Once you’ve generated some qualified sales leads with email addresses that are CAN-SPAM compliant, what’s next?

First, upload them into your CRM (if you have one, that is), then, if you have an email service provider (MailChimp or Constant Contact for example) or a marketing automation tool (such as Marketo or Eloqua) you’ll want to upload those names into that database. First, sort the list by source, title, industry, sales territory and geography (state/country/region) so you can later filter the names to send appropriately targeted emails. Note that some email vendors allow you to filter out certain contacts from an email blast, others do not. This can be an important feature if, for example, you want to send an email to everyone on a list except those who have already purchased your product, or except those who reside in a particular country.

Don’t just dump the names into your master list and start blasting all your company’s emails and newsletters to them; keep the lists separate. And, if you have a CRM such as Salesforce.com or Sugar, don’t just dump those names into Contacts. In Salesforce.com and Sugar lingo, a “contact” is someone that has already been qualified by marketing or sales. Leads, on the other hand, are raw names. Some companies choose to never dump raw leads into Salesforce.com. It depends on your marketing and sales processes. The bottom line is, think downstream before you upload names into Salesforce.com. (One could write a book on this subject alone; in fact HubSpot recently did! The company published a great little ebook on this topic called the Marketer’s Field Guide to Salesforce.)

Once you have your list, think about what products/services appeal to each segment of that list, and write an email to introduce your company. Include a call to action: something that will entice them to call or email you, or register on your site. Always include an opt-out link at the bottom of your introductory email so that the prospects can easily unsubscribe from your email list. This isn’t just a courtesy or best practice; it’s required by the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.

Of course, one intro email is not enough; it’s important to “touch” a prospect several times to qualify a lead, so create a plan to send them at least 4 or 5 follow up emails, on a schedule of 1 or 2 emails per month (not so often that you annoy them, but frequently enough to keep your brand in mind.)  Don’t send the same message over and over; include one new piece of sales collateral or content with each pitch: a recent news article or analyst report, a new blog post, an invitation to a webinar, or a white paper (even if a white paper is “old” to you, it’s probably new to your prospects.) Over time and repeated touches, some of those list members will “raise their hand” to express interest in your product or service, and become qualified leads.

If you’ve spent time building a list or money buying one, you owe it to yourself and the sales team to get the most out of it for lead generation.

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