home in the evening, you may let the voicemail take the call quite often. But when your phone rings in the office, you pick it up. Talking on the phone at work is the rule, not the exception. You’re not bothering anyone when you cold call. If you’ve targeted the right group of people than what you have to offer will be helping your prospect and you will no longer be perceived as a bother.
2. Research, or be Destroyed
Always make sure to spend the necessary time researching your prospects. First look at your past customers and see if you can find similarities that will allow you to find the folks that generated the most revenue for you. From there you can find prospects with the same demographics. Check out their Web sites. Look for any coverage they might have received in the media or in industry journals. Look into their competitors. You want to know not only what the prospects do, but also how they do it, and in what areas the companies have succeeded and in what areas they have failed. The purpose of thorough research is twofold. First, it allows you to create a viable prospect list by eliminating companies that are not appropriate targets for your services. No need to cold call a fish if you’re selling bicycles. Second, it will make you well prepared. The goal of a cold call is to talk not only about your company, but also to encourage the prospect to talk about their company and their needs.
3. “Less is Better”
Although you know everything there is to know about your product or service saying it succinctly is key when cold calling. I recommend that you introduce the product or service that most appeals to your prospects. After you get your foot in the door you can then up sell other services or products. Before making the actual call, write down what you want to say. It should include a statement of who you are and what your company does, a reference to the prospects needs in that area and an open-ended question that will lead to a longer conversation. Prepare yourself for objections. Objections are a good thing. It means that your prospect is listening. The more objections you plan for the better results you will have. Make sure your talking to the right person by asking some qualifying questions during your conversation and if the person your speaking to isn’t the right person find out who is and call them referencing the person who gave you their name. If you do this, you’ve created a script that will help you to organize your thoughts and boost your confidence!
4. Put One Foot in Front of the Other
For the easily discouraged, cold calling can prove a particularly distasteful experience. More often than not a prospect will be too busy to talk, or if the prospect does have time to take your call he or she will eventually confess that the company is not spending until the next quarter…of the next year! We all share the same economy. Don’t take it personally and don’t get discouraged. Treat each cold call as if it is your first call of the day. Just because a prospect can’t see your face, that doesn’t mean they can’t hear your attitude. In other words, any timidity, disinterest or gloom will shine right through that phone line. When I say smile, I mean it. And stand up when you make cold calls. The simple act of getting out of your chair will increase your energy and sharpen your focus. A good attitude is a key to success, and it’s easier to have good attitude when you have a good opening. Setting small reachable goals will help you to obtain success. If there are 10 prospects to cold call on your list for the day, the goal should be to have a valuable discussion with three of them. Don’t expect to close a deal on the call either. Realistic goals for cold calling include determining the quality of the prospect, stimulating interest in your services, agreeing to mail the prospect more information and/or securing a face-to-face meeting.
5. Following Through Means Following Up
New sales are made after an average of 4-5 contacts or “touches”. Your first touch is the cold call, the second is when you follow up with them (either by mailing or emailing) and then call again just to make sure that the information was received and to answer any questions. At this point you have now touched your prospect 3 times! (Almost there!) It sounds like a no-brainer, but very often we find it easier to move on to the next opportunity than to show persistence. Simple things like doing what you say you’re going to do may not close a sale, but failing to follow through can absolutely kill your chances.
Cold calling is a proven method of generating new business. If you want to grow, you have to contact prospects and generate leads. The cold calling process allows you to more accurately identify solid targets, quickly generate interest in your products and services and easily develop a dialogue with people whose needs match what you have to offer. Just follow these five simple tips, and the next time opportunity knocks, you won’t leave it out in the cold.
The quickest way to generate qualified leads is to utilize a b2b telemarketing process. It’s easy to utilize the internet and gather prospects but often times it’s easier to send an email and wait around for a response. To be proactive, and a great sales person, picking up the phone, finding the right person and then asking a few simple qualifying questions can start your b2b lead generation process in an afternoon.
New sales leads are the lifeblood of many businesses. To successfully generate them, you’ll need to actively prospect for marketing leads – then quickly identify and follow up the hottest prospects.
Acquiring business leads
Simple lead generation usually starts with desk research and you might find sales leads in directories (on and offline), or by buying a targeted mailing list.
Networking and encouraging your customers to provide word-of-mouth referrals can be more powerful ways of generating sales leads, however. They don’t just provide you with the names of potential leads, but also with useful introductions.
