We all love it when prospects “raise their hand.” Whether they’re clicking a button to indicate they want to be contacted or initiating a conversation with the call center for the first time, their signals show that your marketing campaigns, brand awareness initiatives and other outreach are working.
Don’t pat yourself on the back too quickly, though. How you handle these first interactions sets the tone for your entire relationship, so extra care should be devoted to planning, staffing and executing these initial conversations. Here are five tips for dealing with “hand raisers”:
1) Define your hand raisers.
Clicking a “contact us” button is one thing, but what about those people who download your helpful content or mobile app? You might tempted to classify them as hand raisers, but many times they won’t be (yet).
Some of these contacts might, for example, be competitors who want to see what you’re up to. They might be students doing research for a term paper. Or, they could be just trying to keep up with trends so they can sharpen their resume and skills.
Even the statistics point to the fact that most folks are well through the research phase before they want to talk to a sales resource. So, even if they might someday become a real hand raiser who wants to be contacted, you probably need a softer response plan for these folks.
For example, instead of immediately calling downloaders to try to make a pitch, you might send them a single-question survey email that asks them to confirm their interest type. Wait five days and resend the survey question with a different subject line to learn about the first-wave non-responders.
There are a few exceptions. For example, if you have multiple people from the same company downloading your content, then chances are your company or product is being actively considered, and it might be worth aggressively pursuing these contacts.
2) Act quickly.
In the case of legitimate hand raisers, your organization should be set up to respond within one hour or less – the quicker the better. If you wait days to respond, the prospect will sense that you don’t have your act together. And if your competitor has responded with blazing speed, you’ll be behind before you even start.
If you can, measure the time that elapses from the receipt of the emails or calls until you’ve had a conversation. Review these metrics faithfully and do everything you can to shave minutes off your response time.
3) Give your employees full intelligence.
Almost everyone who contacts your company has been active on your website. But what have they seen? What pages have they visited? Have they downloaded any PDFs? Watched any of your videos? Followed you on social media? Opened or clicked your emails?
Answers to these questions can tell your employees a lot about your new hand raisers. Make sure you can automatically provide this contact insight to your call center reps or sales reps before they take a call. If this means you need to integrate your call center system with your marketing and/or CRM system, then you must make it a company priority to make tie these systems together.
4) Ask smart questions.
Once you’re on the phone with new prospects, you must ask great questions to understand who the prospect is, why they called you, what they need and how you can best help him or her.
One of my all-time favorite books is The Seven Powers of Questions, from which I learned that the better you are at asking questions, the more effective you’ll be in helping new contacts. Remember to spend much more time asking questions and listening to responses than talking about your product or solution.
If there are a few questions that every new prospect must answer, set aside fields in your call center application (and in turn integrate the fields with your marketing database and CRM system) and instruct your call center staff to fill out the fields.
5) Design some amazing follow-up content.
After you’ve handled a few dozen calls, put together an FAQ document or ebook that includes the answers to common questions. Use this as a follow-up offer for your new prospect. Have your product marketing staff listen in on these calls so they can be more informed about the challenges the callers are facing and how you might best help these folks. They might get some great ideas for new collateral or videos that could get the prospects off to a better start.
Of course, you can place these new contacts into a nurture program, but please sure the automated nurture stream is highly personalized, focused on the problem or solution area the prospect first contacted you about, and has the right communication cadence (i.e., don’t overcommunicate).
With a well-staffed and calibrated response team, you’ll be ready to give your prospects an outstanding first impression that will pay dividends through the rest of the sales cycle.
1) Tip Sheet: “7 Tips for Nurture Marketing”
2) Blog: “4 Tips for Delivering More Personalized Content”
3) Marketing Automation Ebook: “Best Practices for Marketing Excellence and Organizational Efficiency”