How to make the most of your inbound pipeline.
So you’ve done your research, chosen the best strategy for your business, got your lead generation system in place. Great! Now what?
If your strategy stops there, you’re missing some important steps. You’ll have lots of leads, but probably not a big increase in sales. So what do you need to do once the leads come in? This is where lots of companies make some common mistakes. These are definitely worth discussing if you want to make the most of your lead generation strategy.
Have a specific process in place
This may seem like a no-brainer, but a surprising amount of companies don’t have a specific process in place for exactly what to do when an inbound lead comes in. Who is delegated to deal with the inbound leads? If it’s multiple people, what criteria are used to determine which person each lead goes to? Is that person able to follow up in a timely manner on all leads? What process do you have in place to qualify inbound leads?
Answering these questions will help make sure you’re not missing opportunities.
Take time to research and qualify
Before you can reach out to an inbound lead, hop online to get as much information about the person and the company as possible. Hopefully, your lead generation system will provide you with information such as industry, company size, location, etc., so take just a second to make sure that those criteria meet your definition of a good prospect. Every lead that comes in will not be an ideal fit, so just taking a quick second to check that will save you a lot of time by eliminating time spent following up with dead ends.
It’s also worth taking a few minutes to check the contact’s social media and to check out the company website to get more specific information. Just because a company is listed as being in the manufacturing industry doesn’t mean that the specific type of manufacturing they’re involved in will be a perfect fit.
Once you’ve determined this lead is legit, take a look at what communication they responded to in order to gauge what caught their eye and why they may be interested in your business. Even though inbound leads have “raised their hand” and initiated the contact with your organization, you still have a very narrow window to cement that bit of interest into a real conversation. One of the quickest ways to lose a prospect is to start talking their ear off about things they’re not at all interested in. Even if you do end up going over what piqued their interest in the first place, if you bury it in other irrelevant information, there’s a good chance the prospect will leave the conversation either confused or irritated.
Follow up right away with a personalized message
If someone initiates contact with your business, they expect timely, personalized contact. Some sales people will not prioritize inbound leads and follow up with a delayed, impersonal email. Most of the time when prospects take the time to reach out, they are probably also reaching out to your competitors as well, and they’re evaluating your business alongside your competitors. If you send a generic, impersonal message, your prospect will not feel like a priority and immediately be more inclined to work with your competitor (who will be personalizing!).
Don’t give up too soon
If you don’t reach an inbound lead on the first attempt, stay persistent. With an inbound lead you have even more reason to not give up. This is not a cold lead that may or may not hang up on you once you do get through. This person reached out to your business. If you give up after one or two calls, that shows the prospect that you’re not making them a priority.
It takes an average of six attempts to secure a sales appointment (check out our blog article on this topic here), including with inbound leads. You’ve taken the time to reach out to this person with lead generation, they responded, and you took the time to do the research to determine they could be a fit. Don’t give up on something this good after a couple of calls.
Having a solid lead generation strategy in place is a boon for any business, and is becoming increasingly necessary to keep up with the competition in the changing sales landscape. In order to fully realize the benefits though, it is also necessary to think through how to handle those leads once they come in to make sure you’re not missing opportunities. It’s definitely worth it to make sure you, your sales team, and your lead generation partner are on the same page and to outline a specific process for moving these valuable leads along in the sales cycle.
Drop us a line and let’s talk about this and other strategies for making the most of your sales pipeline.