There'a almost always a delay from when a combustion or HVAC company acquires a lead to when a sales rep for the company actually contacts the lead. It might be as short as just a few minutes -- meaning the industrial sales rep contacts the prospect just minutes after receiving his or her information -- or it could be as long as several days, months or even a year. Waiting too long to contact a burner, chiller or HVAC lead is a big mistake that could cost your combustion or HVAC company sales. Therefore, you should try to prevent and manage stale leads to achieve greater success with your company's operations.
For industrial sales reps, the difference between a fresh lead and a stale lead is akin to night and day. Generally speaking, the longer you wait to contact a prospect, the less likely it is that he or she will make a purchase. Furthermore, the longer you wait to contact a chiller, burner or furnace prospect, the lower your chances of even reaching the prospect. According to research cited by Forbes, the chance of reaching a prospect decreases by a staggering 3,000% after just five hours. If you wait longer than five hours to contact a prospect after receiving his or her information, you might get the voicemail.
I know this probably sounds like common sense, but it's still worth mentioning that you should contact prospects as soon as you acquire them as a lead. In an article published by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), it was revealed that nearly one-quarter of U.S. industrial companies don't take action on their leads. Not surprisingly, this is a huge mistake that essentially negates the value of their critical industrial leads. As their leads grow stale, they are unable to reach and engage these prospects to sell their products or services. To prevent this from happening to your company, contact prospects immediately after acquiring them as a lead.
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Of course, you can only contact prospects in a timely manner if you know the exact date on which they were acquired as a lead. If your company's lead database consists of nothing more than names and phone numbers, how will you know which leads are fresh and which ones are stale? You won't. This is why it's a good idea to record the date of acquisition with your leads. Make a note in your company's lead database stating the exact date on which each lead was acquired.
You shouldn't throw in the towel just because you're unable to reach a prospect after one call. It often takes several calls to get a combustion or HVAC prospect on the phone. In fact, one report suggests that it can take six to 12 attempts to reach a prospect. If a prospect doesn't answer when you call, set a reminder to call him or her again the following day. Committing yourself to the sales process will increase your chance of reaching the prospect and selling your product or service.
If you can't reach a prospect but believe the company for whom he or she works may still be interested in your product or service, try searching for an alternative contact. Using online tools like LinkedIn and Google, you can search for an executive at the prospect's company. Or better yet, use SalesLeads’ Target Account Intelligence. It contains search criteria so you can find the right person that compliments the contact. You’ll get the phone numbers and direct dials for each. Open a free account so you can see the great information waiting for you to act on.
While stale leads have a lower conversion rate (on average) than fresh leads, you may still be able to convert them into paying customers. Rather than using the same forward approach with stale leads as other leads, though, you should use a more customized approach that involves nurturing them. Conventional wisdom may lead you to believe that it's best to directly propose your offer when initially contacting a lead. For stale leads, you'll achieve better results by nurturing them first. This involves warming the prospect up to your product or service so that he or she is more inclined to buy it.
An easy and effective way to acquire leads is to buy. There are companies that specialize in lead generation. They collect, curate and then sell these leads to various companies, including HVAC and combustion companies. But if you're going to buy leads, make sure they are fresh. Leads that are six months old are less likely to convert than week-only leads.
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Finally, you can prevent stale leads by harvesting them manually. This is a more time-consuming and tedious process when compared to buying leads, but it can provide a wealth of new sales opportunities for your company. You can harvest leads manually by setting up a lead generation form on your company's website.