How to Utilize Email in Qualifying Leads
By Erika Desmond on Apr 20, 2015
In order for firms to stay competitive in today’s marketplace, they must learn to effectively utilize email in their sales process. The purpose of email in sales is to generate quality leads, but it is equally important to keep the leads moving at a nominal pace throughout the buyers’ journey. Understanding today’s best practices in email marketing will allow your sales team to locate, nurture, and ultimately convert a greater number of leads.
Say No to Spam: the Art of Lead Nurturing
The object of B2B lead generation is to generate quality leads, not a large number of leads. Industry oriented blogs and informative, useful social media interactions with potential clients are today’s effective mediums for cultivating new leads. What better ways to have a hot lead approach an organization? If a client reaches out to a firm based on information gleaned from a social post or blog, the company has already gained the client’s confidence as an industry leader. This type of inbound marketing, as opposed to outbound cold calling, costs a firm 61 percent less.
Potential clients have problems they need solved. If a firm produces content that solves the client’s problem, it’s likely that client will seek that firm’s service when they are ready to buy. Firms can use this position to generate qualified email leads from blog and social media email opt-in opportunities and to capture clients email addresses when they call for information.
Cherry Picking: Retaining Quality Leads
In quality inbound email marketing campaigns, half of the candidates are not ready to buy but want information on a product or service. With these clients, firms must capture their contact information and maintain contact so that the clients will consider them when they are ready to buy. Of the remaining 50 percent, half are not qualified and the other half are ready to move forward through the sales funnel. In order to convert the latter to a sale, it is important to effectively manage the client relationship from beginning to end.
Firms must develop methods for weeding out the 50 percent of unqualified buyers at the beginning of the sales process. Inbound sales associates need to unearth several facts from the client at the start of the process. First, firms need to make sure that what they are offering fits the client’s requirements. Asking questions and finding out what problem the client needs solved goes a long way to meeting this goal.
Next, firms must find out if the client is window shopping or if they intend to follow through with a purchase. Firms can discern this by listening to the client’s tone and attitude or by asking questions at first contact. If clients are asking for pricing information from the start, it’s a good sign that they are ready to buy. Firms also need to know if their prospect has purchasing power. If a mid-level exec is gathering information for a C-level officer because they need to present that solution for approval, the firm needs to get in front of the C-level officer who has the power to sign off on the deal at closing.
A critical step in email marketing campaigns is to develop systems to nurture the influx of new leads. Begin by thinking about the lead’s experience and not the company’s. Sending out email blasts to all clients in the database will generate inquiries but at what costs? Instead, firms should tailor their digital points of contact to address clients at different stages in the buying process. This targeted approach will draw leads in whether they are cold, warm or hot.
Follow Through: Work the Deal All the Way to Close
Today’s buyer has already completed over half of their research online. A client who is mentally invested with one firm because a salesperson held their hand through the buying process is rare in today’s market. At the same time, when a potential client has contacted a firm for information that does not mean that the firm has that client’s ear exclusively. The winner in this sales situation is normally the first responder with a reasonable solution.
Today’s firms need more than a digital presence. They must also have measures in place to make sure that they meet inquiries with timely responses. Don’t lose a hot prospect by assuming the client is going to buy and leaving them to find their own way to close without due diligence from in-house sales. Firms must develop an organized process to move clients through to the close. Whether the process is on paper, in the cloud or via an in-house CRM database, the sales team must use formalized structures that qualifies leads and moves them swiftly through the system. Once a firm has closed the sale, it’s important to remember that a closed client is more likely to buy again and much less costly to service.
Through these best practices, firms can develop an ample supply of inbound leads. Firms must qualify the leads from the onset of the sales process to avoid wasting resources on unqualified buyers. Sales teams need to make sure that they move qualified buyers through the sales funnel swiftly to keep leads from going cold. Firms should keep past buyers in the media loop to create a flow that builds off of their first conversions. These returning clients are a profitable segment for any firm.
About the author: Cameron Johnson is a business consultant and entrepreneur. Over the course of his career he has conducted case studies on both social media optimization and non-profit marketing. Cameron has also had the opportunity to speak at international business conferences and was recently recognized as one of the world’s top 100 advertising experts to follow on social media.