22 Feb 20 Creative Ways to Follow Up With Leads17 min read
Most businesses adhere to an established process for how they handle leads. Just because that’s the way you’ve always done it, doesn’t mean it’s the best way. Get creative with these lead follow-up ideas to convert more sales.
It’s a numbers game. Out of so many leads, your company expects a certain percentage to convert to actual sales. It’s time to remove the guesswork and apply some creative techniques to lead follow-up that will result in a higher rate of success.
We surveyed several PERQ clients, our own sales team, along with digital marketing experts to compile this list of 20 creative ways to follow up on a lead. Use it as inspiration, and let us know in the comments section below if your business employs other creative ways on how to pursue a new sales lead.
1. Improve Your Company’s Website to Collect Leads
To increase how many leads your company closes, your business must first gather more data from each potential customer — beyond just a name and phone number. Employ interactive technology on your website that collects details about each online shopper, so you can see which pages and products they looked at, which pages they spent the most time on, what calls-to-action they clicked on, and how they prefer to be contacted.
2. Identify Consumers By Shopping Phase
Not all people who visit your business website are ready to buy. In fact, our research shows 76% of online shoppers are still in the research phase. Identify where the consumer is at in the sales funnel to determine the right response to the lead.
“The PERQ software lets shoppers identify where they believe they are in the buying process,” says Joey Gunn, Vice President of Knight Furniture & Mattress. “If they are ready to purchase, the customer is saying ‘please give me a reason to buy from you.’ But if they’re just looking around and you send an email meant for the end-of-funnel customer, it can seem aggressive.”
3. Create Lead Follow-Up Templates for Each Customer Type
Write email or phone call templates targeted at the various stages of the buying journey, so your sales team can strike the appropriate tone for consumers in each phase of the sales funnel. It also helps eliminate some common mistakes like typos or grammatical errors.
4. Personalize Each Lead Follow-Up
Templates are great for establishing standard rules for your team. Just be sure to leave space for personalization. Knight Furniture uses email templates crafted for each buyer phase, but then personalizes responses using details about which website pages the consumer visited and what items they spent time looking at.
“We didn’t want to lose the personalization aspect, which is what was working well on our website,” Gunn says. “We encourage our sales team to follow that customer journey.”
5. Offer Personalized Promotions
For those buyers ready to purchase, lead follow-up should include personalized incentives that target the exact items the consumer is interested in. Build in special offers on your company’s website, but be sure those promotions are geared toward the products the person is interested in buying. Your sales team can also use personalized coupons when emailing or following up with a potential customer who reached out with questions.
“Being able to provide personalized promotions is really valuable,” says PERQ Sales Manager Doug Stump. “When people are doing research online, they naturally look at the local market and try to decide which store will offer the most value for me, versus driving somewhere farther away or paying for shipping.”
6. Create Compelling Calls-to-Action
Smart CTAs engage and compel online shoppers to take action right then. Leverage an online shopper’s internet “cookies” to target their behavior on your website and serve up relevant content or incentives to entice the visitor to come into your showroom. Our software collects a consumer’s cookie data for 180 days so that our clients’ websites remember any returning visitor. That returning visitor can then jump in right where they left off — without ever seeing the same CTAs or entering their information more than once.
7. Communicate with Customers at Top of Sales Funnel
If a shopper is still in the research phase, your business can provide valuable communication to move them down the sales funnel by assisting them with their search. Don’t ignore those consumers or you’ll risk losing them to another company that’s more helpful and engaging.
“Auto dealerships are all zeroed in on the last step of the funnel,” says Dan Trinidad, founder and CEO of Dealer Fox, a digital marketing agency for dealerships. “PERQ attracts clients at the top of the funnel, which is important. When you start to understand clients at the top of the funnel, you can find new ways to direct them to your dealership.”
8. Build a Customer Database for Lead Follow-Up
Some industries do this better than others. Keep a database of all potential customers and track where they’re at in the sales funnel. Follow up periodically to see if they want any assistance as they draw closer to closing the deal.
“Develop responses that target people in all phases of the sales funnel, communicate and respond accordingly,” says Dan Trinidad. “Really connect to online users and build a database of leads.”
9. Follow Up With Leads In Same Format Submitted
A text should be followed with a text, a phone call with a phone call, and a Facebook messenger chat with the same, suggests Halsey Cory, owner of Carsignment, a digital marketing, merchandising and consultant for the automotive industry.
“Dealers should meet the customer where they are and avoid putting up roadblocks that deter their customer’s ability to submit a lead,” Cory says. “If a dealer’s website only offers form submissions and a phone number for lead capture, the site is inadvertently creating a roadblock for many customers.”
