Inbound Marketing + Sales Blog

June 11, 2015

The Secret to Effectively Engaging Inbound Leads

Written by: Cara Hogan  |  Share:


An inbound lead is coming in hot. A VP at a company in your target market just filled out a form and downloaded one of your best-performing marketing e-books. What will your business-development reps do next?

Unfortunately for most sales teams, what happens next is... nothing.

This valuable inbound lead will sit untouched for days before anyone on the sales team is able to call that person and begin the process of selling.

This simply isn’t acceptable. Inbound leads are the most valuable high-converting leads for sales teams. These are potential customers who are actively raising their hand and indicating that they’re interested in your company or product right now. However, if you don’t enable your team to engage with inbound leads the right way, the value of those leads drops quickly.

Reps have to move fast and be prepared to engage inbound leads effectively, or else they will miss out on an incredibly valuable opportunity. Here are the tools and processes your sales team needs to convert inbound leads to sales opportunities and closed-won deals.

Steps to take for engaging inbound leads

Assign leads quickly

There’s no excuse for an inbound lead to sit in queue for days before a rep is able to call that person. However, if your company’s sales process isn’t set up to prioritize inbound leads, that’s exactly what will happen by default. As BDRs work through the leads they’ve been assigned, they will usually start with the oldest and work their way to the newest leads. This works fine for most outbound leads. However it does not work for inbound.

Industry research has shown that if you call an inbound lead within 15 minutes of engagement with your content, the conversion rates are significantly higher. It makes sense. That prospect has just downloaded and read your content, so your company is top-of-mind. If you wait a few days or even a few hours, she may have forgotten all about your company and your product. But if a rep calls her within a short window of time, she will be much more likely to talk and more open to hearing a sales pitch. Instead of putting inbound and outbound leads into the same queue, make sure you separate inbound leads and push them to the front of the line, every time.

If you call an inbound lead within 15 minutes of engaging with your content, conversion rates are much higher



Give content and context

Now that reps are calling inbound leads quickly, they have to have the right information on hand to ensure that call is a success. In order to engage effectively with inbound leads and move them down the sales funnel, reps need to know exactly which marketing content the prospect has engaged with to guide the call. They should look in the CRM and see the form the prospect filled out, which will tell them the exact marketing materials they should know. For example, if a prospect has downloaded an e-book on data-driven sales forecasting, reps should generally know what that e-book is about so they can discuss it and sound knowledgeable.

You don’t want your reps to get caught short-talking to a prospect who says, “I read that great e-book on your site about sales forecasting. Can you tell me more about what was discussed in Chapter 3?” You should create an easy-to-access library of all of your marketing content, with summaries and information that reps can read quickly before sales calls. With a content library, reps will be prepared and ready to discuss the prospect’s specific area of interest. Even better, they can then follow up and send the prospect more content like the one he or she has downloaded, continuing to educate the buyer after the call.

Create an engagement workflow

Unfortunately, not every inbound lead is going to answer the phone or an email on the first try. However, your team can’t give up on these valuable prospects after just one try, even if the rate of engagement goes down over time. Instead, you should have a set expectation for how many times reps should engage with inbound leads before moving on to the next one.

This is where you need to build out a clear sales process, which ensures reps are never confused or uncertain how to engage with an inbound lead next. To help clarify the process, you should create an MQL workflow that outlines every step in your company’s ideal sales process step by step. This way, reps know exactly how many times to call, email and engage with an inbound lead before booking a meeting or moving on to the next lead. This will help your reps understand not only which leads are worth their time and effort, but also which are not.

Sales leaders should treat inbound leads like absolute gold


Sales leaders should treat inbound leads like absolute gold, and the sales process should reflect that. Your team should be calling inbound leads quickly, offering interesting content and engaging consistently. With the right sales engagement, an inbound lead will quickly become your newest customer.

This is a guest post by Cara Hogan. Cara is a content marketing manager at InsightSquared, where she contributes to the Business Analytics blog and hosts the Million Dollar Insights podcast.


Topics: Inbound Sales, Demand Generation

About The Author

Cara is a content marketing manager at InsightSquared, where she contributes to the Business Analytics blog and hosts the Million Dollar Insights podcast. Cara studied journalism at Boston University and has written extensively about the intersection of technology and business.

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