To make the best of your lead generation strategies, you need to have solid cold calling skills.I just received a cold call from someone following up on me as a lead. Apparently I had downloaded a whitepaper on something and in doing so, I had triggered their system with the contact information that I had supplied.

You know, name, email address, phone number … Standard stuff that you would expect to collect in a lead generation program.

The challenge here is that I had no idea when I was on their website, when I downloaded the whitepaper, what the whitepaper was about, the name of the company or why I had downloaded the paper in the first place.

Yeah, it made a really big impression.

The sad part was that my cold calling sales rep didn’t have a clue as to when I was on the site or what I had downloaded either. All she had was a name, a phone number and she was probably told, “you need to contact this one. It’s a hot lead!”

If you have a lead generation process in place, don’t waste good leads with poor cold calling follow through. Keep these three tips in the back of your mind when you’re contacting those “hot leads”.

  • Tip one: Timely Follow up. There is something to be said for following up on a lead in a timely fashion. If someone downloaded a whitepaper from your site or they left some kind of indication that they were interested in your stuff, don’t wait to long before you get in touch with them. Send them some type of “thank you for stopping by” note. Put them into a lead-nurturing program if you don’t think you’ll be able to follow up with them in 24 to 48 hours. But don’t wait 2 weeks when you finally have some time to follow up with them. They’ll have made 37 other downloads from 22 other sites and will have no idea of what you are talking about.

  • Tip two: Know what they downloaded and when they downloaded it. I think about the way this young lady opened the call. She said that I had visited the website and I had downloaded a whitepaper. I told her that I truly couldn’t remember because I had been to so many other sites within the past few days that the download had probably gotten lost in the noise. If she could tell me something about the whitepaper she was referencing, perhaps I could remember why I had been at her site in the first place.

    Her response was, “I don’t know. All they told me was that you had visited the site and that you had downloaded a whitepaper.”

    Now I usually don’t get impassioned about things like this, but I’m gonna make an exception right now: That Stinks!

    She had no information on what I had downloaded or when I had downloaded it. Many individuals invest in lead generation programs thinking that it will save them from the pain of cold calling. Somehow, they believe that having someone download a whitepaper from their site absolves them from having to sell. Nothing could be further from the truth. You still need to be able to communicate coherently and you still need to be able to sell effectively. In order to do that, you need the most basic of information. Know why you are calling your prospect. Get that information.

  • Tip Three: Be engaging by referring back to what they downloaded. I’ve had inside sales people cold call me on several occasions regarding a download. The conversation typically goes something like this:

    “Hello Mr. Prevost. My name is Bob Mumblefratz. I’m just following up on a whitepaper you downloaded from our site. Did you find everything ok? Is there anything else that we can help you with?”

    Nothing wrong with that if you are in customer service. You make sure that the client got what they needed and that they don’t need anything else.

    In a sales situation, however, you need to be more engaging. Something like this:

    “Hello Larry? I got a note here indicating that you downloaded our whitepaper entitled ‘7 Killer Secrets for Lead Generation’ on February 15, 2009. Is that correct? Larry, clients who have downloaded that particular paper had concerns regarding 1. New marketing strategies, 2. Increasing their cold calling success rate, 3. Generating more revenue, 4. Shortening their sales cycle, and 5. Increasing the productivity of their inside sales team. Larry, which of those five are concerns for you?

    Of the two, the last approach gets your prospect engaged. The first one is like being a sales rep in a retail shop, approaching a walk-in prospect and asking, “Hi. May I help you?” It’s nice… polite… and bland. Nothing wrong with it, but you already know the answer; “No thanks. Just looking.” And off they go.

    With the second approach, you’re essentially telling the prospect the kinds of challenges other prospects have faced. Now your prospect has a scale to gauge their own challenges against, and if they don’t have a challenge, they will pick something from your selection that is of interest to them. That gives you something to work with. Be sure to include the requisite conditional closes, references to timing and personal identifiers.

Remember that a lead generation system will do some filtering on the front end and send semi-qualified leads in your direction. But if you can’t communicate to determine a need or sell the next steps effectively, then your lead generation system is a waste of time. Keep these three tips in mind:

  1. Follow up on your prospects in a timely fashion
  2. Get pertinent information on what they received
  3. Get them engaged immediately by referencing what they downloaded

Now as one of my sales manager from a long time ago used to tell me, go sell something!