By Rachel Bonnette, Marketing Director
We’re all in the business to get business and new business is the backbone of any company. Generating sales provides the revenue to keep companies alive. But how do you get the business? The sales pipeline tells us to embrace a large audience and funnel through the buyers who need our product or service. But how do we do that? Accurately qualifying your leads is the only way to turn them into clients. Consider the following questions as a way to “score” or evaluate your leads:
Can You Provide What They Need?
Your company has an offering, but is your offering what this potential buyer really needs? Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. If a prospect is looking for something you can provide, great; but, if you can’t deliver, don’t be afraid to redirect them to someone who can help them. To guarantee you’re not providing false hope to potential buyers, make sure each member of your team thoroughly understands your company’s capabilities. Your company may not have an in-house animation team but does have an in-house creative team which is partnered with one. Therefore, your company can provide animation services. If you’re a construction company, don’t promise interior decorating services.
If you can’t provide what they need, they should no longer be on your prospect list. If you are capable of meeting their needs, assess the next step in evaluating the lead: their timeline.
Working with a Timeline
Fast, great and cheap. Which two do you want? That’s an old saw but true. Understanding a potential buyer’s timeline is essential to a successful relationship. At Foster Marketing, we often have prospects come to us needing something created and produced within the next month or even the next week. While we have the capabilities to ensure a quick turn-around, working within tight time frames runs the risk of producing work that is less than perfect. Working with a reasonable timeline ensures your company can produce the best quality work. It’s OK to turn away business if a prospect has an unrealistic timeline.
The Internet has allowed our society to set a precedent for immediate gratification, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your work shouldn’t be either. Don’t let the pressure of working under an impractical timeline damage your business. If you can’t meet the timeline the prospect is expecting, they’re not a hot lead. Try revisiting them later to see if they have new opportunities with reasonable timelines. If you can meet the deadlines, proceed to the next evaluation standard: budget.
A Budget Signifies a Plan
The elephant in the boardroom is always budget. No one knows how much they should spend, and the ones that do know, won’t disclose it. However, when a lead is transparent about their budget, it signifies a plan is in place. If a certain investment amount has been allocated to a certain project, it’s because that project has a purpose and is a priority to the company. Don’t spend an unnecessary amount of time on a lead with no budget — they often don’t have a plan.
Budget is also important because it provides a way to really tailor a plan to a prospect’s needs. Presenting a prospective client who has a $3,000 budget with a $30,000 plan won’t help them — but you wouldn’t know their budget if they didn’t disclose it. If a company with a need you can provide has a realistic timeline to work with but doesn’t have the money to invest, turn them away. Revisit them later to see if they have a budget that’s compatible with their plans. If a lead has a need you can fulfill, a realistic timeline to work with and an appropriate budget, they’re an A list lead — go get ‘em!
|Lead Type||Can you provide what they need?||Can you accomplish it in time?||Can they provide the appropriate investment?|
Learn to Manage Your List
We all have lists: to-do lists, to-buy lists, to-see lists. In business, the most important of all is your contact list. It should be kept up to date at all times. Having the most current status of your leads captured in a customer relationship management (CRM) system keeps your sales team from having meetings with unqualified leads, pursuing a prospect with no budget, etc.
Beyond the evaluation aspect of knowing your leads, your company should also be building relationships with them. How can you foster a relationship if you don’t keep track of someone as they switch companies, are promoted into new positions, get married, etc.? Having an updated list enables you to respectably touch base with your prospects periodically, ultimately permitting your company to accomplish the core aspect of positioning: staying in front of your prospects. They may not have a need for your services today, but tomorrow that could change, and you want your company’s information to be immediately recalled and readily on hand. At Foster Marketing, we achieve this through “mail, call” — that is, we mail then we call, then we mail, then we call.
The mail is always an attention-getting piece that will immediately grab a prospect’s attention and gets them reading further. But how do you do this? Provide something of value, something that benefits them, something that they can learn from — an informative blog or e-newsletter or a seasonal or clever mail piece. This way, not only are you remaining in front of them, but you’re simultaneously positioning your company as a thought leader. After sending the relevant piece of information, we follow up with a call to confirm receipt. Whether the call turns into an opportunity or not, we are having an informational conversation with a lead on our list about a topic of interest to them. This step completes the cycle back to building a relationship with that prospect.
Assessing needs, timing and budget provides a concrete solution to evaluating your leads. If your company can provide what they need, within their time frame and budget — they’re an A list lead. If your company can provide what they need, but they have an unrealistic time frame or don’t have the budget to invest, revisit them at a later date to reassess the opportunities for you to work together. Most importantly, make sure there is a process in place to keep all of this information from maiden names to project opportunities up to date and accessible (typically through a CRM) to the necessary players in your company.
Acting as a full-service strategic marketing partner, Foster Marketing is skilled at building awareness and capturing the attention of target audiences. Call Foster Marketing today at 281-448-3435 to set up a meeting to discuss the potential of Foster Marketing partnering with your company.