Encouraging Responses from Leads

by Will Schneider

Whether you get a lead from us or via other marketing channels like your website, the first challenge is to turn that lead email into an interaction. Over the years, we’ve learned a great deal about getting quality responses from prospects. This often overlooked area represents a tremendous opportunity, if done the right way.

The Beaten Path

Most companies use this initial interaction to showcase all of the wonderful things about their organization. They tell the prospect how amazing they are, how many years they’ve been around, what services they offer, among other miscellaneous “company facts.” Sometimes, they also include another listing of questions that they need answered in order to provide an accurate quote. This may work sometimes, but we’d like to challenge you with one question:

“Does this separate you from the pack?”

First, if most companies use the same approach, it’s going to be particularly difficult for you to stand out. Second, consider the context that this prospect is also speaking with other companies and that the ease and comfort ability of communication and degree to which a relationship begins to formulate may sway the decision making process. Third, remember that most people are self-centered, so a focus on your company rather than their company, albeit subtle, plays a role in their reaction to your pitch.

Okay, So What Should I Do?

We are confident that there are two things that help companies put their best foot forward. First, and most important, you’ve got to find a way to stand out from the crowd. This could be your unique corporate culture, your unintimidating approach that serves more as a consultant than a “sales rep”, or a host of other approaches. Needless to say, the less you look like a sales rep and the more you look like an advisor, the better you will find your interactions. You have to find a way to break free from the mold.

Second, we’ve found that companies that focus on the prospect and their needs have the best chance of success. Are you looking at the prospects website, if applicable, before you fire off the email? Is there common ground that you can introduce into the correspondence? When prospects hear you talking about them, it’s much easier for them to engage. One of the secrets of high performing sales teams is that they find pain and show the prospect how they’ll take away that pain. And the pain can be completely different for each prospect.

A Final Word On “Additional Questions”

We know that many leads aren’t going to provide enough information initially for you to be able to accurately quote right away. However, we’ve found time and again (by talking to prospects) that when they get another big list of questions, the chances of them responding decreases exponentially if done before some common ground and relationship building has been established. Unfortunately, some of your competitors are firing off a pricing sheet right away. This doesn’t mean that you have to change everything you do…but knowing what others might be doing can help you achieve great results.

The big challenge here is to create some value outside of pricing. If everything boils down to a pricing game, then it becomes a numbers game and the lowest price wins. Creativity is extremely important in deciding on an approach.

There are so many factors in getting people to respond, from timeframe of response to quality of content to actual pricing. And we believe that by finding ways to separate from the pack and by focusing on the prospect you’ll find yourself in a very strong position versus the competition.

The 24 Hour Follow Up Rule and Further Follow ups.

Blog Post written by Allan Himmelstein, owner of Sales Coach, AZ.

Years ago, when I was working for a European company, they had a 24 follow up rule. From my experience, most companies can increase revenues by at least 25% just by improving their follow up methods.  This simple rule changed the company I was with, and we increased our sales by 30% / year for at least 5 years.

Some companies are relying way too much on their website and automated responses.  The first job of any company is to build credibility.  How credible is your company, if you do not follow up within that 24 hours.

So my next questions is “How have you trained your people to follow up after that first contact?  How many of you get a second and third call?  If you do, is it the just checking in call, or just touching base call?   You check into a hotel, and you touch base in baseball.  The idea in following up is to show that you can add value to their business, and to build a further level of trust and credibility. It is best to first ask the prospect for permission to follow up.    Have a purpose.  I have read that the average sale takes 7 touches.  Today it probably takes more, because people are more reluctant to trust someone.  Remember to deliver value on every call, and every correspondence.  So here is my list of ways to follow-up.  If you have more, please add to them.

  1. General Follow-Up – Make sure before leaving the appointment, that there is an agreement on what details need to be followed up and when.  After sending follow up phone call to make sure the information was sufficient.
  2. Send Articles Related to Their Business – these sets the tone that you are a resource of information.   You can find many articles in trade magazines, or the internet.  Make sure to send a handwritten note tying it back to what you previously discussed.
  3. Share Your New Company’s New Product or Service – This is a no brainer, and so important.  Even if it does not pertain directly to them, it may show that your company is an innovator.
  4. Customer Testimonials – Don’t be shy.  If you got them, flaunt them.  Testimonials are powerful, especially if they are from someone that your prospect knows.
  5. Look for Referrals for the Prospect – Ask first what good referrals for them are?  The idea is that we are all in this together.  Again be a resource not just a salesperson.
  6. Send News Articles about Their Company – Set up Google Alerts about announcements about their own company.  Send Congratulations.  This shows that you are interested about the goals and opportunities of the prospect.
  7. Add them to Company E-Newsletters – Again the best way is to ask for permission, but if not ask for forgiveness.

Send Competitive Information – Your buyer always wants to know what competition is doing.  Just make sure that it is public information, and that you are NOT sharing any trade secrets.

About the Author: Allan’s clients have spanned local small businesses, national corporations, and international firms attempting to improve sales, or launch sales in the US market. The success of Sales Coach AZ is based on developing customized, implementable plans that capitalize on existing resources. My core belief is that “selling” can be transformed into “opening doors”.

I actively leverage my background as a Fortune 500 C-level executive to effectively maximize results.