Inbound Sales | 5 min read
For B2B marketers, the buyers journey as we know it isn’t a straight line.
Even though it has three distinct phases – Awareness, Consideration, and Decision – each one of these can have all kinds of mini-steps. Awareness might see your lead looking at a dozen different sources and signing up to three different mailing lists. Consideration could involve sales contact.
It’s great when leads roll straight down the path, but marketing can be a lot harder than bowling.
With that in mind, leads who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer still sometimes get distracted. They might be sidetracked by what competitors say or simply get lost in a feedback loop trying to manage the complexity of their own buying process.
When leads go dark, it’s up to you to spring into action!
Exactly what constitutes “going dark” varies based on how your leads usually behave. Generally, though, you want to see signs of life from your leads even when it doesn’t seem like they’re moving forward at full speed: Visiting your site, checking out content, or even using social media.
Dark leads may eventually come back to you. Indeed, some will in their own time.
However, every day they‘re off your radar is time they could be spending with your rivals. When you reach out in a timely, personalized way, you have the chance to re-engage with them. You can provide the value they need and get many of those leads back on track.
Isn’t that better than waiting? You bet it is!
But, there are two questions to ask before you get started ...
First: Do You Have Enough Data to Know When Leads Are Dark?
The B2B sales cycle is notoriously long. On top of that, some industries tend toward exhaustively long decision-making processes. Before you assume you’re losing leads left and right, it’s crucial to get set up with the data you need to understand leads’ usual behavior.
Only when you know how leads act “on average” can you be sure when one goes dark.
There’s two components to this:
- Ensuring you have web analytics on your site so you can grab behavior data.
- Implementing lead scoring that alerts you as leads progress closer to the sale.
A good Customer Relationship Management system will alert you when it’s time to follow up with your cold leads by sending a notification directly to the sales or marketing team, depending on which phase of the buyer journey a lead has faltered on. This makes follow-up proactive and consistent.
Plus, CRMs usually have their own lead built-in lead scoring to make your job much easier.
Second: Did You Ask Your Leads What’s Up?
The power of asking is something that all marketers should get familiar with early.
In that spirit, you can always ask your leads directly what’s going on.
“But Rob,” you might say, “why would cold leads answer a survey? They’re cold!”
If you send a survey to your cold, cool, and lukewarm leads, you might not get a high response rate. The feedback you do get, however, can be very helpful. Not only can you re-engage some individual leads, but you could retool your funnel to attract a higher quality of lead to start with.
There are three major reasons why leads go cold:
- They are interested in what you offer, but their project got stalled.
- They’re no longer interested – or they were never really interested.
- They were interested, but they’ve been tempted by a competitor.
When you find out directly from the horse’s mouth what went wrong, you can take precautions that will keep more of your future leads from cooling off in the first place. That will shorten your sales cycle and help your teams focus in on the true “best fit” leads.
What to Do When Leads Go Dark: Your Top Six Options
1. Send Out a Customized Email.
If a lead joined your email list but hasn’t actually opened your messages – now or ever – you can send a customized “heads up” directly to that list segment to troubleshoot the issue. Many times, people are overwhelmed or don’t have time to figure out how to get the most value from your content. A “beginner’s guide” can spark their independent exploration of your site.
2. Show Off Something New.
If leads have been checking out your emails occasionally but rarely click through or visit your site, then they can benefit from adding a little spice to the relationship. Show these leads something fresh: New products, new features, new pricing, or whatever else you have up your sleeve. Make sure your subject line leads with what’s changed so you can pique their curiosity.
3. Give Them Something Cool.
Leads stand up and take notice when you talk directly to them – and that goes double when you offer them something they need. Even if they wouldn’t have signed up for, say, a 15-minute consultation on their own, they may be excited to accept when it’s offered to them. Customize your approach to the prospect’s needs and you could reignite the relationship.
4. Find Other Ways to Re-Engage.
Email not working? Shake things up by using more subtle and sophisticated approaches. For example, retargeting ads can get cool leads back onto your website, checking out content they’d otherwise overlook. A direct conversation through social media can build rapport. For leads who still occasionally poke around your site, custom pop-ups and lead magnets are dynamite.
5. Use Custom Messaging Based on Trigger Events.
If a lead’s interest has gone downhill, then the status quo has to change – one way or another – before you can get them back Trigger events are changes in the lead’s business outlook that influence their needs: For example, launching a new product or office or completing a merger. When a trigger event makes your offerings more pertinent, get in touch fast!
6. Move on to Another Prospect Within a Company.
What happens if you’re absolutely sure a certain company is a perfect fit, but you just can’t get a bite? Enterprises using account-based marketing should feel emboldened to take another crack at it. Use LinkedIn to double-check your assumptions about the client enterprise and make sure you’re really addressing your content to the right person. If you’re not, try again.
Dark leads are a fact of life, but they’re not the end of life!
With these methods, you can re-engage anywhere from 10% to 30% of those disappearing leads. A few months of diligent follow-up can bring these leads back into the light and make a big impact on your bottom line. Keep it up and you’ll see results!
Published on October 15, 2018