Following up on leads is one of the hardest jobs there is. It takes a lot of discipline, a great personality and good tools to be successful. For those of you on the phone, here are my hints to maximize success:
1. If your company doesn’t make good products or services, you shouldn’t be selling for them. If they do, there’s nothing wrong about helping people find out more about the benefits you provide. Don’t apologize for calling.
2. For each phone call, decide what you want to accomplish and exactly what action you want the prospect to take. And develop a script that will make that happen. The main purpose of the script is to ensure you cover all of the points you need and also to make sure you’re using consistent company messaging. Be professional, but don’t sound like a robot. Once you’ve drafted your script, run it by a few people. Is it compelling? Convincing?
3. But before you start to dial, set your daily call objective. The formula for this is breaking down how many sales you want by how many opportunities it takes to get them and how many leads to get those opportunities. Then determine how many calls you need to make to each lead to meet that goal. Documenting this gives you the number of dials you should be making each day. Make those dials part of your routine each day and you’ll always have a good pipeline. Hint for managers – consider incenting for the number of calls as well as closed business. This keeps your sales team on the phone.
4. If you can’t think of anything to say that’s meaningful, don’t call. Never, ever, call to “follow up”. You know your objective. Now what do know about prospect you’re calling and how they’ve engaged with your company? If they downloaded a whitepaper, talk to them about the content and ask why they were interested. If they attended an event, how did the agenda tie into the benefits you provide? If you find most leads don’t have any idea who your company is, your company needs a nurturing program to warm up the leads.
5. Voice mail is a tool. If you don’t connect (and you often don’t), script your voice mail to be a benefit oriented message on its own. I leave voice mails as a series – first, I introduce myself with what I am offering in about 30 seconds. The next voice mails request a call back. In the last one, I leave my website URL as well as a request for a call. My web tracking shows a lot of the folks I’ve contacted do visit my website even if they don’t call me back and I consider that a win.
6. Don’t assume your arsenal of “set and forget” emails is enough follow up. Interacting live on the phone is important to converting leads to sales. It’s hard to get the inspiration to dial, particularly when it can be rare to get someone on the phone, but don’t make the mistake of thinking telephone follow up is “out of date” or “dead”. It’s not.
7. Be persistent. If you’ve qualified the lead and have proof that they’re engaged, assume they want to talk. Keep trying until they tell you to stop. Try “double dialing”– which is taking advantage of caller ID, by calling once and if no one answers, trying again a few minutes later. This gives the prospect a chance to wrap up a call to speak with you. Or send an email offering them a $5 Starbucks card if they take the time to speak. It’s not enough to bribe an uninterested prospect, but the “get yourself a cup of coffee while we chat” message is pretty effective at getting a busy person to put you higher up on their to do list.
8. However, if someone asks you to stop contacting them, respect that. Ask how and when they want to hear from you and if they say “don’t call us, we’’ll call you”, make sure you listen. And if you identify an unqualified lead – meaning someone will never, ever buy from you, remove them from the list and stop wasting your time.
9. Don’t burn leads. If they’re not buying now, they may be buying soon. Never be rude, even if someone is rude to you. Never offer to take them off of a call list if they don’t request it – just move them to nurturing until they’re ready to engage.
10. Managers, make sure you hear your team on the phone and monitor their calls. Live monitoring is good since you can give feedback in real time. Monitoring remotely gives you a chance to listen when no one thinks you are! And reps, monitor yourself. If you have someone on the team who is a top performer, see if you can listen side by side to refine your process.
Need inspiration to make those calls? Here’s my favorite inspirational video. A bit crude, but if you’re ever not in the mood to pick up the phone, this will get you fired up!