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Effective re-engagement gives you more out of your investment

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Brian Carroll is CEO of InTouch Inc., Arden Hills, Minn., and author of "Lead Generation for the Complex Sale" (McGraw-Hill Cos., 2006). BtoB recently asked Carroll about trends in lead recycling.

BtoB: How should marketing involve itself in the recycling of failed leads?

Carroll: Marketing and sales must first agree on a shared definition of a sales-ready lead. Then it's marketing's role to first create a nurturing plan for leads not ready for sales and then create a plan to re-engage leads that weren't sales-ready. Marketing's responsibility in re-engagement is about how to advance the conversation and add value with appropriate messages.

BtoB: How would you characterize effective messages here?

Carroll: It's about being a resource for that prospect and offering relevant, thought-leading ideas—and not being a pest, and asking over and over, "Are you ready to buy yet?"

BtoB: Are you seeing trends in how teleprospecting re-engages these leads?

Carroll: The human contact is important. Most of these people are open to receiving your calls, but you have to ask the right questions, such as, "Are your needs being met?" You don't want to try to sell them at this point. If teleprospecting is viewed as a conversation rather than a campaign, you will see prospects come around.

BtoB: But if you have enough leads, why is a re-engagement program important?

Carroll: It's estimated that of all the leads in the sales pipeline, perhaps 80% are lost, ignored or discarded by sales. Effective re-engagement helps you recapture revenue from many of these folks, and in the process you get more out of your investment.

BtoB: Can you offer some metrics that indicate success here?

Carroll: We had a client that had passed about 12,000 leads to its sales force in the year. But of those, about 2,500 were simply lost—nobody knew what happened to them. With a teleprospecting campaign we found that a number had bought from a competitor or weren't actively interested anymore. But we also found that 15%—about 375 contacts—were actually hot leads who indicated they were ready to talk to a salesperson. Of those, 7% actually bought, resulting in $1.2 million in added revenue. In contrast, our teleprospecting campaign cost the client $40,000.

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