What is the Best Way to Follow Up with a Sales Lead?

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Email.

The best way to follow up with a sales lead is with email. Follow up email campaigns can be automated, set to send out different messages over a period of time after someone enters the sales funnel. These emails can promote discounted offers, contain whitepapers or other marketing collateral, include links to schedule a meeting or take some preferred action.

Email is the best way to follow up with sales leads because it is inexpensive and easy to set up. And the ROI on email marketing is still higher than any other marketing channel available.

Direct Mail.

The best way to follow up with a sales lead is with direct mail. A physical mailing gets the point across way better than an email can, and that’s because it is more impactful to hold something in your hand.

Direct mail also benefits from its seeming decline. Email has become so easy, and so commonplace, and a direct mailing really helps you stand out from the crowd.

You can send a postcard or letter, a pamphlet or flyer. You can send a coupon, or a sign up form, or something that better highlights the benefits of your product vs. the competition.

SMS.

The best way to follow up with a sales lead is a text message. A text message cuts right through the clutter and gets seen – immediately in most cases. Unlike direct mail, it’s instant and cheap. And unlike email, its unique and unlikely to get missed or ignored.

With a text message, you can send a link to important pages on your website, limited time offers, or a reminder to call you back at a certain time.

Phone Call.

The best way to follow up with a sales lead is with a phone call. Outbound dialing campaigns can connect you directly with the prospective customer in a way that is more personal than any message. Through a simple conversation, you are able to showcase all of the benefits of your service and find out what the lead is looking for in a product.

Unlike other channels, the likelihood of closing a deal once you get someone on the phone is much higher. And there are thousands of skilled sales men and women out there who can sell to anyone over the phone.

The Truth Is…

There is no single best way to follow up with a sales lead.

Okay, you got me. But this isn’t just a post about all the different ways to follow up with someone in your funnel. Nor is this one of those, “it depends” answers.

The most successful sales and marketing teams use a combination of some or all of the above channels, and continue to fine tune their messaging on each one over time.

There are a wide variety of consumers out there, and each is likely to respond to different sales channels and techniques slightly differently. By incorporating a number of different outreach methods into your follow up strategy, you cast the widest possible net.

No Two Leads are Alike

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Salespeople are all trying to refine their sales approach. Sales managers are all looking for that perfect script. Businesses think that if they can just figure out the right combination of emails, in-person meetings, offers, and benefits, that they can sell to anyone.

But the truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to selling. And that’s because every lead is different.

Customers are human beings. And companies are unique. You can’t expect that exact same techniques to work for everyone.

How Are Leads Different?

  1. Leads come from different sources. It is unwise to assume that a lead that finds your product or company organically is the same quality as one who was driven through an advertising campaign.
     
  2. Leads come with different amounts of knowledge. Some people will do a lot of research before you ever connect with them, while others will need a basic introduction.
     
  3. For B2B sales, leads will have different amounts of power. Some of the sales leads that you speak with will be able to pull the trigger, while others will require approval from several layers of management.
     
  4. Leads will be in different financial situations. For B2B or B2C sales, one of the biggest things for salespeople to understand is how pricing and discounting will impact different types of buyers.
     
  5. Leads will have a different understanding of the competitive arena. Some leads will know who your competitors are and what they offer, while others will be starting their research with your brand.

These are just a few of the many ways that sales leads can vary. They will turn up at different places in the sales funnel, asking different types of questions and expecting a personalized experience.

So the question becomes, how is your sales team equipped to handle them?

What’s a Sales Team to Do?

  1. Ask lots of questions. The best salespeople are great at getting the information they need to craft the appropriate strategy. Asking questions at the outset of a conversation allows you to ascertain who the buyer is and what they are looking for.
     
  2. Target specific segments of the market. It’s important for companies to know what types of customers they are most likely to convert. Rather than trying to create a one-size-fits-all approach to selling, fine tune an approach that works for one specific segment of customer.
     
  3. Prepare for surprises. Having the right kinds of promotional resources (case studies, whitepapers, testimonials, etc.) for different stages of the sales funnel will allow a salesperson to tailor their strategy to each individual buyer, rather than a static sequence that will work for some leads and not others.
     
  4. Measure and optimize. The worst thing a sales team can do is settle into a pattern without understanding how they’re performing. We need to continually update our approach based on real-life feedback and metrics, always pushing to convert more customers.

Better Promotional Offers: A 3-Step Guide

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Specials, discounts, and promotions are a marketer’s best friend. They are used because they work. They drive people to your products and services and increase the likelihood that they purchase.

But just because you have an offer available doesn’t mean the customers will come running. Even if your offer appears to be working, there are ways to make it better.

There is a science to this art – one that has been perfected over the years by many marketers smarter than both you and I.

If you want to create better, more effective promotional offers, here are three steps you can take.

Step 1: Create Urgency

No more forever deals. Forever deals aren’t special. While I think it’s great that I always get free shipping when I order from your website, that fact alone is not going to spur me to action. It may win business from competitors, but it’s not creating any great sense of urgency.

Instead, tie every promotion to a specific time period. When you introduce deadlines to your sales and special offers, you drive more business.

