10 Ways to Make Your Leads Totally Hate Your Guts

Corey Wainwright
Corey Wainwright



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A few months ago, we gave you some very important advice on how to ensure your site visitors despise you. Assuming you did the opposite of everything on that list, you're probably seeing those site visitors convert into leads at a pretty nice rate. But that presents a whole new set of problems ... now, you have plenty of opportunities to make your leads despise you.

That's almost worse, isn't it? You take a person from site visitor to lead, you think the next step is a new customer, and BAM, you do something to totally grind their gears and fall completely out of their favor. So close. Sooo close.

If you don't want to experience the painful feeling of alienating those leads you fought so hard to get, reference this list of stuff not to do to your leads once they convert. Opposite Day is in effect starting ... NOW!

1) Make it nearly impossible for leads to get their hands on your offer.

You might even consider gamifying the process, making the "Download" link bounce around your thank-you page like a pinball so your lead has to really work to grab that ebook.

When someone converts, it should be easy-peasy for them to grab the offer they converted on. They just spent time filling out your landing page form, so the least we marketers can do is not send them on a wild goose chase to redeem their offer. There are a couple of routes you can take to make offer redemption quick and painless. First, you should make it glaringly obvious what they need to do right on the thank-you page, like you see here:

thank you page cta

Not only is the orange text hyperlinked to lead to the offer download, but so is the giant gray "Download" button that -- you guessed it -- downloads the offer for you! If your form required an email, you should also consider emailing that offer to your lead's inbox. Take a look at the email we send leads who want to download our Social Media Publishing Schedule template:

download email

The subject line makes it clear as day what the contents of the email are, and the first thing the email copy addresses is how to download the template. Between the thank-you page download options and the kickback email's download options, these leads will get their hands on that free social media publishing template!

2) Clog up their inbox real good.

Now that you have their email address, you should probably send them stuff pretty much all the time. I mean, they wouldn't have given you their email address if they didn't want to hear from you. All day. Every day.

Establishing the correct email frequency is a tricky game. Too infrequent, people forget who you are. Too often, they rue the day they ever opted in to your list. But no matter how great your content is, everyone has a limit to how much they can handle at one time. Conduct some email frequency testing to establish the appropriate frequency for your database, keeping in mind different list segments may have higher or lower thresholds than others. And remember that unsubscribe rate alone isn't a sufficient metric to determine if your email frequency is too high; leads can go for months without unsubscribing from an email, because they've gotten so good at just checking that little box to mass delete your email with the rest of the inbox filler. So look to see if your open and click-through rates are taking a dive along with your unsubscribe rates to help diagnose an email frequency problem.

3) Even better, clog up their inbox with totally irrelevant content.

It's not enough to clog up your leads' inboxes with way too many emails -- you want to make sure those emails are totally useless. Try to find the content that would be most irrelevant for each segment of your list, and bombard their inboxes with that. Actually, don't even segment your lists. Just go for the generic email blast to ensure the content's not really relevant to anyone at all.

Or, stay with me here, you could map your email content to the stage in the sales cycle each lead is in. That way, leads that are only in the 'Awareness' stage, for instance, will receive educational content that gently invites them to move along to the 'Evaluation' stage -- instead of an email asking them to make an appointment for an hour-long business consultation. Talk about moving things along way too fast.

mapping marketing offers

If you'd like to learn more about mapping your lead nurturing content to different stages in the sales cycle, reference this blog post: "How to Map Lead Nurturing Content to Each Stage in the Sales Cycle."

4) Consider their unresponsiveness to your emails a sign that you should just try harder.

They're probably just playing hard to get. I mean, if leads opened your emails, read them, and clicked on your calls-to-action, it would look really needy. Since they're trying to play it cool, it's up to you as a marketer to continue to email them until the end of time. Eventually they'll let their guard down.

Sometimes when a lead converts on a form, it means they want to continue getting content from you -- that's why they keep engaging with the emails you send. Other times, however, it's a fluke. Or they lose interest. Or they change jobs. Or they realize you're not the right solution for them. Or whatever. Again, it doesn't mean they'll unsubscribe from your emails. How many times are you clearing out your inbox and thinking, "I should really just unsubscribe from these things," only to just throw it in the trash, leaving the unsubscribe for another day? If leads have stopped engaging with your email, it's best for your deliverability and reputation (as an email sender, and as a brand) to remove those leads from your active email list.

If you'd like to attempt to re-engage those leads later down the line, however, you can launch a lead re-engagement email campaign. This blog post, "The Email Campaign You Need to Clean Your List and Re-Engage Sleepy Subscribers," teaches you how to launch one in a way that won't harm your sender reputation as an email marketer.

5) Follow up at a leisurely pace. Take things really sloooow.

If a lead is ready to make a purchase right now, it's best to give them more time to think about it. You know, revel in all the money they're about to drop. It'll let the anticipation build, you know? They definitely won't lose interest, change their mind, or urge them to give one of your competitors a chance.

