A client of mine recently came back from a trade show with a lot of leads and said it had been a really successful event. We’re now in the process of going through those leads to try to get meetings with them, for which we have put in place a couple of leads management strategies comprised initially of email and some phone follow up to get some of these folks on the hook. It’s been about two weeks now since the trade show and my client was a little concerned on our call today.
He said, “You know, I am just not sure this is working. The response rate isn’t what I thought it would be and people aren’t getting back to me, so I think something is wrong with the messaging. Are we doing this wrong?” I replied, “Well, let’s hold on and take a look at this. First of all, what is your response rate?” When he told me it was at about 10% I said, “Well, Michael, let’s put this in perspective. When I send an email blast out to my opted in list, my email open rate is 10%, and my click through rate for people who have then gone from the email on to read my blog post, again on opted in stuff, is far less than that, so I would say we’re actually doing pretty well!”
I went on to explain to him that there are a couple of things to consider in leads management and follow up. The first is that there’s a latency factor; there’s a lag in process where people don’t necessarily just open an email and jump right on it. I’ve had people get back to me months after I sent them something because it’s just how some people operate. Generally speaking, people are busy and, in some cases, pretty disorganized. The second thing I told him was that it’s July, one of the toughest months in the year to get a hold of people. They are on vacation, going on vacation, trying to get on vacation, whatever. My client relaxed and realized that things weren’t so bad after our chat, but all of this got me thinking about how much sales really feels like a personal pursuit.
We put ourselves out there and try to get together with folks to have a conversation, and there’s rejection involved in leads management. We tend to apply all of these subjective and personal feelings to our efforts, so one of the things I reminded my client of was that over the past three months he has literally transformed the way he goes about pursuing folks from a really disorganized, scattered approach to a very structured, disciplined one. In a lot of ways his process, approach and discipline have gone through the roof, but his prospects are still the same people. They haven’t been working one-on-one with me on their process in a structure and repeatable fashion, with prospecting, follow up and so forth.
Prospecting is hard work, but I will say that the people on the receiving end of our prospecting efforts are managing their own complexity and their own lives, so don’t despair so easily. Realize there are a lot of factors in play. The data does not lie, but my client sort of lost site of the reality that email response is only one layer of the puzzle. Now we begin calling, and while email response might be low, that email contact may be the difference between a yes and a no when we pick up the phone and call.
Amidst of all of the rigorous activity you have to do in prospecting and leads management, it’s really important to take a couple of steps back and look at the situation holistically to determine what’s going on. Is it working? Is something ineffective? Or am I simply dealing with the realities of complexity here? I hope this gives you a little more confidence in what you’re doing and that it encourage you to create and stick to a plan over time versus change strategies just because something is feeling a little bit difficult. For more tactics and techniques that I have suggested for more effective trade show pursuit, check out my blog “Work Trade Shows, Don’t Let’em Work You.”
By Townsend Wardlaw