Continually following up and nurturing leads is a key part of any sales process. If, for instance, you own a recruitment agency, you might need to constantly liaise with an employer until they trust you enough to let you hire staff on their behalf. Similarly, a sales rep in a company that sells fitness products may need to deal with a number of potential customers in gyms, health clubs, and personal training companies. This is why you should treat a warm sales lead and cold leads individually and appropriately.
How do we define cold and warm sales leads? Understanding what stage your lead is at in the sales process can make a real difference to the outcome, which is why we’ve put together a guide to help you get more out of the warm ones.
What are warm and cold leads?
If it’s a cold lead, this usually means the person doing the selling and the person being targeted have no previous relationship. We’ve all had phone calls out of the blue offering to fix a non-existent PPI problem – well that’s cold calling, with cold leads. As you can imagine, turning one of these into a sale is a tad on the rare side. If you do need to cold call, however, then our blog on the subject should give you a hand.
Warm leads, on the other hand, are people who have shown interest in your company in the past, or people with whom you have begun to build a relationship. Perhaps someone filled in an online form asking for more information about a product, or they made connections with your staff at a networking event. When these people receive a call or a visit, this is a warm lead.
Which one is more valuable?
As you might expect, warm leads are considered far more valuable than cold leads when it comes to the sales process. A pre-existing relationship or expression of interest makes it far easier to approach a potential sale. Sales talk is much more likely to be effective, too. This leads us nicely into the next point: how can you get more warm leads?
How to increase your warm leads
Actually taking time to build and nurture your existing relationships – as well as creating new links with new interested parties – is the best use of your time and money. Much more so than buying long lists of phone numbers, email addresses, and other data packs to approach cold. Though it takes time and effort to build relationships, the payoff is always far greater. Here are a few tips on what you can do to help attract warm leads.
It’s always worth requesting the contact details of people who express an interest in your brand at a tradeshow or networking event. This way you have already established first contact, and they won’t be surprised if you get in touch further down the line. For more information on what to do at networking events, have a read of this.
Utilising your website
It’s really important to make sure your website can capture the contact details of any interested parties. One good way of doing this is by placing an email capture form on your website, which pops up after the reader has been on the site for a certain amount of time. You will probably see one pop up as you’re reading this article, for example.
Professional networking websites
Think about using professional networking sites such as LinkedIn. That way, you can interact with somebody’s updates and profile before approaching them for a sale. LinkedIn lets you find out precisely what somebody does and what their professional interests are, putting you in a great position to target your sales pitch accurately — and to the relevant person.
There are a whole host of more complicated ways to draw in warm leads, from content marketing to digital PR. However, start with the basics, and get to grips with what you’re comfortable with first.
Qualifying leads using the BANT approach
The BANT approach is a technique used by salespeople to qualify leads before “going in for the kill”. It offers them a way of understanding how invested a person might be in your product or service, allowing them to approach the sale accordingly.
BANT stands for:
Budget: does the customer have enough money to buy what you’re selling?
Authority: does the customer have the authority to make a final decision on whether or not to buy your product or service?
Need: does your product or service fulfil a need this customer has?
Timescale: is this customer interested in buying your offering straight away or are they considering it for some point in the future?
The more you know about your prospective customer, the better positioned you will be to qualify them and adapt your sales technique according to where they are in the context of BANT.
How to nurture your warm leads
You will find a lot of different formulas for success in sales and marketing, whether online or in books – each detailing precisely when you should call someone back and how long you should leave it before following up. The reality is that you are dealing with human beings, so precise formulas don’t always work.
We do know, however, that chasing one warm lead is a much better use of your time than trying to keep track of ten cold ones. The person who recognises your name and has expressed an interest in your product will always be more worthwhile to pursue than the person whose phone number you have bought who has never heard of you.