When leads are in that last stage of the sales cycle -- what we refer to as 'Purchase' in the visualization above -- they should receive quick attention from someone in Sales. Marketing can help further enable their sales organization by setting up lead revisit notifications for leads very near the bottom of the funnel, and even setting up notifications for prospects that mention your solution or brand name in social media. And if a lead converts on a call-to-action like "Buy Now," make sure that lead gets rotated to a representative stat so they can follow up immediately.

6) Actually, just follow up whenever the heck you feel like it.

You know all those other leads that don't need an immediate follow-up? That just means you can follow up whenever you feel like it. For example, you're feeling kind of tired so, instead of working your regular 9-5, you're going to sleep in and do all your follow-up at around 7-ish. In the evening. When people have left the office for the day, are probably sitting down to dinner, or if you're on the west coast calling an east coast lead, perhaps even asleep. Because that's when you're ready to talk.

Consider your leads' schedules when contacting them. If you're in B2B sales, for example, it behooves you to do most of your calling during business hours. If you're working in international sales, remember holidays that you may not celebrate before you set out to make calls. And you should certainly consider the time of day you're calling any lead -- a simple time zone slip-up can be a real bummer for your leads.

This concept applies to following up at the right point in the sales cycle, too. Marketers should figure out when the right time is for leads to be rotated to a salesperson. Is a lead really interested in purchasing your solution? Or are they just shopping around? If a lead isn't a marketing qualified lead yet, keep nurturing them before rotating them to someone in Sales; otherwise, you run the risk of turning them off with what may come off as a hard sell. For more help figuring out how to rotate only the most qualified leads to your sales team, read this blog post: "How to Expose the Best Leads to Your Sales Team."

7) Alternately, you could just follow up like an insane person.

Persistence gets you everywhere. Just like it was a good idea to keep emailing leads that haven't opened your emails in years, you should keep calling leads that have explicitly stated they're not ready to purchase from you. Don't back away when they start screening your calls, either. When they stop picking up, what they're really saying is, "Just try harder."

Sometimes, you say all the right things. A lead is a perfect fit for your solution. They seem like they're ready to pull the trigger. But for some reason, you just can't make it happen. Save your time and your lead's time by moving on to warmer leads. And if the reason you couldn't close the deal is a hurdle you can get over in the future, set a reasonable follow-up date for the future. For example, a lack of budget might mean you follow up as they're reviewing next quarter's budget. Or if they're going with a competitor's solution, check in a few months down the road to see if they're still happy with their choice. Those are legitimate, rational time frames for follow-up that give you the opportunity to reopen a sales discussion.

8) Only communicate in the method that's best for you.

I really feel most myself when communicating via interpretive dance. If you can't understand my value proposition in that medium, I don't think we can do business.

People like to talk in myriad ways. Some prefer email, some like to pick up the telephone, some want to tweet at you, some want to live chat, some want to drop into your office via helicopter. Give them all (or most -- if you don't have a helicopter landing pad) of those options when a lead is considering your solution. It's the job of marketers to open up as many opportunities for communication between leads and company representatives as possible. Sales will love you for it, and so will your bottom line.

9) Make sure you keep all of the lead intel you've collected to yourself. It's none of Sales' business, anyway.

Speaking of how to make Sales love you, one of the best ways is to keep them in the dark. They don't like to be overburdened by information about their leads. Black holes of information are conversation starters!

All those landing pages you've set up are collecting valuable lead intelligence, not to mention all the email and site activities your leads perform that you can capture with your marketing software. Sync up your marketing software with your CRM so Sales has insight into all of that juicy information, and can start off their conversations with leads contextually. Imagine picking up the phone as a lead who just downloaded a piece of product information, and you're met with a salesperson who asks you something as generic as, "What were you interested in with our company?" Uhhh ... the information I just downloaded ... click. Don't put your sales team or your leads in that position!

salesforce recent info

10) Negotiate like a total sleaze ball.

Glad you'll be coming on board! Just a few little details ... there's a small shipping fee. And don't forget to calculate in the handling fees from the final cost. Just one more thing, before you sign on the dotted line, did I mention the service fees? They're no big deal, the discount we gave you more than makes up for it.

If your company is willing to negotiate price with leads, you need to make sure you approach it in a respectful way -- for your benefit and your lead's. For example, let's say you offer a 10% discount. And then before the lead accepts it, you get nervous and double it to 20%. That tells the lead one thing: you were jerking them around the first time around, and can probably discount even more than 20%. That's a lost sale, and a disgruntled lead right there. Same goes for surprise fees that you tack on at the end. If you have additional fees for whatever it is you're selling, make sure you're up front about it during negotiations. It doesn't help to discount the cost of your solution, just to tack on tons of add-on fees when you're finalizing the sale.

What do you do to keep leads in your good graces?

Image credit: Niklas Hellerstedt

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Topics: Lead Nurturing

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