It’s Your Call

Money Making Methods for Following Up with Trade Show Leads

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!


5 Tips for a Healthy Pipeline

Qualifying your prospects is key to making sure your sales pipeline is “healthy”.  Many of our customers utilize our b2b telemarketing services to further qualify leads that are in their database.  This article discusses setting criteria to move prospects seamlessly through the pipeline.

A pipeline full of opportunities certainly feels healthier, than a sparse or empty funnel that will clearly not generate revenue. However, as is the case in many scenarios, less is often more. The ultimate goal is a lean, healthy pipeline with a high % of opportunities matching your target profile, moving swiftly from stage to stage, through the funnel to close.

There is a world of difference between a healthy feed of the right opportunities and a full, but poor quality pipeline, sapping large amounts of time and resource, not to mention wasted sales management time grappling with inaccurate forecasts and misleading performance indicators.

Sales people each have their own style and approach and use different skills to achieve results. Depending on your product and proposition, opportunities in the B2B space may be complex, involve a protracted path to purchase, with multiple decision makers across many job functions. All these varying factors can make it challenging to analyse and understand your pipeline performance, the key to hitting critical growth targets for your business.

So, how do you build a strong predictable sales pipeline?

To manage a pipeline effectively, you need a level of control. This requires a process and definitions that make sense to all involved, including a clearly defined target audience, and set criteria for what constitutes a ‘good prospect’. If your team is working to a shared set of criteria, you can measure the process and identify areas in need of improvement – parts of the funnel that are leaking, conversion rates above or below average – and then coach individuals around the right behaviours, establishing best practice across the team. There are tools that can help – making your team more productive, minimising administration tasks and helping enforce a more disciplined approach.

Having established clear qualification criteria, you can then move prospects in and out appropriately, and ensure time and effort is targeted to the right opportunities. This assumes a feed of good quality data and robust qualification within your pipeline process. This is where a live conversation at an early stage can pay dividends. It ensures leads from digital sources are thoroughly evaluated, nurtured with relevant content and then delivered to your sales team only when they are truly sales ready, with additional insight that increases their propensity to convert. This, of course, avoids inefficiencies and pointless costs further down the funnel, as sales chase inquiries that don’t match the ideal prospect, or are not ready to buy.

Incorporating human interaction within your qualification process is a key stage in establishing a healthy pipeline. If you have limited resource, it is worth considering outsourcing this part of the process, as the potential increase in quality of output and improved ROI can make it a very cost-effective option.


3 Approaches to Summer Prospecting

Summertime is fast approaching, next week if you think it starts on Memorial Day.  The question from our customers that always comes up is, does b2b telemarketing work during the summer.  My answer is since activity slows down in most industries this is a great time to do prospecting.  Prospects are more willing to take the call and talk.  Calling on Fridays in the summer is also a good time to call, decision makers easier to reach.  The article below explains 3 strategies to prospecting during the summer.

Every summer I write a post about working a little harder so that your pipeline stays full through to fall. Cold calling gets more difficult in the summer. People are on vacation, taking shorter days, golfing…it does prove difficult to make the same number of connections that you make through the rest of the year. With all the distractions available to you through the summer, it can be difficult to maintain focused on picking up the phone. Or take it up a notch.

You have three options in the summer.

  1.  Carry on as usual

Let’s assume for a minute your normal commitment to outbound prospecting is 200 dials per week. That should lead to one or two new meetings every week. This depends on some variables like the territory you’re prospecting in, your skill level, and the list you’re working. If you look at summer as eight weeks, you have the option of making 1600 dials through that time frame. If you connect half as many times, you’re still going to meet with eight new prospects this summer, just from outbound prospecting. What’s your closing ratio like? How does that impact your bottom line?

  1. Reduce your activity, or stop entirely.

Reducing your activity, while not ideal, at least keeps enough attention on your pipeline that warm leads get the attention they need, and you still will get a few opportunities to win new business.

We don’t recommend that you stop prospecting through the summer. If you stop entirely you’re going to lose the opportunity to set the eight meetings we just discussed. You’ll have zero “action items” in your pipeline for fall. Prospecting requires you to continually stuff leads in to the top of the funnel in order for opportunities to come out at the bottom. No new activities?  No new business. As you get further and further away from new dials, your pipeline gets cold and stale. That means you’re starting over from zero again in September, and that will take you a full quarter to recover from. You don’t lose one quarter when you stop dialing, you always lose two.