Consumers have a natural fear of missing out. A great offer with a deadline entices them to act now, before it’s too late.

Step 2: Add Variety

We all know the companies that utilize the same offers and sales month after month and year after year. Eventually, these become easy to ignore. And an offer that is easy to ignore is not one that is going to help your business.

To keep customers interested in your brand, use a variety of different offers. This month it might be free shipping. Next month it might be buy one, get one free. Come Christmas, it might be 25% off orders over $100.

While it may be true that some offers work better than others – meaning they bring in more sales – you still run the risk of diminishing returns over time if you continue to run the same offer over and over again.

Step 3: Promote

If you build it, they will come. The famous line from Field of Dreams may have been true for Kevin Costner, but it’s not true for companies today. If you have a special offer meant to boost sales, you need to make sure people know about it.

You can promote your special offers through all the major channels that you use to advertise your business – from traditional avenues like TV, radio, and outdoor, to online channels like social media, search, and display ads. Also consider all the opportunities you have to promote your offers to existing customers – email, phone, direct mail, etc.

When you let people know about your offers, you drive the traffic necessary to achieve success.

In conclusion, the companies that make the most out of special offers are constantly working to improve their effectiveness. By taking the three steps discussed above, you will drive an increase in sales for your business.

How to Create an Effective Sales Call Script

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Depending on who you ask, the advice you are likely to get on how to conduct an effective sales call will vary. Some people insist on having an airtight script that works more times than not. Others insist on the opposite, that the best salespeople don’t work off of scripts, they cater each conversation to the prospective client.

The truth, as you likely already know, is that for most people the answer falls somewhere between these two extremes. While it may be that sticking to a script forces salespeople to sound overly robotic, having no script at all is not a recipe for success.

So the best sales call script is a loose outline that can be made to fit any conversation with any potential customer. To create this script, you must first know two things:

  1. Who are you talking to?
  2. When are you talking to them?

Salespeople and sales managers should have a clear understanding of who these potential customers are before talking to them. Why do they need what you’re selling? Do they know who you are or are they hearing about this for the first time? How does your product meet their needs and beat the competition?

You can’t create an effective sales call script without knowing who you will be talking to and where they are in the marketing funnel.

Once you know those things, your call script outline should look something like this:

Pique Interest

Right away, a salesperson should establish the value of the conversation. For the most part, the person on the other end of the line is looking for a way to end the call. It is up to the salesperson to create a reason to keep them involved. Lay out the basic value proposition in a way that keeps them engaged.

Ask Questions

Once you have a person’s interest, it is important to establish a rapport. The best way to do this is by asking questions to learn more about their needs. By listening to them speak, you can learn the proper way to frame the solution so that it makes sense to them. Different benefits or aspects of your offering will carry weight with different customers.

Ask for the Close

Once you feel confident that you have communicated the benefits of your product or service successfully, always make an attempt to close. Transition the conversation to pricing and the steps necessary to complete the transaction.

In closing, it is important to understand the likely hurdles you will encounter. These are the reasons potential customers may give for not wanting to close. An effective sales script will have rebuttals for each of these common hurdles.

Schedule Follow-Up

Not all sales calls end in a successful sale. That’s where the follow up comes into play. Once you’ve effectively asked for the close and still not gotten it, don’t give up. A follow up is a strong secondary goal for each call.

When you schedule a follow up, make it as specific as possible. Pick a time and method to follow up with this person when they will be ready to take the next step. In the meantime, there might be more information you can share with them to help make their decision simpler.

Bad Sales Incentive Practices

Finding the right sales incentives is critical to building a more effective sales organization. But regardless of the incentive system you have in place, there are things management can do to injure its effectiveness.

Let’s review three of the worst sales incentive policies I’ve seen. They are:

  1. Capping incentives
  2. Treating all salespeople the same
  3. Not measuring and adjusting over time

Capping Incentives

The idea behind capping incentives is short-sighted, and goes something like this. “What if Salesperson X gets all these sales, that will mean we have to pay him all this cash. Let’s put a maximum on the amount we have to pay so we can save on the cost of this program.”

It doesn’t take much time to recognize the flaw inherent in this solution to a problem we should all be so lucky to have. If Salesperson X gets all those sales, those sales equal revenue for the company. So long as the incentive structure is built in such a way that the company profits from the sales after the incentive, there’s no reason to cap it. All capping it does is tells Salesperson X and the rest of your sales team not to work so hard.

Treating All Salespeople the Same

No two employees are the same. And we should not expect them to respond to incentives in the same way. Nowhere is that more true than in sales.

Your high performers might need different incentives than your more average salespeople. New hires might require more support and therefore a different set of expectations than more experienced staffers. People selling different products or to different client types might see starkly different performance.

Your incentive structure should be flexible enough to allow for these kinds of differences. The key is clarity and fairness, not rigidity.

Not Measuring and Adjusting Over Time

Putting an effective incentive plan in place for your sales organization is a time to “Set It and Forget It”. Just like most other marketing practices, it is important to continually optimize the incentive structure over time. Test until you find the one that leads to the maximum benefit for the company and then monitor it for staleness or slippage over time. You may need to inject a little excitement every once in a while if you have a sales team that gets used to the status quo.