To the untrained eye, sales is a glamourous world of long lunches, travel and commissions. The perfect salesperson knows exactly which leads will convert into customers, and spends nothing more than half an hour sweet talking them into a sale with perfect closing techniques. As someone who works in sales, you know that this is more fiction than reality.
In the real world, lead nurturing makes up a very large part of the sales process, long before you’ve even booked the meeting that’ll result in a sale. Going about this requires persistence and a systematic approach to closing techniques. Read on to learn how to successfully follow up on prospects and increase your sales efficiency.
Time really is of the essence when it comes to following up on leads
Did you know that the “average” salesperson only makes two attempts to follow up with a lead? A pretty dismal attempt when it comes to closing techniques, don’t you think? As we mentioned in the introduction, persistence if the first ingredient of successfully following up with your prospects. That said, there’s a fine line between being persistent and being overbearing – read your prospect and use your intuition to determine where that line is. Hand in hand with persistence comes swiftness; by which we mean how quickly you follow up. If a lead has shown interest in your product or service, get back to them within the hour (or less). Leave it 24 hours or more and your chances of converting them are drastically lower. And, of course, if you’ve promised a lead you’ll call them at 9am, call them at 9am.
Use a combination of telephone and email communication to reach out to your prospects
Now that you appreciate the how and when involved in following up on a lead, let’s talk about which channels to use. Email and telephone follow up are by far the quickest and most effective methods. The only thing you must decide is when it’s appropriate to use which. Needless to say, if a lead has stated that they prefer to be contacted by phone, that’s clearly your best option. Otherwise, a combination of the two can be the most effective way to go. Follow up on an email with a phone call, or prime your lead with a phone call to alert them that you’re about to send them an email. What makes a phone call so great is that it’s more personal, you can often glean a lot more information about a potential lead from a conversation, and you know they’ve received it! Follow up with an email, just so your prospect has a visual reminder of your conversation.
Cut the clutter and get straight to the point
Following up with prospects isn’t just about how you get in touch with them, but what you have to say. Your lead’s time is precious, and if they receive phone calls or emails with hackneyed lines like “just wanted to see how you were getting on” or “can I be of assistance?”, there’s less chance of them seeing you as someone who can help them find a solution to their pain points. This doesn’t mean you have to prepare lengthy speeches and learn them by rote (you shouldn’t!) – instead, spend a bit of time researching your lead, their industry and their challenges so that you can start any conversation with a line that’ll catch their attention. This is especially important if you’re sending out an email – the subject line needs to stand out from the myriad of other emails vying for their attention.
Lead nurturing isn’t about selling, but about careful education
There are lots of myths associated with sales – one of them is that every call or email from a sales rep is trying to close a deal. As wonderful as it would be if it only took one call or a meeting to convert a lead to a customer, your closing technique and follow up approach need to take a long-term approach to winning customers (especially within the B2B sphere). This is why lead nurturing is so important. Lead nurturing is the practice of gently educating a lead about the value your product or service can offer them, instead of selling to them. If a lead isn’t ready to buy, your first instinct might be to give up on them, instead of nurture them. This is a mistake, as with careful nurturing your lead might become a customer, even if that’s months or years down the line. Think of it as cultivating a relationship, rather than pursuing a sale.
B2B Telemarketing is a powerful tool that can be applied to the prospect profiling, follow up and lead nurturing processes. If you’d like to learn more about B2B telemarketing in the digital age and how this fits into lead generation services, download our guide:
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