We have a client who has so many requests for quotes on his desk he is way behind on filling them.

At first this seems like a problem we would all like to have. So many leads we can’t get to all of them! But there is a down side to this story. Our client has no way of sorting the leads into those that are “hot” and need immediate attention; and those that are “cold”. Maybe these cold leads are from qualified people, but who knows when they are going to close.

On top of that, he has recently learned that two of the leads in his pile assumed he wasn’t interested because it took so long to get a quote; they took their business elsewhere.

This raises two important issues: what is a hot lead, and what do you do with a lead that’s gone cold? Most of us are pretty good with hot leads. These are qualified prospects who have the cash to buy our product or service, a real need we can fulfill, and the intention to buy right away.

Cold leads are prospects who are qualified, but who simply aren’t ready to purchase right away.

What does your sales team do with a lead that is qualified, but won’t close for a while? 99% of small businesses throw these cold leads away, or let them fall through the cracks because it’s so time consuming and expensive to follow them up.

But those businesses who do follow up can literally double their sales in a year. Why? Because these folks will eventually buy – but if they haven’t heard from you in a while, they won’t be buying from you.

The best idea is to hand leads back to marketing for re-engagement and continued nurturing; creating opportunities for the sales force to pursue again in the future when timing is optimal.

Marketing can use tools like automated messages, newsletters, direct mail, events and public relations that are up to 90% cheaper than direct contact from a sales person. And, when the prospect decides its time to buy, they don’t need to be re-sold, because they have all the information they need to make a good buying decision – your product.

Let’s do the math. Say you have a showroom, and 100 people who are interested in your services walk in the door in a week. Your staff can only talk to 35 of them, so that’s 65 people who walk out again – you don’t know if they are qualified, interested, ready to buy or just there to kick tires.

Of the 35 people your staff talks to, let’s assume 25% of them are hot leads, and 25% of the leads close. So of the hundred people who came in, two actually bought your products.

Let’s assume the same ratios apply to the 65 people who walked out without speaking to a member of the staff. 25% are hot leads, 25% of the leads buy – that’s 4 more sales, an increase of 200%.

Now imagine those 65 people are the cold leads, qualified people who for whatever reason won’t take your calls, won’t see a sales person or put off making a purchase. And imagine what those incremental sales could do for your business.

It’s a great argument for follow up marketing, wouldn’t you say?

Elizabeth Walker and Ken BurginElizabeth Walker and Ken Burgin

Ken Burgin and Elizabeth Walker are the Marketing Masters, a full-service marketing and advertising partnership that helps build busy businesses.