Whether you’re in sales or marketing, you have a list you’re targeting and you’re using prospecting or email marketing to uncover who’s interested right now. But are you doing more than looking for immediate appointments from your target list? Because you should be.
The Ultimate Lead Follow-up Goal
Yes, your ultimate goal with your B2B lead generation strategy is to identify qualified prospects who know about you, read what you send, attend your webinars, follow you on social media, and want to talk with you.
And your ultimate goal with prospecting is to uncover a contact who responds that has an immediate need you can serve.
But only a small percentage of your lead list will be ready to set an appointment right now.
If you’re running an email marketing campaign with a defined end date, what happens to all those contacts who you’ve warmed up, but aren’t ready just yet?
If you’re prospecting, what happens to all those contacts who told you, “Not now?”
How to Find Future Opportunities in Email Marketing Campaigns
We wrote a 19-week marketing campaign for a client to send to their top lead generation target market list. The goal was to identify those companies that may need to enhance their cybersecurity protection. The program included a combination of email campaigns, a webinar, and social outreach. We targeted companies that are early in their Client Buy Cycle, doing research and starting to explore their options where a salesperson could help guide them.
During the 19 weeks, we identified marketing qualified leads (MQLs) by capturing who was opening, clicking, and registering throughout the campaign. At key points, as contacts became MQLs, salespeople called them to see if they could set appointments and convert the marketing leads to sales opportunities.
At the end of the campaign, there were appointments, and then there was the list of everybody else.
Three Primary Lead Sources
Before you figure out what to do with your list of leads who didn’t respond to your salesperson’s follow-up, consider where they came from. There are three primary lead sources.
1. Inbound leads
These leads come from SEO, digital ads, referrals, and calls. They contact you. They may complete a Contact Us form on your website, call, or email you. Sales considers these leads to be hot, salesqualified leads. Often a high percentage are ready to engage if your salesperson knows how to follow up effectively with inbound leads, but some are not.
2. Marketing campaign leads
Frequently these leads originate from email marketing, webinars, trade shows, and other campaigns you’re running focused on your specific target market. You pass your salesperson a list of campaign MQLs with the direction to identify the sales qualified leads (SQLs) and begin the sales process. Typically, only a small percentage are ready to engage.
3. A general list of names
You have a list of contacts in your CRM. Your sales rep has a list of top prospects to target. There are segments that have been created using specific criteria. These lists are general names your salesperson is prospecting to by emailing, cold calling, and messaging on LinkedIn to try to set an appointment. These contacts may or may not be part of your marketing campaigns simultaneously. Typically, only a small percentage are ready to engage.
What To Do With Unqualified Leads
All three lead sources result in a combination of prospects who became sales qualified leads and those who did not. Most companies think that their list of everybody else is just a bunch of unqualified people. Some even call it garbage because it didn’t result in more appointments.
What you really have is two segmented lists:
- A list of people who never opened anything. They didn’t open or click on any email campaigns or event invitations and they didn’t take any sales calls.
- A list of people who were paying attention. They opened and clicked on some of what you sent, maybe even downloaded, or registered for something. They may not have returned any calls, but they were watching and silently engaging.
The first list probably is garbage – or very, very cold.
The second list, however, is unpolished gold. They’re the contacts who are starting to recognize the value of your company. They may not need you right now, but if you continue to nurture them, when they do have a need, you’ll be top of mind.
Create a Nurture Strategy
So, what’s your strategy to continue nurturing them? Don’t stop now just because your marketing campaign has ended or the prospect said they’re not ready.
You need a process in place to avoid dropping these fledgling sales leads.
- Add them to an ongoing email campaign and send them good, educational content.
- Plan consistent sales check-in calls and schedule them.
- Create a sales sequence (think email campaigns for a salesperson) to avoid dropping them through the cracks.
- Segment them so they are easily identifiable for other marketing purposes.
Don’t let all your hard work go to waste just because your list isn’t yet ready for an appointment. They may not be ready today, but in 3 or 6 months, they could be your hottest sales leads.
This post was originally published in January, 2016 and updated in August, 2022.