Hot leads, cold leads, qualified leads… no matter what industry you’re in, every business needs to spend time prospecting for leads. It can be a frustrating process — especially when your warm leads are difficult to pin down. In this post, we’ll be talking in more in-depth about different kinds of leads you’ll come across in the sales cycle, and how you can better nurture leads and convert them into paying customers.
What are warm leads?
“Warm leads” refer to people who can be identified as showing an interest in your product or service offerings. The definition of a warm lead is fairly flexible; in the age of the web, there are a multitude of ways that an individual can engage with your business.
For example, you can classify a lead as “warm” if they have done any of the following:
- Visited your website
- Filled out an online inquiry form
- Signed up for your email newsletter
- Read an on-site article or testimonial
- Followed you on social media
Warm leads vs. cold leads
The difference between warm leads and cold leads is simple; the former group has already put their foot in the door, while the latter is likely to be unaware of or uninterested in your offerings.
Warm leads have taken the initiative to find out about your business. They’ve progressed much further in the sales cycle, and are therefore more likely to respond positively to your sales efforts.
On the other hand, cold leads require a more cautious approach. Many consumers treat unsolicited cold calling or emailing with suspicion or even hostility. On average, it takes 18 calls for businesses to generate a single warm lead.
Unlike warm leads, it isn’t possible to leverage someone’s activity on your website or marketing channels to build a profile of what they’re looking for. For this reason, cold leads need to be nurtured very carefully if they are to become warm or qualified leads.
Warm leads vs. hot leads
A “hot lead” or qualified lead has gone a step beyond your warm leads; they have begun to define specifically what they are looking for.
Because they’ve developed a clear set of criteria for purchasing, it’s much easier to target your marketing and sales efforts accurately.
One of the most common ways for businesses to segment qualified leads from warm leads is the so-called “BANT” method, which stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline:
Budget: How much is the potential customer willing to spend, and how much flexibility do they have in this area?
Authority: Who is the key decision-maker? Which other stakeholders are involved?
Need: What challenges are they facing? How can your business help them?
Timeline: How quickly are they looking to make a purchase?
If your salespeople can zero in on these areas, you’re in a much better position to establish whether a lead is qualified or needs further nurturing.
How to identify warm leads
Now that you know what warm leads are and what behavior to look out for, how should you go about identifying them?
Have a good CRM System
Your website is highly likely to be the first touchpoint for potential customers. For this reason, it’s vital that you’re capturing this data through some form of CRM software like Hubspot or Salesforce.
When a lead visits your website, their behavior will tell you a lot about what their needs and interests are. Knowing which pages they visit and what content they download is essential for effective lead nurturing.
Because the more you can learn about your customers, the more informed your strategies will be.
This will make you far more effective at turning warm leads into hot leads, and subsequently into paying customers.
Use visitor tracking software
Tracking software such as LeadLander is a great investment because it effectively kills two birds with one stone.
In addition to tracking visitor movements across your site and monitoring which pages are performing well, it uses the IP addresses of website visitors to uncover important contact information such as company names, emails, phone numbers, and even LinkedIn profiles, allowing you to capture warm leads with ease.
Implement inbound marketing
Inbound marketing strategies often go overlooked because of the time and effort they take to establish. However, they are critical to warm lead generation.
Why? Because inbound marketing is about value and relevance — and so represents your marketers’ best opportunity to attract people who are the most likely to become customers.
Let’s say that you’re a plant nursery wanting to capitalize on the current houseplant craze. So, you write a blog about low-maintenance houseplants for first-time plant parents. This allows you to attract numerous website visitors who’ve searched for “easy houseplants” via Google and other search engines.
In doing so, you’ve established a strong piece of content that offers clear value to your warm leads. The resulting SEO boost makes this a strategy that only grows in value as the page gains more authority.
Essentially, the right piece of inbound marketing content can attract leads who are actively searching for your offerings — making them primed for conversion.
Ask for customer referrals
Your existing customers are one of the best sources of warm leads, because they likely know people just like them who would be interested in your offerings. Plus, it’s no secret that we trust word of mouth far more than cold calls or blatant advertising.
Consider creating a referral program that offers your customers an incentive to refer new customers. It could be a discount off a product or service, or a giveaway that you can push through your social channels.
How to nurture leads
Now you’ve identified your warm leads, you need a strong outreach and follow-up strategy. Here are some tips to help you effectively touch base and nurture leads.
Take stock of your resources
Before you put your sales reps to work, make sure they have access to the tools and resources they need to effectively follow-up with warm leads.
Leads who’ve made it to this stage are most likely to be looking for in-depth product/service information that helps them to narrow down their options. Blogs, webinars, case studies even in-person events are all useful to this end. It’s a good idea to create a database of relevant content that will form the basis for your communications.
Create a thorough follow-up schedule
The size of your sales team will be dictated by the size of your business, but whether it’s big or small, it’s vital to have a cohesive approach to your communications. A lack of consistency won’t just cause confusion; it could knock warm leads out of the sales funnel entirely.
Here is a sample outreach or follow-up template you can adapt to suit the needs of your business:
- Initial response: Within 12-24 hours via email e.g. “Thank you for your interest in X” plus your sales pitch.
- First follow-up: A phone call the following day to qualify your lead and find out more about their needs.
- Second follow-up: An email 1-2 days later containing resources relevant to their needs.
- Third follow-up: A quick message inviting them to an online webinar or product demo.
Track your communications
It’s not enough just to have a follow-up schedule; it’s also important to actively track your communications using a good CRM or sales platform. Without reliable data, it’s impossible to measure which lead nurturing techniques are working for your business and which aren’t. The better your data, the more effective your lead nurturing will become over time.
How to close warm leads
If you’re already in talks with your leads and you know that they’re in the market for your offerings, it’s time to seal the deal. Check out the following pointers for closing warm leads and turning them into paying customers.
Address their objections
Be aware of any objections or misgivings that your customers may have about your products. Are they worried that set-up is going to be a pain? Are they concerned that their team members will have a hard time using the product? It’s important to know these things, then address them head-on (ideally before the objections even come up).
For instance, if the customer is concerned about setting up your product, assure them that you’ll walk them through the process. The key is to put them at ease so they’re comfortable with moving forward with your solution.
Be the solution, not just a product/service
With the pressures of sales targets and KPIs, it’s easy to forget that your business is more than just a product or service. But this is precisely what separates you from the competition. Today’s customers demand meaning and purpose from businesses — so make sure that your value proposition is clearly defined.
Communicating your unique value prop and solution also helps differentiate your business from your competitors. Remember that leads may be considering your business alongside other companies, so highlighting what makes you unique is important.
Ensure that knowledge/research is current
To convert leads, they need to be convinced that you’re an informed vendor who is up-to-date with relevant trends. Consider holding regular sessions with your sales team so that they are always at the cutting-edge of industry knowledge.
If there’s one thing consumers pick up on, it’s when a salesperson is being inauthentic. If you feel that a lead is pursuing the wrong avenue, let them know and offer them some suggestions for what might work better. It’s a sure-fire way to build the trust that leads to sales.
Ready to nurture leads and prime them for conversion?
Warm leads are incredibly valuable to your business, which is why it’s important to know how to effectively identify, nurture, and convert them. Fortunately, there are several tools and best practices that can help you turn these leads into buyers. Hopefully, the pointers above gave you some ideas on how to do just that.