Often, you hear salespeople say, “Our inbound leads are causing more work than good sales.” It’s always on the question of who should follow up on inbound leads and how to go about it effectively.
Many small organizations are having a hard time utilizing their inbound strategies effectively. We don’t have all the variables and all the situations within an organization. Still, we can assume that there are three people on a sales team.
Assume that a sales team is composed of three people: the marketing person who does almost everything, the junior assistant who helps with content creation, and the outsourced person who does the marketing strategies. Among the three, who should follow-up the lead?
Not all leads are created equal. This means that before deciding who will follow up the lead, the lead should be evaluated first.
You don’t want your salesperson pitching to a lead that in the end would go to another competitor.
Do a pre-qualification in your organization to know if the people you are going to have the conversation with are ready to consider the deal. Set a benchmark and rules for what you consider a marketing quantifiable lead. Consider the following questions:
The answers to those questions will lead you to your ideal customer. It would also help you identify the triggers that qualify them to be a marketing quantifiable lead and a sales qualified lead.
The work is far more efficient because when a lead comes in, your salespeople can vet them and follow the pre-qualification factors you’ve set to see if the lead can generate new business for the organization. This is also helpful in maintaining your current customers. There’s no time wasted in sifting through leads and trying to figure out which one works and which one doesn’t.
Create a system to efficiently manage the workload. The marketing team can do the pre-qualification to increase the odds of the lead being converted into something real. Whenever a lead comes in, let marketing take a look at it and check the website and the title of the person.
Then let the intern or junior marketing rep take over the other tasks like looking into LinkedIn, HubSpot, Marketo, or other platforms you have to find the data that you can transfer into your CRM.
You can then sign that into the sales team for it to become a sales qualified lead. The system prevents wasting time on people who aren’t real prospects.
Marketing can help fix the problem of having to go back to the beginning of the funnel and pre-qualify the leads again because they’re not yet ready then.
The sales team sometimes takes for granted the leads that they didn’t hunt for. A good example is leads coming in from the websites. Salespeople have this notion that they can get more of those so they ignore them. It’s the mentality that since they didn’t work for it, it doesn’t mean much.
You must recognize that the organization spent thousands of dollars to get that lead. The organization paid for the marketing and the sales rep to produce content on your site. You have writers and you have graphics on your site. You have all the different infrastructure to make sure that your website functions.
It is disheartening when a sales rep doesn’t take that into consideration when a lead comes in via the website.
Whenever an inbound lead comes in, it is best to use your flow process to follow-up particular prospects. It should be written and put in your company’s playbook so that everyone can read it and use it with every inbound lead that comes in.
A stat from insidesales.com said that a lead that’s contacted within five minutes is 100 times more likely to convert than leads that are followed-up 90 minutes later.
When a lead comes in, follow up right away. You’re more likely to convert than if you wait. #SalesHacks
Strike while the iron is hot.
Do a quick research and evaluate whether the person is real, see if it’s a true marketing qualified lead, and toss it over as a sales qualified lead if it ticks all the boxes.
The sales team can take a quick visit to the person’s website, check their LinkedIn profile, and the pages they’ve visited on your site.
Tools like HubSpot and Active Campaign allow you to see where they’ve signed up and the number of times they’ve looked at the pages. You can then use these data to have a meaningful conversation with the prospect leads.
Include in your flow process the phone call and email for the first time then do the same things a day later. Connect with them on LinkedIn and share some of their content for seven full business days.
Do the same things that you would do with a cold person. Nurture the lead and try to grab his attention. Even if they’re not ready now, then at least you can toss it back into the marketing pool and revisit it another time.
With the right system and by focusing on the people that matter, your work is going to be minimized but the return is going to be much higher. Filter your inbound leads and let the marketing do the review. Recognize the good ones and toss them over to the sales reps to reach out and convert.
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Mikael Dia wasn’t always an entrepreneur. His first business venture enjoyed early success. But it also revealed to him that he knew nothing about selling to people other than family and friends. As a result, he invested his efforts in learning to effectively acquire inbound leads.
On today’s episode of The Sales Evangelist, Mikael shares the power of the funnel in attracting your dream customers and turning them into real clients.
Mikael and his roommates launched a t-shirt business (he uses that term loosely) right out of college, and the group saw a fair amount of success. They had 5 or 6 designs, and lots of college friends and family who supported the venture.
They got cocky, he said, and ordered a lot more t-shirts. The problem was that they had already sold to all the people they knew, and they didn’t know how to sell to strangers.
He started researching SEO and affiliate marketing, as well as information about setting up websites.
In the 2010 lead up to the Mayans’ predicted “end of the world” in 2012, he created an affiliate website where he sold survival knives. He figured people would be looking for survival equipment, and he theorized that if he could get the site ranked, he’d be in good position to make money.
