Have you ever been at the receiving end of a pushy used car salesman’s pitch? Maybe a Kirby vacuum cleaner salesperson who, once in your front door, simply won’t leave – no matter what you try to do to get rid of them?
Horrible isn’t it!
Well, believe it or not, many of those tactics have moved online with salespeople using technology to hound you in the mistaken belief you might be a hot prospect.
I had a few examples of this recently when I was doing some research into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems for a client.
For those of you not familiar with what a CRM is, it’s essentially a filing system where you keep all the data regarding your prospects and customers in one place. You can track leads, sales and when to follow up with people. A good CRM is absolutely essential avoid stuff falling through the cracks.
And the really good ones can automatically send additional follow up material via email, fax, physical mail, SMS etc. once prospects have made an enquiry.
By the way, there are only two systems we recommend that fully integrate marketing, sales and e-commerce. If you’d like to know more, drop us a line.
At Revealed Resources, we have two main mantras.
- People buy when they are ready to do so, not when you want to sell something.
- And once a prospect has raised their hands expressing interest, you must consistently and constantly follow up for you to have any chance of moving the sale forward.
Having said that though, the one thing you must never do is be pushy and assume where someone is in the buying cycle.
Strategy and timing is everything! It is a huge mistake to bombard a prospect with pushy messages, calls, suggestions for meetings etc., too early in the process.
So back to my examples from CRM vendors.
One major vendor’s site was a classic squeeze page – where they give you minimal information and encourage to watch a video or download a free White Paper where they expound the features of their system.
So in return for my full name, email, phone and company (all mandatory fields), I got to watch their 3 minute promotional video.
At this point I was just doing some preliminary research. I didn’t want to be a “lead”. And I certainly didn’t want to talk to a salesperson.
But, based on the email I received a few minutes after watching the video, you’d think I was one hot prospect.
I noticed that you have recently been on our website taking a look at some information.
Many customers who have taken this initial step have found it extremely valuable to set up a brief 10 minute call with me to answer any questions they have and explain how our different products and services could bring value to their specific situation.
This typically helps shorten your evaluation process and gives you exactly the information you need to help make any comparisons or decisions.
What is the best way to get 10 minutes on your calendar in the near future?”
Hang on a sec. I’ve only just watched a three minute promotional video. I don’t even know if I want to take this further and even if I did, I’d want to do more research without having a salesperson breathing down my neck!
When I didn’t respond, the next day I got…
Thank you for your interest in ourcrm.com.
I am unable to reach you at: 123-456-7890. Is there a better number to reach you at?
Please let me know if it makes sense to connect. I would be happy to lend you a hand to further evaluate ourcrm.com.
Alternatively, if you don’t see a need for us to connect, please let me know that as well.”
And then the clincher!
The day after I actually got a call from a salesperson (from the US) who wanted to know exactly what my situation was, what I was looking for in a CRM and when I was going to make a decision!!!!
And this happened not once, but with three different CRM vendors, all with similar messages.
Just because I expressed some preliminary interest, they pursued me as if I was in the midst of making a major buying decision. See where assumptions can take you!
And this is where many organisations go wrong. They set up their automatic lead generation systems like this and have no idea regarding buyer behaviour and the right follow up strategies and timing they should use.
So what should they have done instead?
First of all, when a prospect registers interest, stop, take a deep breath and do not go into “sales mode”.
And this goes for whether they picked up the phone and made an enquiry or found you on the net and registered some interest.
Remember, in today’s buying environment people often want to do their research before speaking to a salesperson. In a previous article, I wrote about how 94% of your prospects will go online to research you, your company and your products and services before making a purchasing decision.
And that 80-92% of senior business executives research business problems online and prefer to obtain information about your products and solutions through content such as white papers, blogs, articles, and educational materials.
Your only goal when a prospect contacts you is to start forming a relationship so your prospect gets to know you, what you could offer and how you could potentially solve their issues.
So if you’re speaking live, your role is to ask questions, find out what the problem your prospect is trying to solve and provide relevant information without overloading them. Don’t be the vomiting salesman depicted in this article.
And like it or not, this takes time. It may take you many “touches” to make the sale – especially if you’re selling a complex and expensive product or service.
But what if the enquiry came in via the web – where your prospect downloaded some information?
My suggestion is to gently follow them up via email. (You did ask for their email address, didn’t you?)
You’d provide them with more information about whatever it is they’re interested in, broken into small, bite sized chunks over time. Each additional piece of information you send them could also encourage them to pick up the phone and call you, and/or send them to other parts of your website where they could find other interesting stuff given what they’ve already looked at.
And yes, this does seem like a lot of work, but it is easy to automate with the right tools.
The marketing CRM we strongly recommend will not only capture all your prospect’s details, but tracks exactly where they went on your site(s), what they looked at, and how long for. The system will then automatically alert you given certain triggers (they’re showing more interest by coming back, watching certain videos, reading certain material etc.), so you can make intelligent decisions as to next follow up.
And yes, we practice what we preach. Over the years I’ve never had someone we’ve called to follow up not be pleased to hear from us. In every case they’ve appreciated the value we’d already given them through our newsletters and other free material we’ve sent.
And timing is everything – many of these people went on to becoming clients there and then – just because we took the trouble to keep in touch.
Remember, people buy when they’re ready. Your job is to be in front of them (unobtrusively) when they are. So while regular follow up and keep in touch mechanisms are vital, you must understand the strategy behind it. Which is one of the major areas we work with our clients in.
Talk to us about how we can create a full lead generation system strategy which will have you generate more business.
We’ll not only create the strategy, but also implement all the components, from lead generation whitepapers, videos, frequently asked questions etc., to a state of the art CRM system which manages the whole process from start to finish.