Alternatively, you can rely on repeat sales and responses to advertisements and other promotional activities. Enquiries can be “hot” or at least “warm” leads, as these potential customers have already expressed an interest in what you offer. Be careful not to depend too much on this kind of passive lead generation, though, as it may blunt your ability to actively source prospects when you need to.
Qualifying sales leads
You may be tempted to focus your efforts on getting as many sales leads as possible. But the key to success is getting qualified leads – people you have a good chance of selling to. Remember, that the overall aim is to make sales, not just leads.
The faster you can discard unpromising leads, the less time and money you waste on them and the more you can focus on better prospects. You should try to qualify leads before you start selling to them:
Does the potential customer need what you are offering?
Are they likely to buy soon, or should you approach them again at a later date?
Do they have the money to buy your product?
Have you identified a decision-maker with the authority to buy?
Do you have a reasonable chance of making a sale?
Unlike selling, when you aim to overcome objections, you should accept that not every lead will meet your criteria. Focusing on a small number of qualified leads can be far more effective than trying to sell to too many prospects.
Sales lead management
For many businesses, the most important factor in successful sales lead generation is to commit resources to it. You can then decide whether it’s more effective for lead generation to be part of a general sales role within your business or carried out by separate researchers. A lead generation service might also be an option.
Whoever is doing the prospecting needs to understand what they are trying to achieve and how to go about it. A typical approach is to qualify leads before requesting a meeting or following up with more information in a sales letter. There should be clear agreement on when a lead is handed to a salesperson.
Sales tools like customer relationship management software can help you track contacts and follow up on leads at the right time. Systems like these can also help you monitor lead generation numbers and sales conversion rates, so you can identify what is and isn’t working.
Making a cold call can increase your sales activity almost instantaneously. The e-book “Cold Calling for the Clueless” is a guide to help you set up a b2b telemarketing process for your organization. It also outlines the steps below in a little more detail.
While there are plenty of ways to get sales leads, sometimes you end up having to call people you’ve never met. This process, known as “cold calling,” is actually easy–but only if you know how to do it.
Here’s a step-by-step guide.
1. Introduce yourself. When you get through to a prospect, say:
You: Hello [prospect’s first name], this is [your name] from [your company] …
2. Obtain permission to continue. Without waiting for the prospect to respond, immediately ask the following question:
You: … Have I caught you in the middle of something?
So, the whole opener should sound like: “Hello, Jim, I’m John Doe from Acme. Have I caught you in the middle of something?” Exactly like that.
In most cases, the prospect will respond one of three ways:
“It’s always a bad time, but what’s this all about?”
“No, this is not a bad time. What can I do for you?”
“I’m in the middle of something. Call me later this afternoon.”
If you get the third response, go to Step 3.
Otherwise, skip Step 3 and proceed directly to Step 4.
3. Reschedule the conversation. If you get that last response, say:
You: Thanks, I’ll call you then.
Make a note in your calendar to call again at that time. Call back at the time that you committed to do so. If your prospect answers the phone, proceed to Step 4.
However, if when you call back, you land in voicemail, leave this message:
You: Joe, you asked that I call you around this time, but it looks like you’re out. Call me at XYZ number, but if I don’t hear back from you by this Friday, I’ll call you on Tuesday.
Then call back when you said you would. When you get finally through, proceed to Step 4.
4. Continue the conversation. If in Step 2 you got one of the first two responses, say:
You: I know I’m calling you out of the blue, but sometimes if I don’t know anyone at the company I’m calling, this is the only way to develop a relationship. All I want to do right now is quickly introduce myself, my firm, and my offering.
As I mentioned, I’m with [your company] and we help companies [what your company does] and I was wondering how to best position myself to determine if our product may be a fit for you?
Most of the time, the prospect will either continue the conversation or point you at somebody who is more appropriate. In either case, you’ve successfully made the cold call and are moving the sale forward. Congratulations!
This article has great tips on utilizing b2b cold calling in your sales process. I was going to try and single out my most favorite tip but I like them all! It differentiates between prospecting and telemarketing (blitzing), talks about the timing of the call, and how to be persistent and not annoying.
As social media and web applications have become the hottest networking tools in business, too many sales managers are burying the cold call as an obsolete business practice. If you fall in this category I’ve got news for you: the cold call is not only alive, it’s kicking. And it should be utilized by every B2B sales force.
