Stop Wasting Your Expensive Leads: 9 Follow-up Strategies to Maximize Return

The following is a guest post by Nicholas Little at Fileboard.

If you received 1,000 leads today, could you turn them into business? How many of those would actually become paying customers and how many would ignore you until they get the energy to say no?

The sales industry is caught up in lead generation. Companies harvest leads from lead providers without guaranteeing their ROI. They might think enough leads will equal business, but without the right follow-up process, all companies actually get is radio silence.

Studies show that this is because half of the leads generated aren’t ready to buy. Even if the lead is close to ready, 80% of salespeople give up after only contacting them three times (source: Marketing Donut). This goes against the research that shows prospects need closer to five points of contact to become customers. The math just doesn’t add up.

Now, before getting defiant about your own sales strategies, note that this isn’t an attack on salespeople. It’s a wake up call that the process you’re using may not be working. Most companies have chaotic sales cycles with no optimized process. (Trust us, we work in Silicon Valley and if you’ve seen what we’ve seen…)

Most companies:

  • Depend on a lot of tools: Switching between tools wastes time and productivity, and it leaves a lot of room for error. We all forget stuff.
  • Require a ton of rep actions: Just like all the tools, it’s unproductive and leaves space for mistakes; but beyond that, it’s just exhausting to reps who are sometimes juggling thousands of deals at once.
  • Struggle with a high mental load: See the above two. It’s impossible to keep track of everything, let alone follow up at the right time with the right message. A mentally spent salesperson loses deals. It’s sad, but true.
  • Use guesswork to move deals forward: Yikes! The last thing you want to do after spending a bunch of money on leads is guess about what they want to hear or when to follow up. You’re a team of professionals; it’s time to start acting like it.

As a result, reps waste time, or worse, waste those expensive leads. The only question then becomes: Who will the rep blame; the lead provider for bad leads or his lucky socks for being in the wash? At Fileboard we’ve established a process for maximizing our return on leads. We’re not just fueling our pipeline with the best leads with ZoomInfo, we’re carefully nurturing them through our personalized sales process and platform. Our data-backed engagement tells us what pitches and follow-up methods will put these leads in our sales funnel.

The Scoop on Closing Sales Leads

The truth is, a rep’s success depends entirely on their sales process. Optimizing and automating the sales process is how you turn those 1,000 leads into 1,000 customers, reduce exhausting rep actions, and clean up that overbearing mental load.

By finding comprehensive sales tools that work for you and reducing that mental clutter, you can actually focus on giving prospects the time they need and stop wasting those expensive leads.

So, are you ready to trade out your lackluster follow-up strategies for these smarter practices? Then redefine your sales process using these simple steps.

Here are 9 ways to get that ROI you’ve been looking for:

1. Eliminate the Guesswork:

This tip is #1 for a reason. It’s important.

If you’re following up based on a “gut feeling” or strict schedule, stop. You need to follow up when prospects are engaged or you’re just sending irrelevant messages that only annoy the prospect.

Back in the day, if you fancied a guy or gal, you had to ask them out and hope they weren’t a serial killer when you got to dinner. Today, you can do a little research. Add them on Facebook, check out their Instagram, or simply Google them.

Prospects are just the same. Don’t leave follow up to chance. Treat it like dating; that lead list is a packed bar filled with potential soulmates. Plus, keep in mind that a little research can save you time down the road.

Have a research checklist you walk through before contacting prospects that includes scouring their website, looking through their social channels, and researching them on Google. Keep notes of interesting information you find and use that in your follow ups. Just as that cutie at the coffee shop will be flattered when you compliment their shoes, prospects will take note of your attention to detail.

2. Try Different Approaches:

You never know how someone prefers to communicate with there being so many options these days. A traditional phone call might not be the way your prospect wants to be contacted.

Don’t give up if you get their voicemail. Send an email, a text message, or a note on social media. You may be surprised what gets your prospect’s attention.

However you choose to contact a lead, track what you do. You need to determine what works and what doesn’t so you can streamline your process in the future. The best way to do this is to consistently log all your sales actions and prospect responses in a CRM. We know, that’s hard. Most reps hate logging because it’s distracting, which means most actions don’t get logged. But in order to understand what works and what doesn’t, this is what you need to do.

Remember, adding more steps to your process is not the point, it’s about efficient tracking and simplification.

3. Timing:

To keep with the ‘sales as dating’ metaphor, it’s all about timing. The key, however, is not about waiting around until a prospect tells you they’re ready. It’s about setting up strategies for follow up and automating the process.

