A couple of weeks ago, Brad called me from my website to ask me some questions about how Unlock The Game deals with inbound leads, mostly e-mails but also phone calls.
"I basically respond to inquiries from people who e-mail or call our company looking for information about our solution. I've always figured that they wouldn't be getting in touch with me if they weren't interested, so I'm not sure whether your program applies to me, because I'm not cold calling. The problem is when I call them back, I go into "sales pitch" mode, and then the sales process gets stuck."
Brad had inadvertently put his finger on a major problem with how old-style sales approaches deal with inbound leads -- which is that inbound leads are "warm" leads from people who want to buy.
The problem is, that's a myth.
Why? Because the truth is:
Inbound e-mails or calls are exactly like cold calls except that the leads have taken the first step by contacting you. This means that the inbound "warm" leads we get so excited about are actually no different from "cold" leads.
Why? Because you can't assume you have any more of a relationship with an inbound lead than you do with someone you cold call.
YOU AND THE OTHER PERSON ARE STILL COMPLETE STRANGERS.
That means that, just as in a cold call, you need to create a relationship of trust based on their issues or problems, through a natural two-way dialogue, to identify if both of you are a fit.
After all, how often, after talking with a so-called warm lead, do you realize that their agenda is a total mismatch with your expectations of how you hoped the call would turn out?
Maybe they were just comparing prices, shopping around, or gathering ideas for the future. No wonder it's easy to feel discouraged, after you've done all the "right" things and they still disappear on you.
In Unlock The Game, it always comes down to the same thing: If you don't take the time to find out what their problem or issue is, and you jump right into your sales pitch, you inadvertently introduce sales pressure, which puts them on the defensive and makes them withdraw.
And this, as you know, makes trust and honest communication impossible.
How you handle your communication with inbound leads will spell the difference between never hearing from them again, or eventually making the sale.
Cold Call or Inbound Lead: The Goals Are the Same
Although it's true that inbound leads are obviously open to talking with you because they contacted you first, you can't assume that your product or solution is a match, so your job is still to find out the truth of their situation.
If you assume you're a match just because they called you, you'll be resistant to finding out the truth about what's on their mind.
Here are the key differences between how old-school selling and Unlock The Game look at inbound leads:
Unlock The Game
Assume that because the caller initiated
contact with you, they're "pre-sold," and move forward with your sales process.
|Find out what their issue, problem, or concern is -- in other words, their truth.
|Focus on talking about what YOU have to offer.
Discuss whether your product or service is a possible fit or not.
|Go for the appointment or sale.
Let the other person know that it's up to them to let you know where they "want to go from here."
|Follow up, chase, and close.
If both of you decide there isn't a fit, know it's okay to walk away without feeling guilty.
Here are some tips, based on the Unlock The Game Mindset, on how to handle inbound leads:
* Avoid assuming that the sale is a "given" just because they contacted you
Before you reply via e-mail to a lead, or call them back, remind yourself: "I'm not going to assume anything at all until I actually have a conversation and get to the truth of where they stand."
This will help you rein in your enthusiasm and stay focused on natural conversation rather than launching into a sales pitch. Whether you're talking on the phone or responding via e-mail, your tone and word choices should be calm, relaxed, gentle, and low-key, without any sense of urgency.
* Call back instead of replying by e-mail
If you receive an e-mail lead that includes the other person's phone number, respond immediately by calling them rather than by e-mailing.
If you reach them directly, the most graceful and low-key way to begin the conversation is to confirm that they're the person who got in touch with you: "Hi, this is Brad with XYZ Solutions, I'm hoping you can help me out for a moment...I have a note here that you sent in about [inquiry topic]... would that have come from you?"
They will probably respond with, "Yes, that was me." This little interaction is a mini-step to building trust within the first few minutes of the call. It's a natural, thoughtful question that shows respect for the other person and creates an opening connection between the two of you.
* Start with an opening phrase that allows the conversation to open up
If a lead calls you and reaches you directly, you can begin your conversation by asking them gently, "Can you tell me a little bit about your situation?"
This question helps them go in their own natural direction, instead of you asking scripted questions to try to lead them down your sales process.
* If you don't have a phone number, use your reply e-mail to get them on the phone
If you receive an inbound e-mail lead without a phone number, you can send back a low-key response along these lines:
Just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know I just received your message about needing more information about... [inquiry topic].
You may have specific needs that are different from others, so it might make sense if we had a brief chat over the phone... would you be open to that?
And if you prefer to give me a call, that's fine too. Our call together would simply be a question-and-answer conversation to learn more about your situation and your needs.
You'll never feel any sales pressure from us -- it's against our philosophy of how we treat people.
Let me know your thoughts.
This kind of e-mail language is a natural way to suggest having a conversation over the phone.
The myth of the inbound lead is one of the many sales myths that are still being taught by traditional sales gurus -- and believed by most people who sell.
Isn't it about time that you focused on something more important than the sale?
"What could be more important than the sale?," you might ask...
THE TRUTH OF WHETHER THE SALE EXISTS OR NOT.
Unlock The Game Mastery Program shows you how to debunk many other outdated sales myths that you may be unaware of -- but are losing you sales.
To your success,