I see far too many sales teams focus all their attention toward hosting fancy webinars or creating snazzy web-based marketing channels. Still, cold calling remains the most effective way to set up appointments with the right decision makers at your target accounts. A Fortune 50 wireless telecom company hired our firm to train their sales force in the ways of cold calls, and saw a 10% jump in revenue after implementing the tips below. Other clients have seen similar leaps in meetings or demos scheduled, from 20-100%.
So how can you convert phone tactics into actual results? Here are four cold calling tips that will make the sale:
1. Get the direct line of the person that you are cold calling. This doubles the probability of the person answering the phone.
2. Separate your cold calling into two activities: prospecting to find the right person, and call blitzing to get that person on the phone. I recommend prospecting during normal business hours (starting around 10-11:30 am) when administrative assistants are in the office and call blitzing during “call windows,” before 8:30 am and after 5:30 pm when admins are gone. Some other great times to call are five minutes before the top of the hour, catching the executives before their next conference call meetings, and holidays like President’s Day, when executives are likely to be in the office and other business may be slow.
3. Know the difference between persistence and annoyance. Follow these rules of thumb to be professional while consistently reaching out to prospects: manage the flow of information (make sure it’s a constant flow), personalize each message, vary the medium (use an alternating combination of voicemails and emails), and always add value with each subsequent touch.
4. Utilize online resources. There are so many new tools to help you out, including information sources like LinkedIn, Jigsaw, InsideView, and ZoomInfo. With ConnectAndSell you can even outsource your dialing and block an hour to sit at your desk to only talk to live prospects when they get a “connect.”
These techniques have helped us set up thousands of sales appointments with strategic executives at target companies. With a good cold calling effort, you can propel your sales team
This is a great article that outlines the b2b cold calling/ b2b lead generation process. My one critique is that there is little discussion about lead qualification. In order for lead generation to be valuable the prospects need to be qualified to determine if they are worthy of your time.
Cold calling is one of the best techniques you can use for lead generation marketing. Unlike other advertising strategies, this option puts you into direct contact with consumers. Stephan Schiffman, author of “Cold Calling Techniques: That Really Work,” believes that cold calling is especially important given how frugal most consumers have become over the last few years.
“The economy has everyone at a four-way stop sign. No one is moving. So your No. 1 competition right now is the status quo. Forget ROI [return on investment] or cost or color or anything else. Every buyer will ask: ‘Does buying this product make sense for me?’ You’ve got to give him that reason.” Schiffman said, according to Microsoft Business Hub.
Telemarketing does have a negative reputation, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from pursuing this strategy. You may be missing out on great leads if you don’t start cold-calling leads sooner rather than later. Here are a few tips to get your new marketing campaign off the ground.
Write a script
While you and your employees should treat every consumer like an individual, you need a general framework to use during the calls. With such a high volumes of calls to make, you must ensure that the right statements are being made to convince prospects that they should buy your products or subscribe to your services.
Microsoft Business Hub recommends writing a script and sticking with it for your phone calls. The documents are basic guidelines employees should follow when someone answers the call, but Wendy Weiss, author of “Cold Calling for Women: Opening Doors and Closing Sales,” points out that workers shouldn’t use their scripts for specific conversations.
“The script shouldn’t be word for word. It’s a way to prepare yourself for the conversation. You decide ahead of time how you want to present yourself, what reaction you want to get and how to ask for what you want,” Weiss said.
Listen to a few cold calls to learn what is usually said during successful ones. Use these statements in your script so employees understand what they should say and how they can steer the conversations in positive directions.
Prospect and blitz
The Harvard Business Review recommends dividing your cold-calling efforts into two separate tasks: prospecting leads and then blitzing the best prospects. The former should be completed before the latter so you know who your best leads are and have more time to call them multiple times. The news source notes that prospecting should be done early, but blitzing requires careful timing. Consider waiting until late in the day or early the next day to catch consumers before they become busy.
Rejection is a common aspect of the blitzing phase, so tell your employees not to give up after one or two unsuccessful calls. Consumers aren’t always receptive to cold calls, but persistence pays. Eventually, a prospect may be willing to listen if you call frequently enough and show that you won’t give up.
Don’t make small talk
Personal phone calls usually start with pleasantries, but cold calls should only be about business. AllBusiness notes that common greetings from strangers are off-putting to consumers. The call should begin with a direct statement. For instance, you can instruct employees to start by introducing themselves and saying where they work.
The news source also explains that you should never ask if consumers are available to talk. This question gives leads the perfect escape route from the call – they can simply say no and hang up the phone. Only use direct statements and don’t ask questions until the conversation is flowing naturally and you’re confident that the prospect is interested in hearing additional information.
