Updated December 29, 2021
Not all leads are created equal. When compared to cold leads, hot leads are much easier for your salespeople to close. So if marketing can churn out a pipeline of hot leads instead of cold ones, it could have a huge impact on the business. Read on to find more strategies for turning cold leads hot – and how to nurture leads. It could be just what you need to improve your conversion rate.
Companies with an effective process for finding, nurturing, and closing warm leads tend to do very well for themselves – but coming up with that process can be difficult. Allow us to elaborate. Keep reading to learn new ways to generate, nurture, and close warm leads.
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.
One study from the Kenan-Flagler Business School asserted that “cold calling has only a 2.5 percent success rate.” What does that look like? After a full day of cold calling, the average salesperson will only generate one warm lead per day (and only around 10% of warm leads will convert into sales).
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, and warm and hot leads should be given more time and care than cold 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?
You are looking for a lead who is more concerned about solving the problem than the budget, and who has enough money or flexibility in the budget to utilize your product or service.
Authority: Who is the key decision-maker? Which other stakeholders are involved?
It’s your best bet to get into direct contact with the key decision-maker for your product or service. If there are multiple hoops to jump through, this lead may not be as promising – or it may be worth going the extra mile to contact all of the decision-makers, depending on the lead’s level of interest.
Need: What challenges are they facing? How can your business help them?
If your business only addresses the outskirts of your lead’s concerns, this may not be a hot lead. We’re looking for leads whose needs line up directly with our business model.
Timeline: How quickly are they looking to make a purchase?
Business and individuals that are wholly focused on the problem at hand or have an upcoming deadline are more likely to close a deal.
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.
Develop a lead scoring system
To maximize the potential of your CRM workflows, you should first determine which lead indicators are most important to you. Here’s a list of factors to consider.
- Opening email(s)
- Email link click
- Email reply “interested”
- Marketing appointment set
- Landing page click
- Article view
Once you assign a value to each sign of interest, you can automate various tasks within your CRM. For example, when an individual hits a particular score or completes an action that indicates urgent interest, your CRM can begin delivering emails suggesting a marketing appointment.
How to generate warm leads
Your time and money are better spent turning cold leads into warm leads rather than pitching to cold leads. Here are the best ways to generate more warm leads for your business.
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.
Generating and closing warm leads is important to the success of your company. But, when it comes to leads, “warm” isn’t a binary term. Instead, you can think of warm leads as existing on a temperature scale – some are lukewarm while others are scalding hot.
With that in mind, the question becomes what you can do to turn a mildly warm lead into a hot one.
Offer an online event
We know being face-to-face with our prospects works wonders in building a relationship and making the sale – and now it’s even easier with video chat options. Try offering an executive event or webinar where you can interact directly with the lead in exchange for providing them with valuable content. By making the webinar pertinent to your business model, you will attract prospects who may be interested in your product or service. Other online event ideas include:
- Live games or competitions
- Virtual concerts
- Health and wellness activities
- Skill classes
- Charity events
- Social media or video game challenges
- Speed networking
- Audio discussions or debates
Generate warm leads with LinkedIn
LinkedIn is one of the best places to find new leads already interested in what you have to offer. There are several different ways to leverage the platform.
The easiest method is to simply look at the often-overlooked LinkedIn section called “Who’s Viewed Your Profile.” This gives you an immediate list of professionals interested in your company. Reaching out to them with a message is a great way to connect with new warm leads.
You can also attract more people to your LinkedIn profile by consistently posting valuable content. This includes blog posts, statistics, recently published studies, and videos. Consider boosting, or sponsoring, your most valuable posts – take advantage of the audience segmentation settings and target accordingly.
Tips for generating warm leads for free
Consistently generating warm leads for free will do wonders for your marketing efforts. It should empower you to keep your sales funnel filled without dedicating too much of your budget to fill it.
With that in mind, here are four strategies you can use to generate more warm leads for free.
Network at events
Despite the rise of online marketing and sales, face-to-face networking is still incredibly valuable. When you interact with a potential lead in person, it allows them to put a face to your company and get a much better sense of the team that’s running it.
That’s why one of the best ways to generate warm leads for free is by attending in-person networking events. These are an excellent opportunity to expand your network and attract the interest of people who might not have found your company online.
Create and share videos
Research shows that videos can be up to 600% more effective for marketing than print and direct mail combined. So create videos that explain topics you know your target audience cares about.
For example, if you run an accounting company, create YouTube videos that explain essential accounting principles in terms that are easy to understand.
People might find your videos when they’re interested in learning more about accounting and then research your company if they find the video valuable.