  1. Step it up.

While your competitors are taking time off to golf, and lamenting about how summer is a waste of time to prospect, you can accelerate your prospecting. Commit to another 100 dials weekly. The law of numbers – even at a slower summer pace – says this will find you at least 4 new opportunities this summer. Closing one extra 50 seat managed deal this summer (Is your closing ratio one in four? Better?) would make missing a few golf games worth it, wouldn’t it?

5 Ways to Generate B2B Leads at Trade Shows

b2b trade show lead generation This article is written from the PR perspective but whether its from this industry perspective or any other marketing industry perspective the consensus is that a follow up phone call needs to occur after the trade show. Customers have hired IT’S YOUR CALL to  follow up on the b2b leads  they’ve generated at trade shows and we have always uncovered “hidden gems”.  Not only will follow up secure permission for opt in mailing lists but also has the extra benefit of qualifying the prospects.

  1. Contact the Right People Weeks Before

Typically, a trade show will release a list of press members who are covering the show. This may include bloggers, influencers, and journalists.

While these contacts are not themselves leads, their audience is. One of the most important steps you can take to snag time with these influential people is to reach out to them by email at least several weeks before a show. Request that they stop by your booth, and if possible, schedule a time for them to do so. Remeber that media get jammed at trade shows so you want to be early enough for them to see you. If they are overscheduled or not attending the conference, not to worry. Offer them the opportunity to interview you in advance and embargo the interview till the show.

If you can, give them samples, a free trial, or a demo of your product or service.  And don’t forget to provide background information or any helfpul collateral.

  1. Land a Speaking Engagement

Securing a speaking gig is a great way to generate more credibility around your brand, as well as yourself as a thought leader.

This isn’t always easy to do, so you must plan well in advance. Thought leadership begins with your owned media. In addition, once you have established credibility, you will have to submit an application to speak, likely months in advance. Here’s one tip to help get you in the door: Submit if you can with a customer. Trade shows are loaded with vendors eager to speak and you can differentiate yourself by presenting with a customer.

Landing a speaking engagement at a trade show is well worth the effort, as it will drive prospects, not only to your booth, but to your website since you will (with any luck) create a memorable presence.

  1. Establish Your Goals

Of course, the end game is always to turn strangers into buyers. However, the stage you’re at in your marketing game will largely determine your goals and means of achieving them.

If you’re a startup, you’re main mission at a trade show might be to create a buzz by handing out free swag. However, if you’re well-established, you might be aiming to launch a new product, or secure greater publicity.

Get your strategy in place by first determining your end game.

  1. Get Busy on Social Media

In the weeks and days that precede a trade event, you’ll want to create a buzz on social media. If your brand is launching a new product at a trade show, why not use Snapchat to reveal a hint of the product, mentioning that the full product will be unleashed at the upcoming trade show.

While you’re at the trade show, take full advantage of Facebook Liveto capture real-time highlights of the event.

  1. Follow Up

Want to know something a bit frightening? One statistic says:

“90% of trade show attendees received no follow-up within 12 months of their visit.”

If you want anything to come of your trade show experience, you must follow up. That means inputting new contacts into your CRM, reaching out via email or telephone, and asking for permission to add them to your email list.

Just think… if you can accomplish this one task that so few B2B companies are paying attention to, you’ll have the upper hand to win your prospects’ attention.


How to Effectively Follow Up on Sales Leads

BtoB telemarketing, Lead nurturing, Business to Business telemarketing for small businesses

Follow Up Phone Calls allows for Lead Qualification and Sales

This article describes the importance of following up on inbound sales leads which ultimately allows you to do lead qualification and lead nurturing. Whether you’re in a B2B scenario or a B2C scenario follow up has to occur. When we at IT’S YOUR CALL get inbound leads, prospects are pleasantly surprised to get the follow up phone call, which proves that this tactic is a differentiator!

As a small-business owner or manager, you probably try to spend as much time as possible on marketing strategies to bring new leads in, whether through working on your search engine optimization, advertising in relevant publications, utilizing social media sites, or various other avenues. You might even do what you can to track digital leads through programs like Google Analytics and the like. However, how much time and effort do you put into actually following up on those leads when they come in? This is an incredibly important part of the sales process, but one that many people don’t devote enough energy to.

