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In this Master Sales Series, we’re talking about the Four Fastest ways to Burn a Lead. We work tirelessly to market, attract, and qualify leads. We can burn them in a single step, with a click of a button, and we spend a lot of time talking about how we can do it right. In this episode, we hone in on where we might be going wrong.

We will cover:

  1. The cost of wasting leads
  2. How slow follow-up impacts conversion
  3. Not enough points of contact
  4. Not having a specific person assigned for follow-up
  5. Weak discovery and qualification

Join the conversation in the Conquer Local Community and keep the learning going in the Conquer Local Academy.

Introduction to Burn a Lead

Welcome to the Conquer Local Podcast. This week on the Master Sales Series: The Four Fastest Ways to Burn a Lead. We’ll be back in a moment.

Today we’re talking about burning leads. It is the bane of every salesperson’s existence, and we all do it, even me. We burn leads all the time. We’re going to talk about it. We’re going to talk about why it’s such a challenge. We’re going to talk about how to solve it and hopefully, give you some tips on how you’re burning leads today and how NOT to do it as often.

Now, we work tirelessly to market, attract, and qualify leads. I don’t care if you’re a solo-preneur or a massive company there is an enormous amount of effort and dollars spent on attracting a customer. It is the cost to acquire a customer or CAC, C-A-C, but you know, I’m killing acronyms this year. So the cost to acquire CA do you know what yours is? The cost for you to acquire a customer? It’s expensive. It’s all the marketing that we do. It’s all the efforts that we put forward. It’s our wage. If we’re in a, in a solo-preneur business and we can burn them in a single step and on the click of a button. So how are we going to solve this? I want to hone in today, in this edition of the master sales series, on where we might be going wrong. It’s astonishing, Forbes says that companies waste 71% of their inbound leads, and I think part of this is we have this idea that we need thousands of leads. Yeah, we do. We definitely need leads, but I think we have this whole idea of, if I just put enough stuff in the top, eventually the money will fall out of the bottom, but it’s not 1961, and we’re not watching an episode of John Hamm on Mad Men.

We are now more scientific in the way that we go to market, or we should be more scientific, due to the fact that we have this enormous stack of technology at our avail. We have this ability to learn, and we are able to run some science against that buyer’s journey. So as a lead comes in and goes through that buyer’s journey, we’re going to talk today about all of the mistakes we make along the way.

Let’s look at what the biggest mistakes are, and I want you to take extreme ownership of this, and then we’re going to steer things back onto the right trajectory, and a lot of this is on us. This is doing that sales shit, and part of doing that sales shit is analyzing what we’re doing. It’s a really important piece of the puzzle. This is why robots don’t do what we do yet, is because we have to go in and take a look at it and we have to adapt our approach.

Step One

So, the first thing is a slow follow-up, got it. This is the hardest thing to get across to people. Is that when someone opens an email, a magical thing happens. If you try and call them you’ve got a way better chance of getting a hold of them. Why is that? Well, it’s called top-of-mind awareness but I’ve got a better analogy for you. Have you ever thought about buying an Audi? And you start thinking about buying an Audi. You know, Audi, the four little circles in the dash, the R8 that Robert Downey Jr. drove in all the Iron Man Avengers movies [one day, I will have that car]. Guess what’s going to happen now after you’ve heard this broadcast? You will see Audi everywhere because I just planted in your mind the idea of Audi. So when an email is delivered to a prospect or when a message is delivered to a prospect of your brand, or you as a salesperson, the timing of following up with that customer, is paramount. You know, I’ve given him a little bit of flack over the years, Justin Babiy. Justin is a great sales person in our organization, and I love working with him, and I actually had a customer reach out to me once and said: “You know, you shouldn’t make fun of Justin all the time on the podcast.” So I’m going to give Justin an enormous amount of kudos because he really is one of our best sales professionals. I remember the morning that Justin realized because before he worked at Vendasta, he worked at a cable company and he was outselling cable installations and upselling the customer when he would go in with the team to install the cable. And we gave him a tool that monitored email delivery, and I remember the morning he came running in, he goes:

“Oh my God, I just got ahold of four prospects, and it was the moment that they opened the email and I phoned them right after and I got ahold of them”

and it was amazing to see his eyes light up because Justin is a super-smart individual, but he had, and this was seven years ago, he had cracked the code on something that Harvard Business Review has reported on a number of times, and they’ve done a ton of research around, that in the first 60 seconds of someone opening one of your emails, you have a 60% better chance of making a connection and having a conversation. But it is within that 60 seconds, it’s not an hour from now, and it’s not a day from now and it’s not a week from now, but yet to this day, and I trained lots of sales folks in lots of different businesses when you sit down with them and you say:

“Okay, were your emails open?”

“Oh yeah, I’ve got lots of people opening the emails.”

