In my years of working as in sales and marketing, if there’s one complaint that I’ve always heard more than any other, from fellow salespeople, it’s this one: “We need more leads”. Almost every sales professional I’ve ever known has always assured me that they could be closing many more deals, if only they had more fresh, new leads.
But is lack of leads really the problem? Or is it more accurate to say that they’re not doing enough with the leads they already have? In most cases, if you look at how salespeople are managing their leads, it becomes obvious that many have simply been forgotten. This can happen for different reasons. In some cases, an inexperienced salesperson may too quickly come to the conclusion that a lead is “dead”, that is to say, that they’re never going to buy. Or, more commonly, there simply isn’t an effective system in place to manage those leads, and potential deals fall through the cracks.
Whatever the cause, it’s a mistake, and short-sighted to focus on new leads, when you may be sitting on a gold mine of untapped forgotten leads. You’ve worked hard, or spent good money to get those leads, and it’s poor practice to let them die on the vine. Salespeople are usually rewarded for quick sales, so it’s understandable to focus your efforts on the leads that look like they’re going to close the fastest and with the least effort. But what about all the other leads that aren’t ready to bite on the first call? If you don’t want to lose a lot of revenue, those “colder” leads are going to need some nurturing.
Smart salespeople who don’t want to waste their precious leads have long used what’s called a “tickler file”, which is essentially a way to leave reminders for one self for future follow-ups, “tickling” your memory, so to speak. Back when I started out in sales, we did this the old school way: I created an index card for each lead, and filed them in a box, grouped according to the “hotness” of the lead, and when they were ready for a follow up.
Fortunately, with modern marketing automation software, this process has become even easier. As you know if you’ve been following this blog, we recommend HubSpot, which is a great marketing tool, and includes some of the best CRM features we’ve seen anywhere. When you use HubSpot to manage your marketing campaigns, every interaction you have with a lead is recording in the system. It’s also easy to schedule future follow-ups, whether through generating an email, or reminding you to give your old leads a call so they don’t feel forgotten.
Of course, it’s a delicate balance when you're working with leads who haven’t yet shown that much interest in buying. Too many or too frequent of calls or emails can be a turn-off, and you can end up in your customers’ spam filters, so use your judgment and don’t bombard them with marketing emails. Since we’re advocates of content marketing, we always suggest sending your leads more engaging and useful content to keep their interest, and keep them “warm”.
It also makes sense to use social media to engage and stay connected with those older leads. You can post updates about new products or developments, or just information that you think your client base will find an interest in. This also gives them a forum in which to ask questions or send you comments. Most importantly, don’t let those potentially valuable leads fall by the wayside and become forgotten, just because they didn’t buy in the first round of contact you made with them.