HOW TO: Follow up leads

There is often too much emphasis from marketers on how they are going to generate sales leads, with not enough importance put on how they are going to be converted.

Sales and marketing no longer work in silos and the success (and ROI) of any marketing campaign is going to be directly affected by the way in which your sales team use the leads created by your hard work.
It is therefore essential that, as marketers, we are ensuring that leads are being followed promptly and in the right way. Here are five tips as to how you can achieve lead follow-up nirvana and ensure that your hard work is fruitful:

1. Create a great follow-up message - You may have managed to get the prospect to pay attention once, but it becomes harder the second time.
Have a number of messages ready for you and your sales team to use depending on how the prospect has responded and the information that they’ve supplied you with (or not) - especially if there are a number of products or services that have been promoted in your campaign, as you will need to quickly hone in on their need.

2. Figure out why the lead found you and make it work - Your prospect downloaded your offer for a reason and you should try to find out why.
Because of the complex nature of most B2B sales processes (and the associated price tags), in the beginning, it is best to focus on connecting with the prospect and understanding why they might be looking at your product, rather than explaining its features.
If the lead found you via a demo or trial, chances are they know more about your product than someone who has read one of your whitepapers. You do not need to directly reference the marketing promotion, as they might not have had time to read or review it, but it is important to remember what they might already know and what they might need to find out.
‘Whys’ are always more powerful than ‘whats,’ so work out why they’re interested and you will be able to better align your product or service to it.

3. Prepare for and adapt your follow-up call - Every prospect is different, so it’s important not to use the same approach for everyone.
The sales team should be looking at the prospect’s company and their role in their organisation, as the needs of a small business owner are invariably going to be very different from someone who is an influencer within the buying department of a large multi-national blue-chip firm.
An essential role of any follow-up call should be to glean more information so that you can make your current and future conversations more effective. Therefore the questions that they are going to ask should be tailored toward reaching its desired outcome. You could have a script of standard questions prepared in advance for the sales team to use that are suited to each of the major prospect groups that your company is likely to encounter.
Ensure that the sales team are considering the pain points that each prospect is likely to be experiencing before making the call and that they are familiar enough with your products to be able to explain to each prospect how your solutions can fix the issues that they are facing.

4. Respond quickly and make a follow-up plan - Follow-up quickly before the prospect’s immediate needs change and lock-in their interest. Obvious? Yes. Always done? No.
Don’t save up the leads from your campaign, but deliver them to the sales team as soon as possible and ensure that they’re being responded to rapidly.
The sales team, on conclusion of the call, should be offering a follow-up timeframe to the prospect. This gives the prospect time to learn more about their needs, budget and your solution; better preparing them for a more in-depth conversation next time they are contacted directly by your sales person.
In the interim, sales should be using other methods to stay in touch and keep you front-of-mind: provide a template for a follow-up email to summarise the points discussed that includes a link to a copy of your latest piece of thought leadership collateral. Additionally, get them to ask the prospect if it is okay to connect via LinkedIn - finding out the groups that they are part of or the posts that they like and share could provide valuable insights for the sales person that will help them to convert a lead into a customer.

5. Make the most of every prospect - Just because a prospect does not have a current need for your product, it doesn’t mean that they won’t in the future.
Getting the contact details of someone within your target market can often be just as hard as getting them to convert, so they should be treated with equal care. Make sure that the sales team are passing leads back to you that haven’t provided business on this occasion. You can then put them into a lead nurturing programme that features your thought leadership pieces and keeps them up-to-date with new product innovations that they might have an immediate need for.
Done well, you will create a rapport and interest in your services that could quickly turn into a future sale.

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2013-03-21T17:15