There are many different things that you can do to effectively follow up on sales leads your marketing activities generate. From contacting people quickly and continuing to check in with them over time, to keeping an up-to-date database and measuring results, there is more to good follow-up than just one simple communication.

Read on for the lowdown on tips you can use to follow up on sales leads.

Follow Up on Sales Leads Quickly

The first important thing to note when you follow up on sales leads is that you must do so in a timely manner. While you might think that it’s no problem to get in touch within a couple of weeks,  plenty of research shows that the sooner you do it, the better.

According to the Harvard Business Review, companies that follow up within an hour of receiving an online query from a potential customer are actually almost seven times as likely to qualify that lead (have a good discussion with a key decision maker) than those who contact prospects only an hour later. Furthermore, following up in this time period made companies more than 60 times more likely to qualify the lead than those that waited a whole day or more to make contact.

This makes sense when you think about the fact that each hour that goes by when your company isn’t speaking to a potential customer is time in which another firm can be. Consumers these days expect to find information quickly and often won’t wait around for a business to get back to them with details or a quote. Stop your organization from coming in second place by being the first to respond to each query.

Stay in Touch

Next, keep in mind the phrase “recency and frequency.” This basically refers to the fact that people buy when they’re ready to complete a purchase and want to satisfy a need or a want, rather than when businesses want to sell to them.

When consumers are ready to spend money, they will typically choose the company that is on the top of their mind; this usually means the business which has been in contact with them most recently, or that one that stays in touch most frequently.

To be the first business a customer thinks of when they’re ready to purchase, you need to follow up regularly and religiously. Consistency is key here, and generally relies on having systems in place, as well as educating inquirers on your products and services more and more over time.

To ensure that your leads are followed up with every week, month, quarter, or year (depending on what is most relevant to your product or service type), you should utilize software programs or apps which are designed to keep track of sales calls and emails. Alternatively, you might decide to design your own system that has the same function.

You should always have an up-to-date database on file that keeps all the relevant lead information together in one place, and which notes at which stage of the sales funnel each potential customer currently sits. This database is the perfect place to keep notes about previous interactions with each lead, as well as the products or services they have expressed interest in in the past.

Test and Measure

A sales lead process can only ever be as good as possible if it is improved and refined over time. To do this, you must continually test and measure your process and the results you achieve from it. As you might have heard mentioned by marketers and other business people in the past, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.”

To most effectively follow up on leads, you must keep track of a variety of information. For example, note how many leads you receive each day or week; how long it takes for someone in the company to respond to each lead initially; what percentage of leads are turned into qualified prospects; and what number of leads are actually converted into paying customers.

Goals should be set for each of these areas, and then measured on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. Once you have the results of these tests, you can then fine-tune each element of your follow-up process in order to keep achieving goals.

Combining Old School and New School Marketing


Here is an excerpt from our e-book “Cold Calling for the Clueless“, which is available online or on Amazon, that talks about the integration of inbound marketing and business to business lead qualification.

There’s a lot of interest in content marketing these days and search engines really can make content marketing seem almost like magic. Put some content up on your website and—poof!—someone across the world finds it. But the magic still needs to be massaged. One of our clients was doing a great job with inbound marketing. Most of this company’s leads were generated by Web visitors who filled out a form to download a whitepaper. Then our client had us make the phone calls to qualify those leads and find out which ones were true prospects.

This company’s inbound marketing would certainly have produced some results by itself. Or if there had been nothing but an It’s Your Call telemarketing campaign, that would have brought in some leads. But the combination—well thought out, carefully timed, and repeatedly improved through trial and error—was much more effective. The normal response rate for telemarketing is 1% to 3%. The average click-through rate—the percentage of visitors to your website who actually click on a link to fill out a form or download a paper or buy something—is a mere 0.3%. But using these “old school” and “new school” methods together, we got a 5% overall positive response rate and scheduled 44 demo appointments.

The previous chapter—originally the last chapter of the book—ended with the words, “It’s that easy—really!” Okay, I’ll admit, it’s not quite as easy these days. But I’ll stand by my original sentiment. You have a few more things to think about now, but the new techniques are interesting and exciting and they can work together with telemarketing to give you great results. You can do it!



