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New leads: Why the first 24 hours matter

Convert more leads with clear hand-offs and timely follow-ups

Anika Temperante
Anika Temperante
Director of Sales and Marketing

Last year, Volkart May callers generated 24,000 sales leads for our medtech and B2B clients. That’s 24,000 hand-offs from our team of outsourced business development reps to our clients’ sales closers.

Our outbound calling campaigns routinely generate 10:1 or greater ROI for our clients. The campaigns with the best results happen when there’s a clear and collaborative process.

The first 24 hours after you receive a qualified lead are particularly important. That’s because timely follow-up demonstrates the value your brand places on business relationships. There’s nothing worse than identifying a ready buyer and starting to build rapport, only to undermine that trust with a poor transfer between teams or slow follow-up process.

Maximize every qualified lead with a strong follow-up process

To make the most of every sales lead in your B2B or medtech company, follow these best practices.

When you receive the lead:

  • Act promptly. How you receive a lead will vary. Sometimes it’s an email; in other cases, an alert from your CRM system or sales database. Know what to watch for, then make a point of reacting quickly. Open new leads immediately. Acknowledge receipt from your marketing team or outsourced lead generation partner. Review the details and make sure the information is complete. If you’re going to be out-of-office, assign a colleague to monitor and follow-up on your behalf.
  • Introduce yourself. The logical first step with any qualified lead is outreach by the in-house sales team. As soon as you receive the lead, send an email introducing yourself. It’s helpful to have a version of this email pre-written or set up as a template in your CRM system, so you can respond easily. Use a clear subject line so the lead knows why you’re reaching out.
  • Schedule a call. Setting up an appointment is the next step. Sometimes, your outbound contact center will handle this for you, putting a confirmed meeting time directly on your calendar. If that’s not the case, then arrange a time for a conversation by including some open meeting times in your introductory email. There are many free tools like Calendly that can streamline the scheduling process for you and your prospects.
  • Include a calendar invite. Once you’ve agreed on a time and date to meet, send a calendar invite to block the time on your prospect’s schedule. Be sure to include your agenda in the message. If you’re meeting virtually, include the link to your preferred videoconferencing service. If you’re meeting via phone, include contact numbers and indicate who will initiate or host the call. Lastly, make sure your subject line is clear to both parties; “John & Jane: Intro to Acme Company” will be far more helpful than “Call with Jane.”
  • Monitor meeting acceptance. Don’t forget to check if your prospect accepts. If your lead hasn’t responded in 72 hours, resend your invitation. You may still need a quick call or voicemail to confirm the time and details. A prompt invite also helps. When you send your meeting invite within a few minutes of agreeing on the time, it can improve your acceptance rate dramatically.

Before your first call:

  • Review lead details. Before your appointment, familiarize yourself with the prospect’s previous interactions with your company. Look up their record in the CRM system or sales database and see when and why they’ve contacted your company. If you received your lead from an outsourced contact center like Volkart May, you’ll have access to detailed notes and a digital recording of the call. Listening to the initial conversation will prepare you well for the prospect’s interests, needs and personality.
  • Research the prospect. It’s also smart to spend a few minutes doing internet research before your meeting. Look at the company’s website to understand their industry, products and approach. Find your contact’s bio on the company website, or view their profile on LinkedIn. If you have contacts or interests in common, you’ve got a great way to establish a connection.
  • Set a goal. Every sales conversation will be unique, but those that convert typically have one thing in common: a goal for the call. As you prepare for your appointment, think about what your prospect will need, as well as what you’ll want to accomplish during the meeting. This could be identifying a budget and purchase timeline, understanding the company’s decision-making process or uncovering their top criteria in a new solution. What’s important is having a goal in mind so you can facilitate a useful conversation.
  • Identify next steps. Clear next steps are another element of a productive sales call. Moving your lead forward in the sales cycle means defining activities your buyer needs in order to finalize a purchase. Always close your conversation with next steps that both sides agree to. This should include when you’ll next communicate with each other. If possible, book that time on your calendars before you close the call.

After your call:

  • Document progress. Immediately after your call or appointment, enter your notes in the CRM system or sales database. Update any necessary fields with new information you’ve gathered. Most importantly, mark the lead stage so the prospect receives the appropriate next step in your sales cycle.
  • Send a follow-up email. Within a few hours, send a follow-up email to the prospect. Thank them for their time and reference your conversation. Attach any information you promised to send and list the next steps and timeframe for both sides. If you’ve agreed to a second appointment, include the calendar invite to block that time. If you have the capability, attach a copy of your email to the prospect’s record in your database; this discipline helps keep you and your team organized.
  • Close the loop. Once in a while, even qualified leads need to be reclassified in your system. If your conversation reveals new information that changes the view of the lead, be sure to update your sales database and share that feedback with your marketing team and outsourced lead generation firm. Be as specific as possible about why the lead did not work out. It’s this detail that helps adjust the campaign for better results in the future.

Even with a solid process, you’ll still have the occasional “no show” to appointments or prospects who don’t respond to your emails. Make sure you’ve given the outreach your best effort. Studies show it can take several attempts before even the most well-intentioned decision-makers respond. Take time to leave a voicemail so your prospect knows you’re still interested, and let them know you’re open to rescheduling. If you still get the cold shoulder, return the lead to your inside sales team or outsourced lead generation partner for further nurturing.

Ready to fill your sales pipeline? Volkart May brings 30 years of experience with outsourced inside sales and lead generation for leading brands. Let’s schedule a time to discuss your opportunity.

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