In the first two blogs of this series, Agree a Lead Qualification Criteria and Create a Lead Handover Process; we have been looking at how marketing and sales can work together to get the most out of the lead generation engine. Over the next 6 blogs we are going to focus in on the role of the salesperson in progressing qualified sales leads, and how to make the most of every opportunity.
So what's the first thing a salesperson should do when a new lead has been assigned to them? Now it may seem pretty obvious but step number one, is to Read the Lead!
I've decided to draw attention to this simple yet important step, as during my career in working for a marketing services provider whose primary function is to provide marketing qualified and sales ready opportunities – I have witnesses countless examples of salespeople failing to read and study the leads they are given, which can sometimes result in leads being lost, appointments being missed and conversion rates being affected. So what are the key areas you should consider when reviewing a lead for the first time?
As a salesperson, the mind-set to how you approach a lead and pick it up can make a significant impact on how those leads progress. So when a lead comes across to you, DON’T SIT ON IT! Read it as soon as humanly possible with enthusiasm and urgency, after all a competitor may already be engaging with the prospect and one step ahead in winning the business. Think of this lead as being the sale that will get you to your number, a future customer of your business, and an evangelist that is going to refer even more potential customers your way. Now we all know that not every lead has such a glorious ending, however if you approach the lead thinking that the chances are it's not going anywhere….then the chances are it’s not going anywhere! The reason being is that you will be far more tempted to drop it at the first sign that something may be missing, opposed to putting your all in to getting it to where it needs to be in order to close the business. Identifying leads that have the potential to convert to a customer is a hugely difficult and sometimes costly process. The chances are you will have to work for it to get it to where it needs to be, so don’t give up too easily.
As a salesperson, the gold dust of what a lead provides you is the information it presents. This goes beyond the contact details and qualification points. A lifecycle of a lead can span over many months or sometimes even years. During this time a wealth of information may have been gathered from the prospect as a result of web forms, email exchanges, questionnaires, event attendance and numerous nurture and qualification calls. It is important that all this information is captured and presented to you, whether it’s in CRM, lead form, marketing platform, or some other method. Make sure you know where to find ALL the information that has been captured on the prospect, and that you study it thoroughly.
Similarly a plethora of information may have been shared to the prospect from your company in the form of web pages, blogs, emails, webinars, events, brochures, case studies, videos, social media posts, ads…the list goes on. When you read a lead for the first time, are you reading all the information that has been gathered from, and shared with the prospect? Do you know what messages have resonated with them, and what their areas of interest are? If these touchpoints and analytics are not tracked by your company and not available in the leads you pick up, then you are missing a seriously powerful sales tool. HubSpot is the kind of solution that could transform the quality of your leads by providing all of this information in one place.
One of the key pieces of information you don’t want to miss, and another reason you need to read the lead as early as possible, is the follow up actions. If the lead has been engaged with by an inside sales rep, pre-qualified by marketing, or generated by an outsourced partner, next steps may have already been agreed with the prospect. This could be anything from an introductory email to be sent, a follow up call to be made at an agreed date and time, a webex to be set-up, or a calendar appointment to be sent. The buyer experience during the handover process needs to be seamless, uniformed and professional for it to be most effective. If you fail to act upon an agreed action, you instantly lose credibility and could seriously diminish your chances to convert the opportunity. The time taken from the point of the next action being agreed, and to when you act upon it, could also impact that action sticking with the prospect. How many times have you found yourself chasing down a lead to try to make contact? A diarised call back or appointment will make your contact with the lead infinitely more successful providing it is acted upon quickly. The next actions are often the last thing mentioned in a lead right up, so if you skim through the lead, or don’t read it in its entirety you could easily miss it and find yourself on the back foot.
So next time marketing presents you with a qualified sales lead, get all over it, read it, read ALL of it, and take the first step to converting a marketing lead, to a delighted customer.
Stay tuned for our next blog in this series of 10 top tips for maximising marketing leads through sales.