Following up with leads is one of the trickiest puzzles to crack. If you’re too eager, then you can scare leads away. But if you take too long to follow-up, then they’ll start looking somewhere else. The secret to knowing when (and how) to enact your lead follow-up process comes down to a few things. Here are four essential ones.
Someone has just downloaded one of your content offers by filling out a contact form on your website. They seem like a great fit for your company’s service — which you know because your CRM has tracked their activity on your website — and you think it’s time to initiate that crucial first contact.
But when’s the best time to do that? They’ve only been interested in your site for the last week or so, and you don’t want to play your hand too soon (or too late) and risk losing their interest. It’s not like you can read their mind and predict exactly when you should start your lead follow-up process, so you have to make an educated guess and hope for the best, right?
Thankfully, the lead management process isn’t quite that black-and-white. Yes, we can’t read the minds of our audience, and yes, there is some degree of “educated guessing” involved, but that’s far from the end of it. To help you curate a sustainable lead nurturing strategy, we’ve compiled some simple, actionable tips for you.
Define the Lead Follow-Up Process
This may sound like common sense, but the importance of having a clearly defined lead follow-up process cannot be overstated. If you’re looking to improve your process, then you should start by reassessing what your lead follow-up process currently looks like. Is it working well as it is? Where are leads falling through the cracks?
To help you pinpoint some areas of improvement in your process, we’ve compiled some lead nurturing best practices to get you started. Here are a few of the most common ways that a lead will enter your sales funnel by along with what you should do in response:
Did the Lead Fill Out a Contact form?
When you earn yourself a new lead via a contact form, you should pick up the phone and call them within five minutes. If you’re not currently doing this, you’re not alone, as 63% of companies take over an hour to respond to a lead (if they respond at all). The tragedy at play here is made even worse when you consider how most inbound leads are 2,100% more likely to become qualified if you get in touch with them within five minutes.
So, how can you make sure you connect with a new lead in a meaningful way? Pick up the phone and launch your lead follow-up process as soon as possible.
If you’re unable to reach them on a phone call within that five-minute window, then enroll them in a drip sequence in your CRM and then “send an email to let the prospect know you're on top of things.” Even an automated email response with a book-a-meeting link can be an effective way to let someone know that you’ll be giving them a call soon.
Did the Lead Download a Top-of-the-Funnel Content Offer?
When someone downloads one of your top-of-funnel ebooks, enroll them in your marketing email list and shoot them a personalized email to thank them for showing an interest in your content. You can do this via your CRM, too, which will make the lead follow-up process even easier.
You could also send them a video email for an extra boost of personalization — there are few things more effective at humanizing your brand than putting a friendly face to a name.
Did the Lead Download a Bottom-of-the-Funnel Content Offer?
If someone were to download a bottom-of-the-funnel ebook, however, then you can afford to be a bit more proactive in your follow-up. Still send them a personalized email follow-up with some additional info on whatever topic the ebook they downloaded is about, of course, but also include a book-a-meeting link in it as well. This will show your new lead that you’re ready to help them with the sales process whenever they’re ready for it.
Enrolling them in an email sequence is also a must, but make sure its a sequence built around bottom-of-the-funnel content. You should also assign follow-up tasks, such as connecting on LinkedIn, following their social pages, and scheduling follow-up calls in your CRM.
Did the Lead Subscribe to Your Blog?
A new blog subscription is perhaps the easiest bit in your lead follow-up process: simply enroll them in your marketing emails. If they’ve subscribed to your blog, then they’re asking for more information, and your job (at this point) is to give them just that! Don’t call them, though; that’ll come later if (and when) they progress further down the sales funnel.
Be Consistent (But Not Pushy)
Even if you nail the first impression, it’s rare to close a deal after just a single phone conversation. So how can you nurture a lead toward a sale without coming across as pushy? This dilemma has plagued salespeople for years, and there’s no universal answer outside of being consistent.
How consistent is too consistent, though? Well, that depends on who you ask. On average, most salespeople will make about 1.3 phone calls to a lead before giving up, but that’s nowhere near enough. But if you’re calling the same person every day, they may end up feeling like this:
Following up with leads once a month is also not great, though. It takes time to develop a relationship, so why should you expect a stranger to decide to do business with you after one (probably brief) phone call?
Like Small Biz Trends says, “When consumers are ready to spend money, they will typically choose the company that is on the top of their mind; this usually means the business which has been in contact with them most recently, or that one that stays in touch most frequently.”
Your first phone call should help set a roadmap for your lead nurturing efforts. If the prospect enjoys the phone, then schedule another call later on. If they prefer email, then make sure they get a regular stream of content that can help carry them closer to a sale.
Not every lead will be ready to buy right-off-the-bat, though. But don’t give up right away! If consumers tend to do business with whichever business is most top-of-mind, then you want to make sure you claim that spot. Claiming that top spot won’t happen on its own, and like HubSpot says, “Sales reps should make at least six follow-up calls to leads before moving on.”
Know When NOT to Follow-Up
As essential as it is to know the best ways to follow-up with leads, it’s perhaps equally as crucial to know when not to follow-up with them. It pays to learn what works and what doesn’t.
Before following up with a lead for the first (or fifth) time, you need to know what days of the week are best for lead follow-up. For example, a “2017 CallHippo survey looked at 24 weeks of data across thousands of companies” and concluded that Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to call prospects. Similarly, Mondays and Fridays are some of the worst days for lead follow-up.
However, sometimes, calling someone on the right day still isn’t enough to get them to convert. And that’s okay! If you’ve done what you can to nurture them, given them plenty of time and space to mull it over, followed up with them enough times, and they’re still uninterested, then it’s time to let them go (or leave them in your marketing emails so you stay top-of-mind!).
To increase lead generation, nurturing, and closing rates, then you should also be investing in what Entrepreneur calls a “lead warming department.” To do this, you have to align your sales and marketing teams. When both departments are working in tandem with one another, they’ll be better equipped to take advantage of lead nurturing best practices and optimize your lead follow-up process in personalized, timely, and effective ways.