Encourage customers to leave reviews
An astonishing 93% of customers read online reviews before purchasing a product. That’s why you should encourage your existing customers to leave reviews. You can ask them to do this directly and offer an incentive to do so.
For example, you could offer customers a discount on their next order if they leave a review on your website. That way, the next time that someone visits your site, they see that real people value what your company has to offer.
How to warm up cold leads
Use Email Marketing
Email marketing campaigns can be quite effective at warming up cold and warm leads because they provide the opportunity to keep in regular contact with prospects.
Try segmenting your leads into different groupings based on shared characteristics to get the most out of these methods. Then you can target each segment with relevant.
Keep your segmented email marketing campaigns going for a while, and you’ll see the progress over time.
Leverage Social Media
Social media is another excellent resource. The key is providing value to your social media followers. You do that by sharing content that’s relevant to their interests.
For example, if you sell accounting software, you might share a blog post on your company website that details what people can do to get a handle on their accounting.
Providing this type of value helps you create stronger relationships with your target audience. And when you become more of a presence in their life, they become much likelier to come to you when they’re ready to make a purchase.
If you’re still struggling to attract your target number of warm leads, then you may want to try offering incentives. These can be an extremely effective way to get someone on the fence about buying from you to commit to making a purchase.
Incentives don’t have to be big things, either. Simply offering a 10% discount for a first-time customer can be enough to convert a cold lead.
Try Passing Some Leads to Coworkers
If you’re having trouble getting through to a lead, then it could be because you’re not the best person in your company to talk with them. Sometimes, a lead will be more responsive to someone who has more experience in their niche.
Perhaps you sell financial software to businesses across industries. If you’re selling to a technology company, it may be helpful to pass that B2B lead off to someone within your organization that has a deep familiarity with the type of work.
Even though you may not get the sale yourself, your company still will. And if you forge meaningful relationships with your coworkers, they’ll be more likely to reciprocate.
How to turn a warm lead hot
The best way to dial up the heat on a warm lead is to target them in a way that feels more personal than a typical mass-marketing strategy. If they believe you are truly attentive to their needs, they’re much likelier to give your company a chance.
But how does that happen? Let’s take a look at several strategies that will get the job done.
Segment your warm leads
Segmenting your leads is one of the most effective ways to deliver highly targeted content to them. The more targeted content you deliver, the more a lead will interact with your company.
Here are some tips for successfully segmenting your audience:
- Review your overall audience information
- Create subgroupings within your broader target audience based on specific characteristics like company size, industry, and location
- Develop segmented audience profiles that allow you to quickly assign new leads to the correct subgroup
Once you’ve created your audience segments, use customized drip campaigns to keep your leads as warm as you can for as long as possible. This will give your sales staff a wider window to close deals.
Create a network
Warming up your leads is about more than just trying to find the right products to sell. Consider creating a network for leads to interact with one another. You might have two leads operating in complementary industries – this is your opportunity to play professional matchmaker and put the two in contact.
By offering this unique kind of assistance to your leads, you significantly increase the likelihood of their continued brand interaction.
Get in the same room with your leads
Don’t underestimate the power of online marketing. But it’s still not a complete substitute for getting in the same room with a lead and talking to them directly.
In-person conversations lead to stronger connections than interactions that take place via social media or email. And if you can get a lead to feel personally connected to your company, you significantly increase the chances of converting them into a customer one day.
So try taking your warm leads out for coffee or lunch. It could be exactly what you need to stoke the flames.
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.
Tailor your touchpoints
Go the extra mile to continuously get in front of the potential customer. If possible, personalize your email, because only 76% of automated sales emails are left unopened. Be detailed in follow-up phone calls, and remind the customer of the problem at hand. Let them know you are calling back to find out how they are doing as they deal with their issue, and if you can solve it for them. In addition, your email or call content should be intriguing, purposeful and specifically customized to your lead.
Aim for ten marketing touches
If the template doesn’t do the trick on its own, it’s time to think outside of the box. Consider connecting with your prospect via LinkedIn, sending Webinar invitations, sharing viral videos, or networking with social media influencers. Your audience is on multiple channels (not just email), so you should be, too. Another tactic is designing a free tool that you share with warm leads. The tool could solve one aspect of their problem while turning their attention to how helpful your product or service would really be.
Be sure to create multiple touchpoints by offering a mix of content on various channels. Research shows that on average, leads receive ten marketing touches from the time they learn about your business to the time they actually make a purchase. It’s time to be creative by offering social media reels, blog posts, whitepapers, direct mail and more, depending on where you are most likely to find your customers.
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.
Automate your nurturing process
Managing too many warm leads at once can be overwhelming and lead to a communication breakdown. Investing in a lead nurturing automation tool is one way to fix that problem.
