*Originally published on CEPro.com
While integrators rightly focus their efforts on discovering new leads, savvy business owners may be wise to nurture existing leads and try to gain new business from old sources.
Why is it that we expect sales to happen on the first, second or third conversation—or not at all? We forget our own behavior when making purchase decisions: Lots of procrastination and uncertainty. A desire to feel in control of the buying process. Sometimes more emotional than rational. A bias towards the status quo (even if buying is clearly in our interest).
This behavior means that it pays to reconnect with old leads. Maybe they never booked a sales call with you, or they declined to close after the initial set of sales calls.
But maybe for them, now’s the time.
When you’re diligent about nurturing leads and reactivating old conversations, you’ll get more from your marketing dollars, lower your cost-per-lead and grow your business faster.
Here are seven ideas to help you start getting business from “cold” leads:
7 Ways to Reconnect with Old AV Leads
#1: Don’t let them go cold in the first place
They say prevention is better than the cure. So let’s start there. If there’s a way to keep your past leads from becoming cold in the first place, do it! One trick: if you’re simply relying on your memory to follow up with leads, it’s too easy to let things slip through the cracks.
Instead, supplement your manual outreach by getting your leads into a welcome sequence in your favorite email marketing software.
Of course, plenty of leads will go cold anyway for any number of reasons. That’s where the next strategies come into play.
#2: Connect on a different platform
Most social media advice covers what to post on your business page. That has its place, but if you can make a personal connection with a prospect, you’re ahead of the curve. That’s because your prospect then gets repeated exposure to you over time. Repeated exposure builds trust and makes them think of you when the time is right.
Generally, LinkedIn is the right venue for this, as it’s a business-focused platform. It’s also the only platform you should worry about if you’re focused on commercial integration. Facebook can work for residential integrators, but keep in mind that it’s more personal, and therefore more sensitive to use for business networking. You want to be on familiar terms with prospects before sending a Facebook friend request (whereas LinkedIn is designed for meeting new people).
A possible workaround is to create a Facebook Group and invite your prospects to join. You’ll just need a reasonable, value-providing rationale for creating the group: perhaps you’re providing answers to common smart home or conference room AV questions there.
#3: Show them what they’ve missed
Once upon a time, you had a conversation with this prospect about a problem they had. Maybe it was a promising conversation, or maybe it didn’t go anywhere. What’s happened in the meantime? What’s the opportunity cost they’ve incurred by not solving their problem?
Are they a residential prospect that’s spent another 365 days manually opening and closing blinds throughout their house each day? Are they a business that’s avoided investing in a security system, missing out on peace of mind? Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Consider what life would’ve been like if they’d taken you up on your offer the first time. Then, help them appreciate the gap between where they are, and where they could be.
#4: The 9 word email
Marketing expert Dean Jackson popularized a concept known as the 9-word email. It’s an antidote to the long emails we sort through every day. Instead, it’s a question that gets straight to the point and invites a response.
For custom integrators, it might look something like this:
Subject: Tim (your prospect’s name)
Body: Are you still looking for a digital signage solution?
Give this a try to mix things up, particularly if your emails are normally wordy. You might find it generates a different response or gets a reply from different types of prospects.
#5: Personalized video
Sometimes, email just won’t cut it. Our inboxes are slammed so full that even 9 words can seem like too much to read. For some prospects, video might be the answer. This is especially true for prospects you might have had a truly productive, promising conversation with at one point.
Personalized video can help you recapture that personal connection, and if it’s clear that you recorded the video just for them (“hey, Tim!”), it could feel rude not to respond.
#6: Survey or Opinion poll
Sometimes, prospects don’t reply because they’re not sure they want to initiate a sales conversation. However, if you can find a way to help them engage in another way, that can help you down the line.
A survey or opinion poll can feel non-threatening, and give them a chance to participate in a different way. A majority of the emails you send should be valuable, helpful content (not sales-y).
Consider this one a “warm-up” email to grease the wheels for future outreach, rather than trying to use it to start sales conversations.
#7: Create a (really good) reason for them to join your email list
Your email list is the holy grail of marketing. You own it, you control it, and when it gets big enough, you can use it to activate demand for your services as needed.
Thanks to email automation (see #1), it’s also the best thing you can do to make your followup easier, but the days of people joining your email list to “stay in touch” are long gone. Your prospects have subscribed, and unsubscribed, from countless newsletters that never gave them any value.
How are you going to be different? Start by giving them a good reason to join your email list. Then, deliver on that. The approach you take will depend on the type of prospect.
For example: let’s say you’re reaching out to someone who’s interested in conference room automation. Use language that connects with someone in the research or consideration phase: “Download our guide! 10 mistakes to avoid when planning your automated conference room.” Set up your email marketing software to send them that guide upon subscribing, and follow up with other useful content in that same vein to establish yourself as an authority.
These 7 ways to connect with past leads only scratch the surface of what’s possible, but the reality is that most of us aren’t systematically following up with old leads at all. So don’t fall into the trap of feeling too overwhelmed, of overplanning, or of wanting to take “perfect action.”
Instead, pull up one past conversation with an old lead now, and get started!