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How Efficient Is Your Lead Nurturing?

Having motivated, energetic employees is more important in sales than most anywhere else. In most cases, they’re the first impression your customers ever have of your product and your organization, and first impressions can make or break deals.

After you have potential customers interested, how are you keeping their attention? See how you fare with the following questions:

  • What sorts of information do you provide for potential customers? Information is power. The more details you can provide for your leads, the more reasons they’ll have to sign up — and the less time your sales team will have to spend answering redundant questions or filtering out leads that are clearly not good fits for your product.

  • How long does it take for a sales lead to get a response from you? If your competitors respond before you, they stand a better chance of winning the sale.

  • Can leads indicate a contact method preference? Most people have a preferred means of interaction. For example, I loathe voicemail, but I love text messaging and e-mail, so those are the best ways for companies to contact me. Asking your leads how they like to be contacted, and actually contacting them in that manner, increases the chances they’ll see and listen to your messaging.

  • Do you track mailing list unsubscribes? Not only do you need to make sure (it’s a legal requirement) that you remove people from your list who request removal, but this is a great opportunity for an exit interview. Why are they unsubscribing? What could you have done (or not done) to keep them?

  • What hours is your sales team available? You don’t necessarily need to be up 24/7, but you should at least make your hours clear so leads know when they can and cannot expect to reach someone. You never want a potential customer’s first interaction to be with your voicemail.

  • Can customers sign up and make purchases on their own? Humans are impulsive. If the only way a potential customer can gain access to your product or service is to sign up for a guided tour with a salesperson two days from now, odds are that customer is going to walk away and never let you know he or she was there.

  • Do you track duplicate leads? If a lead is halfway through the sales pipeline with Joe, and then Mary cold calls her, it looks (at best) like your company is disorganized. You also don’t want to treat a “new” lead like a new lead if the person was actually in your pipeline two years ago.

  • Who checks the company e-mail address? A lot of companies have a generic company e-mail listed on its website that nobody ever checks. Find out, and make sure those e-mails are going to a real person.

  • What percentage of your sales leads opens the e-mails you send them? If you don’t know, you need to start using an e-mail marketing tool that can tell you.

  • How do you rate your leads? If you wish you had more leads, this isn’t a problem — but if you have too many leads to process in a timely manner, you need to find ways to make the most valuable ones bubble to the top.

    Setting internal criteria for what makes the best lead (for example, companies with 5 to 25 employees, or who are looking to buy in the next 30 days versus the next year), coupled with qualitative feedback from your sales team, can lead to a rating system as simple as “warm” and “hot.”

  • How do you assign your leads? “Whoever answers the phone first” is a wrong answer here. Incoming leads should be distributed throughout your sales team, ideally for specific criteria such as territory, product interest, or company size.

  • Do potential customers have a consistent point of contact? When possible, let the original salesperson see the sale to its close. Interacting with four different employees makes the sales process more impersonal than it needs to be, and easily leaves the door open for confusion, mistakes, and even missed upsell opportunities.

  • Can customers sign up for demos/trials on their own? No matter what you’re selling, you should be able to offer an online demo, a video, or at the very least an attractive flowchart to walk interested parties through the process. Requiring that they contact you to learn more means you never actually end up talking to many potential leads.

  • Is there a notification when a lead reaches a certain age? It’s all too easy to forget some leads as the phone rings, your e-mail inbox fills up, and the boss calls another meeting. You should make sure every lead has an “age” and the appropriate parties are alerted if too much time goes by since the last point of contact.

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