Lucy Alexander is our guest contributor this week and works in HubSpot’s APAC marketing team out of the company’s Sydney office. Her primary responsibilities include creating content for Asia-Pacific audiences and spreading the word about the inbound methodology in the region. Twitter: @lucyalexander22.
One of a salesperson’s biggest challenges often appears before contact with a prospect even begins: knowing when to call that new lead in the first place.
Doesn’t it come off as too pushy to try to sell to a web lead when she hasn’t expressed interest in your company or product? After all, she might have only downloaded the content because she wanted to learn something new — not because she wanted to buy anything.
However, if you change your mindset from one of selling to one of educating, you’ll be free to contact any lead without fear of shutting the door before getting the chance to pitch your product.
To illustrate the point, let’s say that you’re sitting in your office on a Tuesday morning when a new lead called Wendy downloads her first e-book from your website. You have a few choices: you can contact Wendy now, put her into a folder to call later this week, or flag her as someone who could potentially be interested down the line.
Should you call her after she’s downloaded only one e-book, or should you wait until she’s seen a few pieces of content?
If you feel more comfortable waiting until she’s engaged with a few more resources, feel free to wait. Sometimes the conversation flows much more easily when there are several pieces of content to discuss.
Still, if you feel comfortable, you can reach out after one download. It’s true that she may have only really engaged with your website one time, but here’s the key to sales call success when dealing with new leads: you don’t need to begin pitching your product now.
Your call should aim to educate and continue providing value to Wendy. You’ll come off as helpful, not pushy, if you merely offer her more information and avoid talking up your product.
With an educational goal in mind, you should call as soon as possible. Studies show that if you call a lead from your website within 5 minutes after she’s become a lead, you’re nine times more likely to be able to convert her. Of course, many companies don’t have the capacity to respond to every lead that quickly, so it’s essential to streamline your lead outreach efforts for maximum efficiency. The sooner you follow up, the better.
The first few moments after she’s downloaded a piece of content are the most precious, since that’s when she’s most likely to remember your company’s name and associate it with the helpful information she’s just seen. If you have time now, don’t wait until later to contact her.
Before calling, spend several minutes researching her company online. If you want to dig a little deeper, you can use Google Advanced Search commands to search her website for specific keywords. Equipped with a basic understanding of her company’s products and services, you’ll be able to provide her with a more personalised conversation starter.
Be sure to articulate a clear goal for the call to yourself before dialing — you can even jot down a quick outline of the call if it helps you drive the conversation toward that goal. And if you’re forced to leave a quick voicemail, you’ll have a handy reminder of what to say.
Do: educate. Don’t: advertise.
Instead of focusing on your product, turn the tables so that the conversation is focused on her. It may seem counterintuitive to spend your time on a call that might not convert her today — but it will be much easier to convert her later if you’ve established your company as a trusted resource and yourself as an educator and problem-solver.
Chances are, Wendy is going to be interested in what you have to say if it has to do with what she just downloaded online.
The first 30 seconds of the call are crucial, since that’s when Wendy will be deciding whether or not to stay on the call. If you opened with, “Hi Wendy. I saw that you were on our website and I was wondering if I could talk with you about our product and various purchasing options,” you’d be making a lot of assumptions about how ready she is to buy. She’ll undoubtedly see it as a sales call, and if she’s not interested, she’ll hang up.
Many salespeople make the mistake of pitching their product as the perfect solution to their prospects’ problems — without first diagnosing those problems. This initial call is primarily about Wendy, not your product.
On the other hand, if you offer to elaborate on the e-book or offer another relevant piece of content, she’ll be grateful that someone is available to discuss any further questions she has.
Giving Wendy the opportunity to ask questions about the e-book opens a discussion about her goals and challenges, ultimately better equipping you to sell your product when the time is right.
Of course, offering further explanation of e-book contents requires you to thoroughly understand that e-book’s subject matter. To maintain that level of subject knowledge across your company, your marketing and sales teams must be well-aligned. To maximise the results from an educational approach to the first sales call, keep abreast of your company’s content and industry trends.
That’s great, but what if she doesn’t pick up her phone?
This is where email comes in. Some reps prefer to email their prospects before calling anyway, which is not a bad practice. The choice comes down to personal preference.
If you do choose to email first, or if your lead doesn’t pick up the phone, the same strategy and goals from the phone call apply to the email:
- Respond as quickly as possible once you’ve done several minutes of initial research
- Remind the prospect of what she’s downloaded from your website to help her connect the dots
- Aim to add value: link to related resources and offer to provide her with a deeper explanation of the long-form content she’s already seen
- Ask open-ended questions that invite further conversation and mutual understanding
- Avoid sales-y lines that push your paid products upon prospects who might not be prepared to spend — don’t close the door before your lead has had chance to understand what you can offer her!
What if we have too many leads coming in at once for our small sales team to handle promptly?
First, ensure that your team members are using their time as efficiently as possible. There are numerous ways to improve your sales team’s and your own individual productivity;you can pick up some of those hacks for time management here.
If you still need to prioritise, here are several factors to consider:
- Lead engagement level: If your lead requested a product demo, started a live chat on your website, or simply asked to be contacted, she should immediately zoom to the top of your team’s list. Any of these behaviours suggests that she’s very interested in not only your content, but also your product.
- Company fit: If the lead’s company seems to be a perfect fit for your product or service, that lead deserves more prompt attention because she’s more likely to convert. Snap up the quality leads before they forget about your company’s website and content!
- Lead lifecycle stage: Always follow up quickly with leads who are farther down the funnel. If they’ve already become a lead because they downloaded a piece of gated content and are now requesting a demo, their behaviour indicates that they’re becoming increasingly interested in your company. These people are your VIPs, and you should respond to them as such.
What are some of the key takeaways here?
- It’s okay to call a lead who has only engaged with your content once, as long as the focus remains on providing value, not closing a sale.
- Call as promptly as possible to maximise conversions.
- Follow up on unanswered calls with an email that offers helpful tips and resources. This will demonstrate that you’re approachable and won’t be pushing them into a sale if they return your call.
- Prioritise leads based on their stage in the buyer’s journey, their specific activity on your website, and how well your product would fit with their company, if applicable.
Eager to find out how you can use your content to warm up prospective clients? This self-paced certification on inbound marketing, which will teach you how to move people, who’ve been perusing your site, down the funnel.