When you hear “no” what’s your reaction?
Depending on your answer, you could be walking away from your next customer, or, adding thousands to your net profit a couple of sales quarters from now. The truth is, “no” is almost never “not this or any other product or service, from you, for any price, at any time, between now and eternity.”
Most leads, even aged leads who are happy with their recent purchase from your competitor, have the potential of becoming your future customer. For them, “no” simply means “not now.”
A better way to proceed with a “no” from a sales lead is put them into a long term lead cultivation plan. You will accept their “no” for now, but will return to this lead periodically to see whether you might be able to make a sale.
In this post, we take a look at why such leads are important, the best practices for managing such a back-burner lead plan, and possible tools to assist you.
Why Long-Term Lead Cultivation Matters
It’s all too easy only to look at the ground in front of your feet. After all, you’ve got a monthly sales goal to hit and your warmest leads are most likely to get you to and past that goal.
In general, the quarterly nature of the sales business means it’s harder to focus on leads that will take longer periods of time to close. But this often leads to missed opportunities, as a long term lead could yield a big payoff down the line.
The solution to this problem is to implement a system where you can manage those back-burner leads with more efficiency and efficacy.
How to Use Best Practices to Manage Your Back-Burner Leads
The best practices for dealing with a lead which gives you a “no” is to try to get additional information. A lead who can tell you “no” plus supply a reason is a lead who could be sold at a later date. Here are a few questions to try to get more info on, as adapted from MarketingProfs and HubSpot.
“What is important for you in a solution?”
Each lead has a unique set of needs, concerns, and motivations. Ask pointed questions to get to the bottom of what a lead wants, what’s stopping them, and what would make them buy. Categorize your leads according to their answers.
“Are there issues with your current solution?”
Follow up with more questions about how these issues are affecting your lead’s day-to-day life and what they expect to do to solve these issues.
“Are you going to buy this year?”
This is pretty close to asking for the sale. It’s almost there, but not quite. However, the info you glean from such a direct question can tell you a lot. A flustered response can tell you the lead isn’t far along in their buying process. A more considered reply could tell you this lead may be ready sooner rather than later.
“Do you have a budget?”
Another rather blunt question, but notice you haven’t asked how much your lead’s budget is. You’ve merely asked if they’re far enough along in their search to have a sense of budget. Any hard numbers your lead volunteers will also tell you a lot about the kind of solution they need. Even a “no” to this question could be useful. You might put this lead on the back-burner for a couple of months and ask again later.
“How important is it to you to have the right solution this year?”
This question is a bit less aggressive than the last two but no less important. Your lead’s response will have to be something other than “yes” or “no.” That leaves open the possibility to gather more information and furthermore to ask for permission to send lead nurturing info packets or start a drip campaign that could lead them to close.
“When do you think you’ll be ready to buy or re-evaluate?”
This prompt gives you yet more information to tailor any lead nurturing email or postal mail campaign to your individual lead. This can actually save you time and money, even if the answer isn’t all that favorable. If a lead says they’ll re-evaluate in 12 months, ping them 11 months out.
What Tools to Consider
There are plenty of tools to help you turn today’s “no” into tomorrow’s sale. To start you need a CRM that allows you to record lead info and either sends out lead nurturing communications at preset intervals, or, that pings you to follow up manually at the proper time interval. From ExactTarget, to HubSpot, Infusionsoft, Marketo, Pardot, Salesforce, and more, the options are many.
You’ll also want to make use of drip campaigns where possible. ExactTarget, MailChimp, or AWeber should be your prime considerations.
And lastly, don’t neglect your metrics. If you notice a campaign email has bounced, or a previously warm lead has unsubscribed, give them a call. CAN-SPAM requires that you not email your leads again, but that doesn’t mean you can’t check in through other means. It might just lead to a productive conversation that leads to a sale.
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