Sales Lead Generation for Coffee & Vending Operators: follow up techniques

Your prospects are getting hundreds of marketing messages a day, from multiple media. They, like you, are trying to pack a 12-hour day into eight hours. In over 15 years of running a lead-generation & appointment-setting firm, I’ve been continually impressed with the level of skill demonstrated not only by the owners of OCS firms, but also by the salespeople who follow up on our leads.

Let’s begin by identifying a gray area in sales. I have had very successful salespeople ask, “How do you continue your prospecting efforts in a tactful yet persistent manner, without being pushy?”

The phrase “tactful persistence” should come to mind as you are thinking about the next contact with your prospect. Ask for permission, during that last phone call or in-person meeting. “What month should I follow up?” makes you an accountable salesperson, rather than a pesky salesperson. Asking for a callback date from the prospect on each call you make means that you don’t have to spend time calling prospects who are not ready to make a decision.

Of course, sometimes the difficulty lies in just reaching the prospect at all. You may have planned on calling a given prospect back in two weeks but they won’t be ready with a decision for two months. If you keep enough prospects in the sales funnel, you won’t mind when they push you off. Just be prepared so when the day comes for follow-up, you are there, armed with notes from the last conversation to re-ignite the call—especially true in the OCS world, where “I’m in a contract, call me in a few months,” is a common response. Well that’s the vibe, sometimes, right? Are you tracking those callbacks? Are you demanding the same of your salespeople?

Consider contact management solutions to manage your information. There are several “off the shelf” solutions you can purchase for under a few hundred dollars, but you want to be sure you put the time in to learn how to best use the program to its fullest potential. ACT & Salesforce are two of the bigger players in the market, however, some of our clients have managed their own data very well using Excel. Using an Excel spreadsheet to manage your lists is an affordable way to keep track of notes of conversationd and callback opportunities. Most importantly, if you insert a “last results” column or field, you will be able to sort your records, which will be necessary to manage data properly. Last results can be defined as appointment set, not interested, callback , bad number, etc. All your prospects should be gathered into this “master” Excel spreadsheet or contact management solution and consistently worked. You can hire someone to enter in prospects from networking events, and you can also purchase a prospecting list based on key demographics such as staff size minimums, zip codes, and industry.

The question often comes up, “How often should I leave messages?” How would you feel if you got one message every other day from the same salesperson? If you are going to leave messages, leave them sparingly. When you do leave a message, vary the substance. Perhaps you have some interesting information you just uncovered to make your prospect’s job easier. Maybe you just got permission to add a new service to the package that you can discuss with them. Make it compelling, so they are drawn to call you back. At the same time, don’t expect a callback; it rarely happens! Your services may not be on your prospect’s top five priorities for that week. Try calling without leaving a message, in an effort to reach the prospect live.

Now that you’ve positioned yourself as a resource, combine direct mail with your telephone marketing efforts as a “touch point” throughout the year. Send your prospects articles that might interest them such as a holiday card to bring in the season, a newsletter that contains a value-based article. Make an ally of their assistants. Gather information from each person you speak to, so that each time you reach the prospect (or leave a message), you are armed with some new information that positions you as a resource. Many of our OCS clients don’t have a strong belief in hard-copy direct mail communications, and while we agree that catalogs can be dated, there is a time and place for sending mail, especially on a permission basis, when it’s a perceived value for your prospects, or simply to build brand awareness.

Reaching decision-makers and keeping them engaged is a multi-channel marketing effort. It is the combination of “soft touches” by phone, email, fax, and direct mail on a consistent but not overwhelming basis, that builds awareness of your brand. While the prospect wasn’t ready to do business when you first called him, when he is ready for your service, he will think of your company. Tactful persistence leads to stumbling upon “good timing” — being right there when the prospect is ready to buy. When you can’t make the sale on the first call, good timing often wins you that sale!

Finally, bringing together participation in trade shows, website marketing, public speaking, publishing articles in alternative media and taking advantage of other opportunities will make for a well-rounded multi-channel marketing approach that will keep you “top of mind.” It all starts with tactful persistence!

For more information on how MarketReach can help you present tactful persistence with expert appointment-setting and lead generation efforts, call us today at 609-448-6364!