How to Build Rapport with Sales Prospects

Fotolia_5170186_X-01In practically every sales training guide the first step when selling is to create a rapport.  One of the under rated results of performing a cold calling campaign is that a rapport is being developed with the prospects. Making calls to an existing database to do database cleaning or to do follow up calls to trade show leads or recipients of an email blast strengthens the rapport that has been started. The following article offers tips that will encourage rapport to develop when speaking to prospects.   

 An old saying says, “People buy from people they like.” And it is true to a great extent and research has even proven likewise. When you have a strong relationship with someone, you tend to have more influence on that person.  That means, for the customer your experience and advice are very valuable, therefore, they are more likely to value your contribution to the decision process, and there is a great chance of this customer turning out to become a “long-term” customer. One of the best methods to develop a strong relationship with a customer is ‘building rapport’.

Having a great rapport with someone enables you to be at a level above the others as it helps in smooth communication because it allows people to be at ease.  Sometimes rapport happens naturally, you might instantly hit it off with someone. Other times, you have to be more deliberate in building rapport with someone. In sales, building a rapport with your prospect is of critical importance, as it inadvertently helps both the prospect and the sales rep to sort everything out.

Here are a few ways to build rapport in sales.

#1. Give your Prospect a Chance

In order to build a good rapport with your prospects, it is important to give them a chance to speak. This is easy to understand. When was the last time you found something really interesting in what your counterpart was saying without them giving you a chance to speak. When you give your prospect a chance to express themselves, they feel that you would understand where the problem lies and what could be the best possible solution for it. Most of the times, sales reps commit the mistake of being overly aggressive and not giving a chance for the prospects to speak, thus, losing out on a potential client. Having equal say during a conversation is a great rapport builder, and something most sales reps must look to work upon.

#2. Use the Prospect’s Name

“Good afternoon, Mr. Alan. These are few of the options available to you. Which one would you like to choose”. This statement looks much more effective and cordial than the following one. “Good afternoon, these are few of the options available to you. Which one would you like to choose”. The major reason being, using the name of the prospect has its own effect as they find you a bit more friendly and approachable. Therefore, as a sales rep if you intend to have a great bond with your prospect, try using their name as it can have a great impact.

#3. Offer ‘Genuine’ Compliments 

Genuine compliments are often refreshing and endearing. If you like the office, someone’s website, or is impressed with their book, be vocal about it. If your prospect had a recent accomplishment, relay your authentic congratulations. This can go a long way towards building rapport and they’ll appreciate it. This will also help you to get into their minds, thus, letting you go through the sales process in a successful manner.

#4. Empathize with the Prospect

It is a well-understood fact that, people usually open up more with those, who are good to them and know what they are thinking. This creates a sense of trust which builds a good rapport. It is also said that people usually buy from those who think alike, as they feel that these people would know the exact requirement.  In this case, it is also important to know that if you are talking to your prospect over the phone, you reduce your chances of letting them know that you understand their concern. It is often said that being physically present has a much bigger impact than being on the call. Therefore, if you empathize with someone, make it a habit to let them know about the same by being physically present.

#5. Use Social Media wisely

Social media is at the centre of every sales and marketing related work. There is a firm belief that the success of an organization depends a lot on social media activities. Similarly, in order to build a good rapport with your sales prospects, you need to find out, how they go about socially by seeing their public social profiles. This will help you to learn more about them. In sales, since it is necessary to know what your client prefers, more often than not, social media can act as the catalyst for building a great rapport with the prospect.

As said above, building a great rapport with your prospects goes a long way in sales. The closer you are to the prospect, better your chance of turning them into a customer. Therefore, it is imperative for the sales rep to try and build a relationship with the prospects in such a way that, it is based on trust and the one that is a long term. It goes without saying that, an organization needs its customers for growth, not only on the selling aspect but also on the ways of improvement. Thus, sales rep must look at having a long-term plan and not short-term goals alone and building rapport is just a part of the plan.

Why You Should Outsource Your Outbound Calling

keep-calm-and-outsource1Every marketing manager or sales manager has told there staff “if you want leads than you need to get on the phones”.  Telemarketing is a very good way to stir up business; results are practically instantaneous and it is the only marketing method that lets you speak directly to your target audience.  Expecting an employee who was hired to do outside sales and or marketing to take on the task of cleaning up a database or following up on direct mail, or qualifying leads or even to make customer survey calls is expecting too much. When push comes to shove adding phone work to an existing workload is not something the typical employee relishes and the phone calls become the lowest priority.

