Your Sales Development Representative (SDR) is responsible for generating leads for you to turn into sales, and once you have those leads you’ll have your initial introduction or phone call. But, what’s next? As a founder, what should you be doing to secure a meeting and move the sales process forward?
In this article we’ll provide a step-by-step guide to following up with B2B leads generated by SDRs, giving you the tools to create an effective and robust sales campaign.
Prospecting and Conversion Rates
Prospecting is the very first step in the sales development process and is where you’ll identify potential customers. In terms of the conversion rate to aim for, Salesforce reports that it takes an average of 84 days to convert 13% of leads to opportunities. But, for reasons such as not knowing how to prioritize leads and not having a properly calibrated messaging campaign, 71% of qualified leads are never followed up on. And, when leads are used, only 1.3 call attempts are made before giving up, which kills conversion rates.
How to Follow up with Outbound Leads
Our partners consistently report that integrating persistent follow-ups via multiple channels including emails, phone calls, and social media closes the most sales.
It’s not enough to just make contact on a regular basis, though. Instead of “checking in” send something of value, such as case studies, webinars, whitepapers, ebooks, or other free resources. Reconsider your sales enablement processes if your team doesn’t already have access to these resources.
Statistics show that the average response time for a lead is almost 47 hours, which is too long. Replying to a lead within five minutes is shown to be 100 times more successful than calling 30 minutes later, so it’s best practice to ensure that your salespeople are being proactive.
If you’re wondering, “how many times should I follow up with leads?” a lead requires 7-10 touches to convert. By committing to at least six touches, you’re already increasing the likelihood of making contact by 70%.
What Mistakes Should I Avoid when Following up with Leads?
- Giving up – to keep your sales team on track, create a follow-up schedule and ensure that they stick to it.
- Failing to offer value – prospects don’t want to feel as though they’re being sold to, so you need to offer value. This could be social media posts relating to their industry, or a relevant news article.
- Losing momentum – you need to thoughtfully follow up at least weekly, not monthly. Frequency matters as much as the content of the messaging itself.
What are Best Practices for Following up on Outbound Leads?
Scoring leads will ensure that your sales team are working the best, or hottest, leads. A prospect’s job position, company size, social media following, and engagement with your website is valuable information for your scoring system.
With sales follow-up emails, it’s all about saying the right thing at the right time:
- Initial follow-up email – make it clear that you listened to them in the introduction call or meeting, and demonstrate value by offering initial solutions.
- After a meeting or call – if a prospect hasn’t followed up, ask them if they are still aligned with the next steps you decided on during your initial call.
- After a trigger event – if your email software indicates that a prospect has re-opened your email or proposal, offer to set up a call to answer any questions. Better yet, make the call.
- After leaving a voicemail – reiterate the purpose of the call and let them know when you plan to call again while emphasizing what’s in it for them.
- Following up on a previous email – if you haven’t heard back, ask them when would be a good time to talk, or whether you should contact an alternative team member.
Gong.io analyzed more than 100,000 connected outreach calls and found the following things to be true:
- Make the first five seconds count – this is when you earn five minutes of your prospect’s time.
- Intent matters – start your call by stating its purpose and your success rate will be 2.1 times higher.
- Successful calls run for an average of 5:50, and successful salespeople are found to do 54% of the talking.
- The power of “we” – ditching “I” from your vocabulary will increase success rates by 35%.
Voicemail is a powerful tool, and here’s how to get your message right:
- Keep it between 20-30 seconds.
- Use your natural voice.
- Avoid being aggressive or pushy.
- Lead with relevant information.
- Avoid a traditional close. Instead, end on a specific question or action point.
Other Best Practices Include:
- Automation – By using automation, you’ll be immediately notified when a prospect replies to you so you can follow up quickly.
- Protocols – even before a prospect contacts you, make sure you have a plan in place for what you’ll do when that happens.
How do I Track my Follow up Sales Cadence with Leads?
Utilize a Customer Relationship Management System
Using a CRM such as Salesforce or HubSpot alongside an email marketing automation tool is essential to managing lead follow-ups. Using these tools will allow you to track each prospect and log progress without labor-intensive admin.
Here’s one way to codify the stage of your company’s prospects:
- New leads – respond to these prospects first.
- Marketing qualified leads – these leads are more likely to convert, so follow-ups should be timely and proactive.
- Sales qualified leads – your prospect has been vetted by marketing and sales and is ready for the next stage of your sales process.
- Nurture – you’ve had a discovery call with these prospects, so they need additional follow-ups.
- Opportunity – follow up with your potential interested buyers next.
- Closing – you’ve sent your proposal and contract over, now the aim is on ringing the register.
Companies frequently fail to systemize their approaches to closing enough deals. To hit forecasted numbers and secure your next round of funding, your sales funnel and team needs to be working for you: from the content of your communication to the speed and frequency of your follow-ups.
Interested in determining whether outsourcing is the best option for your team? Contact us here for a strategy session, on us.