March 3, 2021

Best Practices for Inbound Lead Follow-Up

Lead follow-up results in one of three outcomes: 

  • You book a meeting and turn the lead into an opportunity
  • The lead rejects your outreach attempts or is disqualified
  • You never get any reply and enroll them into a long-term follow-up queue 

For sales reps, the goal is always to achieve the positive outcome in which you convert leads into opportunities and, eventually, customers. An effective follow-up strategy is essential for reaching that goal.

Here are five best practices for inbound lead follow-up.

1. Use Digital Body Language to Inform Your Outreach and Prioritize Leads

One of the benefits of using an inbound sales strategy is that by the time a lead enters your sales funnel, you will have already collected a lot of data about them. 

You can assess each lead’s needs and level of interest based on how frequently they visit the site and what content they engage with while there. Use that intelligence to determine what’s the best way to follow up.

For example, if a lead comes in through a BoFu form such as “contact us” or “request a demo,” they’re demonstrating explicit intent to be contacted by sales, so your follow-up should be centered around scheduling time to speak.

On the other hand, if you get a MoFu lead who has only downloaded one piece of content, the best course of action is probably not to push for a meeting. Instead, you should share helpful tips and tricks based on what they’re exploring or recommend some other content. 

The Sales Leader's Guide to Selling: Download Your Free Copy

2. Respond in a Timely Manner

You’re 100 times more likely to connect with a lead and 21 times more likely to turn them into an opportunity if you follow up with them in less than five minutes as opposed to an hour.

So, following up as soon as you can is important, but you need to balance your speed to lead with prioritization based on digital body language. While you want to make sure that you’re getting in touch with BoFu leads as soon as possible because they have the highest likelihood of converting, you don’t want to do that at the expense of letting quality MoFu leads go completely cold.

To increase your ability to respond to leads in a timely manner, it’s beneficial to have a strong first-touch email template that you can fire off to a bunch of contacts as they come into the system. That doesn’t mean sending identical, impersonal emails but rather having drafts with your introduction and the next steps already in place. Then, you can add in custom text based on what you know about the contact.

3. Be as Helpful and Human as Possible

In order to stand out from all the other outreach your prospects are receiving, you need to make sure your message will resonate with them and add value.

Even if a prospect eventually decides not to work with your company, they might come back to you when their circumstances change or refer other business to you if you’ve helped them and created a positive experience.

At New Breed, we use the give-and-get model to ensure our outreach is beneficial for both the prospect and ourselves. So, in every message we send, we give something of value before asking to get anything in return.

Digital body language can help you determine what a valuable give will be for each prospect. For example, a meetings link wouldn’t be valuable to a prospect higher in the funnel, but they could benefit from a relevant content offer or the opportunity to ask you some questions. 

4. Have a Clear Ask or Offer

In addition to offering value through your outreach’s messaging or content, you also need to provide a clear takeaway that prompts action.

What are you offering up as a relevant next step to keep the prospect engaged and start a sales conversation?

When crafting outreach messages, start by gathering context about the prospect to include in the intro. Then the body of the message contains the give, which can be content, advice or an assessment. Finally, sign off with a CTA, which could be a request for a reply, a link to book a meeting or instructions to re-visit your website and download more content.

The Sales Leader's Guide to Selling: Download Your Free Copy

5. Vary Channels when Appropriate

Not all follow-up has to be done through email.

If you can get someone on the phone, you can determine qualification, disqualification, and interest immediately. So calling is definitely a channel you should consider if it aligns with where the prospect is in the buyer’s journey.

For example, if you have a BoFu lead that submitted a “contact us” form, calling would likely be an appropriate way to follow up. On the other hand, for a MoFu lead that’s still showing implicit interest as opposed to explicit interest, calling could feel intrusive.

Video is also a super effective medium to use in sales outreach, particularly for first and second touches. It helps connect a face to your name and provides a human connection. Your video messages can basically mirror what you’d say in an email, but because of the more visual nature of the medium, they feel more personal.

The other sales communication channel worth investigating for B2B prospects is LinkedIn. Consider connecting with qualified leads, interacting with their content and potentially messaging them through the social media platform.

As you’re reaching out across these different channels, make sure to space out your communications so you don’t overwhelm the prospect. 

For a standard inbound MoFu lead, we recommend including 10–15 touchpoints in your follow-up spread out over one to two months. But, that frequency should increase for higher-intent leads because you want to make sure you contact them when they ask for it.

How Quickly Should You Contact Inbound Leads? 

Speed is the name of the game when contacting leads, and rightfully so. The faster you respond, the fresher your product or service is in the prospect's mind, leading to higher chances of engagement. But just how quickly should you be reaching out?

Research suggests that contacting leads within five minutes makes you 100 times more likely to connect with them than if you waited an hour. In fact, you're also 21 times more likely to turn them into an opportunity.

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Ben DiNardo

Ben is a Senior Growth Advisor who focuses on new client acquisition. In his role, he helps high-growth companies identify and solve challenges across their revenue programs. In his free time, he loves going on adventures with his dog and cooking.


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