How leads are handled is not just vital to ensuring continuous revenue and the long-term success of a company, but also the harmonious working of sales and marketing teams.
Lead follow-up is a crucial step in the sales cycle. To get the most out of lead follow-up efforts, businesses must think tactically and plan ahead to make the most out of each lead’s lifetime value and the time invested in pursuing them.
This process begins with the marketing team and the lead qualification process. After all, if marketers distribute unqualified and unscrubbed leads, this only creates more work for sales teams who have to spend time qualifying leads themselves. This inefficiency wastes time and can lead to resentment.
Working best practices, together with other variables like how leads are chosen, timing conversions, data management, messaging, and lead quality are key aspects of the lead follow up process.
While the lead follow up process might appear to be a simple and understandable strategy, companies continue to get lead follow-up wrong in the modern B2B marketplace. Understandable, but unnecessary.
Here are 10 of the most common mistakes to avoid in your lead follow up strategy:
1. Picking and Choosing Leads
When choosing which leads to pursue, the temptation is to simply break them down into the following three categories:
- Hot leads, or those leads that are ready now.
- Warm leads, or those that will be ready soon.
- Cold or bad leads, those that may never be ready.
However, cherry-picking the best leads can be problematic as it often results in warm leads becoming neglected. Warm leads still hold value and can be critical to long-term success. In theory, every lead should be worth pursuing if nurtured properly.
Focusing on the potential of leads is essential to lead follow up. Start this process by working with sales teams to create buyer personas to help guide marketing efforts. This will help you to identify and track important metrics for each target market segment, as well as develop an understanding of their needs and pain points. Investing time in creating buyer personas also facilitates improving brand awareness and relevance.
Your product or service will likely evolve over time to better meet the changing needs of leads. As a result, be sure to regularly assess and revise how leads are reviewed. This will help you adapt strategies to combat the challenges that changes and developments present over time.
2. Neglecting Your Database as it Changes and Evolves
To maximise the value of each lead and conserve the accuracy and efficiency of sales processes, companies must actively and systematically maintain and manage contacts.
Segment prospects into meaningful groups such as budget, purchasing authority, timeframe, and readiness to buy. This will enable you to streamline your outreach and promote a higher return on investment (ROI).
Making databases more efficient enables businesses to easily sort through leads as needed and in a way that suits the customisation of each lead follow up campaign.
3. Driving Too Quickly for a Conversion
Creating a sense of urgency is often beneficial. However, rushing leads towards a sale before they are ready can often result in the most important aspect of lead follow up being neglected; establishing a real, solid relationship with prospective clients.
Each prospect will sit in a different stage of the sales process and as such will have different needs that should be accounted for, see point 5. Failing to consider each lead as an individual and invest time in establishing a relationship based on their readiness to buy and unique needs will likely result in the loss of that lead for the duration of their buyer journey.
Initially, leads are often looking for information, an introduction, or a chance to connect with a strategic partner. Score leads as a part of the follow-up process so that sales teams know when to act with greater accuracy.
4. Bad Timing
Timing is everything. Understanding the optimal frequency and time of day to reach out to leads is crucial for yielding the best results.
Timely lead follow up enables businesses to better guide leads through the sales funnel. Follow-ups boost lead nurturing by distributing relevant content to leads as they progress through the various stages of the funnel to the purchasing stage.
Consistency with lead follow up will also make your lead feel valued and help build stronger working relationships. Not to mention, every follow-up will teach you something new about that lead which can be used to align engagement more effectively.
Take a methodical approach to your lead follow-up efforts. Know your audience and pay attention to locations, time zones, and useful third-party data.
For example, a study by MIT indicated that Wednesdays and Thursdays yielded increased email open rates and phone contact rates by up to 49%.
5. ‘Cookie Cutter’ Messaging
For lead follow up to be effective, it is crucial to personalise campaigns for individual accounts and avoid derivative “cookie-cutter” messaging or blanket pitches.
Leads are looking to be engaged with smart, personalised campaigns that are centred around their best interests and prioritise their concerns. Reaching out with generic, cut-and-paste content will likely push leads away rather than attract them.
