Inbound leads are great because, by definition, they represent prospects who've demonstrated interest in your company. But over the last few years, I've noticed many sales reps are making the same mistake with their inbound leads. Namely, they aren't contacting them enough. After a couple of calls and/or emails, reps give up and take the mindset of, "Hey, they came to us. If they're a good prospect, they'll reach out."
In my experience, the problem with this approach is that it rests on a false premise and closes the door on many great opportunities. Just because your prospect showed interest doesn't mean you're their priority. And just because your prospect isn't replying doesn't mean they aren't interested. Not replying simply means they're busy with something else right now -- but not following up means the prospects will slip off your radar.
With that in mind, I've found two keys ways to follow up with inbound leads.
1) Persistence: Follow up until you get a response.
If I had a conversation that seemed promising, I don't stop reaching out until I hear back. You'd be amazed at how many opportunities are still out there long after many reps have simply given up.
A client of mine was recently telling me about a face-to-face meeting he had with a potential customer. The meeting went well, and the prospect seemed interested and motivated, but my client followed up a few times and never heard back. In the past, my client said, he would've stopped there and taken the prospect's silence as a no. Instead, he followed up 14 times in six weeks until he finally heard back. The result? He won the business. His prospect was always interested in buying from him -- they just got busy with another project.
For what it's worth, Sidekick is a free tool that notifies you when someone opens or clicks your emails. This may help you gauge your prospect's interests too!
2) Timing: Pick up the phone right away.
If you call a lead within five minutes of sign-up, you can double your connect and qualification rates. The reason is simple: Your prospect is in front of their computer, and they're thinking about your product.
The same thing goes for when you get an email response. If a lead replies to your email, pick up your phone and call them! Again, they're clearly in front of their computer and they're thinking about your product.
Now, I often get pushback from reps who argue they have too much on their plate to continue reaching out to each lead a dozen or more times, so here are some tips for how to operationalize this approach without getting overwhelmed.
- Use a sales follow-up reminder: Tools like FollowUp.cc can remind you to reach back out. Trying to manually enter in reminders on your calendar for every lead is far too time-consuming. Let the computer remember for you.
- Automate your email correspondence: For something like a trial registration lead, set up personal-looking drip emails for the lifecycle of the trial (think 4-6 emails over the course of the trial). Give your lead multiple chances to reply and engage in conversation -- the emails can't simply say, "Your account has been activated." Ask your marketing team if they can help set up these automated emails.
- Skip the research: Don't worry about being unprepared if you catch someone live. Knowing their name, company, and the nature of the inbound lead (i.e. webinar on topic X) gives you all the clues you need for the first communication.