You should be prepared for every call before picking up the phone. Be proactive and learn everything you can about a consumer before cold-calling him or her. Research is a crucial part of every marketing strategy and will allow you to tailor your sales pitch to specific individuals. Entrepreneur Magazine notes you can just use a basic Google search to find some background information. In most cases, you’ll be able to find social media profiles and blogs so you can learn personal details that will help your sales representatives make successful calls.
Practice makes perfect
Experience is the key to success for cold calling. You need to practice your sales pitch and hone your script to generate leads. If you’re going in blind, you’ll likely lose more opportunities than you gain. Start slow by listening in on a few calls and then start conducting your own.
We’re often called on to make the b2b follow up phone calls to inbound internet leads. There’s no better way to qualify a lead than to speak to your prospect directly. Since the calls are made from people who have already raised their hands, it is no longer a cold call but a warm lead.
In this day and age, when you can go from a digital experience to a phone call with the tap of a button, more customers are calling businesses than ever before. In fact, BIA/Kelsey reports that businesses will get 162 billion mobile phone calls by the year 2019. Not only are people calling more and more, but those phone calls are much more valuable than a typical online lead. Marketers have begun to realize they can maximize leads and revenue by simply giving people the option to call.
Here are nine reasons digital marketers are dumping lead forms in favor of phone calls.
- Contact Rates
When it come to contact rates, there’s just no competition. Inbound phone calls have 100% contact rates while research from InsideSales estimates that 71% of web leads are never contacted. 100% contact rates versus 29% — which do you prefer?
- Lead Record Accuracy/Completeness
Lead forms are fraught with missing and fraudulent information. In fact, according to Dun&Bradstreet’s 2016 State of Marketing Data Annual Report, B2B marketing data is “questionable” at best, with 62% of lead records lacking a phone number. It stands to reason that B2C lead generation suffers from the same problem. You take all the trouble to capture the lead, only to get a fake (111)111-0000 phone number that you’ll never be able to reach.
Phone calls not only come with the prospect’s phone number but with call intelligence, you can capture the marketing source, as well as detailed demographic information. Phone calls come with a whole new level of insights that you can use to optimize targeting and your overall strategy.
- Lead Quality
I hate to sound biased here, but in the quality category, phone calls come out on top again. When prospects call a business, they are highly motivated and more likely to make a purchase. According to Invoca’s data, phone calls convert at 10 times the rate of digital leads.
- Response Time
Phone calls have the benefit of immediacy. InsideSales reports that contact and qualification rates decrease by 10 times after the first five minutes of the prospect submitting a form. That’s a lot of leads that go in the trash just because of a slow response time.
Phone calls give the consumer the power. They get to choose when they want to connect.
Invoca’s customers often report that phone calls have much higher order values on average than their web leads. And this makes sense. When prospects call, they benefit from the one-on-one help of a sales rep who can alleviate concerns and objections. Sales reps also have the opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell.
WordStream has also observed this phenomenon, reporting that phone calls are three times as valuable as clicks to a website.
- Mobile Friendly
Tell me, what seems more convenient: filling out a long form on your smartphone or making a quick phone call? Phone calls are on the rise as mobile usage continues to grow, and that’s because phone calls are easy and tend to align with mobile consumer’s goals. It’s no wonder that 70% of people have called a business directly from a mobile search ad.
There’s a lot of talk about one-to-one marketing, but often “personalized” digital interactions miss the mark. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten an email from a company that is addressed to the wrong name, or how many times I’ve been retargeted with a product I already purchased.
As marketers, we should definitely keep striving to achieve more meaningful and personal digital conversations, but that doesn’t mean forgetting phone calls. What’s more personal than a phone call? Plus, data from phone calls can be used to make online and offline conversations more personal.
For services or products that tend to require a personal touch — think industries like legal services, insurance, and financial services – phone calls should be a key part of the lead generation strategy. Customers in these verticals often need to talk with a live agent at some point in the journey. You may as well give them the option right on your landing pages and website.
- Easy to Track
Okay, phone calls don’t necessarily trump lead forms for trackability, but it’s a tie at the very least. Call tracking solutions provide all the same metrics for calls that you are accustomed to seeing for digital leads. Marketing source, campaign, keyword, cookie data, it’s all there. And you can get this data wherever you need it.
