Companies spend a lot of money obtaining leads for their sales teams; they buy directories, use social media, attend trade shows, and buy marketing materials. The smart companies write and publish I-Connect007 eBooks, such as the “The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…” series. All of these lead-generation methods can work, but finding leads is only the first step.
Most companies can get leads, and most of the time, they will do it successfully and generate an entire database of the right leads that are interested in the products that your company is producing. But what doesn’t always work is turning these leads into gold; that is up to those of us in sales. Here are five steps to turn your leads into orders:
1. Complete the Lead
Sometimes, not all of the information is provided, so a good salesperson will know to complete the contact’s information and how to do it. This might mean using Google or LinkedIn, but no matter how you do it, if you are a good salesperson, you will research until you find the right contact’s name, email address, and phone number. This is a good first step.
Lazy salesperson alert: The salesperson who complains about having to do this.
2. Research the Company
Once you have the right contact information, you should find out everything you can about that target company from what they build to what market(s) they are in as well as the company’s history. With all of the information available today, there is no reason not to learn anything about the companies you are targeting.
Lazy salesperson alert: The salesperson who says that he cannot find out anything about the company.
3. Warm up the Cold Call
With email, snail mail, and social media, there are a number of ways to make sure that when you place the call to the target customer, they will already know who you are. Reach out to them via email or write a comprehensive and interesting series of short newsletters to your complete lead list. My personal favorite, send a real letter with your signature it in one of those $3 post office express letters that looks important, and whatever you do, always write out the address by hand. Who can resist opening a hand-addressed, FedEx-looking envelope? It will sit there on their desk just screaming to be opened. Follow all or even just one of these suggestions, and the target account will know you who you are.
Lazy salesperson alert: The salesperson who lists all of the reasons why these methods will not work.
4. Prepare the Right Message
Chances are very good you will reach a voicemail inbox, so be prepared. Come up with a strong, provocative message so that the person will call you back. There are many books on how to use voicemail filled with good advice on creating the right message. Buy one and read it; it will be worth the time and effort. Work on turning voicemails into opportunities.
Lazy salesperson alert: The salesperson who says that cold calling does not work anymore and will never work.
5. Follow up With a Personal Letter and an Engraved Invitation
If you are still not getting anywhere, send the person an engraved invitation. Or better yet, and as scary as this may seem, do a live cold call. Walk into their lobby and ask to see a specific person, and if they are too busy to see you, then leave a beautifully engraved invitation. Make sure that the invitation includes an attractive offer to do business with you, such as a huge discount off of their first order, or something similar that fits your particular needs. Surveys indicate that it costs over $10,000 to gain a new customer, so you can certainly spend a few hundred dollars to short-cut the process.
Lazy salesperson alert: The salesperson who nixes this idea based on the 2% of their customers who cannot take a discount gift while the other 98% will.
If you follow all of these steps and instructions diligently, you will get that all-important face-to-face meeting, and you will be on your way to turning that lead into gold. Next week, we will revisit the topic of how to handle that first face-to-face meeting and turn the prospect into a customer. Until then, grab those leads your company provides you as if they were as special as the leads that Mitch and Murray held back from their sales guys in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, and turn them into gold.
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.