While it is important that we collect enquiries, it is critical that we aim our lead generation strategies at the places where our target customer lives, works, reads, shops, associates and visits.
It is critical that we encourage the right prospects and discourage the wrong ones. We also should be asking of our prospects that they engage with us by putting some effort into the process rather than just taking what we can throw at them hoping something will stick.
A genuine prospect will have something to say about their needs, timescale, budget and the process they are using to determine the purchase. We need to develop a filter system which can be applied systematically, hopefully automatically, to allow the time wasters, brochure hunters and the curious, to receive the information they want at least cost to the vendor while allowing more genuine enquiries to progress. While there is always the danger of rejecting a genuine prospect, the costs of spending too much effort on non-prospects must be fully evaluated.
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Prospects who do not wish to engage by discussing their needs or providing some information about themselves or their organisation are usually not sale ready. They are often too low in the organization to have any real impact on the decision or do not yet have an urgent need. These can always be put into the passive contact database and kept informed through newsletters. When their need is more urgent or they are ready to engage at a more intense level, you already have some details.
The key to prospecting is to spend your resources on the most likely prospects – those who have current needs which best fit your solutions.
Prospects that complete diagnostics, questionnaires and surveys or who use online simulations or review explanatory videos are much more engaged in the information search process. A prospect with a genuine interest will be willing to invest time and effort into the engagement. You need to provide these activities both to educate and screen prospects.
Rather than use your best sales staff to undertake screening at this point, pass this to a telesales or internet help desk to process. You can also set up a list of activities which you want the prospect to undertake in order to further screen them.
Websites often offer the prospect the ability to register to receive a newsletter or to request information. These are very useful tools for developing a database of contacts. You can then use these to prompt more detailed enquiries about their needs. A site which encourages a prospect to contact the vendor needs to be assured that they will receive a reply within a reasonable period, perhaps within a couple of days. The number of times I have made contact with a vendor using such a facility and not received a reply would be too many to keep track of. Even more annoying are those which have an automatic reply which tells you someone will respond soon but never do.
I was recently attempting to purchase a specific type of cleaning product but found that it could only be purchased from a local agent. You are asked to submit your name and address and the vendor arranges for a local agent to contact you. To my amazement, no one ever did but there was no other way of buying the product. Not only did this waste my time but, clearly, the lack of follow up meant that the vendor would lose a lot of potential sales and hurt their reputation.
Telesales can solicit personal and organisational information, details of current products or systems, description of need or problem, any formal buying process to be undertaken, other products or services previously used and the level of satisfaction with them, timescales, budget and so on.
Providing this is done in the right manner, this can be seen to be assisting the prospect by ensuring that the next level of contact is appropriate for their needs. Thus a prospect who needs help in defining needs might be passed to a pre-sale consultant. A prospect that needs finance might be passed to a financial consultant or sent information on obtaining finance. It is important to systematically move the prospect through the process rather than jump in and try to sell before they are qualified. If you don’t know what they want or whether they are ready to buy – why waste your best sales resources.