Everyone knows how to use the telephone but not everyone is effective.  Each person in an organization has a certain skill set that they were hired for and if they weren’t hired specifically to make outbound phone calls to suspects, prospects or customers, chances are the calling won’t be successful.  Outsourcing telemarketing duties makes sense when companies don’t have the resources to perform the ongoing prospecting that should be happening or when there is an influx of leads that need to be qualified in a timely manner; such as leads from a trade show, website or other promotional activity.

When looking for a call center one needs to ask questions like how do they hire their staff, how long a commitment is necessary to conduct campaign, who supplies the list, how are the results measured and aside from the calling expense what other costs are associated with starting up a campaign.  Other questions that may be considered is who writes the script, how is the data formatted when the program is completed, and how often are the results reported.  Also, depending on the size of the campaign one might want to ask whether there will be a dedicated phone rep for this campaign or will the number of callers vary.

Choosing to use a competent call center, like IT’S YOUR CALL, to handle your lead generation and lead qualification process will help with ensuring that your sales and marketing programs are being continuously developed,  let your staff focus on the tasks that they were hired to do and keep your pipeline filled.

Ceri Ruenheck has developed and managed inside/outside sales operations for over 20 years and is the president of It’s Your Call . A virtual call center, It’s Your Call works with companies that lack the time to make calls necessary for their direct marketing campaigns.   Author of the ebook “Cold Calling for the Clueless” www.coldcallingfortheclueless

 Ceri has also presented to various professional organizations on entrepreneurship, networking and cold calling.  She lives in Harvard, MA with her husband two sons and two cats.



5 Best Practices for Sales Prospecting

Sales-Strategy-Workshop-ProspectingIt seems apparent that no one method of sales prospecting is the best.  Integrating a variety of approaches covers the different ways to connect with your prospects and turn them into qualified leads.  Our most successful customers use a process that uses a variety of prospecting tools that incorporates the services of IT’S YOUR CALL’s telemarketing services.

What’s the biggest challenge salespeople face today? While your first thought may be getting buyers to sign on the dotted line, you’ll be surprised to hear that for most reps, prospecting is often the most difficult stage of selling.

While targeting and initiating conversations with prospects in the hope it’ll eventually lead to a sale is an essential part of the sales cycle, it’s a beast to pin down. Still, agents must develop this critical sales strategy if they want to achieve long-term success. Part of the challenge is that most companies fail to provide training or access to viable prospecting data. Maybe that’s because managers haven’t had the requisite information to share with agents, until now.

Below are several prospecting best practices to keep in mind and pass on to your agents:

  1. Know Your Target Audience

The first step in prospecting is to ensure that you have a solid grasp on your target. This requires a comprehensive understanding of what your products and services do, in addition to knowing which companies and individuals are in the market for them. What’s more, it’s important—especially for B2B salespeople—not to pinpoint prospective buyers who are too low in the organization. Senior-level professionals are often the real decision makers with purchasing power.

  1. Gather Sales Intelligence

Once you know precisely what and to whom you’re selling, it’s time to gather as much sales intelligence as you can. This includes deep firmographic business criteria such as size, revenue, location, industry, and demographics. 89% of world-class sales organizations clearly understand their customers before selling, compared to 29% of average companies. Simply put: Do your homework!

  1. Mix it Up

It’s important to use a variety of methods to target prospects. All too often, salespeople take the same approach day after day, which starts to get mundane. Try cold calling, networking events, email, or social media. Just remember: Every “touch” should provide some sort of value. Take the “always be helping” approach instead of the traditional elevator pitch.

  1. Follow Up

It takes more than one attempt to get through to senior-level decision makers. In fact, past research has indicated that the majority of sales are made on the fifth to 12th contact. To move a lead from cold to warm to hot takes effort. Provide your prospects with engaging, informative and relevant content to help push them to the next stage of the buying process.

  1. Work Smarter, Not Harder

Prospecting is hard work, but there are a number of resources that can help you work smarter.  43% of reps spend more than half a day preparing for sales calls. With access to concise company, competitor, and industry reports salespeople can better prepare for calls, close more deals, and take back precious time.

Sales lead generation


In the fourth paragraph of this article is a crucial sentence “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.”  There are studies saying that sales in general are down because sales and marketers are too reactive and not proactive.  The successful companies that work with It’s Your Call are assertively lead generating and beating out their competition.

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.