- Resource Commitment
You may be thinking that driving inbound phone calls would be an enormous drain on your internal resources, especially when compared to lead forms. The truth is that managing, nurturing, and trying call web leads takes a ton of manpower, even if you are using a marketing automation solution.
Phone calls do require sales agents to answer the phone, but isn’t that what they want to do? Sales agents want to talk to motivated consumers on the phone. Plus, when you use a call intelligence platform, you can set custom filtering and routing rules so your call center or sales team only spends time on qualified calls.
The online lead form once reigned supreme, but in the ever-evolving customer journey, the phone call has made a comeback. See how leading marketers are using phone calls and call intelligence to transform their lead generation strategy.
This article is right on about the follow up strategy for trade show leads. When I started IT’S YOUR CALL I knew that most companies didn’t do the necessary follow up on leads gathered from trade shows. I went to exhibitors at small business trade shows and asked who would do the lead qualification to all the prospects in their gold fish bowls? I then explained that being a B2B telemarketing service we could help them out!
The trade show is winding down and the exhaustion is setting in. So much planning! So much work! You’ve got a bunch of hard-earned leads when that nagging thought creeps in… what happens now? Do we have a solid plan to make the most ROI from these fresh contacts?
According to new research from Certain, 57% of survey respondents said it takes their organization four days or more to follow up with leads after an event concludes. Only 6% can follow-up with prospects on the same day or the day following the event. Timing is the key for successful follow up. Is your sales team ready for the leads that you gathered?
Having a solid follow-up plan is one of the most important parts of your overall trade show strategy. Too often we find exhibitors don’t have the necessary sense of urgency or a well-thought-out plan to successfully contact leads obtained at the show. It is all too common for leads to NEVER be contacted. Leads seem to “disappear into the ether” without a well-developed and executed after-show protocol.
There are many ways to capture a lead on the show floor and the follow-up method will be the same no matter how they were collected. There are many sophisticated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems available that make this process easier. Touch screen and badge scanning technology allows you to instantly capture their info. The most important thing to keep in mind is that leads are time sensitive.
Common Lead Follow-up Methods
- Phone call
- Email — this can be done directly from the show floor if you are using interactive technology.
- Social media – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are powerful and immediate contact points.
- Direct mail including follow-up packets — include a thank you letter, catalog, informational brochures, special offers and maybe even a company branded give-away (people love freebies). Have these prepared before the show to get them out quickly after.
- Best case is to schedule appointments directly from the show floor.
Keep in mind that the follow-up process starts on the show floor by qualifying your prospects properly and organizing their information immediately. Having the staff keep good notes on what the lead was interested in, buying timeline, and purchasing credentials will help identify leads as hot or cold. Using a score card is also an effective way to make sure they are being qualified correctly. Hot leads need to be followed up on immediately, within 48 hours of the show. Again, CRM software can help prepare a lead to go through the sales funnel quickly and efficiently.
Using interactive technology can also help qualify your leads with targeted surveys to find out what they are interested in. Analytics track what products and services are investigated. Automatic follow-up emails or custom messages can be scheduled with more useful content and information. New inbound marketing systems give customers what they want no matter where they are in the sales funnel.
Lead Follow-up Timeline
- Send a simple thank you email 1-2 business days after the show, even if you emailed them directly from the show floor. Mention the topic of the conversation you had with the person and how your product can solve their problems. The personal touch can make a dramatic difference.
- Follow up with a phone call to schedule a face to face appointment 1-2 weeks after the show.
- If appropriate, extend a personal invite to an open house or corporate seminar at your facility 2-3 months after.
- Deliver content and special offers catered to the lead via drip-campaign emails.
Lead Follow-up Tips
- Have a meeting with follow up staff to clearly communicate timeline and expectations.
- Craft emails with a recognizable and personalized subject, such as “(James), here is the information you requested at (show).”
- Include succinct and mobile friendly email content highlighting the value your company will add to their program, your solution to a problem they are currently having, why your product/service/company is superior, a call to action, and a product/service overview. Give them valuable content they want and will use.
- Put all potential leads into the CRM tool your company uses for future use. Make sure to drop them into a specific Nurture Campaign to keep them engaged.
- Hold your sales reps accountable for actually following up with the qualified leads generated on the trade show floor.
- Don’t start the follow up conversation with a sales pitch. Start with referencing the conversation you had with them on the sales floor (this is where those notes will really come in handy)
Following up in a short amount of time is crucial. Prompt, personalized and helpful follow up touches will lead to more sales. Organizing your leads into categories based on importance will help you prioritize and get the most return on investment from your trade show. But most of all, don’t let those leads melt away over time. Contact them!
