Unless you’ve been using targeted lead gathering techniques for a while, there’s a good chance you have thousands of old leads that have been all but forgotten.

Like a field that’s grown over and full of rocks, it may seem like nothing will ever grow.

All the hundreds and hundreds of people who didn’t answer, told you to shove off, or even went a decent way through the process before calling it quits. Most sales folks just want to forget about these lost contacts and move onto a different field ready to sow.

That would be a mistake.

Meeting your quota is difficult without multiple ways of finding deals. Re-engaging leads is one of those tricks that help. So, grab a cup of coffee (or any beverage really) along with those contacts you never thought you’d look at again.

Reaching Out to Old Leads is NOT a Bad Idea

re-engage old leads

It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Antoine was a pretty smart guy.

We’re not fans of inaccurate purchased lists. Full of incomplete contact data, questionable email addresses, not to mention how old the intel is in the first place. That’s no way to build your business or make your revenue targets.

If you’ve read any of our posts, you’ll know that we love looking at who we’ll be pitching before we reach out.

Limiting prospects to those that would become our ideal buyers and those who fit into a few indicators based on industry, employee size, roles (decision makers), etc.. This does take work, but it’s so much nicer than sending impersonal emails to a thousand contacts you know nothing about.

It’s the work you put into your list that makes even those who passed (or didn’t respond) worth reaching out to…again.

You’ve wasted a lot of time on that rose, and it’s time to see it come open.

contacting old leads

But we’re not asking you to just reach out to old leads in vain, but in full knowledge that you’ll get sales. Enough to make doing it something you’ll want to add to your standard procedures.

How About a Little Proof?

I came across this awesome case study about a real estate agent who had 5,000 ice cold leads in a two-year-old database.

Sarita Dua (the agent), hired an inside sales agent to go through the leads—one by one.

The Results: Within 16 days, they had a $12,000 commission. Within two years, the volume went from $30 million to nearly $70 million. The agency attributes almost all of this growth to hiring someone to go through, reconnect, and revive those dead relationships.

The role is similar (if not identical) to what we call a sales development rep (SDR). We’ve written about the subject of hiring one here and here.

How Not to Re-Connect

re-engage old leads

One of the worst things that can happen (as a result of this post) is for you to not take these leads seriously. There are wrong ways to do it.

It’s ok to move forward skeptically by doing a test run of a few hundred leads, but don’t do it at all if you’re not going to put the same care (or more) into these leads the second go around as you did the first time you approached them.

To help, we’ll give you a few of the most common mistakes to avoid.

  • Being Too Casual: Everyone has a strategy when reaching out to leads. Maybe you reach out on LinkedIn first. Or send a cold email. Maybe even (rarely) pick up the phone and go in guns blazing. Don’t do something silly like comment on one of their social posts asking for a connection.
  • Taking the Past for Granted: Just because they may have talked to you before doesn’t mean you can treat your re-outreach less professionally. An entire conversation is ruined with a, “I told you that six months ago.” In fact, rehitting the points may cause them to remember why they liked your product.
  • Waiting Too Long to Get to the Point: Yes, there is an intro phase to this, but it’s not a long-term thing. You don’t have to like all their LI posts for another month before getting down to brass tacks. Get their attention—tell them why you got their attention—ask them for the sale.

The Right Way to Do It

re-engage old leads

Step One: Research Before You Start

Before you just open up the CRM and start blasting out the same cold emails, you should do some prep. To be honest, just sending out emails again could work. That said, a little strategy could yield better results.

Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Keep Your Eyes Peeled: Take a look at any triggers and activity your leads have been up to. For instance, you’re a CPA. Look for any finance related posts on social, maybe even an executive reaching out for similar services to yours. Any indication of interest would be a great sign that this isn’t a dead lead.
  • Try to Remember: Obviously, you talk to a lot of people. Everyday you’re on the phone, sending emails and interacting via chat or social. You won’t remember everything. Although, you may have a decent CRM and have put notes about your interactions. These can be golden to remembering and renegotiating.
  • Be Personal: Again, don’t send out an automated email (unless the leads didn’t have any contact beside email before). For those leads that you actually interacted with, you have a relationship. This means that you have to be a bit more personal.

Step Two: Start With a “Feeler”

Just like you don’t want to do a hard pitch in your email in the first go, you don’t want to just blurt out that you’re trying to take care of unfinished business this time around. Just blurting out something like, “I was wondering if you were ready to think about switching?”.

contacting old leads

Here are a couple of things to help.

  • Send Content: If you look in your CRM and find out that said lead was interested in something. Why not find a great new resource about that subject and send it their way? Better yet, if a lot of leads share the interest, create a better resource and let everyone know about it.
  • Invite Them: Send out a semi-personalized email inviting old leads only (for tracking) to join you on a webinar about [insert common industry subject here]. Track open rates, sign up rates, and those who show up. Doing so will help you figure out if it’s worthwhile (may not be for everyone).
  • Give Them Value: Have a valuable link (via your blog)? Ask them for a guest post. Have a podcast? Make them a guest. Put together a survey and allow them to take part and promise to send them the results when you’re done. Do something for them without expecting the return. (This tip works on the first outreach, too).

Step Three: Discuss What’s Changed with Them

It’s been at least six months since you’ve exchanged emails (or calls). Change is guaranteed and constant in life and people love to talk about themselves (mostly).

Why not put these two things together?

Ask them softball question(s) (mostly business related) in a quick email that could elicit a response. Pick up the phone (if you feel that’s the best way to get a hold of them) and ask about them. But be sure to bring your listening ears to the get together.

Listen for things like:

  • Needs expressed (that you can solve)
  • Frustrations (with their current solution)
  • Demeanor (are they irritated you’ve called back?)

“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.”
― Libba Bray

Step Four: Discuss What’s Changed with You (Well, the Product)

The opposite side of the change coin is you (actually, what you sell).

If your lead seems to be open to conversation, take a breath and start talking about you a bit. Maybe say something like, “Well, [product/service] has had a lot of improvements since you last gave it a look.”, and then move into what’s different.

  • New Features: Different things your products do can go a long way toward moving old leads into a decision. It not only shows you’re more valuable now, but that you could become more valuable over time.
  • Discounts: If you’re running a special, it’s a great time to pull out those dusty leads. If pricing was the biggest issue before, it could be a very quick “yes”. Still go through the steps here, but get here as soon as you can.
  • New Processes: Sometimes people want to buy through a link on a sales page, others want to talk with a rep. Then, there are some who may want to watch a pre-recorded demo and buy at the end. If you’ve added a way to buy, it could draw in prospects to make the decision.

Ready to Call Your Old Leads?

contacting old leads

Of course, once you go through these steps, you’re going to have to ask for the sale. Or, at least if they want have another demo, trial, or sales call.

The end of the process is going to vary based on your current sales process. At a point in which you recognize the the old lead has been revived and you can ask for the close, you’ll want to run them through your closing process—because they’ve probably not been there before.

The question is, did we convince you to get out your old leads and reach out to them?