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The Basics Of Generating Sales Leads.
Lead generation is about generating sales opportunities from prospects. Sales leads do come in different types based on the level of the sales opportunity.
It is generally acclaimed by sales trainers that it takes an average of 7 calls to get through to a prospect. This could be due to a number of reasons (the prospect being out when you call, in a meeting, busy with something else etc.) which means that chasing is needed. Many people would give up at this stage; however this is only the first stage in the lead generation process and the long hard road it takes to get a sale.
However this brings about a very important question that needs to be tacked first...
What is a Sales Lead
A sales lead is a contact (could be just an e-mail address, could be a phone number or could be both as part of an 'enquiry') that has indicated interest. However there are two types of sales leads, RFQ's and RFI's.
- What Is An RFQ
An RFQ is a request for quotation. There is where the prospect has indicated a very clear buying signal and there is a good opportunity for business to be placed. This is not a confirmed order, just that the prospect has given a good buying signal to the lead generation company.
- What Is An RFI
An RFI is a request for information. This is where the prospect has indicated an interest but not a specific buying signal. This is still a good sales lead, however may require patience and time to nurture. Many companies say these sort of leads are wishy washy however they are a sales persons bread and butter.
All sales leads are valuable, however not all sales leads are the same. Some may convert to a meeting/sale straight away (however this is about 2%) and some may need some work, some a lot of work. Most sales leads go cold and this is the nature of sales leads and lead generation; but the thing to do is not get disheartened.
Tenacity and persistence are the hallmarks of a good sales person and if you are following up sales leads - then you are that sales person and require both of these to be successful.
What Is The Lead Generation Process
There is a process (or formula) involved in following up a sales lead. This is tried and tested and tends to have the best results if followed.
- If you can, send an e-mail introduction
By sending an e-mail, you are forewarning the contact that you will be contacting them. Almost every company has e-mail however if they do not or are a religous group, then a letter will do fine. This also overcomes the problem of the introduction call being cut short with 'can you send me some information' (which can be a fob off, but more often than not, no one likes a call out of the blue). The e-mail also advises the contact that you are going to call them at a certain time on a certain day (giving them the chance to mail you back advising it it is OK, they will be out etc.). If you get an e-mail response (most of the time you will not, then you have the wheels of communication turning).
- Follow up phone call
Once you have sent your e-mail, it is advised to allow the prospect time to read, digest and respond to your e-mail. This may take a couple of days as most people are busy with other priorities other than responding to your e-mail. 95% of the time, you will not get through to the prospect. They will be out, in a meeting, ill, on holiday or one of 10 other reaons. Try to find out when they are back (from a colleague or secretary) and then arrange a call back
- Repeat e-mail
If you have tried the contact a couple of times, and were unsuccessful, a quick e-mail follow up is a good gentle reminder that you are keeping to your word of following up. May people would say that if a contact does not return an e-mail or phone call, they are not interested. This is not the case, it just means (as mentioned before) they have things in their life that are of similar or higher priority than responding to you).
- Repeat phone call
As mentioned above, it can take up to 7 attempts to get hold of a prospect on the phone. This may be very frustrating for some (not to mention time consuming) however this just means that the person you are calling is not sat at their desk waiting for your call; they have a job to do and are probably doing it.
Lead generation is about patience, hard work and investing time. No business is going to pick up the phone to follow up a lead, get through the first time and get an order. Sales does not work like this, it is actually the opposite. Lead generation is about chasing people, sending e-mails and sheer numbers. It does work as long as the above steps are applied and mixed with volume of leads to follow up.
The Role Of The Lead Generation Company
The role of the lead generation company is to generate the sales lead. Following up the sales lead is then a job that is passed over to the client, which can be a job that is difficult. The reason is that many people do not have the time to chasse sales leads or chase clients. This is very much a telemarketing role and one that either needs to be understoood and taken on by the customer, or passed to a telemarketing company to generate either a sale or meeting.
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