Inactive Leads

Guest blog by Erin Flynn

Case study: Jump-starting those inactive leads. 

"Thanks for calling to confirm - but I'm afraid I'm going to have to cancel our meeting for next week. We've decided to put a hold on all our spending in this area for now. We'll be re-evaluating in a couple of months. Keep in touch, okay?"

It's part of the sales landscape - a law as dependable as gravity. No matter how effective, persuasive, or experienced a given salesperson is, some percentage of that person's promising leads will turn into "opportunities." These are static contacts that aren't moving through the sales process and can't be counted on to provide income - at least for the time being. 

The question really isn't whether contacts will fall into the "opportunity" category, but what steps to take when they do. How do you reignite interest and generate activity within your list of "cold" prospects? Canadian sales representative Gino Sette came up with an interesting strategy. 

Gino decided to write a letter to every prospect who had decided not to buy from him over a given period. Basically, the letter said this: "It was a pleasure meeting with you awhile back to talk about what your company was doing. Even though we were unable to move forward at that time, I'm still thinking about you." 

Gino then invited each "cold" contact to sit in at one of his company's upcoming events. "This will give you an opportunity to evaluate, first-hand, the applicability of what we do to your business environment," he wrote. "Attached is a list of all upcoming training where my clients have approved outside observers. I've also included a brief description of each of the programs."

According to Gino, he got calls from prospects who were very interested in observing specific programs, even though they had initially declined his firm's training. Gino decided to write to each member of his active client base and extend the same invitation. The letter begins as follows: "First of all, let me thank you for allowing us to work with you and XYZ Company. We are very excited to have you as part of our client list, as you are a significant player. It is for this reason that I would like to extend the following invitation to you…"

As his flurry of return calls proved, Gino's innovative letter technique is an effective way to win back (or solidify) your position on the to-do lists of your customers and inactive leads. His idea can be adapted to training programs, open houses, media events, and any