One of the top B2B sales strategies around is to buy in a contact list and then hit the phones, cold calling each person one by one. But this ‘interruption’ technique – so called because you’re pushing in front of people and interrupting what they’re doing – doesn’t go down too well with modern buyers, which means the strategy is becoming less and less effective.
The good news is that thanks to advances in the digital world, there are now many other options – online lead generation being one of the most popular. By using this strategy, you are able to build your own lead database and there are many tools that can help you. For example, software like Lead Forensics, which makes it possible to generate leads out of all the traffic your website receives, whether a business visitor converts or not.
Once you’ve built your database and the leads are flowing, it’s time to start making some calls. So, when you’re finally ready to take the plunge and reach for the phone, what should you say?
Qualify and segment
To super charge your results, you need to have your sales team concentrating all their efforts on only the warmest leads. That means you need to qualify leads before anyone even thinks about picking up the phone.
Start by gathering together all the information you can get hold of about each lead. Use all these insights, and any other criteria that’s relevant, to qualify and segment your leads. That way, you can start building a warm leads list ready to be passed to sales. Don’t be in too much of a rush with this as building lists online provides you with a great opportunity to qualify leads even further. And the more qualified they are, the better, as that means sales can focus on what they do best – selling.
Build a prequalification system
To segment your list, you need to have a system in place for preparing the list and pre-qualifying the people on it. Put simply, you need to add in an extra step between generating a lead and trying to sell to them.
One way to do this is to make it the job of an in-house person. Give them responsibility for contacting these types of leads, to figure out their intent, interest, needs and anything else possible. They will not be trying to sell anything here, so this doesn’t need to be handled by a specially trained sales person. The idea is to contact each lead and start a conversation by using a low level question, such as checking they found all the information they were looking for and whether they are interested to hear more.
Let’s take, as an example, a web design firm that specializes in e-commerce solutions. By segmenting their leads based on predefined criteria (such as companies in a certain geographical area who already have some form of e-commerce on their sites) they can start to pull out a warm list of those who fit certain criteria, ready to be passed over to sales.
Making the first call
Choosing the right moment to make that first call is going to be one of the most important decisions you face, but there is no definitive answer.
If you only use online lead generation to produce leads (meaning you have a mechanism on your website whereby people can get information in return for giving you their email address and other details) then you have several options. You could phone someone straight after they’ve downloaded the information, or you may choose to start sending them a drip-email campaign first, then filter out those who opened and/or clicked on a link inside it.
If you use Lead Forensics you will know long before a lead has converted on your website, which company they are from. You can then figure out who you most likely need to talk to and get hold of their contact information from the software.
As with any marketing activity, you need to figure out what’s going to be the best option for the business and your target audience. Keep testing, analyzing and refining what you’re doing.
What to say on the first call
Next, you need to figure out what to say. The worst thing you could ever do is immediately launch into sales mode. Just because someone has visited your website, or downloaded something, doesn’t mean they are interested.
The key is to find a mechanism that helps you qualify each lead further. This could be done via email (in the case of high volumes), or in person over the phone. Your aim should be to contact the lead and engage them in conversation. Ask if they found the information interesting and if they have any further questions, or if there’s anything else they need.
A good strategy is to have some form of ‘exploratory‘ call, which means they get to speak to one of your experts. This offers them something of real value in return for their time. Over the course of the call, ask specific questions to try and find out more about them, their interests, needs and timings, etc.
It’s important to note here that you need to find the right balance between doing too little, or too much. You’ve got to offer something that will be of value to the lead, while at the same time, not giving away too much. See it as an opportunity to showcase and preview your expertise. Aim to leave them with enough actionable points for them to feel they got value out of it, while thinking what more could be done.
Using our previous example of a web design firm, they may offer a free website evaluation that covers the basics and hints at much deeper issues and opportunities.
Once you’ve figured a valuable offer out, try and build your sales funnel around it. If you’re selling higher priced products and services, this will be a great strategy to help you fine tune your lead list and have your sales talent work on only the strongest opportunities. By the time they pick up the phone for the first time, the lead should already know about your company, what you do and have a good initial picture of what it is all about.
5 steps to building an online generated lead call strategy
Here is the whole process broken down into five easy steps.
1) Analyze your sales funnel
Look at your sales funnel and see where there may be opportunities to build in a low level, but high value, qualification offer. This should be an offer that will give a lead a flavor of your expertise, while allowing you to get more information about them.
2) Prepare qualifying content
If you don’t already have it, put a piece of content together that will function as a clear qualifier for your leads. It should be something that only those with a clear interest in your product would download. Send it to your prospects and those who open and read it should be put on your call list.
3) Re-evaluate your lead generation process
Look at your entire campaign, from your content to your nurturing emails, and see if they help or hinder the effective segmentation and qualification of leads. Work together with your marketing, sales and customer services teams to make sure everything is aligned.
4) Who is going to call
Decide who will call and when. Depending on the size of your company, this may be one person, or it could be a whole team. Make sure whoever handles this part is good at talking to people and well trained on the pre-qualification process and how it works.
5) Analyze and optimize
Finally, make sure you keep track of everything you are doing throughout the whole process. Always be on the lookout for what’s working well and what’s not, so you can spot opportunities to improve the effectiveness of what you’re doing.
The best first sales calls are always going to be the ones that guide a lead to the next step. Then on to the next, and the next, and so on. It may take a bit of time and effort to hit on the best strategy and then fine tune it, but once you have, your results will soar.