Improving Lead Follow-up and Conversion

If your company is like most, chances are it expends significant resources on B2B lead generation, and you need to ensure that you are maximizing the value of this effort with great lead follow-up. If you don’t, these leads likely amount to little more than expensive missed opportunities. Proper lead follow-up is vital to achieve successful lead conversions, as well as for creating positive perceptions of your brand. Here are four tips from the lead gen pros to help ensure that you are making the most of your lead follow-up efforts.

1. Be prompt!
With our increasingly busy work schedules, it may be the height of efficiency to consolidate the gathering of your new leads into a once or twice weekly effort of data collection and outreach. And while this lead management process might work nicely for your workflow, it isn’t helping you create that great first impression with your hard-won prospects. Advanced lead generation best practices suggest that you should follow up with your lead within 24 hours from their point of contact.

That first email you send should be brief, simple and straightforward. With this initial touch point, your goal is merely to acknowledge your prospect’s interest and to thank them for filling out your survey/downloading your white paper/etc. This outreach on your part is meant to create goodwill and serve as a conversation starter, so don’t bog them down with multiple attachments or a lengthy sales pitch. With this first follow-up, less is definitely more – keep it short and sweet.

2. Make it about them – do your homework.
Make sure your follow-up is personalized and polite. No one likes getting that one-size-fits-all canned response, as it sends the message (whether intended or not) that your prospect isn’t worth a few minutes of your time to discover a little bit of information about them. Especially with that first touch, you’ve got a perfect soft lead-in where you can – and should – reference the collateral (e.g., “Thanks for filling out our survey; did you get your [insert incentive here]?”). Since this initial follow-up serves as a conversation starter, engage them with a question clearly meant for them personally.

Also, when you request a subsequent meeting, be specific. Busy people respond better to concrete information than to vague inquiries. Offering your prospect a particular day and time to connect is a far more engaging way to spark a conversation than suggesting your next follow-up be “sometime in the coming week.” With specifics suggested, you’re far more likely to elicit a quick and favorable response.

3. Leverage social media tools.
On the heels of tip #2 and in the spirit of keeping it “about them,” leverage the power of the internet and social media to learn who your prospect is and what their needs are. They’re interested in knowing how you’re going to address their particular pain points, so make sure that the information in your response matches your prospect’s needs. For example, don’t include information about highly complex and expensive solutions if your prospect is a small business owner. Rather, do your homework to gather what information you can on your prospect and their connections, particularly any connections you might share (colleague networks, competitors, channel partners, etc.). Consider similar clients you might have and the possible insights to be gleaned from them. Making it “about them” keeps it personal and engaging, while demonstrating your willingness to invest in them as a prospect.

4. Recognize that the lead management process requires several touches.
To properly nurture a lead, you’ll need several touches. As such, you’ll want to build a profile of your prospect and keep this nurturing material handy (and current!) so that you are always prepared to fire off timely, personal and relevant follow-ups.

These timely, personalized responses are the key to successful lead follow-up. If you find that you and your team are getting overwhelmed and your response time is slipping, pause your lead generation campaign so that you can properly nurture the leads you have. Maximizing your campaign’s value lies in matching your lead gen efforts to the resources you have. You don’t want to generate leads without the corresponding resources to adequately follow them up, as it will prove to be a waste of time and money while running the risk of negatively affecting your brand image. Remember, what you might deem as efficiency in consolidating your lead follow-up efforts doesn’t translate well into converting prospects into clients. Don’t risk sending the message that they aren’t worthy – you have to do what it takes to consistently send prompt and personalized responses.

Lead follow-up is frequently thought of as a sales role, but in today’s digital world, it’s important that marketing follow-up leads that are yet to be qualified as sales ready leads. In fact, one key recommendation is that marketing take responsibility for the online prospect/customer relationship.

What’s your experience? What factors have you found important when following up leads?