In this sixth blog of our 10 part series on Top Tips for Progressing Your Sales Leads, our VP Sales, John Macleod explores the next step in maximising the returns from your marketing efforts, and progressing ‘sales ready leads’ through the sales pipeline. The sixth step: Engage and Qualify.

In my previous blog we looked at how diarising an appointment once the lead has been qualified in as ‘sales ready’, can make engaging the prospect by a salesperson significantly easier than having to continually chase once the lead has been handed over. So if you are in the fortunate position of having an effective marketing team or outsourced partner that is booking you appointments with qualified prospects, what does best practice look like in engaging with that lead?

Many sales professionals I come across have the tendency to wait until the day of the appointment, show up at the prospects door or log in to WebEx, and begin the engagement from there. Now if you have been following the best practice guidelines in this blog series, there should already be a calendar appointment scheduled and accepted by the prospect, all the information captured in a lead write up and populated in your CRM, and the lead has been fully qualified by marketing - so where’s the harm in waiting until the appointment?         

A far more effective way to accelerate the relationship with the contact you are hoping to convert to a delighted customer, is to call them up to introduce yourself before the day of your appointment. I often hear salespeople say they don’t like doing this as it gives the prospect the opportunity to cancel the appointment. If that is the case then it tends to happen for one of two reasons;

  1. The lead has not been properly qualified and is not ready to engage
  1. The introductory call has been conducted like a qualification or verification call, and has put the prospect off engaging further as they are already past that point

The first issue can be addressed by referring back to the first blog in this series, agree a lead qualification criteria. It may also be a result of no Quality Assurance process. This is usually best conducted via call recording or a secondary check by management. Even without call recording you can often find gaps in a poorly qualified lead as you read through it. You can refer to our research the lead blog for tips on what to do in that situation.

The second reason is usually a result of lack of trust in the lead, or a salesperson that has failed to read the lead effectively. An introductory call should be conducted with care and professionalism, and should follow the information and tone that has been presented in the lead. If you call to ‘check the information you have been given is accurate’, or ‘verify that the prospect is serious about meeting you’, then you are instantly reducing credibility from all the work that has gone in to generating that lead, and might well be faced with a less than positive response.

So what are the main benefits of engaging with a prospect before the appointment?

  • Relationship

The beginning of a sales engagement is the beginning of a relationship. It can take time for two strangers to connect, bond and build trust. By dropping in a quick phone call to the prospect, the next time you engage with them you are no longer strangers, you have already progessed to a stage that allows you accelerate and strengthen the relationship, thus accelerating and strengthening the sale.

  • Qualification

The lead you are engaging with should already be qualified based on the criteria that you have agreed with marketing. So the point here is not to go over old ground, as you can easily put a prospect off that way. Use the call to further qualify their need so you can better shape the conversation during your next engagement.

  • Preparation

By asking the prospect if there is any specific areas they would like to cover during your meeting, you can be far more prepared to meet their expectations and present an engaging proposition based on what is important to them. It also allows you to send some relevant information for the prospect to digest before your meeting, which will help familiarise them with your offering and prepare questions.

The point is that if you engage with your contact prior to going in to full sales mode, or trying to cram everything in to an hour long meeting, not only do you create a connection with the contact, you have a fuller, better qualified, and more meaningful sales meeting, and will be one step closer to winning a delighted customer.

Stay tuned for our next blog in this series of 10 top tips for maximising marketing leads through sales.

If you'd like to discuss our sales process, and discover how we can help you build your pipeline and close delighted customers, please talk to us today! 

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