What to Do With Leads in Every Step of the Sales Funnel
Our authors have published countless articles about every aspect of the marketing funnel. From attract to convert to close to delight, we have written at length about the intricacies of each stage of generating sales qualified leads (SQLs.)But for all of our discussions about the best ways to produce SQLs, we have largely ignored what happens next. Our neglect of sales pipeline management ends now because I am about to lay out the actions your sales team needs to complete to maximize their production in each step of the sales funnel.
Identify potential opportunities
First and foremost, you must be able to identify every step in your sales process as well as your different types of ideal customers. A hot bottom of the funnel (BOFU) lead should probably be contacted right away. For this reason, it is important to make sure your form notification settings are built correctly and are notifying the correct people. Furthermore, you need to make sure your team has the ability to receive these notifications on the fly. Now I’m not suggesting that every one of your salespeople always have their work emails producing notification sounds on their phones all day, but it is important that your go-to salesperson check for BOFU conversion notifications multiple times throughout the day.
BOFU lead conversions are great and should be treated with respect because the sad truth is that it’s very likely that only a small portion of your leads will come in at that stage of the process. The rest will need more time to be nurtured. But when BOFUs do come through, it’s all about timing. Do a little research about the opportunity, and then reach out as soon as possible, assuming they didn’t provide any specific guidelines as to when you should reach out. Getting there first is a huge part of the battle, and just because they reached out to your business online doesn’t mean you are their only option. In fact, it is probably safe to assume the opposite. In the wise words of American NASCAR legend Ricky Bobby, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
Connect with and qualify the lead
Before moving on to other topics from BOFU conversions, it is important to note something. Just because someone has filled out a BOFU form doesn’t mean they are a truly qualified lead. Take Ranks India for example. In the last nine months, we have had no fewer than nine different BOFU conversions from the company, all seemingly filled out by different employees looking to offer us their outsourced SEO services. As a salesperson, it is easy to get overly excited by the site of a new BOFU lead in your inbox, so it is probably good practice to get in the habit of reviewing each contact and, if available, their associated website prior to your initial contact.
Explore all aspects of the situation
Assuming your BOFU lead passes your initial sniff test, where you quickly review the form notification for any relevant information before reaching out to the contact, it is now time to dig deep with your qualification. Few things feel worse to a salesperson than realizing you wasted a lot of time on a prospect that isn’t actually qualified to become a customer. Sometimes you will have ample information in their contact history that will give you a better idea of their situation and needs, and sometimes people will convert on a BOFU right away. Take what you can from their contact record, and use your connect and exploratory calls to fill in the gaps of what you don’t know.
At Revenue River we are big proponents of the GPCTBACI method because it does the best job getting our leads in the mindset of realizing the true value of what success would actually look like. Once you can get the lead bought in to the potential end result, the heaviest lifting is over. The GPCTBACI abbreviation stands for goals, plans, challenges, timetable, budget, authority, consequences of inaction, and implications of success. These are the topics we discuss with every potential client. The best way to determine if an opportunity is truly qualified is to go over each one of these subjects with the lead prior to offering a solution for their needs. Because every lead is unique and each conversation is paced differently, it may not always be possible to collect every piece of information on that list in one conversation, and that is absolutely okay, but you should be using that list in all future conversations as a reminder of what information you still need to collect before you are able to recommend a solution.
Don’t “sell” the lead. Advise them instead
Once you have sufficiently evaluated the opportunity at hand and had discussions around every aspect of the GPCTBACI method, you should be ready to advise a solution tailored to the needs of the lead. The important thing to remember in this step is that you have already done the hard part. You have engaged in meaningful conversation and demonstrated a willingness to understand the needs of the lead and provide a thoughtful solution. Now all you have to do is avoid wasting all the hard work you have already put in by making sure you don’t come off as pushy. Remember, you have been a trusted resource looking to help however you can. No need to change your tune now. Advise your lead about all of their best options, and be realistic when it comes to building out goals and expectations.
With inbound marketing we have a proven process that helps businesses grow, but it doesn’t function like a light switch. You cannot simply turn it on and expect it to produce final results for your client on Day 1. It is a process that takes a lot of work and time to get going. By being up front with each lead, you can help to buy them in to the long-term relationship while also preventing your company from taking on overly tentative new clients that will be all too quick to pull the plug after only a few months of work.
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