You’ve done it! Your lead generation efforts have filled your pipeline with fresh quality leads. But how do you know they’re ready to move to the next step? And what should you do when you think they’re ready? Let’s talk about determining when it is time to follow up and close the deal. And also what to do with those leads that are not quite ready.
When to follow up with a lead
If a lead responds to an email or clicks through on an offer, they are qualified for a call, and it is time to start a one-on-one conversation. If you’ve determined that your lead is now a sales-qualified lead (SQL), then it’s time to contact them. This is not the time to hesitate. The faster you follow up with an SQL, the greater the chance of closing the deal. Taking too much time can signal to a lead that your business is not responsive, and maybe your support won’t be either. They may move on to engage with a competitor. Put processes into place that enable your sales team to contact a lead as soon as they become an SQL.
How to follow up with a lead
Reaching out via email or a phone call is the best way to start your follow-up with an SQL. In general, every industry responds differently to different sales approaches, but a good rule of thumb is to be as helpful as possible when you do reach out. Most prospects are looking to solve a problem, so proving that you can help will be the easiest path forward. Taking the time to listen, learn about the problems a lead is facing, and better understand what they need help with will set you up for a productive conversation.
At this stage, it is vital to have sales collateral with clear and concise product or service descriptions. It provides your team with the ability to educate prospects and demonstrate value now that you have established a communication channel. They also help position you as a valuable partner who understands how to help a prospect and can be a driving factor for conversions.
How to preserve leads that are not ready
Leads that are not ready because their lead score is not high enough or who have indicated through their behavior that they are not ready to purchase should be put back into the funnel for further nurturing. It typically requires ten to sixteen touches before a conversion happens. Following up with these leads regularly through campaigns that target where they are in the decision cycle helps ensure you maintain consistency in your communications with them, keeps them engaged, and prevents those leads from falling through the cracks.
How to close a lead that is ready
You have a sales-qualified lead who is ready to speak to a salesperson. They’ve earned enough lead points to move from an MQL to an SQL. Here are a few additional questions to ask to determine if it is time for your sales team to contact them for a one-on-one conversation.
- Is this lead the primary decision-maker?
- Do they have purchasing power?
- Is this lead ready to buy?
- Is this lead the right fit for your product or service? (need, authority, budget, time)
Because you have been tracking data throughout the funnel, you will have data that shows their activity on your website, via email, and on social media, so you can see how and when they have interacted with your brand. You likely know the problem they are trying to solve and are ready to discuss how your product or offering is a good solution for them. Now, it’s just a matter of continuing the conversation with a member of the sales team.
When to abandon a lead
You want to qualify your leads as early in the process as possible, so you know which leads to focus more time and energy on. There are three things to consider when determining if a lead should be abandoned:
- Do they have the financial ability to make a purchase?
- Are they the primary decision-maker?
- Are they motivated?
It can be tempting to abandon a lead because they’re taking more work to close, but often those leads just need more nurturing. Even if the answer to these questions is no, that doesn’t mean you should abandon the lead. It could just be a matter of timing or a needs assessment on the client’s side. Sending those leads back to the marketing funnel with a campaign designed to stay in front of them regularly helps keep you top of mind if their circumstances change in the future.
Do handoffs the right way
As a lead moves through the funnel, enters a new stage, and is handed off to a new party, context is always needed so the new person you’re handing them off to understands where this lead is coming from and how to communicate with them going forward. This includes sharing information such as:
- what page on a website was the form a lead filled out
- what channel each lead came from
- what information that lead has and where they are in the funnel
- what previous correspondence or contact with the lead has taken place
Knowing what a lead has been exposed to and what knowledge they have about your business is instrumental in deciding the best next step to continue interacting with and nurturing them towards the funnel’s next stage. Ensure you are capturing that data and passing it on as you move a lead into the next step in their journey to provide context and information on what the lead needs to continue in their journey.
Follow the data
Analyzing the data is one of the most important parts of determining where a lead is in your funnel and the appropriate next step. The ability to collect data on where a lead came from and what behaviors indicate they are ready to be contacted provides you with insight into what needs to happen next for each lead, whether that is further nurturing or time to have a conversation.
Lead generation is one of the best ways to increase your revenue, with a strong lead generation strategy helping increase your revenue by up to 133%. By taking the time to understand where your leads are in the funnel and creating processes and strategies that help you guide them on their journey, you are setting your business up for success.