Going back to my hometown Kavadarci always reminds me of my roots. My beginnings. My forefathers. There is one thing that ties together the previous generations of my family – beekeeping.
I have learnt a great deal about bees from my parents and grandparents. How to attract, nurture, keep them, provide good conditions. All of this is worth it when you come to harvest that sweet honey!
It is a lot easier to attract bees when you already have a small hive. And the importance of when to do the baiting is immense. Swarming season is when the baiting is the most useful. Usually at the beginning of the dry season and the end of a cold one.
I also learnt that not all of the new bees will stay. Some might linger a little bit but not join the hive. So, you have to do everything in your power to make them stay.
Does this attracting/baiting process remind you of something?
It’s hard not to get reminded of the B2B prospecting world. At least that’s how I see it.
The terms “leads” and “prospects” can be quite confusing. I know that for a fact. Especially to the ones outside of the B2B world.
Let’s make a distinction using the bees’ terminology. Shall we?
The honeybees in your vicinity, the ones that have the potential to make sweet honey for you, are your prospects. If they hear about your hive, they have the potential to turn into leads. So you can see why it’s important to reach out to your prospects.
The “bees” that linger around your hive, not sure whether to stay or leave, are leads in the B2B world. They have shown interest in joining your hive by leaving some basic information like an email or simply wanted to learn more about your service.
The ball is in your court now.
Learning more about them and engaging them in conversation should be your objective. What are their pain points and whether you have the right solution to help them solve them. You could do that by enticing them into some kind of communication, a two-way communication precisely.
The end goal should be converting them into clients. Getting that two-way communication, building a business relationship, and moving them down the sales funnel is the proper way to go.
Here at BizzBee, we have a special kind of lead. Sweet leads. If you want to know what Sweet leads mean in our dictionary, keep on reading…
What are sweet leads?
You can generate leads in two ways. Inbound and outbound. You can try to generate them through ads, you have Youtube, FB, Instagram, SEO (by creating blogs or content), outreach (through cold emailing, LN, cold calling), webinars, funnels, podcasts, radio shows, video shows, and so many more lead generation options.
So the big question that pops up here is how you can stand out in this immense chaos of platforms? The thing is, there is a huge difference between the B2C and B2B world. Different platforms perform better for these clashing worlds. LinkedIn and email are the rulers of the B2B world. That’s for sure.
But this is where things get complicated. What about your ideal clients? There are so many variables you should consider. Industry, location and deciding on the appropriate decision-maker being just some of them.
We found that outreach works best with the high-ticket service providers in the B2B world. These companies (consultants, software companies, or marketing agencies) can hardly get their sweet leads through Facebook ads. So they are in a dire need to reach out.
But what are sweet leads actually?
A sweet lead is a qualified lead that connects with you, engages in a conversation, shows interest in your offer, consumes your content, and finally, books a call with you.
So, as you can see, there are 5 highly important structures to the topic of the sweet lead. All of them with equal importance.
So let me go through them one by one.
- A lead that has connected with you is no longer a cold prospect. Whether this prospect has connected with you on LinkedIn, Facebook, Email or another social platform, it means that you are no longer in the dark. They are not ignoring you, so this is your chance to make a good first impression. Use your chance wisely.
- A lead that’s engaging in a conversation with you. Woah, you made it, congrats! The first obstacle is always the hardest to pass, but if you had made it to here, that means that you are definitely doing something right. At this phase, your prospect is not just not ignoring you, but they are actually talking to you. They are responding to your messages. So make sure you listen to what they are saying and be careful not to try to pitch them way too soon.
- A lead that’s showing interest in your offer. That means that they are relevant. And relevant means that they have seen you and what you are offering and that they are showing interest.
- A lead that consumes your content. This is a really important part of the whole ‘sweet-to-the-lead’ structure since it is of great importance that the leads have read your content before they have agreed to the call. If they have consumed your content, that only means one thing. They already see you as a figure of authority or a thought leader in the field.
- And a lead that books a call with you. Finally! When a prospect books a call with you, that means that they are ready to take the next step. So this person has already read your content, knows what you offer and if they have booked a call, that means that you have inspired them to do so. They know (or at least think) that you can help them. That you have the solution to their problem. Congrats, you have gained their trust, and that’s a great outreach milestone. Maybe even the biggest one.
So what would be your next step for sweet leads, you might ask.
