When is a dead sales lead really dead, and how can an inbound marketing strategy help?

Thanks to my phone number being picked up by a few persistent cold callers, I’m pretty hesitant to answer an unknown number. Not because I’m a heartless monster, or terrified of any human interaction – but because I don’t consider my time to be openly available to strangers - especially strangers who are trying to sell me something.

On the other hand, I will sometimes open their emails. I can scour my inbox while I wait for a coffee, or sit in bed procrastinating, or during TV ads. There’s no pressure to respond, no need to ask the right questions, and no real expectation of a reply at all. As a result, I’m actually more likely to interact.

Tone down your sales and marketing strategy

Somewhat ironically, as mobile technologies and connectivity has developed, many people are starting to become less open to outbound contact. With a multitude of tweets, texts, notifications and emails popping up on a daily basis, individuals are becoming much more discerning about what they actually pay attention to.

This brings me to my first question – how do you disqualify a sales lead?

Personally, I know I make a terrible sales lead for an outbound sales team or call centre employee. Nevertheless, I do sometimes buy things. Quite often, actually. I research products online, I read reviews and hunt out special offers. I love a bargain, and enjoy educating myself on what I need before I commit to a purchase.

Onto my second question – what is your lead nurturing process?

By lead nurturing, I don’t mean ringing back on a daily basis until someone eventually picks up. I mean trying different channels, putting different content on the table, and putting a process in place that makes leads feel supported and informed rather than suffocated.

Why isn’t your outbound marketing strategy a roaring success?

Outbound approaches often rely on a lead having the time and freedom to be contacted during the working week (which by definition, can vary wildly according to an individual’s career and lifestyle).

The UK (as well as many other developed, globalised economies) operates on a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year basis. As a result, people can’t always be relied upon to answer the phone, or have the spare time to talk to your sales team.

From the consultant working gruelling hospital shifts to the city trader putting in extra hours, high net worth individuals are especially busy, yet they may be your most valuable leads.

Our flexible, convenience-driven world also affects people’s attitudes to an intrusive marketing strategy. If we’re able to buy a pint of milk at 4am or go to the gym at 2am, why should we be expected to research or buy products between the hours of 9 and 5?

Nurture your leads to win more business

Rather than declaring leads ‘dead’ when they refuse to answer their phones, perhaps a different tactic is needed. Maybe sales teams adapt their usual process to the more unwilling participants.

This is why emails do sometimes work. If I read about an upcoming discount event or newly released technology, this freely proffered information can lead me to make a move. This is called lead nurturing, and may be considered ‘the long game’ of marketing by some. Nevertheless, regular and strategic email updates can keep leads informed, entertained and with any luck, invested in your brand.

The times are changing, outbound is outdated and in some cases, can be potentially dangerous for your brand financially and in a reputational sense. Big fines are being handed out to serial data offenders. With inbound you can avoid this and get the best from your leads so read our blog “How to create the ultimate inbound strategy masterclass” for more information.

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