“Okay, when are you going to call them?”

“I don’t know, next week, week after, you know sometime I’ll get to them.”

“Have you ever tried phoning them the moment they opened the email?”

“Oh, that’s creepy. I don’t want to do that.”

“Well, why?”

“Well, then they might know that I know that they opened the email.”

Well, the simple fact of the matter is, you don’t have to say that, say:

“Hey I noticed that you’re inside the email.”, some people might actually find that to be a little bit creepy.
Well, what you could say is,

“I sent you some information recently, and there was no number of components in that information that I thought might’ve been of value to you. I was wondering if you’d had a chance to read it?”

Now, you know that they’re reading it right then, but it also is way better than you saying,

“Hey, I see you’re looking at that email right now. Do you have any questions?”

Like that’s even a really bad opener too. It’s around that idea of, I’m here to assist you further. And all the email did, I’m sorry to email folks and marketing automation folks, all the email did was brought you, the salesperson, somebody that was thinking about you, and thinking about your brand, and then eventually thinking about the content or the message that was inside the email. But what it got you is that thing that we all want is the ability to talk to the lead. So the number one on our list of the Four Fastest Ways to Burn a Lead is the fact that we have a slow follow-up. The quicker the response time means that the lead is likely still on your website, or maybe they are retaining some of that information in the email you just delivered before they opened 16 others, and now they’re thinking about those brands. So please don’t wait to call, the longer you wait the colder the lead gets.

Step Two

Number two, the other way that we burn leads, is we don’t try hard enough. Most salespeople give up after two calls, and that’s good for the rest of us because persistence wears down resistance. The person that works the hardest always wins, eventually, but you’ve got to keep slugging through the mud. I’ve been working with an organization recently and there’s a great guy, his name’s Phillip, I really like Philip, and we were working with him on some email deliverables, and, you know, Phillip’s technically proficient, he knows that he should be doing something around this, and so we gave him a list of email subject lines, we looked at the emails that were being sent and put all of the feature benefit stuff into the attachment and just told a story, inside the email delivered a very simple, concise message just some one-on-ones on delivering that email. And then we said to him:

“You know, when you call the customer, do you leave a voicemail every time?”

And he was like:

“Ah, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.”

, and I said,

“I want you to leave a voicemail every time. Because remember, two weeks ago when I was training you and we went through the elevator pitches and your elevator pitches needed some improvement, that’s why. I want you to leave a voicemail every time. Cause it’s just to practice the elevator pitch and to get really good at it. Cause the way we get good at delivering an elevator pitch is by practicing.”

The other thing is you don’t know if the prospect is going to listen to the voicemail or not. Some people actually believe that people don’t listen to voicemails, which I’ll tell you is not true. People do listen to voicemails. And then we need to make sure that we’re sending that same message, written form, in an email and LinkedIn or whatever it might be. The good news is if your phone, leaves a voicemail message, sends a text message, if you happen to have their SMS, send an email, use LinkedIn, maybe like a couple of their posts on their social media channels for their business, what are you doing? You are having touchpoints with that customer. But people go:

“Oh, well wait a minute, George, I’m not actually talking to them.”

But you are. Your brand and your message is talking to them, and it’s starting to make an impact on the customer. So Brent, our sound engineer, is sitting with me. We were in the media business for a long time. He produced some of the most amazing content ever that touched people emotionally with the message, he still does that to this day just doesn’t happen to work for a media company today, but he knows where I’m going with this. It’s the message that you deliver that touches the audience and then is the repetition of that message that really gives you that top-of-mind awareness. It makes a marketing campaign have a hope of reaching its goal. So we don’t have enough points of contact and we don’t try hard enough. That is lesson number two of the way that we are burning leads.

Step Three

The next thing is, we’re not having a specific person assigned for follow-up. I call this Purposeful Follow-Up. I want you to not use acronyms, you know, I’m killing acronyms this year myself and Elon Musk, we’re both doing the same thing. I’m not going to the moon or Mars but we are killing acronyms at the same time. Plus, I think he has more money in the bank, but my point is also what we’re doing this year is Purposeful Follow-Up. So, if you only do two things this year, get rid of acronyms and then Purposeful Follow-Up. What I mean by that is:

“Yeah, I was just phoning, I was wondering, I get a couple of minutes of your time.”

“Okay, for what?”

“Well, I just wanted to have a check-in.”

