If you’re selling to businesses it can be quite a challenge not only getting leads in the door, but what you do with those leads once they’re in.  After all, many businesses have a longer lead time to getting a sale than others. And within that lead time, the last thing you want your leads to do is “cool down”.  Here are 5 things you might do to get leads and keep them HOT.

Get Your Leads

How do you get leads? “Anyway you possibly can” should be your answer. If you’ve met someone at a tradeshow or a networking event or if they sign up for something on your website, consider them a lead. If you want to get people signing up on your site, the first thing you want to do is offer them something of value, whether it be more information, a download, or even an offer for a live call or meeting. Make sure your site has a lead form for this. You can use a free form from VerticalResponse or your CRM provider like Salesforce.

Put Your Leads in a “Bucket”

Once you have a lead you need to identify what type of lead they are. Many businesses identify leads as hot, warm or cool depending on what the sales cycle is. Some businesses identify leads based on when they think they’ll be making their purchase of a product or service; 1-3 months, hot, 3-6 months, warm, or 6-9 months, cool.

Another way would be to ask what their budgets are or when they’ll be making their purchasing decision. It could even be that a lead isn’t going to buy for 5 months but they’re ready to spend 4x what someone who is going to buy sooner would spend.

It’s up to you and your business how you’d like to identify you leads but make sure you do it!

Create Your Email Pipeline

Once you’ve identified your buckets, now start your plan on how you’re going to communicate to them. If it’s a hot lead you’re marketing to, you may want to start with an email asking for an appointment and let your recipient know in the email you’ll be calling. It gives you a reason to make the call. Then you can call your lead to set up the appointment. It also shows you’re aware of the value of your lead’s time, which you may also want to include in your email content.

For your warm and cool leads you may want to set up bi-weekly emails. The emails may talk about your product or service and you could even prompt them to download a whitepaper. Making them take an action is a way of making your lead even warmer, and it’s more of an information soft sell approach.

Either way, get your leads on your regular email newsletter list. As long as you’re providing valuable information, they’ll want to keep getting it. And if they don’t, they’ll unsubscribe.

Get Face-to-Face if You Can

Events are a great way to cultivate leads whether it’s one you host, one you sponsor or one you attend. And if you know someone at your company will be at an event, why not send them an email to let them know? If you’re going to have someone that can be face to face with your prospect, it’s always better than an e-relationship, especially if you have that luxury.  If you can’t set up an appointment, at least identify your booth number or where you’ll be sponsoring or attending. Make sure whoever is attending is easily identifiable if possible with some company garb.

Give Your Prospect Props!

Once you’ve got your lead in the door, try to find out as much as possible about that company, or your specific prospect. If they’ve recently won an award or got kudos in a review from the press, make sure you send them an email to congratulate them. It gives you another reason to make the contact. Then, send them a gift for their achievement. You can use Google Alerts to track down the stories.

These are just a few ways you can cultivate your leads. If you’ve got any ideas you’d like to share about how you cultivate your own leads, let’s hear them!

© 2009 – 2012, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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