How to Handle an Inbound Sales Lead

October 11, 2016 Jordan Rinaldo

The rules of lead generation, sales development, and customer relations are rapidly changing. Sales as we know it is no longer a game of simple pursuit, but a roundabout method of lead generation where the customer finds you, known as inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is the art of creating content and other material for interested consumers to find, and they then contact you based on their interest. It’s borne out of a day and age where consumers have endless options and are more savvy–and more wary–of traditional sales tactics, which are often now seen as pushy. 

Inbound marketing allows forinbound sales leads—that point at which the customer contacts you to find out more. Be it through signing up for a subscription, downloading a free ebook, filling out a form, or directly contacting a sales person from your team via phone or email, these leads are naturally different than traditional sales leads and should therefore be handled differently. 

Below are some of the key ways to handle these types of leads and to help guide them through the sales funnel to a purchase.

The KEY Difference between Outbound and Inbound Sales Leads

The key difference between traditional and inbound sales leads istime.

Whereas in the past, consumers had limited options and a tendency to purchase quicker based on a sales pitch, the modern consumer has endless choices. They also have more incentive to research various options, if each company offers their own engaging content. They’re able to have more fun learning about products and services before making a decision.

This means a sale will not be closing as soon as you might hope. The number one limitation to inbound sales leads is that nurturing takes a long time (of course, the pros outweigh the cons).

It also means that your method of handling the lead needs to adjust accordingly. You cannot be pushy at this stage, because it will really turn your leads off. Instead, focus on their interestsand take the time to build a relationship. Then, you can offer them discounts or deals based on their specific areas of interest. While you’re still casting a wide net (provided your content and SEO strategies are effective), this type of sales lead allows you to delve deeper into each relationship, building a foundation of trust before making sales.

Your Sales Team Must Adjust Their Communication Based on New Knowledge

Forms and other interactive content allow consumers to leave feedback, which in turn is a starting point of the conversation with a lead. Your sales team needs to leverage the knowledge they have about the customer, their interests, preferences or pain points, and start the conversation there.

It also means that your salespeople must be fairly knowledgeable about your products and industry. Remember, modern consumers are well-researched; they are not relying on you to tell them why your company or product is the best. They have a fair amount of knowledge under their belt before making a purchase, so you’ll have to be knowledgeable, too.

Respond to Leads Quickly!

While amazing content, an interactive site, strong use of social media, and regular traffic are all great, nothing beats good, old-fashioned customer service.

Think about it—when a customer has gone out of their way to contact you, the very worst thing you could do is take longer than two days to return their call or email(even two days is a bit lengthy, and it is recommended that you respond within the hour). All of your engaging content and other marketing efforts will be completely overshadowed by how unimportant you made that potential lead feel.

So when it comes to inbound sales leads, patience, good communication, being knowledgeable, and being quick to respond are the new rules of the game.

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