Sunday, June 19, 2016

Two Key Attributes of Effective Lead Response Practices

First impressions matter a great deal in B2B marketing. The early interactions between a potential buyer and your company can make or break the relationship. So, how you respond to newly-identified leads is vitally important to the success of your demand generation efforts, probably only slightly less important than the quality of the content you produce.

In the course of my work, I consume a great deal of content. I download a lot of content resources, and I attend a lot of webinars. In most cases, I'm required to register to gain access to these resources, which means that I also receive a lot of follow-up e-mails and telephone calls. This has allowed me to experience lead response practices from a buyer's perspective, and from what I've seen, many company have significant room for improvement.

Lead Responses Must Be Appropriate

There are two key attributes of an effective response to a newly-identified lead. First, the response must be appropriate given the potential buyer's expressed or implied level of interest. For example, if a potential buyer signals that he or she wants to communicate with the company, it's entirely appropriate to reach out to the buyer via a telephone call.

On the other hand, if a potential buyer simply accesses a content resource, this doesn't necessarily signal that he or she is ready to have an in-person conversation with a company representative. Companies make a mistake when they respond too aggressively to this type of buyer behavior. In this circumstance, an e-mail offering access to other relevant content resources is likely to be the most effective way to entice the potential buyer to continue his or her engagement with the company.

Lead Responses Should Be Informed

The second key attribute of an effective lead response is that it is informed. By this I mean that the person making the response should take the time to perform a minimal amount of research regarding the potential buyer. When I receive follow-up contacts, what frustrates me most is that it's usually clear that the person making the contact has done nothing to learn about me, or my business, or why I may have been interested in a content resource.

In almost every case, if the company's representative had spent five or ten minutes reviewing my LinkedIn profile and scanning the articles I've published at LinkedIn, he or she would have been able to craft a response that would have been more compelling for me and more valuable for the company.

Some companies may serve such broad markets and generate so many new leads that it's impractical to spend even ten or fifteen minutes researching each new lead. But that's not the case for most B2B companies, and a modest amount of research can dramatically improve the effectiveness of lead responses because it enables you to personalize your responses in a meaningful way.

Illustration courtesy of Eric Snopel via Flickr CC.

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