By Robert Estupinian
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a professional services conference during which I left my contact information at many vendor booths. Three weeks later only two of the many vendors I stopped to talk to at the show actually contacted me by phone or email to follow up. Most business owners and salespeople alike would agree that following up on leads does provide a positive return on investment when done properly. Yet, this important facet of the sales process is either ignored or done wrong most of the time.
Here we will look at a few steps that any business can do in order to maximize the success of a good follow up program.
The Hard Costs of Obtaining a Lead
When we look at the cost of obtaining a lead these days it is no wonder that there is a lot of pressure by business owners to make sure each lead is developed into a customer. These leads can come from an assortment of sources including: trade shows, contest submissions, online inquires, white papers, webinars, e-books, and other marketing methods. All these various methods of obtaining a lead cost the business money. However, when done correctly a good lead generation program is not a cost to the business, but rather a valuable asset. Imagine how easy it would be to sell your business by showing the prospective buyer how easy and systematically leads are generated and converted into customers. It is like having a perpetual money machine.
Timing is Critical
There are various research studies that have shown the shelf life of a lead. All these studies agree that the interest of a lead is highest within the first 48 hours of being introduced to the product/service. After this time, the prospect becomes cold and any rapport or interest that was built is lost. I have often joked around with sales organizations by mentioning that our leads don’t just sit around waiting for us to call them. You would agree, that in most cases the lead is off to the next thing as soon as they clicked the mouse or entered their information.
Why Don’t These Leads Remember?
Our society is suffering from over stimulation and multitasking. We have all witnessed this phenomenon all around us people: connected to their cell phones, texting insidiously, connecting on Facebook and other social media, all at the same time. In fact, the new internet TV systems being developed are designed to allow viewers the opportunity to watch a TV show and interact with content on the internet all at the same time. So, seeing how many things are fighting for our audience’s attention, it is no wonder they will quickly forget what they saw or signed up for.
This means our businesses need to promptly respond to the inquiries of our leads. The longer any business waits to call back or respond to an inquiry by a prospect the less chance there is of turning them into a customer. In order for this to work there has to be a system in place to meet the immediate need of the prospect. It is then evident that we can’t just rely on following up to close these leads.
Quality of the Leads
Equally important is the quality of the leads that are being developed. In order to maximize the investment of time and resources in selling, it is important to focus our resources on qualified leads. First, a business should study the leads currently being developed. Is the marketing program bringing in the type of lead that has the highest possibility of being converted to a customer? Sure, this question appears to be simple, but it happens to be most overlooked step in many organizations. However, the typical business determines the effectiveness of their lead generation simply based on the quantity of leads they are receiving. The problem with this approach is they may be wasting time and resources trying to convert leads who will never buy.
Recently, I had the opportunity to review a client’s online lead generation program. They were literally receiving over a hundred leads a day from people from all over the world. The problem is that they were a local business with no chance of serving anyone outside a 50 mile radius. So, the vast majority of these leads had little or no chance of becoming customers for the business. This is an example of a marketing campaign not tailored specifically to attract only leads appropriate for the business.
The Staff Frustration
Then there is the indelible frustration and reluctance created by staff assigned to work these unqualified leads. Nobody ever wants to make calls on leads that have little or no interest in buying. Even worse is when a call is made and the only thing the lead wanted was the free offering.
In order to avoid these situations it is important to develop a lead generation program that attracts qualified leads and then weighs the interest of the prospect. In this type of program, prospects are segregated based on their level of interest. Those that are ready to buy are funneled quickly so that they can buy. Those leads that are not ready to buy, or are just “looking” can be nurtured over a longer period of time.
A system like this can be easily automated using services such as Infussionsoft and others. Conversely, it is possible to develop a more manual driven system for low volume businesses. The point is not leaving anything to chance and instead managing the leads
When a business puts into place a properly designed lead generation and follow up sequence, they benefit in so many way. The salespeople or staff doing the follow up will be more successful in converting the leads. This will keep them motivated to actually do the follow up since it will be more of a positive experience for them. As a business owner, you will benefit by having an asset that you can rely on to increase your revenues and decrease employee costs. Your prospects will be better served and this will lead to increase referrals and positive reviews.
At Bay Area Mastermind we always work with our members to improve conversions and increase profits. Check out our test drive on this page.