"Follow Up Fortune Cookie"Managing Leads to Market Your Small Business Offline and Increase Your Closing Ratio

The most important leads are those that are Hot, Hot, Hot should be given  first priority.

I schedule at least two hours a week to follow up on leads, and begin with the hot leads. A hot lead is anyone who has an immediate or near future need for my products and services. If someone says to me, we have an event coming up in the next 2-4 weeks, that is a HOT LEAD for my flower shop. A hot lead could also be someone in the planning or budgeting stage and needs to know how much something will cost in order to plug it in to their budget for the year. If it is a sizzling hot lead, I follow up immediately (before I even go to sleep!).

A warm lead could be a referral from one of my champions or fans who knows someone who needs my products and services. A champion is one who would make the introduction for me and a fan is someone who would give me the lead to follow up.

A “cool lead” is perhaps someone I heard may need my product or service but has not been referred by anyone and I have to take the initiative to contact.

And of course a “cold lead” would be a sales call to someone whom you do not even know needs your product or service but perhaps you purchased a list of those most likely to buy (they fit the demographics you create about your ideal customer). I rarely, if ever do this. There are plenty of the hot, warm and cool leads that I have not had time to do this. This would only be done if I found idle time on my hands – something that has not been the case in years.

You can follow up with a three-prong marketing message by first calling those hot leads, then sending a post card to them and finally emailing them. Hot, Warm and Cool Leads can all be followed up with a postcard or direct mail campaign.  The cold leads should only be used as a last resort when you have exhausted all avenues with the above.  Don’t discard them, just keep them at the ready in case you might need them. You never know when a Cold lead can turn into a Warm or event Hot Lead!

A good way to keep track of your leads is with  an excel file. I keep mine on my desktop and enter when and how I make a contact… and the outcomes. This is a great exercise to see the effectiveness (or lack of) of your follow-up.