Most marketing lists – and more specifically unconverted leads that IT services firms and MSPs have – contain BIG concealed opportunities in the same way the earth traps crude oil in the ground; to get to it, you need a process to dig through the rock to extract and refine it to make any money.
However, most dumb marketers and lazy salespeople never scratch the surface of the opportunities coming their way and leave this money-getting manna untouched, untapped and unmonetized. In this article, I’m going to talk about a VERY overlooked and misunderstood strategy for developing more qualified leads. Fair warning: this advice is showing up in work overalls, so if you’re looking for the band-aid quick fix, you might as well stop here. As Zig said, most people are too busy chopping away to stop and sharpen the ax; fortunately, this is a lesson I learned early and one that has served me well.
But if you want a process for getting and DEVELOPING leads into hot, qualified buyers, THIS is the key. (An aside: At the upcoming IT Sales And Marketing Boot Camp, www.RobinsBigSeminar.com, I’m delivering a special deep-dive, two-part session on this very topic. I hope to see YOU.)
Now, let’s begin…
There are two primary criteria that make a lead QUALIFIED: 1) The ability to buy, and 2) the WILLINGNESS to buy. Ability has to do with targeting; can the person you are selling to actually say “Yes” to what you’re selling? A pool salesman is an idiot if he attempts to prospect apartment owners or people with no backyard. Marketers selling dog food ought to be smarter than targeting homes that have no indication they own a pet. In B2B sales, this may be in the form of selling to underlings (employees) who only have the authority to say “No” or attempting to sell to someone who truly doesn’t have the financial capability to pay for your services (like an MSP targeting companies with one to two employees, hoping to land a $3,000 per month managed services deal).
MANY people violate this critical rule and sloppily invest in ads, promotions, lists and other marketing to target people who they DON’T want as prospects and who would never develop into a paying customer. It’s enormously wasteful and expensive.
But the next criteria is where many make the biggest misstep. Willingness to buy is not a static state. The guy who throws out the furniture and is dumpster diving for it the following week, when his wife throws him out of the house and files for divorce – now he’s gone from totally uninterested to ready to buy, desperately in need of having to furnish his new apartment due to a change in circumstances. Other prospects’ needs evolve over time and involve a “ripening” period, when they are getting ready to buy.
Most marketers and salespeople are too quick to dismiss a lead as “not qualified” simply because they aren’t ready to buy right now. This is where follow-up becomes crucial to lead development and moving a prospect from mild curiosity to “buyer in heat.” Where do you think the term “working leads” came from?
Joe Girard still holds the Guinness Book of World Records title of “World’s Greatest Salesman.” Joe sold 13,001 cars at a Chevrolet dealership between 1963 and 1978, long before there was the Internet, social media, e-mail and marketing automation. How did he do it? By keeping a massive but organized filing system of three-by-five cards with his clients’ names, mailing addresses, phone numbers and birthdays. Joe simply made sure to follow up by phone on those people who came in and by sending handwritten postcards, thank-you notes and birthday cards. Simple. But how many people actually take the time to make sure they follow up?
If you want to succeed, you need the following:
- A CRM system you will use to enter and track inbound leads. The key is “use.” No CRM or marketing automation platform will make your marketing plan work any more than a hammer will build you a house. It has to be USED properly and appropriately. For example, we resell our MAP program (marketing automation platform) that utilizes Infusionsoft; but the key to the success of that program is that we set our MSP clients up, loading in all their data, setting up sales funnels and campaigns, and hold their hand until they are fully up and running – or do it all for them. (More details can be found at www.MSPMarketingCRM.com).
- A fast, aggressive follow-up sequence of calls, e-mails and online and offline marketing to inbound leads. Key point: ALL leads should be assumed “qualified, five-star leads” until you discover otherwise; and ALL inbound leads need to be called, e-mailed and mailed a physical package for a period of about 2-3 weeks before I would abandon them as “not interested.” Even then, they should go into a drip sequence of online and offline content, and “pulled” out every 4-6 months with a more direct campaign designed to get them to buy.
- Educational marketing assets that teach the prospect how to buy and what to look for, as well as position you as the SMARTEST and SAFEST option for solving their problem or need. This can be free reports, videos, webinars, seminars and other material, but the key is that it MUST influence and persuade the prospect to buy from you by invalidating other options, including doing NOTHING. Fail to do THIS and you’re pushing a rope uphill (this is something I’m really going to dig into at our event).
- An ongoing drip campaign to nurture the lead and stay top of mind so they think of you when they are ready to buy. This cannot just be online; over and over again I’m seeing and proving that offline marketing must be in the mix to truly maximize your ROI.