Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series. Inbound leads are deemed by many as the Holy Grail of the sales world. These prospects likely have an immediate need for what you’re selling, which is why they typed the keywords into Google or read the blog post that ultimately led them to you.
It stands to reason that not all inbound leads are good leads; that’s why a well-thought-out qualification process is necessary. Once qualified, inbound leads tend to close more easily and quickly than their outbound counterparts, which is why they should be coveted.
Within some organizations, however, these inbound leads may be perceived by the sales team as low quality. While accurate qualification requires sales team contact, inbound prospects can be scored based on their alignment with your ideal customer profile. This allows the sales team to focus on the hottest leads, versus all leads, reducing frustrations about lead quality. In addition, the sales approach that most reps have been well trained to use with outbound prospects can be off-putting with inbound leads, creating undesirable results.
Inbound leads behave differently, and these differences stem from their stage in the prospect lifecycle. Some lead sources, such as website visitors that download special content, are likely not far enough along in the lifecycle to warrant direct promotion of your services upon initial contact. As a CPA firm, for example, you might call and state that you noticed the prospect downloaded the firm’s white paper on small-business tax changes. Explain you’re calling to learn more about their concerns, as there may be additional information you can send to further assist. Be armed with an immediate tip or content resource you can offer.
Rather than an overt promotion of your services, you’re building early rapport and credibility by simply offering to lend an unexpected hand in an effort to continue the conversation. You’re leading with the buyer’s needs versus your pitch. Establishing customized sales protocols for each inbound lead source within your firm, and training your sales team on how to deliver to each of these groups will result in more closed leads.
Start today by identifying all sources of inbound leads. Consider a range of sources such as new opt-ins to your newsletter, email recipients that click links in your emails about specific topics or products, or web inquiries for additional information. Next, develop your sales protocols by lead source, and score your various leads. Finally, establish check-and-balance systems to monitor what’s expected and offer additional sales coaching where helpful.
Part two looks at how to create a solid inbound marketing strategy for your brand.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).