Lead Strategy Best Practices

How to get more value from your hard-earned leads

Sales team discussing lead strategy

“Sales is a numbers game?”

The once-prevailing wisdom was that sales is a numbers game.

As a leading sales and outreach platform for 15 years, we can tell you with confidence that:

Sales is more of a quality game.

Changes in the telecommunications and business environment amplify this. Engaging contacts in live conversations is harder than ever. Contacts are exposed to more marketing, and have more resources available for independent research than ever before.

Understandably, good leads are expensive and hard-earned.

Which is why leads aren’t meant to be burned through. And why you can’t hang your hat on buying big, cold lead lists and adopting a “spray and pray” approach (making 100 calls and having 2 conversations isn’t sustainable).

Selling is about intent, consent, and quality live engagements.

Consider this: In today’s telecommunications environment, low-quality leads contribute to:

  • lower answer rates
  • higher risk of compliance issues
  • higher risk of spam flags
  • more number blocks 

The ability to screen calls with Live Voicemail will only magnify this.

Accordingly, it’s time to review your lead sources and campaign processes with an eye toward quality. Think: more meetings, from fewer calls. Our most successful clients are achieving this with better-targeted lists and smarter processes that maximize revenue-per-lead.

Here is some guidance to help you do the same.

Review your call lists

Who are you calling?

Do you have the required consent?

What level of awareness or expressed interest has there been?

While cold outreach can be an effective way to build pipeline and drive deals, it requires careful thought and consideration. Make sure you’re being realistic about the value of various lead sources, the time it takes to work them, and the potential benefit vs. risk.

The colder/older the list:

  • the more inaccurate the data
  • the lower the call engagement
  • the higher the risk to your number reputation 

Remember, contacts can block you. They can report you. They screen and reject your calls.

Carriers and analytics agencies are tracking all kinds of patterns including your call volume and consistency, call engagement (e.g. answer rates, percentage of “short duration” calls), and how often you call “honeypots” (unowned numbers that apps and agencies track for abuse).

These are just some of the factors that contribute to Scam/Spam flags.

For long term success, it’s critical to engage in Responsible Communications™ and continually evaluate your lead strategy and processes to promote quality, including:

  • Segmenting lists for smarter, more personalized outreach
  • Tracking your lead sources for performance
  • Leveraging a multi-channel approach to increase engagement
  • Using list cleaning services to improve data accuracy
  • Considering sales/service campaigns to high-engagement customer lists

… just to name a few.

The more you can do to maximize lead quality, the more successful your phone outreach will be.

Best practices for cold vs. hot leads

Some practices apply no matter who you’re speaking to. Focusing on benefits and pain points, leveraging social proof, and being an active listener are just a few examples. But best practices do differ in a few key ways depending on how hot/engaged your leads are.

Cold leads

When it comes to working cold leads here are the top 3 areas to focus on:

  • Research first and understand their situation: Before you call, research the company and understand their current situation and possible problems they might have that your product can solve.
  • Identify gaps and ask questions: Using your script as a guide, ask open-ended questions to identify gaps between their current situation and where they want to be.
  • Show how your product bridges the gap: Talk about how your product is a solution that can help them go from their current situation to their desired one, in an attempt to bring them deeper into the funnel.

Hot leads

Here are the top 3 areas to focus on when working hot leads:

  • Call quickly and understand their interest: Call them as soon as possible and ask why they showed interest in your product. What gap are they trying to bridge? Have they tried to address this issue before with another solution?
  • Talk about past conversations and their gaps: If you’ve spoken or had previous communications before, bring it up. Discuss the gaps they mentioned and how they would benefit from a solution.
  • Demonstrate how your product bridges the gap: Show how your product solves their specific problem and helps them reach their goals.

Strategy for different lead categories

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to nurturing leads. In fact, among the most effective things you can do to maximize lead value is to engage in more targeted campaigns.

  • Understand the Industry: Research the industry you're targeting. Know the unique problems, trends, and needs of businesses in that industry. Prepare industry-specific content and case studies to capture interest and engagement, and to provide social proof.
  • Segment Your Leads: The more targeted and narrowly defined your call lists, the better. It also simplifies your call and voicemail scripts, email follow-ups, and communications strategy. Divide your leads into groups based on specific characteristics, like company size, location, or particular needs. Separate your first attempt calls from your second attempt and follow-up calls. This allows you to approach each group in a way that suits them, making outreach easier and more effective.
  • Craft Tailored Messaging: Create messages that speak directly to the needs and pain points of each lead category. Use language and examples specific to their industry.
  • Adapt and Refine Your Strategy: Keep track of how successful your lead generation efforts are in each category. Learn from what works and what doesn't, and adjust your approach.

Engagement vs. speed

Balancing engagement and speed depends on the lead's stage and category. Prioritize engagement for cold leads to build relationships, and focus on speed for hot leads to capitalize on their interest. Adapt your engagement level based on the lead's stage, use automation for speed, and track your efforts to refine your approach.

  • Prioritize Engagement for Cold Leads: Take time to build relationships with cold leads. Focus on understanding their needs, establishing trust, and engaging them with tailored conversations.
  • Prioritize Speed for Hot Leads: When a lead shows strong interest, respond quickly. Speed is essential to capitalize on their interest and prevent them from looking elsewhere.
  • Adapt Engagement Level Based on Lead's Stage: Modify your engagement level depending on the lead's stage in the sales funnel. Cold leads may require more nurturing, while hot leads are ready for a more direct approach.
  • Use Automation for Speed: Utilize automation tools to quickly respond to leads, especially for initial contact or follow-up. But ensure that automated responses still feel personalized.
  • Track and Measure Engagement and Response Time: Monitor your engagement strategies' effectiveness and response times. Use the data to refine your approach and find the right balance between engagement and speed.

Over to you

When it comes to phone-based outreach, lead quality has always been important.

But as more call deflection technology becomes available - including Spam/Scam flags, call blocking apps, and most recently, Live Voicemail - your ability to have meaningful live conversations depends increasingly upon it.

The path to high answer rates and quality conversations is targeted, segmented outreach and thoughtful processes that respect the value of every lead. 

That’s what PhoneBurner’s 1-to-1 communications platform was built for. 

We’re here to help you maximize quality live engagements, scale best practices, and maximize the value of your leads.