Need for Speed

Why Super Speedy Lead Follow Up Is Absolutely Mandatory and How to Actually Pull It Off

Question for you: At what moment are your prospects MOST in the mood to buy?

Believe it or not—it’s not during the sales call.

Actually, it’s at the moment when they first pick up the phone to call you, or fill out a form online to request information.

Think about it for a second: At that precise moment, something in their brain said “I have enough pain with my current situation that I’ll risk calling a stranger and give them a chance to SELL me something to fix my problem.” That’s a pretty big deal—think about it for a second!

But there are TWO COLOSSAL MISTAKES most companies make at that all-important moment of truth:

Colossal Mistake #1: They don’t make the initial contact with the prospect fast enough.

Colossal Mistake #2: If they do make contact right away, instead of selling the prospect right there and then, they instead just try to set an appointment for some time in the future.

Fixing both of these problems is surely the easiest way to DOUBLE (yes, DOUBLE) sales almost immediately.

Fixing Mistake #1: Instant Lead Follow-Up

Let’s address “Not Making Contact Fast Enough” first. There are tons of statistics that prove that it pays to STRIKE WHILE THE IRON IS HOT.

For instance: Studies that show that the likelihood of contacting a prospect decreases by a factor of 100 TIMES from 5 minutes to 30 minutes after they become a lead. ONE HUNDRED TIMES in just 25 minutes. Stated differently, if you don’t contact a lead in the first 5 minutes, you’ve basically lost them forever. FOREVER.

You spend all that money spent on advertising. You put all that effort and energy into creating a killer website and search engine optimization. If you don’t answer the phone live or call back web leads immediately, you’ve pretty much just screwed yourself over.

Why do leads seem to shrivel up and go away if you don’t reach out to them instantly? I can think of 3 main reasons:

The Law of 9,344: At any given moment, people have approximately 9,344 things going on in their lives, from the extremely mundane (e.g., where are my car keys? look at all this junk mail!) to the extraordinarily important (e.g., Mom fell and broke her hip; my daughter just got an art scholarship). If you don’t capture them IN THE MOMENT, mentally, they’ll shift gears (attention) rapidly to something.

Quick-Draw Competitors: If you wait 11 minutes to call a web lead, you’ve given your competitors an 11-minute head start. Since the internet gives instant access to thousands of options, you can bet your prospect has reached out to others besides you.

Avalanche! This is first cousin to “quick-draw competitors” above; not only have others reached your prospect first, there’s a pretty good chance the prospect has actually been overwhelmed by TOO MANY competitors reaching out to them. If your return phone call or email comes in 22 minutes and 5 competitor calls after the fact—you’re invisible.

The fix for this is fairly easy; try these steps in this exact order:

Make Instant Follow Up Your Culture: Let everyone in your company know that the most important person in your company is the prospect who just filled out the form or just called in. Let them know that fresh prospects are more important than current customers, current prospects, sales meetings, accounting stuff, or any other stuff.

Weave this philosophy into the fabric of your culture and make sure it sticks.

Use Technology: Get off your dinosaur and utilize computer automation to detect and route leads instantly to the right person on your team (more on who that should be, below). There’s lots of CRM software that’s inexpensive and BONEHEAD-PROOF—there’s no excuse for not using it. You can instantly route leads via email, phone, text message, or courier pigeon (not really) and you can also instantly reply to the prospect by those same means. Not doing this is just proof that you hate yourself, your customers, and your business.

Designate A Follow Up Person: I’m not a fan of distributed duties—like having “whoever is available” handle critical tasks like talking to fresh prospects. The fact is that whoever does talk to your prospects is going to have a profound impact on whether or not they ultimately buy or not. You simply cannot afford to have the wrong person taking that call. We’ll cover who it should be and what they should say in detail in the section below. Spoiler alert: It should be a capable, high-caliber sales person.

Most people philosophically agree with me on the points above, even if they’re unwilling to put the time and effort into actually fixing the problem. The most common objections are “It’s hard to manage a large number of leads that way” and “we simply don’t have the time and/or manpower to do this.” Hey, it’s your leads, your life, and your business. That you don’t like that this is the best way to handle things is irrelevant. If you don’t make instant follow up part of the fabric of your company’s culture (#1, above), you lose. Adding technology that you’re not committed to using to your advantage is just plain dumb.

So commit to it, then let’s move on to overcoming the second colossal mistake.

Fixing Mistake #2: On-The-Spot Selling

Okay, so you’ve now converted to the religion of “instant lead follow up” congratulations! And now you’ve just called back a web lead that filled out a form 2 minutes ago on your website. The prospect is surprised (in a good way!) at how fast you’ve answered the call, so to speak.

So now what do you do with this prospect?

