5 Easy Strategies to Follow Up Your Sales Leads
Whilst B2B lead generation is vital to your organisation's ongoing success, it can be difficult to accomplish successfully. Maybe you can’t reach the right people because their contact data is incorrect? Maybe calls are not answered or they hang up? Then when you do reach your leads, they lack the seniority to make decisions, aren’t ready to commit or simply don’t have the budget right now.
Achieving a high rate of lead conversions, takes a certain amount of finesse, expertise and talent.
It’s all about optimising touchpoints, following up, and nurturing leads.
Touchpoints are the numerous interactions that occur between your organisation and potential leads, often called the customer journey. These B2B lead generation touchpoints include social media posts, emails, direct mail, display ads, product reviews, reaching out via LinkedIn, and so on.
Awareness of these touchpoints and ensuring they create a positive rather than a negative experience is vital to a successful customer journey. In fact, a 2017 study by Forbes found that B2B consumers are usually more than 70% through their customer journey (interacting with your touchpoints) before contacting a sales professional.
This means that if some of your touchpoints create a negative impression, this problem may be too difficult to counter and the opportunity for a successful lead conversion ends very quickly. The solution is to actively manage your B2B lead generation touchpoints by enhancing the customer experience. In fact, research has shown that you can double your revenue within 36 months if you invest in the customer journey.
Your next challenge is to qualify these potential leads by identifying their pain points and discussing budgets and solutions. This contact needs to be made at the right time in the customer journey, giving them sufficient time to articulate their problem and realise that your company has the solution.
The take home message for optimising B2B lead generation touchpoints is that they need to be actively managed to ensure a successful customer journey.
Following up leads and lead nurturing
The first part of the sales equation is B2B lead generation, but the second component is following up and nurturing these leads. Many businesses, however, either don’t follow up at all or their lead response times are too long. For example, Forbes found that in 2019, only 37% of lead response time were less than 1 hour, whilst 16% occurred within 1 to 24 hours, 24% took more than 24 hours and 23% didn’t respond at all. This data not only indicates a problem with timely follow-ups, but more importantly that nearly a quarter of leads were not followed up at all.
Another problem is that your leads may not be qualified and if they are qualified, they might not be ready to buy right now. This readiness to buy may change over a number of follow-up calls, but it may also take them a long time to convert. So if these follow-up calls are ended too soon, the sale may be lost.
Other conversion problems are that your SDRs/BDRs are simply overwhelmed with the number of leads on their desk and don’t have time to contact all of them. This is a good problem to have and is easily resolved by hiring experienced SDRs who can manage these leads and pass them up your sales pipeline in a timely fashion.
Lead nurturing strategies
An effective lead nurturing strategy has a significant impact on conversions, customer loyalty, retention and revenue. So it’s interesting that in 2021, Databox found the following strategies to be successful in engaging and cultivating leads:
- One-on-one meetings.
- Content marketing.
Any number of these six strategies can be used to encourage your leads to move through your sales funnel. In fact, MarketingSherpa found that effective lead nurturing techniques result in a 45% uptick in ROI.
Then there’s a recent study by Brevet who found that an 80% success rate in lead conversions requires an average of five follow-up contacts. Yet they also found that 44% of sales professionals stop after their first contact and 94% of companies give up after 4 follow-ups. Given that the average time to conversion is 5 follow-up contacts, this seems a little short-sighted.
Given all this information, we suggest you consider the following 5-step process to increase your lead conversions.
1. Create a follow-up cadence
To avoid an ad-hoc follow-up approach, it’s a good idea to develop a cadence, rhythm or schedule to your lead response times. So you might decide that initial contacts should be initiated within 5 minutes of receiving a lead. Then again, it might be 12 or 24 hours depending on your situation. Next, you need to space out your follow-ups so that you don’t appear overly aggressive. Weekly is a good schedule but much will depend on the availability of your potential lead, as well as their response to your sales pitch.
2. Provide leads with useful content
No one wants their successful B2B lead generation efforts to be sidelined by aggressive sales pitches. So another solution is to provide value-laden content based on your lead’s pain points, because this keeps the focus on their needs. This can include sharing links to relevant research, videos, articles or spec sheets, even informing them of upcoming sales, special offers or limited-time discounts.
3. Use a variety of follow up strategies
Introducing variety into your method of communication is a good strategy to cultivate. For example you can intersperse phone calls with emails or chats on LinkedIn. However, some leads may prefer one method over another or even ask you to send an email because they can’t always answer the phone. Always be guided by your lead’s preferences if possible.
4. Track communications
Whilst lead response times are important, so is tracking these communications. So keep a record of the dates and times of your follow-up communications and always arrange the next contact before ending your current meeting or phone call. This allows your lead to anticipate the next contact (and not feel hounded), allowing them time to consider the information they’ve been given and think of any other questions.
5. Know when to abandon lost causes
Given that it takes 5 follow-up contacts to achieve an 80% success rate in lead conversions, there comes a time when further contact is pointless. However, unless your lead asks you to stop contacting them, it’s a good idea to schedule a few more contact times, just in case they are in the 20% that requires more time. The termination point should be guided by both your experience and your lead’s responses, but always send a final email to finalise the follow-up communications.
The take home message for follow-ups and lead nurturing is that more is better, but don’t be overly aggressive, ensure at least five follow-up contacts and know when to bow out.
Do you need expert help with lead nurturing?
At SalesPond, we understand the challenge of hiring, training and retaining top SDRs with the lead nurturing expertise you require. We also understand the effort involved in B2B lead generation, effort that you don’t want wasted by poorly managed follow-ups.
This is where our Catch & Release and SDR-As-A-Service Programs can make a huge difference to your sales pipeline, conversions and revenue. So whether you want to hire qualified and skilled SDRs or outsource to a highly experienced company, the team at SalesPond will help you achieve your goals, quickly and efficiently.
Please contact us for more information on our Catch & Release and SDR-As-A-Service Programs.