A B2B inbound lead is a special type of lead. As we detailed in this article comparing inbound leads to leads from an acquired list, the former has already raised his hand and said, “I need something.” So why do we let so many of these leads waste away in our CRM software after one attempted phone call or email? Why do salesmen so often jump to the conclusion that “If he wants to talk, he’ll call me back?”
The reality is that most inbound leads aren’t yet sales ready. They don’t want to talk to you, just like you don’t want to talk to a car salesman the day you begin your search. They’re researching, seeking solutions to problems, learning, comparing, weighing options, qualifying potential partners, etc. In short, they’re too busy for your sales pitch, and they have no reason to trust you yet.
So if you want to attract their attention, you’ll need a plan that includes two important components:
- Something of value to offer your lead
- A set of follow-up tasks that deliver that value on a timeline
Let’s take a look at both.
1. Something of value to offer your lead
When your competitors call a lead, they probably spend 90% of the time talking all about their value proposition and why they’re the best. So when you call on a lead, set yourself apart and take the opposite approach. Your lead has a problem to solve. So start by earning trust. Bring value to the table to help him solve it.
If he dowloaded a product catalog, did he find what he was looking for? Could you offer a free consultation to help him compare products or services and figure out which would best fit his needs?
If he downloaded a white paper, ask if you can answer any questions or elaborate on any concepts. Can you explain any of the content in more depth? Are there any related resources on your website or elsewhere that you could send along as well?
Be clear that you’re here to help, not to hard sell. The sell will come naturally.
2. A set of follow-up tasks that deliver that value on a timeline
The assumption that “if he wants to talk, he’ll call me back” is just plain naive. If he’s doing his due diligence during his research phase, your lead has probably explored 5 or 10 or 50 other companies like you. Why should he call you back instead of someone else. Persistence is key – BUT, persistence that delivers value is the secret. “Hey, remember me? I’m trying to sell you something” won’t cut it. Remember – add value. Every touch point with your lead offers the opportunity to bring value to his buying process. And most importantly, BE SINCERE. No salesman BS allowed. Come to the table prepared to help. Realize you’ll probably give away some free advice in the process. But if you’re truly sincere from the beginning, you’ll start to establish trust from day one.
Here’s an example of persistence with value (and sincerity).
Let’s say a new lead just downloaded an informational white paper from your website. You received an email alert with his name, phone number and email address. So what next?
Pick up the phone and try to connect within a few hours of the download. We’ve found that a lead is most receptive to talking right away. Why? Well, because if he just downloaded a white paper, the topic of that white paper is on his mind right NOW, at THAT moment. Tomorrow or the next day, that may not be the case. He’ll get busy with other things just like you and I do.
Four out of five times you’ll get his voicemail, so leave a message and follow up immediately with a similar email. Some people like to respond by phone, others by email. Create options for him. Try something like this:
“Bill, I saw that you downloaded our ___ guide today and hope it was helpful. I thought I’d reach out to see if you have any questions. I’d love to set up a free consultation if you’d be interested in talking. No hard sales pitch – I promise. We can talk about what you’re looking for and if we can help, great. If not, I can leave you with some tips and point you in the right direction.”
Call again and follow up with another email. We’ll sometimes use a subject line like “Email buried” (we learned this tip from our friends at Hubspot). Open up the message by saying something like, “Bill, I just wanted to follow up in case this email got buried”. This will often generate a response where he’ll say, “No – I have it flagged, but didn’t have time to get back to you yet”. Then you’ll at least know you’re on his radar.
Seem too early for another follow up? It’s not. You have nothing to lose (other than a sale). Call again. Follow up with an email again. At this point, we’ll usually start including links to some helpful related resources in that email. For example, since he downloaded your ___ white paper, you could let him know your blog has a bunch of related educational articles that might be helpful as well. Include direct links to those articles. Just make sure you’re sending him links to educational content, not promotional content. Remember, now’s the time to help, not to hard sell.
Similar follow up. Include some other resources. Maybe this time you link to a case study or two that feel relevant to this particular lead.
At this point, I’m almost ready to give you permission to call it quits. But before you do, try a “break up” phone call and email. Something like this:
“Bill, I’ve reached out a handful of times, but haven’t heard back from you. I’m guessing right now isn’t the best time to connect. But I’m here if you have any questions or could use some help. I’ll go ahead and add you to our monthly newsletter, which is filled with tips and educational content on ___ topic. Best of luck and hope to connect at some point down the road!”
I think you’ll be surprised that it’s often this email that generates a response. Remember, your lead is busy like you are. He very well may have your email(s) flagged, but hasn’t had time to respond yet.
And at the end of all this, in a worst case scenario, you don’t connect. So you lost a bit of time. But guess what? You lose time when you’re churning through cold calls lists as well. And those “leads” are usually much less qualified than their inbound counterparts.
Interested in talking more about inbound marketing and sales strategy? Let’s set up a consultation – where we’ll offer helpful, sincere advice of course!