It's short-sighted to focus solely on finding the new sales lead according to Brock Greene, a veteran marketer, President and founder of Integrated Marketing Partners, a firm in San Francisco that specializes in lead generation. There's gold in your in-house prospect list, reaching out to folks who weren't quite ready to buy during your first conversation. But how do you find and revive "the long-forgotten lead"?
Here are some highlights from a recent interview:
Q: First, Brock, what constitutes "a long-forgotten lead," a C lead of A-B-C?
BG: Well for starters, in many businesses a long forgotten lead may have been a B lead or even an A lead that wasn't followed up on or wasn't ready to buy at the first contact. Many companies only follow-up on the very hottest leads,which is usually less that 10% of the leads. Back to your question, any lead that hasn't been followed up in the 3-6 months is probably feeling pretty forgotten.
What many business owners don't consider is the "buying cycle" for most serious purchases is anywhere from 3 months to 2 years. So while people will make impulse purchases for something like an iPod or a shirt, once you get to $500 or $5,000 or more, consumers and businesses take some time in deciding whether to buy something and which type and brand to buy.
Q:What's the difference between a hot lead that's been forgotten and one that's really dead?
BG: A dead lead is someone who is no longer in the market for your offer. A hot lead is interested in buying in your product category very soon. And the reality is that most leads fall in between hot and dead.
Q: How do you tell the difference between dead and 'able to be revived'?
BG: Unfortunately, this is often not easy to know without communicating with the person. Depending on your business and the number of leads you have, calling these leads to ascertain where they are in the buying cycle may be feasible though you want to couch that call as alerting them to some new information on your product.
However, if you have hundreds or thousands of old leads, you will want to review the information you have on them. Many companies use "lead scoring" to determine who is an A, B, or C lead, so I would use the same approach in prioritizing forgotten leads.
Q: Does some of this also require that you understand who your profitable customer is? We've had guests on the show who say that the first step to good prospecting is knowing who your ideal customer is; not just the biggest customer, that's easy - but the ideal customers.
BG: Well, hopefully your targeting and lead scoring systems are built to identify potentially profitable customers. We should probably record a podcast on how to do this!
Q: Let's set expectations here: how long does it take to revive one? Generally what can you expect in terms of click through rate or response rate?
BG: I wish I had better news on this front, but email response rates are generally awful when going after prospects. The amount of spam, the prevalence of Junk Mail filters, and the sheer volumes of email in the average person's in-box has led to click-thru rates that are often below 1/2 of one percent. If feasible for your business, you should consider direct mail followed up with a telephone call. If email is the only affordable way to reach your leads, I think it is important to make an offer that is compelling to re-engage these prospects. The offer could be directly around your product or it could be to offer them information relevant to your product category and their purchase decision.
Q: How many times should you actually hit your database?
BG: In the early stages of reviving your old leads, you might talk to them every two weeks if you have something to say. Consumers and businesspeople alike are inundated with marketing messages, so make it worth their while to pay attention to you. If you plan to communicate two or more times, think through why and what the sequence should be like. We call this the cadence of communication.
Q: What are the general additional categories that need to be in your database to be able to work your own house list appropriately? (I would imagine it has to do with the specs of your product. If you're selling based on industry, getting really specific on that would be necessary -- pipe that only goes for plumbing vs. pipe for electrical, the type of firm would be important).
BG: The things every business should capture include: all contact info; business specs, industry, size ,etc; product interest; problem they need to solve (in their words); when they plan to make a decision.
Q: Now that you have your golden list, let's say you're readying them for a call center what do you do?
BG: There are two critical things you need to do before you start calling:Develop a script and test it out. Without a good script, all is lost. Most people know to develop a script but don't vet it. I would suggest enlisting the help of a few new customers to make sure it hits the right notes. If after a day or two of calling and it's not working, make changes.