Sales numbers seem low? You may be able to boost your revenue with one simple tweak to your lead follow up process.
Wow! You’re on track for a stellar quarter. Your team has made more calls, had more interest from customers, and your company just got some good publicity. Don’t open that bottle of champagne yet, though. Your salespeople (and maybe even you) may still run into problems. Maybe the customer wasn’t in a good place financially. Maybe your product didn’t fully solve their problem. Or perhaps—and not unlikely—someone neglected to stick to the lead follow up process. Oops.
If you’ve been in this business for any time at all, you know that how easy it is to lose a lead – especially if you don’t follow up quickly enough. There’s evidence to suggest that 30-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. Another study shows that a salesperson who follows up with a lead within 60 minutes is seven times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with a decision maker.
We could go on, but even just these two statistics make it clear that having a well-defined and somewhat aggressive lead follow up process as part of your sales training program can make a massive difference in the conversion rates for your sales team. And it all starts at the beginning.
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3 Essential tips for success in your lead follow up process
1. Speed to call
Put yourself in a lead’s shoes. You’re browsing the internet for something you or your business needs. You find a few resources that may fit. You send an email, fill out the lead generation form, make a phone call—whatever it may be. An hour later, your phone rings. It’s one of the companies you contacted looking to make a connection and gather more information. Now assuming they seem to have what you need, are you going to sit around and wait for the other companies to get back to you? Probably not. And if the others don’t, will you get back in touch with them? Unlikely.
Speed to call is the most critical part of your lead follow up process. Most leads don’t reach out to a sales rep until they’re either ready to buy, or more likely, when they’re pretty close to ready. Suppose your sales team doesn’t jump on the opportunity. In that case, the lead may be snatched up by another company, or they may change their mind about working with you, or they may even be turned off by the delay, assuming that’s what all of your business’s customer service is like.
To ensure that you’re connecting with as many leads as possible, your lead follow up process should dictate that someone on your team responds to all leads within 60 minutes of them coming in. Sure, that’s not always possible, but most of the time, it probably is.
2. Qualify before contact
That said, best practices suggest that you don’t merely hand the lead to the first available sales rep. Before you make the call, take a few minutes to do what you can to qualify the lead. Read the entirety of whatever they filled out online (or listen to an entire voicemail and take notes), then look for buzz words that can help your team figure out which salesperson would be best suited to respond to the lead. There will be more qualifying to do later, for sure, but even the smallest detail in the early stages can make a difference.
3. Can’t call? Send an email.
As we mentioned, sometimes it’s just not feasible to make a phone call to a lead within 60 minutes. Fair enough. But that shouldn’t stop you from getting in touch.
When you can’t return a call, a good lead follow up process will take advantage of email. While email is more passive than calling, it still shows the lead you received their inquiry and are eager to talk more. (Pro tip: Call center automation technology can help with this!)
Be careful, though, not to send generic emails. Use a template, sure, but remember to personalize it as much as possible so the lead understands that their specific needs are important to you, and that you think you may be able to help them with those specific needs.
More lead follow up tips
Though speed to call is incredibly important, there are other things you may want to touch on in your lead follow up process to help ensure that your quick response time isn’t in vain.
In addition to qualifying a lead as best you can before calling, it’s also a good idea to make sure that you have something to talk about on the call. Go in prepared with a few questions to get the ball rolling. Have a goal in mind for the discussion. (Getting an in-person meeting is a worthy goal for a first call.) Worried you’ll start rambling? Use a call script to stay on track.
To that same end, the lead follow up process you set out for your team should remind them that the first call should be more listening than talking, unless the lead has a lot of questions. It’s a discovery call. You’re learning about them and thinking of all the ways you can help them. Don’t bore them with information they don’t need or, worse, with an aggressive sales pitch.
In a similar vein, have your team remember that the lead follow up process should be persistent, but paced. If a sales rep responds to a lead within 60 minutes and the lead doesn’t answer, have the representative leave a voicemail and make a note to follow up again in a day or two. Trying too hard to get in touch not only can make the lead feel pressured, but it also makes your sales rep look desperate.
That said, it usually takes a few calls to connect, and then even more to close a sale. Your reps should plan to make at least five calls throughout the lead follow up process before moving on, but those calls should be reasonably spaced over a period of up to two weeks.
Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but implementing these simple strategies in your lead follow up will almost certainly increase closed sales as long as there are no other complications.
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