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Lead Follow-up Malpractice

by David Brock on May 25th, 2022

Everyone struggles to generate leads. We struggle to provoke interest, to engage a prospect, to get people to respond to our outreach. The data on responses is, not surprisingly, horrible. We are “happy,” with response rates in fractions of percentage, we know we can generate volume just by doing more.

Our abilities to generate leads are bleak. But what astounds me is how poorly we manage those leads we get. Too often, our response to a lead is completely inappropriate, as a result, we lose any possibility to generate a conversation, to nurture and develop a lead.

Here’s an example, many of you probably have experienced the same thing. In my news feed, I saw an article about an interesting research study on sales performance/productivity. It promoted a white paper going much more deeply into the research.

I filled out their form, my name, email, title, company…. I download the white paper.

Within minutes, I get both a phone message and an email; “Dave, thanks for downloading our materials. I’d like to talk to you about your interest in our products, can we arrange some time to speak?”

The only thing I ever download from this very large sales automation provider are their market research whitepapers. For years, my “leads” are handled in exactly the same way (despite being a customer for at least 10 years.).

What in my response to that white paper indicates that I have an interest in their products? My interest is, clearly, about the research.

But they really aren’t interested the things I’m interested in, they are interested in their own interests–to sell me something. So their engagement strategy focuses on their interests, not mine.

Imagine if they changed their approach. What if they tried, “Dave, thanks for downloading that research report. Can I answer any questions about the research? Can I connect you with some of our experts on this?” This is what I’m interested in. I would have immediately responded and engaged in a discussion. And, perhaps, it would have created an opportunity to nurture my interest, eventually upselling or cross selling me.

But they didn’t, and they never have.

They aren’t alone, virtually everyone I encounter focuses their lead response on what they want, converting me into a qualified lead, not understanding my interests.

And it’s not the fault of the sales people that are making these lead follow-up calls. They are just following the directions and scripts marketing has given them, leveraging the training from sales enablement. They are just being asked to do the wrong thing!

Some years ago, I worked with a mid-sized software company. One of their “offers” was a 30 day free trial of their product. As you might expect, every time someone registered for the free trial, their follow up was, “Tell me about your interest in our product,” then they continued with a BANT discussion. The customers hadn’t even gotten a start in their trial, but they were trying to qualify and move a deal to closure. The results they were getting from this approach were horrible.

We rethought the approach. We shifted the conversation, contacting each person registering for a free trial, with the following: “Thanks for registering for the free trial, we appreciate your interest. What are you looking to learn in the trial? Is there something you are interested in experimenting with or better understanding? How can we help you achieve your goals over the next 30 days?”

And then, over the next 30 days, the sales person called the customer, “How are you doing? Are you learning what you wanted to learn? Are you having any trouble? Do you need help? If you have the time, you might experiment with this capability—it’s related to what you’ve been doing….”

The conversion rates to purchase skyrocketed! Where before only a small percentage of the trials converted to a purchase, with the new approach, within 60 days, the conversion rate went to over 50% and grew as they became more experienced with this approach.

And the approach was so simple. They responded to the customers’ interests, seeking to help them learn more about what they were interested in.

The leads prospects respond to give us an initial indicator about what they might be interested in. Why don’t we try to understand that interest, helping them learn more? Ultimately, doing this may enable us to meet our interests.

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