Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce

3 Tips for Successfully Cold Calling Your 'Hot Leads'

from our friends at Manta

By Larry Prevost, Dale Carnegie Training Instructor

To make the best of your lead-generation processes, you need to have solid cold calling and communications skills in place.

A while ago, I received a cold call from someone following up on me as a lead. Apparently I had downloaded a whitepaper on something and in doing so, I had to supply my contact information like name, email address and phone number. In the process, I triggered their lead-generation system and became what is known as a "hot lead."

Here's the challenge: I had no idea when I had been on their website and downloaded their whitepaper, what the whitepaper was about, the name of the company, or why I had downloaded it in the first place. I could not remember.

It must have made a really big impression.

Or maybe I got pressed for time and couldn't read the whitepaper when I downloaded it. I'm sure no one out there has ever found an interesting piece on the Web, downloaded the whitepaper, and had an emergency pop up just as you were getting ready to dig in. You know as well as I that once you file that whitepaper on your hard drive to deal with something else, you probably won't get back to it.

Well, whatever the reason, I couldn't remember downloading the whitepaper, or even visiting their website.

The sad part was that my cold calling sales rep didn't know when I was on the site or what I had downloaded either. All she had was a name, a phone number and she was probably told, "You need to contact this one. It's a hot lead!"

Compare that call with one I recently received from a small marketing company in New England called Hubspot. If you look them up on the web, you'll find that Hubspot specializes in lead generation software and strategies. They have a number of articles and videos on the web, PPC programs and partnerships designed to generate interest in their appropriate markets. Somewhere out there, I found an ad for one of their whitepapers outlining several methods on using Facebook to engage and develop contacts. Curious, I supplied my information and downloaded the whitepaper.

I didn't get a call back immediately. But I did get a "thank you" email. Then, I received several email updates concerning how to use social media to generate and nurture leads.

After about two weeks of this, I finally got a call from "Bill" over at Hubspot. Bill actually left me 4 voicemails over a 2-week time span. Here's what I noticed about Bill's voicemails:

  • They were all 30 seconds in length; they were brief.
  • They started with what I had stated my interests were, not with how great his company or his service was.
  • They referenced the item I had downloaded, not that I had downloaded "a whitepaper."
  • They had his contact information at the end.

In the fourth voicemail, he said that he wanted to try to connect one last time. Essentially, he was saying that he was pulling back and focusing his efforts elsewhere. After all, he had made several attempts, and I had not called back. Obviously I had lost some of my initial interest and was not ready to talk to a sales person.

Well, the last voicemail drove the point home. I was still interested and I needed to move this call up in priority if I wanted to hear what they had to offer. The net result: A lead, me, was moved to the next stage in the sales process because of a well executed sales process.

If you have a lead generation process in place, don't waste good leads with poor cold calling follow through. Keep these three tips in the back of your mind when you're contacting those "hot leads."

Tip 1: Cold Call Your Lead Immediately To Keep Them Hot.

There is something to be said for following up on a lead in a timely fashion. If someone downloaded a whitepaper from your site or they left some kind of indication that they were interested in your stuff, don't wait too long before you get in touch with them. Send them some type of "thank you for stopping by" note. Put them into a lead-nurturing program if you don't think you'll be able to follow up with them in 24 to 48 hours. But don't wait 2 weeks when you finally have some time to follow up with them. They'll have made 37 other downloads from 22 other sites and will have no idea of what you are talking about.

Tip2: Know What Media They Downloaded and When They Downloaded It.

I think about the way this young lady opened and executed the call.

She said that I had visited the website and I had downloaded a whitepaper. I told her that I truly couldn't remember because I had been to so many other sites within the past few days. The downloaded whitepaper had probably gotten lost in the noise of day-to-day operations. If she could tell me something about the whitepaper she was referencing, perhaps I could remember why I had been at her site in the first place.

Her response was, "I don't know. All they told me was that you had visited the site and that you had downloaded a whitepaper."

Now I usually don't get impassioned about things like this, but I'm gonna make an exception right now: That stinks!

She had no information on what I had downloaded or when I had downloaded it.

Many individuals make major investments in lead generation programs for their companies thinking that it will save their people from the pain of cold calling or that it's going to rocket their sales into orbit. Somehow, they believe that a contact downloading a whitepaper from their site absolves the sales team from having to sell.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

You still need to be able to communicate coherently and you still need to be able to sell effectively. In order to do that, you need the basic information. Know why you are calling your prospect. Get that information from the person who assigned the lead to you. If they don't have it, then as a sales rep, you need to give feedback to the marketing people and let them know that you need this kind of information. It's doable. Trust me.

Tip 3: Engage Your Lead By Referring Back To What They Downloaded.

I've had inside sales people cold call me on several occasions regarding a media download. The conversation typically goes something like this:

"Hello Mr. Prevost. My name is Bob Mumblefratz. I'm just following up on a whitepaper you downloaded from our site. Did you find everything OK? Is there anything else that we can help you with today?"

Nothing wrong with that if you are in customer service. You make sure that the client got what they needed and that they don't need anything else.

In a sales situation, however, you need to be more engaging. Something like this:

"Hello Larry? I got a note indicating that you downloaded our whitepaper entitled '7 Killer Secrets for Lead Generation' on February 15, 2009. Is that correct? Larry, clients who have downloaded that particular paper had concerns regarding 1. New marketing strategies, 2. Increasing their cold calling success rate, 3. Generating more revenue, 4. Shortening their sales cycle, and 5. Increasing the productivity of their inside sales team. Larry, how many of those five points are concerns for you?

Of the two, the last approach gets your prospect engaged. The first one is like being a sales rep in a retail shop, approaching a walk-in prospect and asking, "Hi. May I help you?" It's nice… polite… and bland. Nothing wrong with it, but you already know the answer; "No thanks. Just looking." And off they go.

With the second approach, you are essentially telling the prospect the kinds of challenges other prospects have faced. Now your prospect has a scale to gauge their challenges against. If they don't have a challenge, they will pick something from your selection that is of interest to them. That gives you some added material to work with. Be sure to include the requisite conditional closes, references to timing and personal identifiers.

Remember that a lead generation system will do some filtering on the front end and send qualified leads in your direction. But if you can't communicate to determine a need or sell the next steps effectively, then your lead generation system is a waste of time. Keep these three tips in mind:

1. Follow up on your prospects in a timely fashion
2. Get pertinent information on what they received
3. Get them engaged immediately by referencing what they downloaded

Good Selling!

About the Author: Larry Prevost is an instructor and an IT consultant for Dale Carnegie Training of Ohio and Indiana .

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