Whether you are using SEO, PPC, email marketing, or networking in person or on LinkedIn, lead generation is hard, expensive, and unpredictable. But once you get a lead, how you handle it is totally under your control. Make the most of each hard earned lead by implementing a process that maximizes your success every step of the way from connecting with the prospect the first time to closing the sale. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
Follow up as quickly as possible. It’s best practice to follow up very quickly, and ideally within minutes of receiving the lead. This tight response time isn’t realistic in most sales organizations, but given that the overwhelming majority of business goes to the first organization to respond, it pays to shed as much time as possible off of your response. Therefore:
- Commit to follow up quickly. Set a goal to follow up within a specific amount of time. Even if you don’t succeed in following up with every lead that quickly, your average response time will improve just by setting the standard. Not available all of the time? Consider sending the lead to a team member who is, or setting it up so you can receive text alerts that you have a new lead.
- Use templates to speed up the response process. Write a number of generic response templates that can be modified based on a prospect’s needs. This will make it much easier to respond quickly, and will improve the overall quality of your responses.
- Add the ability for users to schedule appointments. Use a tool like Calendly, which allows prospects to schedule an appointment on their own. You’ll save active time scheduling and expedite the appointment setting process.
Nail the presentation. Once you have an opportunity to meet with a prospect, make sure you ace it. Here are some things that eliminate risk and improve your chances of making a great first impression:
- Come to the meeting prepared. Review your notes and previous communication with the prospect. Learn as much as you can about the company and the prospect before you jump on the call. Look on LinkedIn to see if you have anything in common. You’d be surprised how many times you will find connections, previous employers, or schools attended in common. Send out conference call invitations and call in information well in advance. Make you master using new technology platforms before you use them with prospects.
- Be in the moment during the presentation. It’s critical to be focused and in the moment during your presentation. If you don’t have your own office, make sure you are in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. If utilizing a web demo, make sure your application and anything else you need is open and ready to go. Have a plan and know what you are going to cover during the call. Try to engage your prospects and actively listen for clues that will help you modify your presentation to best meet their needs. Be aware of your pacing. Avoid rushing, but keep the presentation moving so you avoid losing your prospect’s interest. Keep in mind your prospect might want to see you. While most prospects will happily avoid turning on a camera, an increasing number are showing interest in video conferences. Be prepared to be seen.
- Have a plan if you get disconnected. Technology doesn’t always work as it’s expected to. Internet connections fail, phone calls don’t go through, and video conferences crash. No platform is immune to dysfunction. This calendar year, I’ve been on presentations that have crashed on join.me, GoTo Meeting, Zoom, and Uber Conference. Have a backup plan if you get disconnected. And for heaven’s sake don’t just give up if the call drops or your internet connection goes down. Just this week, I was on a call with a potential vendor. The call was going very well, and I was just about ready to close when the call dropped. And no, I still haven’t heard back from him.
Send proposals and quotes as quickly as practical. Here are some things your can do to speed up the process.
- Discuss potential solutions internally before the call. Even if the first call is exploratory, it pays to formulate potential solutions, and if possible, pricing in advance of the meeting. This prework helps you better focus the call and greatly expedites the proposal process. Not every demo will advance to an opportunity to send a proposal, but you will look prepared and in a position to follow up quickly, both factors will improve your odds of winning the business.
- Have proposal templates. Get your messaging together and develop proposals you can reuse upfront. If you invest the time in advance, you will reduce the time it takes to send standard proposals to just a few minutes and also reduce the time it takes to send customized proposals. Consider taking it one step further and use a proposal management system like Proposify to manage the process. Tools like these are not free, but they pay for themselves many times over in saved time.
Follow up and close. After you send the proposal, don’t forget to follow up and ask for the sale. If you are afraid you will forget, schedule reminders in your CRM, project management system, or calendar. Having trouble closing a prospect who appears to be serious about doing business with you? Reel them in by offering an incentive they can take advantage of if they close by a firm deadline.
Although everything discussed here appears obvious, my experience has been that it’s rare for salespeople, including myself, to get all of this right, all of the time. After working so hard, and spending so much on lead generation, give yourself the best opportunity to close the sale by following up quickly, preparing in advance for meetings and demos, have a backup plan if something goes wrong during the demo, sending out proposals quickly, and ask for the business through timely follow up.
What did we forget? Leave a comment below and share with our community how your company improves its chance of closing leads.
*If you are interesting in exploring your own customer journey, check out Stacy Kessler’s article on customer journey mapping, which provides an excellent framework and example.
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