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The Prototype For Calling And Emailing Leads

I field a lot of questions about what I call our multi-touch, multi-media, and multi-cycle processes. In this blog I will focus on the first cycle of our multi-touch/media process.  Many of the questions I get have to do with number of touches and the types of touches we recommend to effectively nurture a prospect.

As background, we delivered a report to a client this month that, among other statistics, showed that it takes 9.82 touches to engage with a prospect.  We call this process disposition: our term for completing contact with a decision maker or company.  The lead generation and qualification work we do for this client yields slightly less than a 5% lead rate.  Our leads are equivalent to what SiriusDecisions calls a Level 4 or 5 lead—in other words, pretty darn qualified.

To disposition 1,000 companies for this client, we would need to invest 9,820 touches and that effort would yield about 50 leads.  If you are a “cold calling is dead, inbound is king – long live inbound” fanatic—you can stop reading now and go back to the smaller, low-level leads your current inbound strategies are driving.

To put these numbers into perspective, in 2012 we will disposition roughly 70,000 companies on behalf of our clients.  These dispositions will drive 1,547 leads, 1,252 pipeline accounts (scheduled next step that consistently results in a very high lead rate) and 6,158 nurture accounts (qualified companies where the timing is not right for a sales follow-up – but this filtered list yields a high lead rate on future touches).

As an example of a touch cycle, an extreme one, a couple of years ago we were provided our services to a global business process outsourcing company that asked us to reach the CFO at the top fifty utilities in the USA.  We used a combination of telephone dials, voicemails, emails and one direct mail package (actually a magazine article about one of our client’s clients) over the course of one quarter (ninety days or sixty work days).  The program was an unqualified success.  That success did not even include one “win” that I will call an outlier.  The outlier result was so extraordinary that I think you deserve to know about it. On the forty-second touch, the CFO of the fourth largest utility called us back and said: “Don’t stop calling me.  You are my conscience.  I have wanted to talk to you but I have been extremely busy.  Please call me back two weeks from Tuesday at 10:00 AM and I will take that call.”  During that call we found out that this executive had saved two emails, one voicemail and the magazine we had emailed to him”.  In less than six months after we turned over this lead it closed for $1 Billion – yes, “billion”—with a “b.”

Not every touch cycle is (or can cost effectively be) that long.  Here is a more typical touch cycle:

Sales Touch Cycle Image

We dial at different times of the day (which is why we might dial twice or more in one day, but zero out and only leave one voicemail) and our voicemails and emails are educational in nature and build on one another.  They are not “salesy”.

We find that each touch cycle reaches a point of diminishing return and that after four to six touch cycles the company or contact has been exhausted. We also find that senior executives are 2.5 times more responsive to quality multi-touch campaigns than are junior executives.

You should experiment with touch cycles for your solution or service.  However, the persistency and mix of media pays off.  A mix of proactive, strategic outbound in addition to taking advantage of reactive inbound ensures that you are at the table in strategic deals rather than becoming column fodder in a deal already won by a competitor or missing out on the deal completely.

Author Profile: Dan McDade is President and CEO of PointClear, LLC, a prospect development firm that helps B2B companies drive revenue by nurturing leads, engaging contacts and developing prospects until they’re ready to purchase. The Sales Lead Management Association named Dan one of the 50 most influential people in sales lead management for the last three consecutive years. Dan’s first book, The Truth About Leads, is a practical, easy-to-read book that helps B2B companies focus their lead-generation efforts, align their sales and marketing organizations and drive revenue. Read Dan’s blog: ViewPoint l The Truth About Lead Generation. Contact Dan by email:

  • Very interesting and valuable information. I plan on integrating it into my process. Keep in touch –

  • Agnes

    frankly speaking it’s the first time I really hear about some of the terms (still wondering what zero out might be). But it’s seems like a solution to my problem.

  • mj23424

    Good article. I’ve been using this technique for as long as I can remember. There are two things people should take away from this article. The first is finding the proper balance of touch points. Too much of one type of contact (email, phone, mail) often leads to weaker results. The second thing to take away is the following quote…”our voicemails and emails are educational in nature and build on one another. They are not “salesy”.”

    Stop selling and provide information and knowledge your potential clients feel is valuable to their businesses.

  • Great article! We must find the best mix, also depending on the type of business / customers we are approaching.

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