So you’ve got your lead generation sorted and are swimming in possible prospects who have shown interest. But how do you decide which leads are worth following and which aren’t? Qualifying a prospect to see their customer potential can be tricky but if you do it right you can make sure you’re focusing your time on the leads that are more likely to convert to sales.
Here are 4 tips to help you figure out which leads are worth following up:
1. Build an Ideal Customer Profile
A successful marketing campaign is only successful if it’s aimed at the right prospects. It doesn’t matter how good your content is if the only people who see it are ones that get no value from it. Knowing your target customer is one of the most important aspects of qualifying your prospects.
The best way to get to know the kind of customer you want to target is to first look at your current customers. Take your best customers and look at their key demographics (eg. the age and stage of maturity of the company, the amount of employees, its geographic location, its annual revenue, etc.) See what patterns emerge between these customers and you’ll soon see the kinds of things you should be looking for in an ideal customer. It’s a good idea to find out from these current customer what you did to get their attention in the first place, and to keep them as customers, as this can help you know what works and what doesn’t on your part.
It’s also useful to have an idea of what the opposite of your ideal customer is, your Imperfect Customer Profile. This is where you can gather data from leads you thought were going to be profitable but, late in the game, didn’t turn out that way. See if any patterns or red flags emerged from these customers that you can look for and avoid again.
2. Research your leads
Researching your potential prospects is a pivotal part of this process. Once you have your ideal customer profile you need to find out if your lead fits it. It’s best to start with researching the goals and objectives of the company to get an idea of what exactly they are looking for and how you can be of value to them. Finding out their pain points will help as you can firstly see if you and your product can actually help them, and you can then prove your value to the customer when it does come time to contact them.
One of the best ways to research your prospects is through social media. Twitter is a good platform to find out the interests of your prospect and what’s important to them. Commenting, favouriting, and retweeting will show a mutual interest in these topics and connect with your prospect on a personal level. It’s also a good way to share other content that you think the prospect may find beneficial, thereby demonstrating yourself as someone who has the needs of your prospect in mind, rather than someone who is merely pushing their own agenda.
LinkedIn is useful for finding more concrete information on the company itself. Updates and recent news about the company and any content that they’ve published recently are good starting points when it comes to contacting them. It’s also handy to find out who you need to contact in the company. Is the lead a decision-maker or an influencer, or do they have connections to these people within the business? Do you have any common connections with the decision-makers of the business? Having this kind of information will be beneficial when it comes time to make contact with the prospect.
3. Prioritize your prospects
Once you’ve researched your prospects and found the ones that fit your Ideal Customer Profile, you can start to prioritize which ones to contact first. There are many ways to prioritize your prospects, but the easiest is probably having a ‘High, Medium and Low’ system. ‘High Priority’ prospects are ones that fit your Ideal Customer Profile, have a business goal that you can match with your product, be, or have access to, a decision-maker within the company, and have a lot of interaction with your online presence.
A ‘Medium Priority’ prospect would fit most of the criteria for your Ideal Customer Profile, have a business goal that you can match with your product, be, or have access to, an influencer within the company, and have a fair amount of interaction with your online presence.
Finally, a ‘Low Priority’ prospect would fit little or none of the criteria for your Ideal Customer Profile, have a business goal that wouldn’t match to your product easily, have little or no connection to a decision-maker or influencer within the company, and have little or no interaction with your social media presence.
So now you’ve got your list of qualified prospects and it’s time to start contacting them. The first thing to do is figure out how you want to contact them. The most popular options are phone or email and both have pros and cons. Email is good in that it doesn’t make the prospect feel pressured, they have time to think about it. It’s also easier for the prospect to forward an email if there’s someone in the company who they think will find it more relevant. You do have to be prepared to send a few follow up emails, however, as it’s easy for an email to get lost in a prospect’s inbox.
Contacting a prospect over the phone makes the process slightly quicker as you get through to your prospect directly. There is always the possibility of getting through to voicemail, as your prospect may not always be near their phone, and a voicemail is just as easy to delete as an email. A combination of the two is a good option, but they key is to make sure you’re not being overly persistent to the point that you annoy the prospect.
Whichever way you decide to contact the prospect, you need to make sure you have a message ready. Tailor it to each prospect so it’s personal and doesn’t seem too automated. Have a quick and easy call-to-action in the message, such as asking them if they are free for a ten minute conversation and giving them a time or a selection of times to choose from.
If the prospect doesn’t respond, wait 48 hours before sending a follow up message, and the same if you send a third. Make sure you’re keeping up with the social media interaction you did during your research. Sometimes the prospect is too busy to respond straight away and just needs to be nudged in your direction.
Not every lead will turn into a qualified prospect, and not every qualified prospect will turn into a customer. But by making sure you’re concentrating on the best possibilities, you’re more likely to close more valuable deals.