It’s Your Call
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.
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!
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.
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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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!