Last week we spoke about the three different types of leads a business can encounter – cold, warm and qualified. Once you are able to properly identify each of those you can go about segmenting them and targeting them with the best approaches for each group.
So, what are those approaches? Really, it follows a funnel. The goal is turning cold leads into warm leads into qualified leads into customers. Cold leads are of course the most difficult and will have the highest attrition rates simply because they are the least likely to be interested or in need of your product. Cold leads are also the least likely to be up to date, since they’ve gone the longest without contact, if they’ve been contacted at all by your organization.
The priority then is warming up cold leads. How can we turn a cold, uninterested lead into one that sees enough value in our product or service to at least engage with the brand? This is a question for both sales and marketing. Sales is obviously who we tend to think of working with leads, but both departments have something to add to this process. Educating consumers and showing them the value add of the brand is obviously a marketing function as well as a sales one, the difference being whether the work is done in a one on one setting or as a broadcast message.
We’ve talked quite a bit about strategies that the marketing department can use to warm leads up, for instance during our content marketing series. However, there are plenty of tactics the sales team can use as well to create great relationships with leads and get them engaged with the brand.
To Call or Not to Call
Cold calling or emailing is difficult. While many people see it as a pure numbers game, there are some methods that work better than others. The simplest thing you can do is offer some value. Everyone knows a business reaching out to them out of the blue is trying to sell them something. To overcome that, you need to offer them something valuable without asking anything in return. This could be a guide or handbook written for people in their situation, access to free coaching or advice, or something else entirely. It just has to be compelling enough to get through their initial barriers.
Since this is a cold lead that knows little or nothing about your brand, you also have to prove your credibility without sounding braggadocious. This coincides with answering the “why are you contacting me” question sales staff tend to get. Starting an email off by establishing credibility and then moving into a specific value add is much more effective than simply offering to call them sometime next week.
Tell Me More, Tell Me More…
After a lead has reengaged with a brand, either having been contacted one on one by a sales representative or through marketing efforts, they can be considered a warm lead. This is where excellent CRM processes come into play. Moving a warm lead to greater and greater engagement and commitment with the brand requires very careful tracking and a well thought out process. Content is a big part of this, but it won’t do anything without maintaining open and honest communication with the lead. While one on one communication with every lead may be impractical for some companies, ensuring a personalized experience is a must.
Thinking back to the plant-nurture-harvest metaphor that BIG uses, qualified leads are those that are closest to being harvest ready. They have qualified themselves by expressing interest in buying the product or service you offer and have fulfilled a set of criteria established by your company to differentiate them from other leads. These are the leads that sales needs to initiate a one on one conversation with, discovering specifically what their needs are and how your organization stands to help them. Qualified leads already see value in your brand, so making that specific and tangible is all that is left to turn them into a customer.
The best way of doing this is inherent in the SPIN Selling methodology. By asking directed, pointed questions that reveal the lead’s real underlying needs you learn how to position your offering in a way that best addresses their needs. There are many guides that already exist on SPIN, so an in-depth explainer is not necessary here, however SPIN is what BIG uses and suggests for our own clients.
Next week, we will be speaking in detail about sourcing leads. This is something that many organizations struggle with – where do we find people to talk to? There are plenty of creative ways to answer this question, and no business has found all the answers. By talking it out, hopefully we can spark ideas within your organization that lead to bigger and better ideas!