With a focus on click-through optimisation and “Calls to Action”, there is always a lot of emphasis placed on “Getting the enquiry”, but once you have that elusive enquiry, do you make the most of it? How good is your enquiry follow up?
When the enquiry comes through, it is very easy to focus on all the hot leads! But often the less hot ones are also valuable, so it’s important to have a process to manage these.
Enquiry follow up: My own experience
To look at this in more detail, I am going to take you back to the 1980s. In those days, we were involved in the wonderful world of telemarketing. Done properly, telemarketing can be very effective as a B2B channel but good quality leads were expensive, so once secured they needed to be managed and developed efficiently.
In those days we had a system that classified leads into 4 categories:
- “A” – The hot ones
- “B”- Less hot but still with potential
- “C” – The “don’t call us, we will call you” leads. – but still where there is a fit with what you offer
- “Q” – Qualified as No potential – not worth spending time on
Once categorised, there was a process to handle them, so none would end up in that limbo-land of – “It’s in my to-do list, but I am not sure why! I really want to get rid of it, but don’t want to miss out on an opportunity”! Even for these, we had a system, but I will come to that in a moment!
Starting with the hot ones, I would like to take you through strategies to handle each category of enquiries:
A: The Hot Lead
When your enquirer has a current requirement that is in your area of expertise, then it’s simply a process of keeping in close contact. This is usually via email, phone or possibly face to face. The objective is to answer their questions and assist them in making their decision to use you. The key here is to work at their speed, working to their timeframe, not yours. It’s their decision and trying to force it is not usually helpful.
B: The Warm Enquiry – There is a fit but the timing is not right
Very often, what starts off as a hot enquiry may become a B enquiry as priorities change and timings shift. The need is still there, but it is likely to be some time in the future. Here the key is to accept that and to have a process to keep in touch. By all means, find out the new timing, and make a plan to contact them again when appropriate, but don’t pester them.
C: There is a fit but no active, current need
This is your marketing database, and for these, you need a strategy for keeping in touch. This is a whole other post, and something we will cover in our next podcast, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.
Q: There is no real potential in taking it forward
You might ask, if they have made the enquiry, why would there be no real potential? But in reality, it is not uncommon that people will enquire, but on exploration, the fit is not there. What they want just doesn’t properly fit with what you offer. Whilst you may be tempted to adjust your offering to make it fit, do this with care. Often in these cases, it’s best just to walk away.
In the enquiry follow up process, being able to make a conscious decision to say no is very powerful!
In all of the above, you have been able to qualify a next step – or none! But, as we all know, sometimes people stop returning your calls or e answering your emails. You can’t move things forward and, if you aren’t careful, you can end up with a big pile of frustration on your desk. There is a simple, practical answer
The Boomerang E-mail™
It’s easy to just assume the worst, and give up, but there is another option; Ask them a direct question – Are you still interested.
Obviously, this should be done a little more subtly. We use our Boomerang email. Back in the day, it actually started as a Boomerang fax, a single sheet fax showing a cartoon of a man throwing a boomerang. Now we have adapted to an email. The critical words are go something like this:
” Hi, as I am sure you are aware, I have been trying to contact you recently to discuss ………, but unfortunately, we have not managed to talk. This leads me to assume one of the following:
1. You are no longer interested but don’t have the time (or heart!) to tell me
2. You are still interested but priorities have changed, and the immediate need has gone away so you have other priorities.
3. You are still interested but things keep getting in the way!
Please can you reply with an X next to the appropriate response? Or feel free to call me!
If I don’t hear from you, I will assume Option 1, and leave you alone!”
You may still not get a reply, but at least you can deal with it knowing you have done everything you can. In my own experience (And more often than you might think), you actually get a more positive response.
What about a CRM for longer-term enquiry follow up?
I will finish with a word about Customer Relationship Management systems. However you do it, you will need a system to keep track of your leads and contacts. This could be anything from a spreadsheet, to a full blown CRM application. Whatever system you use, the important thing is the quality of the data it contains and that you actively use it. If left unused, even the most complex and expensive CRM will be of little value.
If this has got you thinking, and you would like to discuss how you may be able to make more out of your enquiries, get in touch, We are always happy to talk.