Well, not trying to close them right away, that’s for sure.
Instead, take the diagnostic approach.
Ask what problem they are facing. Listen actively and see if you can actually help them.
But, let’s take this journey step by step and clear things out.
Sweet leads: A qualified lead that connects with you
We have found that email and LinkedIn bring in the best results from B2B prospecting. Both are written mediums that give the prospects the flexibility and opportunity to respond at their convenience. They are non-intrusive, leaving it up to the prospect whether they want to connect.
So if they have connected with you on LinkedIn or even Facebook, they are no longer a cold prospect. If you do a quick qualification (if you haven’t done one already), they can turn into qualified prospects that are aware of your existence.
So they are no longer cold. They have accepted your connection request and decided you might be interesting enough to talk to.
So your chance is now. Be careful not to ruin it by rushing into the sales talk way too quickly.
An accepted connection request doesn’t mean that they necessarily need your solution.
It’s just that they find you somehow interesting and (possibly) of help to them.
You have to work your way up to winning their trust and eventually booking them on a call.
For now, it’s just super great that they have shown some interest in you.
Dealing with new leads can be a nerve-wracking ordeal, and this could be challenging as the basis of opening sales discussions stems from the ability to break the ice effectively.
What you can do now is prepare for the next stage.
That means doing your research. Research their industry and the problem they are currently facing so you’ll know which way you should steer the conversation in the next stages of your communication.
Got it, right?
Great, now you are ready for the next stage.
Sweet leads: A Lead that engages into a conversation with you
Welcome to the talking stage.
An experience so exciting and valuable that will make you a true expert in your outreach game.
It might be a fun experience if you do it right, of course.
Even if you get a response, that does not mean you have a meeting. It only means that the prospect has engaged with your messages, and the next step is to manually nurture them through your funnel.
One of the biggest advantages of the outreach process is direct market feedback from your target. Even if you get a lot of negative feedback, you can consider that feedback and adjust the offering or marketing effort accordingly.
At this stage, you will face three different types of responses.
- The first one (hopefully) will be a positive response.
A positive response means that they are interested and want to hear more about your solution. We have had examples of prospects responding to our campaigns right away, saying that this is exactly what they needed and they want a meeting, but this happens rarely. If you do get an immediate positive response, get them on a call ASAP. In most cases, there will be a conversation before they express their interest.
- Then, you will also get the negative responses. It’s all part of the learning process, so hang in there.
Not all hope is lost.
A negative response means that they are not interested in your solution, or they don’t even give you the chance to tell them about it. It is worth giving it another try, but if you keep being ignored, move on.
The whole point of a funnel is to start with a lot of prospects and reduce them to the one person who you can actually help and who is interested in your solution. In many cases, people who are not interested will simply opt-out of your list. This shows that your target and messages don’t fit: one of them needs to be changed.
- And thirdly, you will also get neutral responses.
A neutral response is a great starting point. It means that they are not excited about your solution, but they are not explicitly telling you to stop bothering them. They are somewhere in between, and you have a small opportunity window when neutral replies might be moved to interested, with only a few that will end up as negative responses.
Knowing the percentage of positive, negative and neutral responses will give you insight into the message sequence, as well as the nurturing quality. You will know your nurturing is not working if any of the people move from Maybe to No.
Sweet Leads: Lead that shows interest in your offer
After passing all the red flags, the ‘noes’, the ‘maybes’ and the transition from the grey (neutral) zone to the green (more- kind- of -positive) one, you are finally engaged in a meaningful conversation with the prospect.
This means that you’ve done right so far.
You have started some casual chatting with them, you haven’t bothered them with the same, old pitchy questions, and you have not crossed the line trying to sell your solution right away.
You did splendidly well so far, and you should give yourself some credit for it because you deserve it.
Now, at the warmer, talking stage of the outreach process, you can’t help but wonder, “Are they just wasting my time, or are they truly interested?” I know the struggle. Some just stick around for the talking stage and then leave. But don’t discourage yourself. There are many signs that show when your lead is interested in what you have to offer.
During the message sequences, an interested lead will ask about the specifics of your offering. A person who’s interested in a certain service will surely want to know more about it. They will ask tons of questions, so make sure you have envisaged all the possible scenarios.