This is a great breakdown of the B2B telemarketing process for generating leads. Defining the steps helps all involved to understand the various stages of the sales funnel. Working with our customers we make sure that everyone has the same definitions for the various aspects of the sale funnel.
Funnel measurements have two important benefits in B2B lead generation:
Helping marketers forecast outcomes. By tracking the conversion percentages, marketers can apply those conversion percentages to each new campaign and predict what the outcome will be before the campaign occurs. Such predictions are very helpful in capacity planning and budgeting.
Helping marketing identify funnel leakage and optimize revenue production. Marketers can apply both their own internal, historical baseline conversion ratios (i.e., an aggregation of conversion ratios) and industry benchmarks, like those gathered by MarketingSherpa.
Executive-level funnel metrics provide marketers with the 50,000-foot view to provide an end-to-end perspective. But when there appears to be leakage, zooming in on a particular leak is essential.
In that context, let me share seven funnel conversions for telemarketing.
But first, let’s agree on the scope. In B2B, there are two important functions in this area:
- Following up on, qualifying, educating, and nuturing marketing responses until they are sales-ready leads.
- Prospecting into target accounts to identify and qualify existing demand and to generate demand and convert that demand into sales-ready leads.
For both of these activities, it seems the key funnel stages would be similar. But, what are they?
Before I share a point of view on this important subject, let me say that telemarketing is very complex and the interpretation of outcomes at various stages of the funnel are more and more subjective. Plus, in one call, the telemarketing rep may go through all the funnel stages.
- Dial – a telemarketing rep making an outbound dial; or a customer making an inbound call.
- Connection –the dial converting into a connection.Those dials that do not convert into connection either have busy-outs, dials with no answers, recorded phone company messages about the number being out of service or changed. A very high percentage of dials not converting into connections means the list or lead source is problematic.
- Conversation.– the rep reaching someone to have a conversation, however short; a prospect reaching a telemarketing representative via an inbound call.
- Decision-maker conversation – some of the conversations are with those who would be part of a decision and some are not, either because the telemarketing representative is speaking merely to a receptionist or to someone otherwise not involved in the solution area.
Decision-maker/decision-influencer conversations are much more predictive of future purchase intent than non-conversations. Even when following up on marketing responses, it’s not uncommon that 20 percent of more of the leads never make it to this stage.
- Qualified Account –Usually, the first thing a telemarketing representative does is qualify the person. The second thing is often qualifying the account. Is the account in the target market? Those that are would get this kind of status.
At the top of the market, the funnel may end here with an attempt to set an appointment, the idea being that the sales person will take meetings with the right people in the right accounts because the buying potential is so large.
- Acknowledged Need – The next thing a telemarketing representative does is discover if there are buying plans, and if not, at least an acknowledged need. Those who meet the other criteria (Qualified Account, a stakeholder in the decision processs) and have an acknowledged need are the most likely to convert into a sales-ready lead.
In fact, for some larger accounts, the sales organization may decide that this level of qualification is sufficient to warrant sales follow-up. Others in this stage might warrant tele-nurturing.
- Sales-Ready Lead.Sales-ready leads meet any other qualifying criteria, like a particular timeline for buying, the existence of a budget, etc.
And then, of couse, the overall sales-marketing funnel extends beyond the telemarketing operation as sales people validate leads, convert them into opportunities, forecast them, and close them.
There are some problems with the above funnel however:
- It doesn’t account for inbound or outbound emails sent to or from the telemarketing representative or the clickthroughs that might happen.
- It doesn’t factor in online chat sessions, where there might be an opportunity to identify the prospect, qualify their interest, role, and the account they work for, all before having a live conversation with them.
- There is also nothing in here about leaving messages, per se, like a voice mail.
- There could certainly be other stages, like a presentation stage, where the telemarketing representative presents, however informally, some kind of elevator pitch to the prospect.
- It’s also possible that by sending an Outlook meeting request or speaking to an admin, a telemarketing representative schedules a phone meeting.
- Finally, there isn’t a stage for doing some kind of preliminary investigation of an account and/or a contact, like going to LinkedIn or the account website.
Obviously, these limitations speak to the complexity of B2B telemarketing for the complex sale, and the evolution of this capability to include more and more Web-based tools for both discovery and communication.