The importance of follow-up in lead generation

Lead generation can be a tricky business. It isn’t simply a matter of sniffing out interested prospects and potentially lucrative deals – it requires careful management and a good understanding of best practice. It can be very time-consuming, which is why many firms choose to outsource it to a lead generation specialist.

Of all the techniques and practices involved in lead generation, and marketing too, the simplest is the most crucial. Follow-up is the arguably the most effective way to qualify leads, to turn queries into sales. A proactive approach ensures that prospects remain engaged and that valuable opportunities are seized rather than missed.

However, knowing which leads to follow, how quickly to do it and what approach to take can be a challenge, especially for SMEs with limited resources. Here are a few pointers to help you follow up leads more effectively and make the very best use of your company’s resources…

Act fast

At the most, you should be following up leads within 24 hours, but the faster the better if the lead is eager to talk and the most likely to be profitable.

Research from the Harvard Business Review back in 2011, which analysed over 1.25 million B2B and B2C sales leads in the U.S, found that firms that contacted prospects within an hour of a query being submitted were a massive seven times more likely to qualify the lead. Compared to leaving it for 24 hours, the chances of qualifying leads within an hour were an incredible 60 times more likely.

To put it simply, if prospects contact you, don’t waste a minute before following up. If you have any sign of interest, don’t rest on your laurels – chase up that lead before interest wanes or a purchase decision (one that is not in your favour) is made.

Make a follow-up plan

Your sales force, or your lead generation team, needs a plan in place to ensure that a consistent approach to follow-up is adopted. Having a properly thought-out system will ensure that no leads fall between the cracks and that best practice is followed every time. You can even pool ideas within the sales force or consult an expert to discover what works best, what techniques are not effective, and devise a strategy based on these ideas.

When to follow-up and when to call it a day

Following up on leads can be a real drain on resources, so the key is to prioritise. You need access to the right data, expertly profiled to filter out leads that don’t fit your target market, so that you can focus your attentions on the most active leads. However, it would be a mistake to focus solely on the short-term leads. Investing time and energy in long-term leads, nurturing prospects until they’re ready to buy, can actually be better for your business in the long-term.

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