Lead generation is a fairly straightforward task. You reach out to a list of prospects with letters, postcards, emails, ads, or other promotional material. You offer something, like a quote or brochure or other freebie. And you follow up with those who contact you to begin the process of getting customers.
Call backs are an essential part of this process. The point of lead generation is not merely to distribute promotional literature or create awareness, but to winnow your prospects to a list of sales leads to give to your sales force.
A sales rep must then call back quickly. Why? If you’ve ever watched a blacksmith work, it’s easy to understand.
Blacksmiths put a piece of iron into a fire. When the iron is red hot, literally glowing red, they place the iron on an anvil and begin to strike it with a hammer. They must work quickly, because the iron can only be worked while it’s hot. If it cools, it becomes hard and brittle. Hammer blows are a waste of effort.
This is the origin of the phrase “strike while the iron is hot.”
Some time ago, I was helping to organize an event for about 350 people. The speaker had requested a large projection screen that was about 10 feet wide. That’s a big screen and I knew the only place I could find it was at a local event production business.
I opened the phone book to browse the ads and called two firms within a few miles of my home. It was a weekend, and most firms like this are staging events at that time, so I left a message for each.
A guy at one firm called me back within 10 minutes. He had set up messages to transfer to his cell phone so he could respond quickly. He had what I wanted and quoted a fair price.
I didn’t hear from the other firm for 2 weeks, after the event was over. He said they were busy, that they don’t answer calls on the weekend, and that he got back to me as soon as he could (meaning as soon as it was convenient for him). He then said he’d get back to me with a quote because he didn’t have his quote sheet with him. I reminded him my event was over, said thanks anyway, and hung up.
Obviously, I rented the screen from the guy who called me back quickly. The other guy probably had nice screens at good prices too, but he didn’t called when “the iron was hot,” so he lost my business.
Whether a firm is large or small, whether you’re selling a product or service, quick call backs are a no-brainer. All the money and time you put into your lead generation efforts is wasted if you don’t call back during the short time potential customers need what you offer.
Ideally, you should call back within a week. The longer you wait, the greater the chance that the lead will lose interest, forget they contacted you, or find another source for the product or service they wanted.