Whether you’re nurturing your marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to a lead score trigger before engaging business development, or eagerly vetting everyone in almost real time, there will come a time when the marketing-to-sales transition happens. And from there, the next step is for someone to make direct contact with the prospect. It’s at this moment that a lot of sales pipelines clog up.
In my work with manufacturing sales teams, it’s not uncommon to hear them hold up the traditional sales phone call as the gold standard for making contact with leads. And, to be fair, they’re somewhat correct—almost nothing beats having a competent salesperson connect with a new lead via the phone for a good, old fashioned sales conversation.
But the trouble is, that doesn’t happen as often as it used to, does it?
What your sales team is experiencing more and more each day are prospects that avoid the phone like the plague, certainly do not entertain impromptu sales visits, and have generally stopped accepting random LinkedIn invites from business development people.
There are a couple of forces at play here. At the same time that a greater percentage of your new business pipeline is being sourced digitally, the leads that are entering the pipeline are expecting to be engaged in new and different ways. And, you guessed it, often digital ways.
Learning to sell in these new ways, building a process for guiding that effort, and managing its performance—none of that is easy and I would never suggest that there’s a magic bullet to it all. However, there is one tip you can try that will almost certainly improve your sales team’s connect rate.
Here it is: Don’t ask for a phone call.
That’s right. With the exception of leads that explicitly ask for a phone call, try having your business development team send a customized email to the new lead that simply asks to engage in an email exchange.
Start the email with making a personal connection in some way or, at the very least, referencing how the person became known to your organization. (e.g. I noticed you downloaded our guide…). From there, your preliminary research should guide the delivery of some initial insight; in other words, early indications that you send to the prospect that suggest there is likely an enhanced fit between your organizations. And then, right when it would seem almost natural to ask for the phone call, simply ask to engage in an email exchange to explore the opportunity further.
Measure your MQL connect rate before and after implementing this technique, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.