By the end of the experience, he had invested $100 in his marketing and had earned $5.23.
He made the same mistake that many companies make when generating leads online: they create ads to send people to their sites and then hope that the person finds the right links to complete the purchase.
Mikael discovered along the way that people are distracted. They don’t have much attention, so if you send them to your website to browse around in hopes that they’ll find something, they’ll likely get distracted before they complete the transaction.
Sales funnels work differently. They target your dream customer, and at each stage, they give him the option to proceed to the next step or leave.
You might, for example, create an ad to grab his attention. The message is this: if you’re having this particular problem, click here, which takes him to the next step. The only choice he has to make is whether to proceed to the next step. There aren’t multiple options. Only two.
The sales funnel will always give the customer a simple choice, and it will direct him until he either schedules a phone call with you or he leaves.
If, for example, your simple funnel allows you to track that 1,000 people landed on your page, and 100 of them made it to your application page, then you know that your page converts at 10 percent.
Of those who made it to the application page, 50 of them scheduled phone calls, so you’ll have 50 new leads.
Every landing page has the same goal: to encourage customers to provide a name and email address in exchange for valuable information.
Keep landing pages minimal. Don’t provide multiple options. When customers set their own path, they get lost and don’t realize what you want them to do.
Attract the person to your site, and then guide him to do whatever it is you want him to do.
Give him value.
Realize, too, that if you can’t find a customer on Facebook, you aren’t advertising properly, because everyone is on Facebook.
Mikael stresses the importance of qualifying customers early in the process in order to make sure they can afford what you’re offering.
During discovery calls, Mikael asks customers to acknowledge that the price range is within their budget. Realizing, too, that humans sometimes lie about what they can afford, he also engages other opportunities to qualify customers.
He calls them micro-campaigns, and he equates it to homework. During the process, he asks customers to answer 3 or 4 simple questions like “How much traffic do you generate per month?” As part of that document, he asks them to type “Yes” to a question about being able to afford the services.
He says that the simple commitment improves the closing. It ensures that they are only developing proposals for serious customers. As a result of the effort, they closed 70 to 80 percent.
Finally, Mikael never sends proposals to his customers. He asks for 45 minutes of their time so he can present the proposal using ScreenShare.
If they ask him to send the proposal, he agrees to send it after the presentation.
Doing so ensures that the important details aren’t overlooked, and it eliminates room for error.
Because proposals are intended to be presented, they benefit from storytelling and live interaction.
The sales funnel will help you generate inbound leads without having to constantly create new content. Use your funnel to target your dream customer and walk him through the correct series of steps. It will drive him to schedule a call with you.
We’ve been recommending the book the book, Stop Selling & Start Leading: How to Make Extraordinary Sales Happen from our sponsors at Wiley for quite some time because we believe in the message. Based upon interviews with buyers, it offers specific information for sellers to help them become trusted advisors.
As part of the series this week, we have a SlideShare available for you to download, or you can link to it here. As always, we also have a free excerpt of the book so you can try it out for yourself. We believe you’ll like it so much you’ll want to grab your own copy.
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Sales requires a predictable process, but too often sales professionals deviate from the established path. They improvise and eliminate steps, and lose sight of the overlooked basics.
On today’s episode of The Sales Evangelist Hustler’s League, we discuss why it’s important to do the fundamental things that help you close earlier.
Otherwise, you’ll find yourself lacking qualified prospects and closings, and in sales turmoil.
Identify the objections you’re hearing often and address them as quickly as possible.
If, for example, your prospect fears jumping into unknown territory, address the objection by offering referrals at an appropriate point in the process. Although you wouldn’t want to inundate your current customers with prospects seeking referrals, it might help you move beyond the objections.
Think about the objections you repeatedly hear and address them accordingly.
Sales professionals often make assumptions on behalf of their prospects about what their closing schedule looks like.
Very often, misalignment on time periods creates difficulties.
Instead of allowing those misunderstandings to fester, ask your prospect what their schedule looks like. The prospect won’t be offended that you asked.
Bring up the issue of timing early in the conversation. Ask “What is your timeframe?” Then ask, “Any particular reason you’re looking at that timeframe?”
Aside from the common objections, you’ll still get random objections that indicate your prospect isn’t ready to buy.
This is why it’s so important to qualify your prospects early in the process. If you skip over that step, you’ll wind up with prospects that aren’t ready to buy.
I made the mistake of assuming once that because a prospect initiated the phone call with me, he must be ready to buy. I ignored the warnings that I should still qualify him, and ultimately I lost out.
Find the customer who is the right fit for your organization.
