No Lead Left Behind by Jae-ann Rock

Posted on Nov 13, 2018 in Blog, Meeting/Event Planning, Training and HR

Having a marketing plan that includes ways to nurture your “not now” leads is critical to making sure no lead is left behind.

In our last blog post, we outlined ways to remain engaged with leads over time – in a way that continues to bring value to those contacts without becoming a pest. It is a balancing act, for sure. But, in our experience, a lead that has gone quiet is not necessarily a dead lead. Until you are able to fully ascertain the situation, do not assume any lead is dead. They are still “in play” until you are informed otherwise.

I have personally had situations where a contact was interested in our offerings and then went quiet for months. We later learned they had some serious personal challenges they were dealing with at the time, but once they were back to work, things got back on track and the deal was closed. Until you hear “no”, a lead is always in play. But, to effectively manage those leads through the sales pipeline takes organization, patience, persistence, and a way to track where each lead is in the overall sales process.

Leaving leads behind is a huge mistake! Without a proper tracking system, important leads may get lost in the shuffle of your never ending to-do list. Knowing where each and every one of your leads is in the sales process is your key to success. It is like a plate spinning act – to be successful, you must keep all those plates in the air at the same time. This is where lead tracking technology aides and marketing automation come into play.

The first step to properly manage ALL of your leads is to ask yourself if there is a means to track and manage all leads in once place. Any company in the business of growing revenue MUST use a CRM system such as Salesforce, Zoho, Hubspot, etc. Using one of these systems will easily allow you to keep track of the status of each lead, allowing you to know exactly where it is in the process and what the next step should be.

The second step is to set up your database properly to insure no lead is left behind. Brainstorm the kind of reports which would be helpful and create related picklist fields in your CRM system to be able to run such reports easily. Keep in mind, critical fields to include are “Lead Rating” (Hot, Warm, Cold) and “Lead Status.”

The standard Lead Status picklist in Salesforce includes the following values:

  • Open
  • Contacted
  • Qualified
  • Unqualified

You may want to augment this with your own picklist values according to your specific sales process such as:

  • New
  • Follow-up
  • Nurture/working
  • Qualified
  • Call Scheduled
  • Left Company

By doing so, you can more easily track and manage where leads are in the process, create reports, and add them to more specialized follow up campaigns. Imagine setting up a special campaign sent only to “Warm” leads in the “Nurture/working” Lead Status category. That could be an interesting group to target.

Additionally, including a picklist of Lead Quality is very helpful to further “circle the wagons” around a group of “like” leads. Such a picklist may include A-D lead quality, and maybe even a “Z” to denote dead leads where the company has closed or been acquired. (Note: It is important to never delete leads from your CRM system, as you always want to be able to revert back to old notes if needed.) Your marketing team can then implement plans to market to each group according to the Lead Quality. For example, “A” leads should receive more frequent content than a “C” lead. Leverage this information to inform marketing and sales plans. But, be certain to continue to update this lead quality and other qualifying fields as things evolve. This data is not static. It is constantly changing and should be updated accordingly in your CRM system.

In general, I tend to look at leads in one of the following five buckets:

Cold Leads – These are leads with whom you have had no direct contact – i.e. you have not yet spoken with them or received an email reply from them. So, you must actively work these leads to help build trust and brand awareness. A multi-pronged, value-added marketing approach involving email, phone and direct mail will help inform them of your services while building that needed trust. Building familiarity is extremely important and as such, cold leads need to be warmed up over time. The key is to remain ever-present, providing value, so that if and when they have a need for your services, they will think of you first!

Warm Leads – These are contacts who’ve expressed some interest in your company. They may have opened and/or clicked on your emails multiple times. They may have attended a webinar or your speaking event at a conference. You may have simply connected with them via phone or received an email reply. Continue to build rapport with these leads as you work to uncover their needs to determine how you can help them. Invite them to webinars, live events, conferences. Continue to remain top-of-mind by sending them value-added email content twice each month. Periodically call on them to see where things stand. Develop a relationship and become known as a consultant in your space, ready to help them if and when they need it.

Hot Leads – Now things get exciting. You have likely had at least one in-depth conversation with these hot leads. The “dance begins” whereby you are drawing out their challenges and providing examples of how your service can help resolve those issues. You are in discussions about price, timing, the decision-making process, and any other project requirements needed to move things forward. This phase is pre-proposal, but if done right, will lead to a natural request for a proposal for services. Important TIP: Always be certain you are talking to the decision maker before providing a proposal by asking questions such as, “Is there anyone else involved in making the final decision we should ask to join the process?

Opportunities (Prospects) – These are leads that have become prospects, for which you have developed a proposal and are waiting for final sign off. Be watchful of your Opportunity aging reports, as Prospects can sometimes go cold after receiving a proposal. Many years ago, I heard someone say, “Treat a business proposal like a marriage proposal. You don’t propose until you know the answer is 95% likely to be a YES!” This makes perfect sense. Do your homework to really ferret out and uncover all of the prospect’s objections, questions and concerns before delivering the final proposal.

Follow the BANT rule: Do they have the Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing? Only deliver a proposal once it appears these criteria are met. Then, follow up quickly. The longer an Opportunity lingers in the pipeline, the less likely it is to close. Revisit each and root out any remaining questions/concerns. Then, try to close again. Don’t just leave it hanging out there. Remember: NO Lead left behind!

Dead Leads – These are leads that are TRULY no longer viable because the company was closed or acquired. (Remember: a lead using a competitor’s services is simply a “not now” lead…it is certainly NOT a dead lead!) Also, an acquisition often means you have to start over, looking for the right decision maker at the new “parent” company, but this is not always the case. Find out if your decision maker is continuing in their role after the acquisition.

The bottom line is this: every single lead in your CRM system should be clearly identified as residing in one of these buckets. Then, running specialized email campaigns by Lead Quality or Lead Status (or a combo of the two) can help quickly nurture leads to the next step in the process. Leads must be worked carefully over time until “the time is right.” But, never give up on a lead unless it is truly DEAD. Otherwise, it is simply a matter of timing.

So keep up the great work! Leave NO LEAD behind! USE your Lead tracking system, and be certain there is a marketing plan to support it.

If you need more leads in Corporate Training and HR, Mentor Tech Group can help. Mentor Tech Group has hand-built a precisely targeted LEAD database for companies marketing and selling to Corporate Training & HR executives. We are the ONLY company specialized in this industry, and now have more than 40,000 Corporate Training & HR decision-maker contacts in our database.

Give us a call to arrange a sneak peak of the database and see for yourself why top industry names trust MTG for their marketing database needs. See the unique benefits included ONLY with the purchase of an MTG database…

Contact us to learn more: (651) 457-8600, Ext. 1

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