Iron Today or Gold Tomorrow?
Should you pursue inbound leads immediately or enrich them and then pursue?
Ever visited the fairground and played the can toss game where you throw balls at a tin can pyramid and try to knock them all down? The cans seem so close and easy to knock down, but you never quite manage to get them all.
It’s kind of like this with inbound leads that seem to have so much potential but ultimately are just out of reach or don’t pan out despite seemingly straightforward follow up tactics.
How you treat inbound leads is a source of constant debate among marketing and sales teams.
Does the sales team jump on them and call the prospect right away or do you nurture the lead a bit and enrich it before handing it off to sales?
Most companies fall for the allure of the former and not the wisdom of the latter and rush to contact leads as soon as they come in – “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”……
So, it comes down to speed vs. effectiveness. Pursue the lead right now in the interest of time and risk a high dropout rate or take time to do a little “homework” on the lead, be better prepared and have more success with your leads.
In our opinion, immediate pursuit is mostly ineffective but let’s evaluate the merits here more closely to convince you, too.
The normal sales inclination is to jump on and pursue leads right away. Sales often assume that it’s prudent to pursue all leads immediately while they are “hot”.
Of course, anyone who’s received an email or call from a vendor 5 minutes after downloading trial software or signed up for a trial account knows just how annoying this is….
The fact is, you never get a second chance to make a first impression and if you aren’t prepared in terms of knowing exactly who you are calling, what they do, how senior they are and information about their company and the problems they face, you run the risk of the following:
You spend a good part of your first call keeping them on the phone long enough to try and find out everything that was missing from the inbound lead information that will determine whether the lead is viable. You’d better hope they are patient, but you probably have 15-30 seconds to get and keep their attention so good luck!
Assuming you got through the above stage, here’s your next challenge. If know very little or not enough about the person you are calling, then you run the risk of a serious misalignment between your messaging and their needs and interests. For example:
Are you talking to the Janitor or the CEO?
Is the contact an intern, student, analyst or have you stumbled upon a competitor who is fishing for information about your company?
Is it a 1-person company or a 10,000-person multi-national corporation?
You sell pharmaceutical products, but you’ve called a logistics company without knowing it. Oh, the awkwardness.
Your product appeals to companies of 1,000 and higher employees but this contact you have on the phone has only 50 employees in the company, as you just, painfully, found out
You have Account Exec coverage for NY and CA but this lead is in Alaska
You get more leads than your BDR’s can handle in a given day, but which leads are worth prioritizing in terms of effort vs. outcome?
Calling them up too soon, unprepared and not knowing enough about a lead is just going to tick them off. Don’t let your ego or naivety fool you that they are sitting around waiting for your call. Most of them get 10 calls and 20 emails a day from ISR/BDR teams just like you. Call before you are well and ready is just going to blow your one chance to get their attention.
If the prospect filled out a contact form that basically says “call me” then by all means, contact them but you still may struggle without all the data in point #2. If the inbound lead is the result of a marketing nurture, collateral downloads or trial software and accounts, points #1-#3 will apply. Ignore them at your peril!
Validation, Enrichment and Prioritization, then Pursuit
Let’s consider another approach that delays the hand off of the lead to the ISR/BDR team by a few minutes/hours but produces a much better lead that is more likely to result in a sale.
Your typical raw lead from an inbound form fill or marketing automation system will typically arrive with just a handful of data, and much of it may not be accurate. The typical “raw” lead has:
Email (50% of the time it will be a private email)
Phone number (sometimes)
Company name (sometimes)
Note: There’s no point in adding more fields or making too many of the fields mandatory because the dropout rate of people not completing the form will be very high and you won’t get the leads at all.
So, to make this lead better, the first step is to feed that raw or early stage lead into a lead processing system that validates the original data and adds a whole bunch of attributes mentioned in earlier sections. After loading the lead record into a lead processing system, now you may have a lead record that looks like this:
Direct or Office Phone
Social Media Profiles
Company LinkedIn Page
Think of all the things you can do when armed with this extra data once that lead is passed into the MQL queue in your sales system! Let’s see, you can:
Use customized sales scripts based on the title, seniority and department of the prospect
Know the location or industry so you can assign or route the lead to the right BDR for follow up
Eliminate waste-of-time leads such as interns, analysts, competitors and students who have no buying authority, influence or budget
Lead scoring products will work better with more data to assign probability and priority to leads so you focus your sales teams’ efforts
Add better data to the lead to allow you to analyze the effectiveness of your outbound and nurture marketing and see if you are actually reaching the personas you intended to. Then you can make adjustments accordingly.
See a marked improvement in conversions from Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) to Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) due to better follow up and better prioritization of time
As you can see, you have options. You can pursue a lead as soon as it comes in and maybe get Iron (meaning an undeveloped lead), or you can wait a short while, run the inbound raw lead through a lead validation and enrichment process and be much better informed about the prospect and their company before you write that email or pick up the phone. Then you will have Gold.
When you know exactly who you are calling, where they are, what they do and details about their company you can have a much better script prepared tailored to their rank, interests and industry. Isn’t that worth waiting an hour or two for?
About Contact Persona LLC
Contact Persona is a specialist data quality service vendor with multiple offerings covering CRM data quality, inbound lead processing, custom curated database building and field event solutions. Our approach is consultative in nature and we provide input and our professional advice with all our offerings. Check out our lead processing solution at: https://www.contactpersona.io/contactpersona