Okay, who needs a check-in?! Right. We don’t need to check-in. We don’t need to touch base, we’re not playing baseball. We want to have a Purposeful Follow-Up. And what I mean by that is, when we have the follow-up, whether it be by email, snail mail, LinkedIn, voicemail message, text message, you can be pleasant, you can be polite, but you better get to the point because we all are scattered. We’ve got a lot of things going on, so we want to follow up, but that’s not what we want to do. We want to deliver value. And why are we delivering value? Because we want to build trust, and we want to remove fear. In this episode of the Master Sales Series, I’m going to share with you a visual of what I mean. There’s a scale, and the scale is trust on one side and fear on the other side. And the more trust that we build, the more that that side of the scale takes more prominence with the prospect than fear. And what is the fear? The fear of making a bad decision. The fear of making a decision at all. The fear of moving to a place where we’re uncomfortable because we don’t really understand it. The fear of, I don’t know who this person is, I don’t know what they’re all about. What we believe as salespeople is, Oh I’ve talked to this client 15 times. They know exactly what we do as an organization. They know our entire line card. They’ve read every case study. But they haven’t, because you were just one of hundreds of people that are trying to take their money and solve their problems. So when you follow up, I want you to find the specific person, and it may be persons because we have this idea of – it takes a village for a large sale. There are numerous people in the organization, we’ve talked about that on numerous episodes, but then we need to understand where the leads are coming from, how they’re being tracked so that we can follow up with them in a timely manner, and then who are we following up with? But then we also have to take a note, and we have to learn more and more and more about the customer so that we can move that into our talk track so that when we follow up, it is purposeful. So having that specific person, or not having that specific person, is another way that we are burning those leads.

Step Four

Our final item, number four of how you are burning those leads, is super weak discovery and qualification. And I see this all the time whenever I get on a retention call with a customer. You know what a retention call is? It’s when people are two feet out the door, or if they had eight feet, all eight of them are out the door, and then you got to try and drag them back in and resell them. And what I find when I get on those retention calls for various sales organizations around the world, the closing rep and the account manager have not continued to do discovery around what was truly important to that customer. And to qualify, as much of what they want or need to solve their problem, against what they don’t need. A lot of times in sales, you win the deal because of what you don’t say, rather than what you say. Now, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to deliver a great elevator pitch, a great value proposition, a great mental model. My point is, by doing weak discovery and qualification, we’re just basically throwing product at the wall, or at our customer and hoping something sticks. We’re hoping that they’ve done a ton of research and they really understand what their problem is, and we’re just there with the right thing at the right time, with the right price. That’s not sales. That’s called Amazon. Because what’s going to happen is that customers can just go buy that stuff themselves. They don’t need you, the trusted expert. True sales professionals are doing excellent discovery, not just one stage of the buyer’s journey all the time. You’re seeking to understand. You’re trying to really understand what’s important to that customer. Where are the real pain points? What can we really solve with our product fit? And then qualifying where they are, what’s their budget? What, what could they afford? You know, it’s probably happened to you, where you make a sale, you go out, you’re excited, you send the order in, you might even phone your boss and go,

“Yeah, I closed Brent, finally got them, been calling on him for two years.”

And then you get back to the office and your boss looks he goes:

“Yeah, Brent called, they’re canceling.”

That’s the shortest sale ever made. It happens all the time. It’s called buyer’s remorse. You know, where buyer’s remorse comes from? Super weak discovery and qualification of the prospect. You didn’t, you know what you did, you sold the dream, you didn’t really solve their problem. And then what happened is, the fear started to creep back in, because we have that trust fear matrix, start to creep out there, “Oh, I’m going to get in trouble with my wife or with my husband, cause I spent that money.” – “Oh, my boss might fire me. What if the CFO doesn’t like the expense report I’m going to put through with that thing I bought?”. The minute that you make the sale, if you’ve done very weak discovery and qualification, you have the risk of losing the deal due to buyer’s remorse, but more importantly, the other thing that I hate it when I leave money on the table. Where I didn’t really understand what the pain point was, and you don’t even know this until a couple of months after the fact where you walk by your biggest competitor on the way into the call and you and you get in with a client, you go:

”Oh, what was Brent doing here? Works for my biggest competitor.”

You go,

“Oh, well we needed this, this thing.”,

and you’re sitting there going,

“Shit, I sell that thing, I didn’t even know they needed that thing.”

And then you go back to this episode today where you learned about the top four things that we do as salespeople to burn leads, weak discovery and qualification is number four.


So here they are again, just quickly, So they can be inside your head, as you’re thinking about your next calls, and the next lead that you’re dealing with. We drag our feet on response times, the person that gets the lead quickest is going to have a better chance of having that qualified conversation, we don’t reach out enough times, and we give communication that doesn’t add any value. We don’t delegate our leads, we track them in a book, spreadsheet, back of a cigarette package. We’re not understanding who the prospect is, and having that purposeful follow-up, because we’re tracking all of our motions. And then finally, we’re not asking the right questions, and we are not doing the proper qualification and discovery throughout that customer’s journey.

The master sales series, every once in a while, we drop one of these on you, so you can continue your journey as the trusted sales professional.

Thanks for joining us this week and the Conquer Local Podcast. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.