The Sales Evangelist Hustler’s League is an online group coaching program that will connect you with sellers from all industries all over the world. We’re accepting applications for our next semester this fall, and we’d love for you to join us.
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Qualifying represents a vital piece of the sales process. Qualifying is perhaps the most underserved part of the process, and most of us are doing it wrong.
Truth is, it doesn’t matter how well you close if you don’t have a good pipeline.
On today’s episode of The Sales Evangelist, we’ll talk to John Barrows about the important questions you should be asking during qualification, and why being direct with your prospects will save you time.
Everyone in sales understands that quality is important. We don’t spam. We don’t make generic phone calls. Still, though, we have daily numbers we have to reach like 50 phone calls or 100 emails.
Those are competing agendas.
We want quality, but time is our challenge. Many of us sprinkle phone calls and emails throughout the day, but doing so is a complete waste of time.
Instead, tier your accounts. Organize them by industry and call similar accounts in a single day. Doing so allows you to craft a message specific to that group, find a case study you can refer to if necessary, and prepare a few questions that are relevant to those prospects.
It streamlines the calls and allows you to be more targeted and relevant in your communication.
Realistically, not all of our leads deserve the same amount of our time.
To help sellers, John has identified questions they should ask during the qualification process. (The full list is available in the show notes.)
1. What are the details of the decision-making process?
Without understanding the full buying process, you won’t know how to proceed.
Ask how these decisions have historically been made, or ask about the next steps in the process.
If you find yourself meeting with someone who isn’t the decision-maker, research to find out who will make the decision. Then matter-of-factly ask, “When does Sarah need to be involved in this process?”
2. Are you ok telling me no?
Most people are very uncomfortable saying no.
Say something to your prospect like, “As we go through this process, if it’s pretty obvious to you that we aren’t a good fit and I somehow don’t pick up on it, are you ok telling me no?”
Allow silence while you wait for an answer.
If your prospect suddenly goes dark later on, you can remind him in a voicemail or email that he said he was comfortable telling you no, which will usually bring him back to the table.
3. Do you have your calendar in front of you?
This question works well when a prospect asks you to send him information.
Very often, that’s a blow-off move, but you can follow up by asking what information they’d like to see. If your prospect is legitimately interested, the questions will be easy to answer.
Then, ask when he would like to schedule the follow-up call. If he says something general like, “Next week,” you can follow up with, “Great! Do you have your calendar in front of you?”
Again, allow the silence that will likely happen.
There’s a huge difference between being direct and being rude.
Being direct gets you to “no” faster if that’s where you’re ultimately headed anyway. The more direct you are, the more quickly you’ll get them in or out.
It’s a matter of setting expectations and then being accountable to them.
Note, too, that the Rule of Reciprocity says that if we have just spent time on the phone providing value to a prospect, there’s a fleeting moment in which he will feel obligated to do something in return.
Take advantage of that moment.
Here’s John’s full list of 10 Sales Qualification Questions To Always Ask Your Prospect.
Connect with John at his website, where you can find links to his social media as well as his LinkedIn.
Share this podcast with others who want to learn more about qualifying leads. Leave us a review wherever you consume the content, and subscribe if you haven’t already.
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Top 3 Reasons for Poor Close Rates
Creating a checklist.
Have a checklist of your criteria when qualifying your prospects. Make sure it’s easily visible while you’re making calls while prospecting. Having a visual representation whether on your screen or in your office prevents you from deviating from your criteria.
A common tendency is that once you know the prospect is interested just because they asked for the price, you get so excited that you deviate from the process and just jump right in. Then you don’t hear back from them. Well, you didn’t qualify them in the first place.
Key things in the decision-making process:
According to a study, 57% of the weight towards a buying decision is when they first make contact with a salesperson.
The Unconsidered Need
This is when you’re able to teach something to a prospect they didn’t know they need. Regardless of what you’re saying, figure out something your buyers don’t know that you can educate them on in the decision-making process, in the discovery process, in the qualification process.This will separate you from other sellers.
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One of the major challenges that I faced as a new seller was my over excitement for the products and services that I sold. As you can tell, I get pretty excited about things that I find valuable. The problem was whenever I met with someone, I was “that guy” who spoke way too much! As I matured and learned through the school of hard knocks/received training from other experienced sellers; I came to realize that too much excitement was not always a good thing in sales.
As one of my sales trainers said “I was showing up and throwing up”. Obviously I have since adjusted my errors and have seen dramatic improvements over time. So if you are not supposed to show up and throw up, what is a seller to do?
In this episode I share some of the best practices I have implemented to prevent “showing up and throwing up”. Here some of the major takeaways:
Come and listen to the episode to learn more. I know you will enjoy it.