10. Try Video for Engaging Lead Follow-Up
People love watching videos of other people. Ask any digital marketing agency how to increase traffic online, and they’ll encourage your company to post videos on the website or do Facebook and Twitter videos on social media. Now you can also use videos to personalize your lead follow-up process.
“Video follow-ups are one of the most unique ways to personally connect with a customer,” says Russ Chandler, PERQ product marketing manager. “There are a ton of tools out there you can use to make it very easy.
It adds personality and they are much more likely to respond or interact. You can say and convey so much more through video.”
11. Provide Customers With Reference Links
Don’t try to sell potential customers during every single interaction. Instead, try to help them. By providing authentic help during the research phase, your sales team is building a consumer’s trust and respect. Chandler suggests including reference links inside your follow-up email that will assist a consumer with their research — not just generic links back to your company website.
“When someone helps you, makes you feel like you’re making a smart decision, trust is already there,” Chandler says. “Help your customers feel smart about the products you’re selling, so they’ll be empowered and ready to come see you in person.”
12. Rethink How to Handle Lead Follow-Up
Chris Thomas, internet sales manager at Krieger Ford, says his Ohio dealership recently started to rethink how the dealership follows up with leads now that the company’s website features PERQ technology.
“Because of the interactiveness, the depth of information is exponentially greater than any of our other lead sources.”
— Chris Thomas, Krieger Ford
“Traditionally, the BDC (business development center) is successful by having a standardized process followed for all customers. We didn’t want people cherry picking,” Thomas says. “We’re starting to play around with how we follow up on these PERQ leads in particular, stepping away from some of the process. Because of the interactiveness, the depth of information is exponentially greater than any of our other lead sources. If a customer says they prefer text, wants to buy in the next week and the next step they want to take is to schedule a test drive, we shoot them a text right back to see when they want to come in.”
13. Respond Quickly to Leads While Consumer is Still Engaged
Respond quickly to leads submitted online or via technology (Ex: via smartphone or social media app) so you can increase your chances of catching the consumer while they’re still engaged. Krieger Ford’s Chris Thomas says his sales team now tries to follow up within five minutes of receiving an online lead.
14. Target Consumers Who Abandon the Experience
According to Michael Gannon, owner of El Toro, a digital advertising agency that specializes in IP targeting, studies show 50 to 70 percent of online shoppers will abandon a digital shopping cart every quarter.
Even if you don’t offer e-commerce on your website, you can still re-engage consumers who abandon the website with direct mailers. With IP retargeting, you can identify an online shopper’s physical address and deliver a targeted mailer to their mailbox within days.
15. Offer Easy Ways to Schedule Services
Include scheduling tools on your website so potential customers can easily sign up for a free design consultation, schedule a VIP test drive, or arrange a tour of your rental properties. The less time they spend talking to a salesperson, the more likely consumers are to schedule a service. Let them make the first move.
16. Live Chat or Other Two-Way Communication Options
Set up website tools that allow a consumer to enter a two-way conversation online, such as a live chat tool that allows immediate follow-up from your staff. This provides consumers with an opportunity to ask specific questions or request more information in real time. But, be aware, that any direct communication tool is only as great as the salesperson behind it. Be sure they’re properly trained on how to respond and do so quickly.
17. Let Consumers Decide Their Next Step
Create a guided online shopping experience on your website, so consumers can help themselves down the sales funnel and decide which step they want to take next in the buying journey. Offer interactive quizzes and tools so potential consumers can narrow down their choices without feeling pressured.
18. Lead Follow-Up By Offering More Tools
If your business website is collecting details about each shopper’s clicks, your sales staff can see when a shopper suddenly abandons the site.
With so many distractions and demands on everyone’s time, it doesn’t mean the online visitor is no longer interested.
Follow up on these particular leads by letting the shopper know about the other great tools available on your website that they didn’t get to try out. It gives you a way to be helpful without seeming pushy about purchasing.
19. Give Alternatives or Similar Items to Consider
If you touch base with a consumer who’s been surfing your website, pay attention to whether they found what they were looking for. Just like a smart e-commerce website would do, follow up with suggestions on similar items or alternatives to the ones they already perused on your company website, calling attention to any that are on sale or any relevant promotions that may help them make a decision.
20. Good Old-Fashioned Thank You Notes
In the days of technology and digital messaging, people still appreciate when a company takes time to send them a hand-written thank you note after each interaction. Never underestimate the value of customer service and good, old-fashioned manners. Connecting on a personal level is the touchstone of any creative lead follow-up strategy.