To drive the success of campaigns, establish healthy expectations early on about what your business can do for prospects and the results they are looking for.
6. One Channel Communication
Phone calls, emails, WhatsApp group chats, SMS, industry events, and social media are all valid channels through which to maintain engagement with leads and other potential clients. Identify which form of communication or platform works best for your target audience and use it in your lead follow up strategy.
Utilising omnichannel marketing for your communication allows for information to flow between each channel and leads, improving the quality of lead follow up you are able to deliver. Creating shareable content also boosts lead follow up and generation as leads distribute your relevant and high-quality content to your target audience.
Less formal channels can allow companies to build a more natural rapport with clients. For example, SMS messaging has been proven to be highly successful in maintaining conversations with new contacts, providing for an increase of up to 112% in lead engagement from messages.
7. Not Sharing Content
Sharing content with potential buyers is integral to effective lead follow up and nurturing. Types of shareable content include articles, blogs, case studies, multimedia, webinars, and whitepapers.
Content is an asset that should be leveraged to garner more interest in your brand, build trust and demonstrate how your product or service can add value to a business.
Content also allows leads to become informed, and then to use this newfound knowledge to inform others, effectively acting as earned media to help market your brand for you.
More than 80% of B2B decision makers prefer to learn about a company through content, so be sure to incorporate content marketing into your lead follow up strategy.
8. Failing to Align Sales and Marketing
Companies often neglect to synchronise their marketing and sales teams, leaving a huge gap between the process of getting a lead and closing the sale.
Following up regularly to warm leads is important and requires both teams to align. By working together teams can effectively engage prospects at the right time in their lead follow up and with the correct content.
Schedule joint efforts and plan out communications with clients at all stages of the consumer journey to ensure efficiency and allow for better tracking of leads through the sales funnel.
9. Forgetting to Be Human
In the pursuit of sales, it is easy to forget that companies are mere legal entities and that the people that run them are the real prize and focus.
Therefore, it is important to remember to be human in all aspects of your outreach, but particularly when following up with leads.
Stay humble and approachable. Use humour and language which reflects how prospects address their pain points to make outbound marketing more effective. Avoid repeating industry jargon that can dilute your messaging and make it less personal. Helping leads to realise the person they are dealing with is an intelligent, thoughtful, caring person goes a long way.
Taking the time to relate to a lead is a great way to earn a positive impression, not just for your sales rep but for your entire company. Start building your reputation from the first contact and foster genuine connections and lasting trust with personalised lead follow up.
10. Chasing Lost Causes
As important as it is to know when to chase a sales ready lead, it is equally important to know when to stop, or rather, when to use lack of contact to your advantage.
If after contacting a lead multiple times during lead follow up sales teams still do not succeed, then it might be time to take a break with that lead for now and focus on another. For this reason, it is imperative that marketing teams scrub leads for sales colleagues, as outlined in point 1.
It might be beneficial in such circumstances to use a closed-loop process to guarantee a certain outcome before moving on. For example, if you suspect a lead is going cold then present them with a choice of positive actions: take a short video call, provide an internal referral, or re-confirm their interest to guide nurturing or remove them from contact lists.
Use these metrics to learn more about your lead and the motivations behind rejections. It may turn out that the lead is simply too busy or already has an agreement with a competitor. Tracking leads can help to finesse the correct timing for outreach.
Perfecting lead follow up is a constant process that requires good judgement, together with a solid understanding of the prospective client. Having an easy online appointment scheduling process can help in this regard.
Showing genuine patience, addressing needs and concerns with relevant content, and contacting leads via their preferred method of communication, is a solid foundation for any successful follow-up campaign.
Adopt a can-do attitude, and rarely dispose of leads for good. Leads are valuable and issues often simply arise from bad timing, rather than a stronger form of disqualification.
Ensure marketing teams know this, have a clearly defined buyer persona and consistently scrub leads before passing them to sales. This will make marketing teams more efficient and boost sales teams’ morale by aiding sales processes.