For instance, you might set up an automation tool that automatically sends an email to any lead that’s visited your website more than once. This is a great way to get the lead into your sales funnel without having to manually type out and send each email in a timely fashion yourself.
How to generate warm leads
Utilize gated content
Identifying warm leads is easier to do when they identify themselves for you. And that’s what will happen if you start using gated content on your website correctly.
The idea is simple. Only the people who are the most interested in what you have to offer are going to take the time to give you their contact information when they see gated content on your website.
That means you should start seeing a steady stream of warm leads roll in just by adding gated content to your website.
Build better contact forms
When someone gives you their contact information, they show clear interest in your brand. Another strategy for generating more warm leads is figuring out how to get the contact information of people interested in your company more often.
One way to do that is by building better contact forms. Too many businesses neglect their contact forms during the process of designing their website. But if you do that, you could be missing out on valuable warm leads.
A/B testing is one of the best ways to improve your contact forms. You can try two different designs out, see which one performs better, and use it moving forward.
Continue doing that for each part of your contact form design, and you should see more contact information rolling in fairly quickly.
Understand your target customer better
To maximize the number of warm leads that you generate, you also need to have an excellent understanding of your target customer. You should clearly state who they are and what they care about most in regards to your business.
If you can’t say those things in a sentence or two, then that’s a good sign that you need to spend more time researching your target audience.
There are lots of ways to do this. One is to speak with current customers to assess trends in their demographic data, behaviors, and interests. Most clients will be happy to do something like fill out a survey for you if you’ve been good to them.
You may also want to use website data to help you out with this. LeadLander makes it easy to review this type of information, analyze it, and use it to work towards your lead generation goals.
Leverage data from your website’s live chat support system
If you have a live chat support system on your website, this can be a precious source of customer data. So if you’re not already, you may want to begin tracking the visitors’ questions and then perform some type of analysis on it.
Doing this will help you generate more warm leads by giving you deeper insight into what your website visitors care about. You can use that information to build and highlight the right content on your site. And if you can do that, you should start identifying more warm lead candidates in no 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.
Provide value in the first 15 seconds
How can you provide your warm lead with something valuable within the first 15 seconds of a sales call? That’s where your data comes in handy. If your lead downloaded one of your free resources, mention the download and ask, “What did you need help with when you downloaded that resource?” They can describe their pain point and you can immediately jump into what interests the prospect rather than aimlessly pitching your product.
Appeal to the customer on an emotional level
As e-commerce evolves, emotion becomes more important than ever in closing the sale. In years past, people went out to retail locations with a list in hand and logic on their minds.
Today, e-commerce sales are estimated at 14% total sales or higher, according to the US Census, and sales made through social media are expected to increase 21.3% in 2021, according to Hootsuite. These purchases are often spur-of-the-moment and stem from emotion, not logic.
We need to compel emotion in our warm leads to close the sale. It is critical to create urgency, making the customer want to mitigate the problem as quickly as possible. When the solution is right in front of them, they won’t have to look any further.
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.
Listen more than you speak
To become that solution for your lead, use good questioning skills. Asking the right questions will help you diagnose the exact problem and suggest the best solution. Some of the best questions to ask your warm leads include:
- What is your biggest challenge when it comes to keeping up with your competitors?
- What is your plan to tackle this problem in the coming year? What tools do you have at your disposal?
- Has budget been a barrier in resolving this problem?
- Why is this a priority for you right now?
Ask the right questions, and let your prospect do most of the talking. If they feel heard and understood, they are less likely to distrust you, and more likely to realize your product is a good fit.
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.
Let them give it a try
If your warm lead has trouble committing, offer the opportunity to try your product or service for free. Let them really experience the product on their own, or with your guidance, but without pushing or selling.
After they give it a try, schedule a follow-up to find out how they liked it. Hopefully, your fantastic product or service will be an easy sell at that point. Even if they decide to go in another direction, contact them a month or two after their decision to see if they miss your product.
Close your leads with a personalized sales strategy
Every warm lead you interact with will have its own unique set of concerns, interests, and goals. As a salesperson, it’s your job to understand these factors and appeal to them in personalized ways.
To do this effectively, you need to ask the right questions first and foremost. Make sure you know the answers to each of the following before attempting to close a warm lead:
- What do you hope to get from using our product?
- How do you envision our product helping your company reach its business goals?
- What metrics are you using to track your effectiveness?
The answers you receive to these questions will help you target your leads much more easily. And that’s the key to closing warm leads. Speaking to them in a direct, personable way shows you’re keen on delivering a solution that will work for them instead of closing a deal.
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.