When a prospect is ready though, you need to be there. A study by Professor James B. Oldroyd at MIT found that contacting a lead within 5 minutes of missing their call as opposed to 30 minutes increased the odds of contacting them by 100% and odds of qualifying them by 21% (source: Lead Response Management). Although you can’t be sitting next to your phone every time a prospect calls, do your best to get back to them as quickly as possible.

Also, use sales automation tools to know when and how to re-engage dying deals. Build this into your sales process.

4. Tell a Story:

You’ve seen your own email inbox—you get tons of emails a day asking you to buy something/sign up for something/donate to something. Your leads’ inboxes look exactly the same.

You can’t get away with sending boring, irrelevant emails. To spice things up, get in the habit of turning your emails into a story. One study showed that after a presentation, 63% of attendees remember stories. Only 5% remember statistics.

Use the SCQA framework to practice your storytelling. Start with a familiar Situation to build relevance, move onto a Complication to develop intrigue, then state a Question to create a natural path to the Answer. Test out this framework and watch it work wonders.

5. Personalize:

No one wants to feel like one of the many on your email list. Prospects want to feel special. Use merge tags and your own research to personalize your follow ups.

The more relevant you’re able to make your follow up to the prospect’s specific needs, the higher your success rate will be in getting a response. Remember, you’re talking to people, human people, not just anonymous “leads.”

To maximize your effectiveness, combine this task with decreasing guesswork and ask prospects specific questions in your follow ups. Science has proven that people love talking about themselves, so asking questions might prompt them to engage in the conversation (source: Scientific American).

6. Scale with Automation:

Once you start to learn what works, scale that process by automating it. Test email templates, calls-to-action, and follow up regimens, then take the most effective processes and let them run themselves.

The easiest way to do this is set up prospect mass email campaigns. But the trick is to not start out this way. Your mass email campaign should be the result of aggressive testing and tracking to know what will actually work.

7. Reduce Your Mental Load:

When you’re working on thousands of prospects, it gets really difficult to keep track of all your actions and their responses. Each of those prospects is in a different stage of the sales funnel, and you’ve taken different actions and gotten different responses from them at different times. It’s exhausting just writing about it!

When you sit behind your desk in the morning and ask yourself, “Who should I follow up with now?” This is often based on guesswork and gut feeling. As a result, you contact a prospect at the wrong moment with an irrelevant message, leading to your prospect being annoyed. And there’s nothing worse than your prospect being annoyed when you’re trying to sell them!

This chaos not only leads to huge mental load, it leads to loss of prospects. But the good news is, it can easily be avoided.

Your first thought would probably be to automate your sales, but that won’t help you much here. The trick is to keep a consistent follow up schedule and log all your contact attempts. Most reps forget to log their actions, which is the #1 reason for a chaotic sales process. And most reps only keep a basic follow up schedule.

Make logging a habit, so you don’t even think about it, you just do it.

8. Use Email Templates to Speed Up Your Flow:

Templates help you automate your own follow up process, but they shouldn’t be used blindly. Track each template’s performance and test small and big changes to make them as effective as possible.

9. A/B Test Your Follow Ups:

This goes beyond email templates and font sizes. Use research and psychology (like the theories of loss aversion and analysis paralysis) to fine tune everything from emails to pitches to collateral materials. Try not to get too caught up in minuscule changes, but focus on big differences that bring in big results.

See what types of emails work best for you, by testing on small samples, say 50 to 100 companies. This prevents exhausting potential clients in your testing phases, and if one prototype email gets poor results, good thing you only sent it to 100 leads, not 2,000. Additionally, it’s better to test with companies with smaller revenue bases, and save the large-income leads for tried and true email pitches.

Conclusion

By implementing an efficient sales process, you will hit targets faster. Or you’ll at least hit them in the first place. Those expensive leads aren’t for show, they are real potential customers and you can use this process to turn them into real consumers for your business.

About Fileboard

Founded in 2011, Fileboard is a worldwide leader in sales enablement and development, and is headquartered in San Francisco with a European office in Rotterdam. Fileboard’s end to end sales development platform helps (inside) sales teams increase sales efficiency and close more deals faster by providing tools and letting them interact with prospects based on their engagement with content at the right time. Based on real time customer insights, sales can add more value to every sales conversation and determine which sales activities are more effective and increase the predictability of forecasts.

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About The ZoomInfo Team

ZoomInfo offers the most accurate and actionable B2B contact and company intelligence to help organizations accelerate growth and profitability. Their Growth Acceleration Platform enables sales and marketing teams to execute more effective marketing campaigns and improve sales prospecting efforts with access to on demand direct dial phone numbers, email addresses, and background information.

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