The 5 key differences between hot & cold leads

No, we’re not talking about the difference between inbound and outbound leads here. We’re talking about how to know which of your website leads are interested and which ones your sales team should be chasing. These are the 5 key differences between hot and cold leads that may seem obvious, but you must be aware of if you want to improve your marketing to sales pipeline.

1 – Hot leads will spend a lot more time on your website

Often, we only talk about lead generation identifying cold leads on your website. The truth is, hot leads will spend a lot more time on your website as they get to know you inside and out as a company. Maybe they get in contact with you and become an inbound lead, maybe they don’t. Lead generation is about focusing on your hottest website leads, not your cold homepage hitters.

2 – Hot leads SHOULD take fewer points of contact

Of course, sales should be chasing their hot website leads straight away. They’ve shown an obvious interest, you’ll know what they’re interested in based on the marketing campaigns they’ve interacted with. These sales calls should be long and in-depth pitches so you don’t have to keep checking in on them. Cold leads, on the other hand, should go straight to marketing to be nurtured into hotter opportunities. Don’t let your sales team cold call in the old sense.

3 – Truly cold leads will unsubscribe straight away

Those leads who aren’t interested are going to jump ship almost immediately from marketing’s lead nurturing campaigns. The minute they realise you’re not solving a solution for them, they’ll tune out. Let them. Think of it as an email marketing data cleanse. The rest who stay with you, whatever level of interest they show, can become hot leads in the future.

4 – Cold leads will respond to different material

Unlike hot leads, cold prospects won’t be interested in the same material, despite being on your website too. They’ll be looking at best practice blogs and events they can use for themselves, not at solutions. As marketing, you need to hone in on what topics they’re focusing on if you want to nurture them into an opportunity for sales. Create multiple campaigns and feed them through the right one to pass them along to sales.

5 – Hot and cold leads will cross over at different points in the pipeline

No matter what type of lead they are, your prospects will come into contact with both your marketing and sales teams. The crossover points are simply different. For example, hot leads who have come through a PPC campaign can go straight to sales like a hot potato. Colder leads, though appearing hot to sales, might need sales to tick a box that triggers them into a marketing workflow and leave them there for a while. It’s about creating a smooth crossover point.

Recognising these differences will help your sales and marketing teams work together to produce a more effective pipeline. It’s lead nurturing and converting made simple.

There’s nothing like the chase of a brand new sales lead. At first you’re sceptical if the lead is going to be a qualified opportunity. Then when you find out they are sales-ready, you jump right on in with your pitch. Except you’ve jumped too early and spooked your lead. So how should you be handling every sales lead that appears in your pipeline?

How to turn cold leads into hot prospects

Find out who they are

Firstly, find out who they are. Your first point of contact with a lead should be more like a friendly conversation rather than a sales pitch, to make sure they don’t tune you out straight away. To find out who the lead is, do your homework. Research them on LinkedIn or use visitor identification software to tell you everything you need to know about the company they work in.

While the right type of individual from the right type of company may have downloaded a whitepaper from your website, don’t immediately pass them to sales. Calling up and harassing them at this stage will scare them off! Wait until they show more signs of buying behaviour. Then sales can call them up and ask if they needed any more information in the relevant areas. See, helpful. If you are struggling to keep track of each individual leads buying behaviour, use a lead scoring system to show you how nurtured your leads are.

Find out where they came from

Where your sales lead came from isn’t only important for your marketing team, it also tells you how to approach them. If they’ve used a specific keyword to search for you and moved straight onto your website, they are an inbound lead that you can call almost immediately.

If, however, they’ve come through an email campaign, read one of your social media blogs or clicked on your sponsored ad from Google, they probably aren’t ready to take your call. Instead, you might be better off sending them a quick email to introduce yourself and let them know you’ll be calling at some point in the near future.

Although, just because they’ve been on your website and downloaded the right information, doesn’t mean they are hot leads or are right for your business. You can avoid these kind of timewasting leads by strengthening your pre-qualifying process. Ask yourself these essential questions when analysing a website visitor.

Are they a genuine opportunity?

Are they the right type of company for your business?

How much interaction have they had with your website?

Do they need more email contact to seem interested?

Examine whether they fit into your target demographic. Are they from an appropriate company? Are they in a position to buy from your business? I.e. if you only deal with B2B, are they a B2B match? You also have to take into consideration that visitors may be from an array of people, including students doing research or even your competitors keeping an eye on your activity!

Providing your website leads with the right information at the right time means that you can warm up leads, ensuring sales never complain about the quality of leads you give them again. Using tracking technology, see what your website leads are interested in. Then send them targeted content in your campaign relevant to their interests. You can even automate your lead nurturing process with the right email marketing tool. The campaign cycle can be as long or as short as you want it to be. As long as you know that when you are passing prospects over to sales they are hot leads ready to be converted!

Get ready to call them

If you’ve tracked your sales lead and seen that they’ve interacted with plenty of pages on your website, they are “hot” enough for you to call. One important thing to note, if you mention in your phone call that you’ve seen them on your website your call is going to be around 81% less effective than if you’ve never mentioned it at all.

Instead, when you call, ask for them by name and find another connection between the two of you. Perhaps you’re in the same LinkedIn group or you’ve worked with someone else in their industry and they mentioned your prospect. Then ask them if they are free to talk. Remember, your first phone call doesn’t have to be your full sales pitch. It should just start your relationship off on the right foot.

What to do if they’re not sure about you…

If your lead doesn’t look like they are sales-ready, don’t leave them alone entirely. Instead, send them a short email introducing yourself and why you want to get in contact with them. Keep the email short, sweet and personal. Maybe add in some quality content about what your company can do to help them and see if you get a response. If you don’t get a response, don’t qualify them out. Instead, add their email address to a lead nurturing campaign and see if you can get them to engage with other parts of your product.

This is why it’s important to look at the whole company and find out who the individual is that is interested in your website. They may not necessarily be the key decision maker, but they are the prospect that sales can start developing a relationship with. That’s why visitor identification is also essential to finding and establishing the quality leads on your website.

Ready for more lead generation best practices? Read our guide!

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