The old-school answer is: set an appointment. I’m going to build a case that says that appointment setting as a preferred “next step” is THE WRONG ANSWER. Here we go…

To understand what you should say—and who should be saying it—we first have to review the exact nature of the interaction that’s occurring: A highly motivated prospect just displayed enough courage to call a company and talk to a sales person. They did this on purpose, HOPING that somebody would help them make the best buying decision possible.

If you understand the significance of the above paragraph, then you’re well on your way to understanding what to do next. The LAST THING you want to do is have a “receptionist” or, heaven forbid, an “answering service” take that call. That’s like handing your car keys to a 6-year old. Bad things are very likely going to happen.

Instead, you want a person who is skilled at SELLING to talk to that 2 minute old prospect. That prospect is more susceptible to being sold RIGHT THERE OVER THE PHONE than they ever will be again. Ever.

What’s that? You say it’s impossible to have a seasoned sales veteran on standby, ready to speak to the lowly internet lead at a moment’s notice? Let me ask you this: What else could that sales person possibly be doing that is more important than talking to this brand new lead? I can only think of two things:

He could be in the middle of a sales appointment with a qualified, motivated sales prospect.

Never mind; I can only think of one thing.

If you fiddle with your schedule so there’s always a salesperson on standby, I grant you that it might cost your hotshot sales person some time that could otherwise be spent IN an actual sales call. But realize—your goal isn’t to have your salespeople run a ton of appointments. Your goal is to run as many appointments with highly qualified, already-convinced-they-want-to-buy-from-you prospects. And it’s the job of the phone guy to make sure that’s who your salespeople are spending their time with.

It’s sooooo easy to get caught in the numbers game of “run, run, run, run appointments.” I’m challenging to you to slow down, take more time qualifying and selling on the front end, and as a result, close a higher percentage of leads you do run. Using this method, you should close a BARE MINIMUM of 50% of all leads, and 75% should be considered normal.

The phone qualification method described here takes 2 to 20 minutes to complete—probably about 12 to 15 when done properly (and less than 5 means you quickly disqualified a crappy lead). Here are the steps:

Pre-Call Positioning: Your website had better do a freaking awesome job of communicating your identity, giving social proof, and presenting evidence as to why you’re different and better. If not, you have to start over at the very, very beginning.

Think “Mini Appointment”: Your purpose isn’t to set appointments, your purpose is to conduct instant “mini appointments”, right there on the spot. Yes, eventually the real appointment will be set—but not until after a little (okay, a lot!) of scrutiny. The purpose of this “mini appointment” is spelled out below.

Frame The Situation: Ask the person the nature of their problem—why are they calling? Why now? Why not earlier? What happened that made them go online? How long has the problem been occurring? Have they bought this before? How much do they know about it? What other solutions have they considered? How much do they think it is going to cost to fix?

Probe For Competitors: Are they considering using anyone else? Why did they call you? If there are others in the mix, what did they like about them? Dislike? Have they had any bad experiences with others in the past? What are they trying to avoid?

Identity Download: Give them the “90 second sales pitch” version of your identity: Tell them what others do that sucks, how you’re different, how you’re better, why they should choose you. Let them know what they can expect when doing business with you—as well as when doing business with others.

Get Agreement: Ask them if any of the other solutions/companies they’ve looked at do what you do (i.e., identity). Have them articulate why they think you sound like a better solution. Make sure they say themselves that you are a better option. Make them admit your solutions sounds better.

Talk Money: Yes, on the first call! Ask them how much they are thinking they want to spend on this. This helps you know their budget right up front.

Properly Position the Appointment: Let them know that you only take on so many appointments (give a specific number per week), and they are reserved for people who know what you do and why you’re better (identity), who agree that they want that (again, identity), and who can afford to pay for it. Ask if they fit all those criteria. If so, let them know that YOU ARE COMING TO SELL and if there is any reason they won’t buy when you come. Yes, this takes guts. Try it anyway.

Give Phone Option: If you’re really feeling ballsy, try this: “Do you prefer to handle this over the phone, or do you prefer to have speak in person? Either way is fine by us.” (I understand that based on your situation an in person meeting isn’t always possible).
If this is handled by an experienced, skilled sales person, you will be talking the lingo the prospect wants to hear. After all—they called in wanting to buy. You’ve taken the time to find out what they need, shown them that you do a better job fulfilling that need than anyone else, and assured them that they can afford the best solution (YOU!).

That’s it—they now want to do business with you.

Is it really just that easy in real life? Yes.

You’re right, it doesn’t work every single time. Nothing does. There will always be the ding dong who gets ticked off and says you are wasting his time on the phone. But the majority (i.e., WHO YOU ARE SELLING TO!!!) will be thrilled to get instant answers to the main question they had all along: “Who should I buy from?”

This isn’t voodoo, and it’s not rocket science. It’s simply realizing that the most important prospect you will ever get is the one who just called in or went on your site 2 minutes ago.

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