If You're Not, You Might Be Throwing High-Quality Inbound Leads In The Street
We get notified every time a client gets a new lead from their inbound marketing program, and most of the time we verbally follow up on those leads. We want to be sure our clients received them and they’re following up proactively and attentively. You would think that since we (our team and our client) worked so hard to generate the leads that following up would be a guilty pleasure, something everyone would be happy to do.
Think again! In at least one case, I recall asking a software client about a demo request that came in about a week earlier. “Hey John (name was changed to protect the innocent), how did that demo go? I saw the request come in; is that a good sales opportunity?” John replied, “Oh, were we supposed to call that guy? I wasn’t sure what to do with that.” I tried to remain calm, but it wasn’t easy. Someone asked to talk to you about buying your software, and you weren’t sure if you should follow up?
We ended up talking it through and setting up a clear process around lead follow-up, but that situation is repeated all over the country. Getting the lead is not the end game. Turning the lead into new customer revenue is the end game.
Here’s how to proactively and successfully follow up on all of your inbound marketing leads.
People Who Download
If you’re doing inbound marketing correctly, you have people downloading content all of the time. Whitepapers, e-books, tip sheets, infographics and slide shows should be flying off the (virtual) shelves. In some cases, this could mean 10 to 20 downloads a day. Do you reach out and follow up with everyone who downloads something or fills out a form on your website? This is a great question.
The answer isn’t one size fits all. At Square 2 Marketing, we don’t follow up on these notifications, and generally we counsel our clients to take a similar approach. After all, the people downloading didn’t ask to talk to you, they simply requested the information you offered. Calling them could be a violation of their personal space and make them angry.
On the other hand, their interest and action means they have a need. The need could be early, putting them in the awareness stage of their buyer journey, or the need could be hot, putting them in the decision-making stage of the buyer journey. One way to know for sure is to reach out and run the risk of annoying them.
The other way to know is to trust that if you do a good job educating them, they’ll alert you via their behavior that it’s time for a person to person touch base. We prefer the second option and have, in fact, tested option one. The results from the unsolicited outreach were not good, and so we continue to connect personally with only people who requested the personal connection.
Depending on your specific product/service or your sales process, you might decide to contact everyone who gives you their contact information, or you might decide to contact only those people who requested it. That is up to you.
People Who Attend
In addition to the people filling out forms and downloading your content, you should be hosting and provide richer, more interactive middle-of-the-funnel content like webinars, surveys, quizzes, live events and workshops. People signing up for these events are going to be giving you even more contact information.
Typically, you get an email address plus name, mailing address, website, company name, phone number and even some high-quality demographic or psychographic information. What do you do with leads like this?
Again, our guidance for clients is the same as for people who download, but you need to make the right decision for your company. People who attend events or take the time to give more information are typically more engaged and likely to be better prospects. This could be an opportunity to do some personal outreach to see if you could help in some way.
Post-webinar personal follow-up is highly effective for uncovering issues or challenges facing the prospect. It’s also great for opening up an opportunity to continue the conversation and provide more personalized guidance and support.
People Who Ask To Talk To You
The real fun starts when people actually ask to speak with you. These bottom-of-the-funnel offers almost always generate the hottest leads and the best sales opportunities. This dictates a tight and well-defined process for handling them. In most cases, this is the culmination of hard work on the part of your marketing team. They finally generated the bottom-of-the-funnel, sales-ready leads that everyone has been waiting for. Don’t fumble it now, like my old client above.
Make sure you know who is going to be doing the follow-up. Make sure they get the notification. Make sure they understand the timing associated with the follow-up. Is it same day? Next day? Within 72 hours? You want this to be as quick as possible. Remember, a prospect has pain, and you want to be there to help. What happens during that follow-up? What is the goal of the phone call? If it’s qualification (and it should be), how is your team going to qualify them? Based on what criteria?
After you define the call tone, script and timing, you’ll have to make sure all of that information gets into the CRM system. You’ll want to track conversion rates and make sure you can adjust your call follow-up to produce high conversion rates. Then work on the rest of the process. Remember, the goal is to turn that lead into revenue. You still have a lot of ground to cover.
What’s The Rest Of The Process?
From here you’ll have to work hard to make them feel safe. You’ll have to qualify them to make sure they’re serious and not just window shopping. You’ll have to ask them a ton of questions to understand their challenges, timeline, priorities and budget. The process takes time. It generally takes a number of steps and requires you to get in front of the right people.
For example, we don’t typically move forward unless we’re talking to power. How do we know if we’re talking to power? You have to ask. Who will be signing our agreement? Who signs our check? The answer to those questions uncovers the power, regardless of what our contact is saying. This is more art than science, but quantitative methods do exist for assigning a score to every single lead.
If we consider these leads sales-qualified leads (meaning they’ve asked to speak with us), the next step in the process would be considered sales opportunity. This means the sales team has spoken with the prospect and identified them as an actual opportunity. The next step in the process would be to get them paperwork (a proposal, a purchase order or an agreement), and this is the last step before they sign.
You should be able to tell that this isn’t always easy to map out nor is it easy to get everyone in your company to follow the defined, agreed-on process religiously. But it’s a requirement if you want a scalable, predictable and repeatable sales machine to help you exceed your revenue goals. The only way to produce consistent up and to the right revenue is with systems and processes for sales and marketing.
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