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There’s nothing like a positive reply to a cold email.

It’s just so exciting. After all, you’ve spent all this time crafting your message, making sure that your subject line lands and coming up with a question or an offer that people will respond to. It’s always encouraging to see leads come in as a result.

But now what?

How do you turn that sales lead into business?

If you’ve been involved in sales for any length of time, you probably know all too well that a first response is still a pretty cold lead. They’re not your friend, they’re not ready to become your client and they’re certainly not ready for a full-on sales pitch.

The same thing goes for cold emailing as it does for cold calling. When you book an appointment from a cold call, you have to remember that the person you’re meeting with is still actually a cold sales lead. You simply said something that resonated enough with them to pique their interest. When you get to the appointment, you still have to show them why it’s in their benefit to continue to talk to you.

In short, you still have to be a sales person.

The same goes when you get a reply to your cold email. All that reply means is that you have the opportunity to tell them what real value you bring to the table and why they should actually listen to you.

Now you get to be a sales person.

Here’s what we used to do

Back in the day, someone would raise their hand as a “sales lead” — either by filling out a form on your website, calling for information or responding to an email or a phone call — and the sales team would pounce on them like a lion who hadn’t seen a gazelle in days. It always felt like they were starved for business and would never see another lead again.

But that wasn’t the problem.

The problem was that in addition to calling and sending a follow up email, they would call again later that day. And then again the next morning. Then again before they went to lunch. And again before they went home. Then again the next morning… You get the picture.

That’s not salesmanship. That’s desperation.

There’s a great scene in the movie Swingers where the main character gets a girl’s phone number and calls her about 10 times that night to leave messages on her machine asking her out. As you can imagine, she finally tells him to never call her again.

Don’t be that person.

Here’s what we should be doing now

Don’t get me wrong, you should absolutely be following up with your leads quickly. Studies show that if you can get back to a lead within five minutes, then your chances of closing a deal go up by like 85% or something like that.

So yes, make a call and send an email to follow up on their interest. But don’t forget that you still have to nurture these leads as well. Nurturing doesn’t mean following up on them over and over again — that’s smothering.

Sales Lead
(Image Source)

Nurturing is the ability to show that sales lead that you’re worth talking to. You need to show them that you’re going to create value in your conversation more than just a few keywords in an email that made their ears perk up.

Don’t forget that you still have to nurture these leads as well. Nurturing doesn’t mean following up on them over and over again — that’s smothering.

Now you have the opportunity to show real expertise and relevance and prove to this lead why you deserve their time. Remember, time is the one thing that you can’t make more of, so it’s more valuable than whatever free advice you’re offering. If I’m your lead, I’m expecting you to show me that you’re worth it.

How do I show expertise and relevance?

This is actually the easy part. You need to let them know that you’re knowledgeable about your industry, your product or service, and most importantly their business and their industry.

Salespeople have been doing this for years, so it’s important to realize that this is nothing new. Back when I was getting started, I had to physically mail newspaper and magazine articles to the prospects that I was working in between my phone calls.

I won’t lie, it sucked. I had to guess at the mail delivery date (I was too cheap to pay for delivery receipts at the time) and try to plan my phone calls based on how far the mail had to go and when I thought they would probably get the clippings I was sending.

Now, thanks to the Internet, it’s incredibly simple to create and store a library of interesting content that you can use to nurture your leads and make sure that they know that you mean business.

What should my nurturing system look like?

Now that you’ve got your library of content to share with your leads, you need to plan out your system. Now every business is going to be different so I can’t tell you for sure what’s going to work for you. What I will say, though, is start with something simple and then test different variations of it. You’ll get to know pretty quickly what’s going to work and what’s not.

The key thing to remember is that it’s just as important now to make sure that your nurturing system is somewhere between 6-12 touches. Just make sure that they’re spread out at decent intervals so you don’t look desperate.

Here’s an example of one of my nurturing systems:

Phone Call -> Email -> 3 days -> Email #2 -> 1 day -> Phone call -> 3 days -> Repeat twice more -> Move to newsletter list

Pro Tip: Make sure that the emails you’re sending out are relevant and help you qualify the lead. There are a lot of ways to do this but remember this isn’t just for them to determine if you’re worth their time. You also have to make sure that they’re worth yours.

How do I manage my nurturing system?

Managing this system that you’ve created is another thing that’s gotten a lot easier in recent years. I’m not sure how many others out there remember the old Rolodex but there was a time when you had to do all of this manually — and, believe it or not, it wasn’t all that long ago. (Although I guess that depends on your perspective.)

There are a bunch of tools that you could be using to manage the hand off from your prospecting systems. The great thing about LeadFuze is that, with its connection to Zapier, you can pass your leads into any one of them worth its salt.

So here’s what I recommend as the tools for a bare bones management system:

CRM Software

This one can’t be a surprise. If you’re in sales and you’re not using a CRM software, I can almost promise you that you’re losing money. Specific to your sales lead nurturing and selling system, though, this is how you’re going to track the results of your efforts.

You’ll want to track things like:

  • What happened on the calls that you made?
  • To which emails did they respond?
  • How many touches did it take after the initial reply to get an appointment?

If you can’t track your results, then all of the testing in the world isn’t going to make a difference. So, make sure you have a reliable system to do so. And no, Excel probably isn’t going to cut it.

Automated Email Follow Up Software

Unless you want to send all of these emails out manually, you’ll want some sort of an automated email follow up software. Automating this process is going to make it a lot easier on you and free up your time to do more prospecting or focus on the deals that you’re already working on. If you’re working with a good system, you can spend your time closer to the dollar and automate everything else.

Make sure that you are consistent with the timing of the emails and your phone calls.

Remember, you’re trying to keep a rhythm here so you want to make sure that you can be consistent with the timing of the emails and your phone calls. If you’re using two systems to manage this process, you need to get the timing down. If you can work with a unified marketing system that pulls all of these pieces together, then you’ll be in much better shape.

Back to you

So now it’s all up to you. The tools that are available for nurturing today make the process infinitely easier than it used to be and allow you to take better control of the process of turning a lead into an appointment and, eventually, a sale. So get moving — if you’re using a cold prospecting system to warm up your audience and not nurturing them correctly, I’m willing to bet you’re wasting time or money — maybe both.