18 January 2010

When a lead goes cold....

So a lead that seemed so hot goes cold - what do you do?

It depends - in what way did the lead go cold? Did the person stop taking your calls? Or did the project get put "on-hold"?

Two very different scenarios - a project on-hold is not the end of the lead. First, try to determine if there is a tangible timeframe to the delay - and the reason behind the delay. A vendor can often help the client - both by not pressuring them and losing a trusted advisor position - but also, the project may be on-hold for a reason that the vendor has experience with in removing.

For example, let's say the project is on-hold due to budget. The client may be new to the idea of financing and could offer up partner vendors who specialize in financing. Or, the project is delayed due to the client wanting to do more due diligence on ROI feasibility - and you as the vendor, may have ROI benchmarks from other clients that could help steer your current lead to move the project from on-hold to "red-hot".

The other example of a lead going cold is that someone stops taking your calls - basically, stops engaging with the vendor. Is the lead totally dead?

Perhaps.

In today's uncertain economy and staff reductions, there is a possibility that your contact has been laid off. As someone who has gone through corporate restructuring, I can attest to the fact that calling your vendors about your layoff is not top of mind. For the vendors, have you been courting just one person at a specific company? That can spell disaster. It pays to engage as many people (and sometime from different departments) from a single company to form a comprehensive lead.

Another possibility is that they have decided upon a vendor of choice - and you are not it. Not the most polite way of letting you know - but depending on how far the lead got (did it go to RFP?, just RFI?, were they still kicking tires?), a vendor may be out of the running and not returning your call is their way of letting you know.

The most hopeful reason behind someone not taking your call is a simple matter of too many things, not enough time. As someone who has dealt with vendors and been a vendor in different times of my career, sometimes you are just swamped and conversely, you can continue to reach out to someone without leaving voicemail #100. For vendors, they should seriously consider the idea of "drip marketing" to those leads that have gone cold. I'll touch base on drip marketing in a future post - but in short, it is a great (hopefully automated) way for your demand generation folks to keep the line of communication open to the leads while not spending precious cycles on direct telemarketing.

The KISS Question is "how do you qualify a lead as "cold?"

and just for fun, I've included Katy Perry's "Hot and Cold" video link here since demand generation can sometimes be like this!

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