How to recover lost sales opportunities with email marketing

We recently explored the idea that email is just as effective a sales tool as it is a marketing tool, if not more so. Now, let’s look at an idea from sales and how your email can play a powerful role in building more business.

One of the most effective ways to build business is to work with the prospects who are most ready to do business with you. Generally speaking, people who call or email you are far more ready to buy than someone engaged in an activity that has nothing to do with what you sell. Sometimes, however, people will start down an activity and forget what they were going to do along the way or decide to come back later and never do. That’s where a prospect recovery system is useful.

A prospect recovery system relies on basic click tracking to determine intent and readiness to buy by asking prospects where they are in their buying process. Virtually every email marketing system out there lets you track what’s clicked on in a message. By creating simple 1-click actions for subscribers to perform, you can determine intent with a minimum amount of effort on the part of your subscribers. Here’s how.

First, create a simple email that asks subscribers to click on however few or many options you want to present that will flush out intent. In this example message, we ask for three basic intent responses: yes, not now, and no.

Asking for three different intent responses.

Subscribers click on one of three links. Their behavior is recorded by the Publicaster system (our email marketing software) and the subscriber ends up at a simple thank you page. Obviously, you can create different landing pages that will further encourage subscribers to take action immediately, such as having a click to call option on the yes response, a calendar scheduler on the not now response (sign up for an appointment when you’re ready), and a newsletter subscribe option on the no response.

Once you’ve gotten some data to work with, you can effectively measure how many people are saying yes, not now, and no:

This report allows you to track lost sales opportunities.

This gives you an idea of how warm your audience is, and how ready they are to make a purchasing decision. If the vast majority of your audience says no, your focus needs to change to find more qualified people. If the vast majority of your audience says not now, you know you’ve probably got a long sales cycle ahead. If the vast majority of your audience says yes, you know you’ve got some selling to do in the near future.

Finally, if your email service provider allows you to download click activity, you can export all of the people who made any given choice and import them into your sales CRM for immediate action. Obviously, you’d want to export the yes responses as quickly as possible so that your sales team can begin immediately following up with the people who clicked yes.

Send the yes answers to the sales team immediately.

By using click tracking data for what is effectively a purchasing intent survey, you give subscribers the reminder and option to take action or otherwise indicate their intent with a minimum of effort on their part. By exporting your data into your sales CRM, you can very quickly help your sales team prioritize the opportunities that are most important and most ready to go.

This methodology can be used for nearly any kind of business which interacts with customers. Doctors’ offices could use this to schedule appointments, as could car dealerships’ service departments. Non-profits could use this to determine when donors are interested most in making a contribution (imagine a set of calendar icons and a “choose your donation reminder month” message).

There is a pitfall to this system, a built-in danger. If you create a message like the one above but don’t have the capacity to follow up and fulfill the customer’s expectations, there’s a very good chance you’ll lose that sales opportunity permanently. Like all sales, timely followup is absolutely imperative to make this system work for you, and if you don’t fulfill the customer’s expectations, you’ll make them far more unhappy with you than if you had never contacted them in the first place. If you’re not ready to take their business, don’t send the message.

Try out this simple prospect recovery system on your database of unconverted sales leads and see if it shakes loose some easy business for you to jump start your sales!

Christopher S. Penn
Director of Inbound Marketing, WhatCounts

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1 Comment

  1. Great strategy, and like you said the follow up is essential. If you are going to spend time getting all of this data, you should have a plan and know how you are going to be using it.

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