If you have read any of my Blogs lately, you will have seen that I am very interested in buying and selling styles. I have also written quite a lot about follow up and why you, or your sales team, should not have the sole responsibility for it.
Working with customers to supply them with new business leads has made me realise how important timely follow up is. That’s still the case but recently I have come to understand the kind of follow up required in order to benefit from new business leads and I thought it would be good to share this with you.
Firstly, it’s important to understand the difference between outbound and inbound marketing:
Inbound Marketing: This term is used to describe the tools you create to help people approach your business when they are interested in your product and service. These tools include your website, referral marketing, content marketing and so on.
Outbound marketing: This term is used to describe pre-meditated activities you undertake to approach your target markets directly. These activities include tactics such as e-mail marketing, advertising and telemarketing.
Many established businesses I come across, survive almost entirely on inbound marketing and particularly referrals. This is a phenomenon I have written about before and would advise against. This Blog, however, is interested specifically in growing SMEs who utilise outbound marketing activities through their sales and business development arm. Not surprisingly, these companies generate many leads and then become a victim of their own success, struggling to keep following up with all of them.
When this happens, the business is effectively throwing away much of the budget and effort they put into their lead generation. Their problem is no longer of generating numbers but of converting them at a high enough percentage. This problem arises from two main areas:
- Growing businesses are very busy and as a result, non-urgent but essential activities, such as lead nurturing and systematic follow up, get put to one side.
- Follow up is normally an activity assigned to the sales team. However effective follow up requires listening skills and patience which is not at the forefront of every sales person’s mind.
What is the problem then?
When you are conducting a lot of lead generation activities, you will find opportunities before they find you. This means that you often speak to interested parties when they are very early on in their buying cycle and have not made up their mind on what they want and from whom. This means you will need to conduct quite a number of conversations before you are in a position to make the sale. Hence why persistent, polite and long-term follow up communication is so key.
So, what can you do? ·
- Reduce your lead generation efforts·
- Nag your sales people to follow up more·
- Recruit a telemarketing assistant ·
- Outsource your follow up requirement
Here is what we do:
Lead generation is key to continuous growth but your sales people’s time is better used developing hot sales opportunities. The reality is that effective follow up takes some experience, which means that outsourcing can provide a good solution for the following reasons:
- You get access to considerable experience and skills
- The activity must generate results to be continued
- The contractual commitment required is considerably reduced