This might seem like a crazy question to write an entire blog article about, but you may be surprised to learn that we hear this regularly, especially from companies that have never had any inbound marketing-generated leads.
What should you do with these inbound leads?
It’s worth talking about so that other people who are considering adding an inbound channel to their lead generation effort know the answer. The reality is the motion around people asking to talk with you is different from the people you’re reaching out to for conversations.
Here’s what you need to know about inbound leads and how you need to handle them.
On the surface, you might be thinking that all leads are created equally. Inbound, outbound, who cares? A lead is a lead, right? But that would be incorrect.
Inbound leads are different because these people already know you. They’ve found you on search or social. They’ve been to your website and looked at your pages. They’ve read your blog, watched your videos and provided you their contact information AND permission to market to them.
This is wildly different than a lead who doesn’t know you and received a cold email or cold phone call. This is wildly different from a referral too. These people haven’t taken action to get to know you.
As such, inbound leads need to be treated differently than outbound leads.
Since most of the inbound leads you’re generating already know you, there’s no point in starting this first call with any of the traditional who you are, what you do and why they should hire you stuff.
Instead, and this is what makes inbound leads so good, start with them. Make this first call or email all about them.
Many interactions start with a couple of emails to get introduced and set the process. Make sure that your first email clarifies your desire to get to know them, their challenges, their issues and where they think you can help them. To learn more about how your sales process can actually help you win new customers, check out this article.
Despite them wanting to talk with you, you might not be able to help them. The goal of this first call/meeting is to qualify them IN or OUT of your sales process. While at the same time, do your best to help them with their issues and challenges. If you make a deposit before you ask for a return, you’ll be positioning yourself as a helpful resource.
Remember, you want to help them feel safe. You want them to get to know, like and trust you. The more you advise, guide and help, the faster you’ll get there. If you try to sell, you’re going in the wrong direction.
When it comes to qualification, consider using a scoring system, framework or at the very least a set of qualification questions.
We recommend a Pain, Power and Fit methodology.
Do they have acute pain? Can they articulate it? Is this pain a priority for them? Depending on their answer, they get a score of zero to five.
Are you talking to power? Is this the person who is making the purchase decision? Is this the person who is going to sign your agreement/contract? Is this the person who signs the check? Score them accordingly on the same scale as above.
Is this opportunity a good fit for what you do or what products you offer? Is it inside your preferred vertical? Is the company the right size? Do they value what you do? Do they have the budget? Is their challenge one that you have fixed for other companies like them? Again, you know the drill with scoring.
Now add up the numbers. Prospects with a 13, 14 or 15 should close in 30 days or less. Prospects with lower scores are still viable opportunities, but they might require more work to get to power, to understand how acute their pain is or to know for sure if they’re a good fit for what you do.
Based on the score, you know what to do with your newly qualified inbound lead. If you want to learn more about Pain, Power and Fit or other qualification options, check out this article.
Since most of our clients are B2B companies with long sales cycles, complex sales and high average dollar value, it’s hard to go from one meeting to the close. Typically, you’ll need another meeting to dig deeper into what’s going on at the prospect’s company and for you to completely diagnose the issues to develop recommendations.
This second meeting gives you a chance to invite power if they were not on the first call. It’s a great opportunity to poke at pain and uncover how important these issues are to their short-term and long-term plans. It’s also a great time to look under the hood to identify fit, uncover additional opportunities to help and fully scope the issues so that you can come back with solid, on-point recommendations.
This is also an excellent opportunity to get them talking about themselves. Everyone loves talking about themselves and their businesses. People get more comfortable, and if you ask the right questions, it’s going to be obvious you care about them and their goals.
This does wonders for helping them feel safe.
Now that they trust you, it’s going to be easier for you to present your recommendations. Remember, you’re not selling or convincing – you’re providing your expert guidance for them to follow.
Would you ignore your sherpa as you climb to the top of Mount Everest? Would you ignore your doctor if you had a life-threatening disease? Would you ignore your attorney if you were being sued for millions of dollars? Of course not, and you want to establish the same level of authority in your specific case.
Part of this process should be including your prospects in the conversation around these recommendations. No one likes surprises, and if you show up and surprise them with a $100,000 engagement when they were expecting it to be $50,000, it’s going to be a no-go.
Instead, work with them behind the scenes to co-create these recommendations. Socialize the investment beforehand and get their buy-in. Make sure the high-level ideas behind the recommendations align with theirs.
When you show up and do the final presentation, their reaction should be, “Yep, that’s what I expected, that’s what we discussed and that looks good for us.”
You don’t want their reaction to be, “Wow, we weren’t expecting this!” or, “We’ll have to talk about this and get back to you.”
The final question after your recommendations have been shared should be, “When would you like us to get started?” Their answer should be, “As soon as you can, because this is exactly what we need and we need it right now.”
This is the power of inbound leads. Because they already sought you out, they already know you and they trust you, they’re ready to hire you without any hesitation or delay.
This is why you need to have an inbound marketing lead generation program running for your company.