Another thing to consider is how fast they reply to your emails or LinkedIn messages. It makes a huge difference if they reply in an hour, on the same day or after a few days. Replying fast means that they prioritize your messages over other work tasks. For sure, they want you to have all the essential information to move to the next stage.
But, bear in mind that this is not a determining factor.
Their response speed does not necessarily mean that they are interested or not in your solution.
They may be busy, so it will take them a while to respond to your message. They might also be sick, or out of the office or facing some kind of inconvenience at the moment.
If they are losing interest, you’ll know.
Also, notice the quality of their replies as well. If they provide little or vague information, they might be losing interest. The one that is interested will provide detailed information on time. Now, that is an interested lead!
Sweet Leads: A lead that consumes your content
The one of the many things that you should pay attention to, while crafting your outreach and marketing strategy is the quality, the tone and the value of your content.
Yes, you are what you post.
When you approach someone on LinkedIn, your first impression is your LinkedIn profile. When anyone sends me a connection request, I look at the invitation message but I also have a quick glance at their profile – the image, the title, the description. And afterwards, I take a look at what they are posting.
Your content is, if not, of the greatest importance when it comes to closing a client.
That’s why you should be extra careful when you are posting.
Prospects will always choose to engage and work with a person that they can relate to.
And how will they know if they can relate to you?
Simply, by reading your content.
In one of our previous blogs, we talked about the importance of people perceiving you as a thought leader.
Showing evidence of thought leadership through your social posts and on email builds your credibility.
So are you posting regularly?
Are you sharing business, family, and personal development posts?
Are you letting people know that you are more than just a businessman?
That you have a family, friends, you go out, you have hobbies and interests just like they do.
Taking the human-like approach always brings the sweetest of results.
Booking a call
The call is the last stage of your outreach sequence.
The ultimate metric.
You can work on getting more calls or meetings from the campaign and adjusting your nurture process to get better quality meetings.
Beyond the quantity, you must know the quality of the calls.
Are the calls relevant? Or were they a waste of time?
This feedback needs to be brought back throughout the funnel to update the target, the messages or the nurture process.
You can gain other insights by analysing the people who reached the call stage. What positions do they hold? What industry are they in? Can you tweak the campaign to attract more of these people?
When you get a prospect to this stage, it’s crucial that you know that things are not over yet.
Booking a call does not mean closing them.
There are a lot of cases when a prospect has booked a call with me only to discover that they don’t exactly need my solution.
Maybe they misunderstood you, or maybe they just wanted to find out more about you.
This is not the ‘yes’ stage.
You can get a hard ‘no’ at this stage, too.
People can have a change of heart just like that, and the call can end up with you saying your polite goodbyes and parting ways.
Also, at this point, you can get a ‘no’ that is just temporary.
The prospect may not need your solution right now, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t contact you when they encounter a problem that needs your expertise.
So, a call is never a lost cause or a wasted time.
Even if you get a hard ‘no’, you have made acquaintance with a new person that can maybe later recommend you to another prospect.
And, of course, the call can be a closed deal.
A prospect may like you, your business and your solution, and they may want to work with you.
The chances are always there.
The important thing is that you engage in a deep and meaningful conversation, find out more about this person you are talking to, exchange ideas and see if you can really help.
Listen, engage and then sell.
Selling is the last, natural part of this whole process, if you have already done all the previous stages right.
If you have so, then cheers.
You have gotten yourself a new client!
There you have it!
Now you know about sweet leads and how to get some of your own.
Hopefully, the definition dissection helped you understand it better.
If you are on the lookout for them, pay attention to the stages I mentioned.
It’s ok. You can borrow some of my tips and tricks. That’s why I have shared them in the first place.
Glad to be of help, as always.
I am well aware that generating leads and doing outreach are now always the easiest things to do on Earth.
But what I am sure of is if they are done right, they will bring you the sweetest results.
And they are definitely worth the struggle.
The struggle of filling your funnel with sweet leads.
Beautiful, sweet, warm leads.
Isn’t this every outreach professional’s dream?
Dancho is a serial entrepreneur, founder & CEO of BizzBee Solutions, proud father of two boys, and a ‘kafana’ enthusiast. He’s also the author of Amazon’s bestseller, ‘Sweet Leads.’ Dancho believes in building relationships with people and is inspired by growth. His ‘ZZ framework’ and formula for growth have brought 500+ clients the results they sought.
Eager to learn more? Follow Dancho on LinkedIn and Facebook.