Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.

Power Direct Marketing article INDEX

Lead-Generation Planning (Part 2)

Last time, I covered points one to seven of my 12-point program on lead generation. Here is the second half of the program:

8. How are you going to qualify your leads? Note that qualifying all leads is important. Why? Because by automatically following up on all leads equally, you waste lots of money and, more importantly, time.

How you qualify leads depends on your product, the marketplace, your competition, the opportunity for immediate add-on and upgrade sales and repeat business. Another factor is your offer at the time, including price. And, of course, it greatly depends on your sales staff, who would much rather have a highly qualified lead they can close.

Will you qualify leads over the phone or face-to-face? Visit the prospect or have the prospect visit you? For my marketing services consulting and seminar business, here's the approach I use. No matter the source of the lead, I suggest we exchange packages of information. Over the years, I've found that only two of every three leads are really ready when we first talk. I learn this because that third lead invariably fails to send the agreed-upon materials about their company. Now, even startups have something printed about them -- a business and/or marketing plan, direct-mail pieces, product literature, PR releases, telemarketing scripts, copies of space ads ... anything! I want to see this before we take the next step together.

9. What is your definition of your best lead? My friend Richard Herzog, senior vice president, Telemarketing Concepts, San Ramon, CA, taught me an interesting alternative to the normal terminology used in rating leads: The best leads are called passionate; they want to talk to you now! The next best are hot; it is almost urgent that they talk with you. In the middle come the warm leads; these are honest prospects, but they don't have an immediate action need. Next come the cool leads; they raised their hand to be counted, but aren't ready to buy-yet. On the bottom rung are the icy leads. Usually, they didn't understand either the product, offer or deal. Or they might be the wrong person in the right company.

With your sales staff, create a grid on which to rank leads quickly and easily. Note that as you expand or change your product, offer or market, you must change how you rank your prospects.

10. How will you follow up, follow through and service your best leads? Decide before you enter the marketplace. What level of your sales team will be responsible? Will you do it by industry specialization or geography? How much attention will you give them and for how long? Will you do "team selling?"

11. How will you service less-than-best leads? Though they won't be as profitable, remember that you made an offered -- a promise to do something. To remain credible in the total marketplace, fulfill it.

You can probably be successful without providing the fastest service and by letting those less experienced follow up. But do follow up. Today's less-qualified leads may become tomorrow's best prospects.

12. Do you need different fulfillment packages for different quality leads? Usually a package includes a cover letter, product and sales literature, how-to booklet or other piece and reply card. You might, for instance, elect to personalize the letter-so this can become an expensive package. I have one that costs just over $10 to produce and send to a qualified lead.

For leads less than passionate or hot, consider a smaller package. Be sure, however, to fulfill your offer. If it included a special information booklet available to all who respond, you must provide it to everyone. But you don't have to personalize the reply or send all your expensive sales literature. Fulfill based on a lead's potential.

13. How will you analyze the success of your program? As in any DM program, if you can't measure it, you can't improve it. It is easy to count leads, especially if you have central control. You can track how many leads came in by mail or over your 800 number, or how many visited your trade-show booth. And, usually with simple coding, you can learn the source of the lead.

The difficulty is to follow a lead through to a sale. One obvious reason is the sales force. Good salespeople feel they got every sale with zero help and marketing or advertising support-which makes a reporting system difficult.

With the simple lead-tracking systems now available on mini and micro computers, the process has become easier-provided you get the needed field input. Consider the following in your analysis: total number of responses, percent response by source, total response by source, cost per response by media and territory, number of leads qualified to buy, conversion to order number and percent, cost per conversion by media, what is sold by industry, average order size, number of new customers obtained compared to total marketplace.

14. What other information do you need? What is happening in your industry? What is your competition doing? Are there new players or products? Will your plans for the next three to 18 months change your message? Have you coordinated a program between marketing, sales and management to insure your team is ready? What about operations, manufacturing and accounting? What outside factors can change your results? Will world events influence how your audience responds?

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