You’ve invested a lot of time and effort in generating B2B sales leads for your business and the leads are starting to flow in. Now it’s crunch time – time to work on turning them into paying customers.
When and how you follow up with each lead, and the processes and mechanisms you put in place to support you, will ultimately dictate how successful you end up being.
There are three basic elements you need to get right:
Timing: being fast to act, highly responsive and quick to spot the signs that a lead may be warming up
Regularity: keeping in regular contact with leads to nurture them along the sales process and keep yourself front of mind, then have sales step in to seal the deal
Relevance: only sending leads valuable, relevant and interesting information that they will want and need at any given stage of the buyer journey
A couple of extra points to bear in mind here:
- Leads will only buy when they’re ready
The days of exerting relentless pressure on someone until they give in and sign on the dotted line are well and truly over. If you hit leads with the hard sell, then they’re unlikely to stick around, especially if they’re still in the early stages of the process.
- You’ll probably need to impress more than one person
The higher the price tag of the product and the longer the sales cycle, the more people that are likely to be involved in the decision making process. If your sales cycle is long then your key contacts may naturally come and go, so you need to be thinking more broadly about who you need to be seen by and how to impress them.
So, what’s the secret of following up sales leads and achieving a positive outcome?
Here are our top tips.
Don’t sit on leads, act on them
There’s a great stat from Harvard Business Review that reveals firms who contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query are nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (have a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker) than those who try an hour later - and more than 60 times as likely as companies that wait 24 hours or longer. If a lead is keen for answers, they aren’t just going to sit back and wait to hear from you. They’ll continue to search for someone who can help them. Get in there before the competition.
Lead Forensics software can help you identify anonymous visitors to your website and connect with leads long before they convert. This way you will be able to act fast and get ahead of the competition. Find out more about how Lead Forensics works in our introduction to Lead Forensics.
Understand what people want and when
It’s important to recognize that potential buyers will want different information at different times. When they first come across you, they’ll want to receive content that educates and informs them. Content that demonstrates your knowledge and how well you communicate.
When they have a problem and are starting to look at solutions, they’ll want more specific details about how your solution might help them. Then, when they’re starting to look at suppliers and are gearing up to buy, they may be interested in things like demos and trials. At each of these stages, it’s important to be helpful, to listen and keep it about the customer and what they want, at all times.
Have sales concentrate on only the hottest leads
Handing leads over to sales too early is a big mistake. You need to get the timing right. Sales teams should be concentrating all their efforts on handling only the hottest, most qualified leads. Any time they spend on warm, or worse still, cold leads is simply going to be wasted. Each team needs to be doing what they do best, if productivity is to remain high and sales figures are to soar. That means marketing is generating and nurturing leads, while sales is closing deals.
Use your CRM to the max
Make sure every lead is entered into your CRM. Log every contact that is made with a lead and make sure this information is accessible by everyone who needs it. This will help you provide a joined up and seamless service and a 360-degree customer experience. Customers want to feel listened to, understood and valued. You’re aiming to build a relationship and to become a trusted partner.
If you are not sure what CRM you should use, check out our free guide to using the best CRM for your business.
Use marketing automation
Set up different workflows for different types of leads and use marketing automation software to help you contact each lead at set frequencies. For example, you may set up an email chain to go out once a week to a certain segment of your database who have just converted on an offer on your website. Automating the process helps ensure that nothing is ever forgotten. You will still be able to tailor your communications and make it as personal as possible, which is also really important.
Think about channels
There are now many more options open to you, when it comes to following up and keeping in touch with leads. Think how you might use the different channels at your disposal, including social media sites such as LinkedIn. For example, use them to research leads before you pick up the phone. See if you can spot opportunities and any windows that may be opening, based on what leads are saying. Get seen as a thought leader by sharing interesting content and commenting on posts. But NEVER go into sales mode on social sites!
For more advice on social selling and how social media can be used to best support each stage, check out our blog Social Selling and how to use it as part of your sales funnel.
Have a plan before you go ahead and make contact with a lead. Do your research. Plan what the next steps will be that you push for, as you always need to be aiming to move things on in some way. Also, make sure teams have access to marketing materials, such as case studies, fact sheets and specification packs – whatever may be helpful for them. Then, if something is mentioned by a lead, they can instantly act on it with no delays. If there are any gaps in the marketing collateral you currently hold, then work to fill those gaps and ask teams regularly if there is anything else that would help them.
Add value with every follow up
Time is precious, so don’t waste anyone’s time. If you want to stand out and make an impact, then make sure every follow up is adding value. You should never be ‘Just checking in..’ or sounding desperate. That could easily see you headed into the realms of spam. Instead, share another piece of interesting content with a lead. Share a report or article that you think will be of interest to them. Offer to connect them with someone in your network who it would benefit them to know. Share something you’ve done with a similar company, or invite them to an industry event or webinar.
Learn from your website
Use data and insights generated through your website, to help you strengthen your content offering and follow ups. What terms are people searching for? What are the top pages people are looking at? What patterns and trends can you see?
A top tip for Lead Forensics customers - you will be able to see who is visiting, when, for how long and what pages they look at. Use this to your advantage to tailor follow ups and sales pitches and spot the signs that a lead is warming up.
Know your numbers
As with any sales and marketing activity you undertake, it’s important to keep an eye on the figures. Monitor the results so you know what’s working and what’s not. How many leads are you getting in? How long are you taking to respond? How many go on to convert? How many go on to close? How many are you losing along the way? Where are they falling out and is there something you can do about it?
If there’s one thing you take from all this, it’s to be proactive. Have a plan, make sure you get your timing right and always aim to add value with every follow up.