How Not to Follow Up with Leads

By Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling®

This week I’ve been barraged by phone calls from vendors. Before the holidays I attended a conference. While I was there, I made the rounds and spoke with most of the exhibitors. And of course, I gave them all my business card.

This week the calls started: “Hello Wendy. I’m with _____________. Thank you for stopping by our booth. I’m just calling to follow-up.” Call after call after call of sales reps, “…just calling to follow-up.”

I truly wonder how much business these reps have gained. I’m willing to bet not a lot.

So what should these ‘following-up’ sales professionals have said or done instead of using that lame phrase?

Well, to start off, they should have done their homework. While in the crush of a big conference with many, many exhibitors and a large number of attendees it is frequently difficult to qualify a lead—they should have at least tried. I had in depth conversations with many of the vendors. From those conversations those vendors should have know that Weiss Communications was not a good fit for their wares. They should not have included me on their call lists. The challenge here, of course, is that most exhibitors never have any kind of system. They gather as many business cards as they can and then waste time calling everyone.

I’ve received multiple calls from each vendor, multiple voice mail messages, and multiple emails from each of them. That’s a lot of phone time and it’s simply a waste of time—their time—I just hit delete. The bottom line is that if you’re not speaking with a qualified lead, that lead is unlikely to become a customer.

There’s a real low tech solution here. When you have a conversation with someone at a conference, make a note on the back of their business card. Combine that with a slightly more high tech solution: Google each company or visit their web site before you spend the time to call them and email them and call them again. These simple solutions will save time and it will make sales reps much more effective.

When your prospect answers the phone, instead of, “I’m just calling to follow-up” try: “What made you decide to attend the conference?” “What challenges are you looking to solve?” “What made you decide to stop by our booth?” “What did you think of our solution/product/offering?” There are many, many possible questions that you can use to start off your conversation.

That is how you engage a real lead in a real conversation that could lead to a real sale.

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