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Not all Leads are Created Equal: The Power of Saying No Thank You

Oct 12, 2016
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I tend to enjoy learning things the hard way. Well, maybe enjoy is the wrong word but nonetheless, experience has always proven to be my best teacher. As an agency owner, I choose to focus on working with high-tech engineering firms and local businesses who shared our same passion for connecting with their audience. The goal was to set a clear line between those we will do work with and those we won’t. While this line was drawn, there have been times when I made exceptions. Sometimes it worked out, but most of the time it didn’t end well. Learning to say no to some opportunities makes room for better ones and saves you a ton of headaches. 

I tend to enjoy learning things the hard way. Well, maybe enjoy is the wrong word but nonetheless, experience has always proven to be my best teacher. As an agency owner, I choose to focus on working with high-tech engineering firms and local businesses who shared our same passion for connecting with their audience. The goal was to set a clear line between those we will do work with and those we won’t. While this line was drawn, there have been times when I made exceptions. Sometimes it worked out, but most of the time it didn’t end well. Learning to say no to some opportunities makes room for better ones and saves you a ton of headaches. 
 
Not all leads are created equal. Watching a person make their way through the buyer's journey can be exciting for the marketer or salesperson. Every time I pick up the phone my adrenaline starts pumping. But without checks and balances, it’s easy to get sucked into the moment, which could lead to saying yes to a bad deal. Generating leads is one of my main jobs not just for my clients, but for myself as well. While generating leads is great, turning leads into customers is what we all are looking for. According to SalesForce, about 13% of leads become opportunities, and 6% of those opportunities turn into deals. So let’s talk about a few ways we can make sure we are focusing on the right leads. 
 

Find Your Niche 

 
The first step is determining who you want to work with. “Everyone” isn’t a valid answer here, no matter how amazing or disruptive your product or service is. If you are trying to reach too many people all at once, you will be less effective. The goal of finding your niche is not just for marketing and sales effectiveness, it's for your own sanity as a business owner. It allows you to stay laser focused on your target audience and look for more personalized ways to connect with them. 
 
When finding your niche, you need to make sure that you are targeting a group or segment that you want to work with. If you hate what you’re doing, you won’t be able to do it for very long. You also need to make sure that the segment you are targeting wants/needs your product or service and has the means to purchase it. No one can choose your niche for you, so be proactive, do your homework and go get em’. 
 

Stick To It

 
After determining who you want to work with, you need to stick to it. There will be opportunities that come your way that you’re going to want to jump at. It’s natural. But this is where I have gotten into trouble. You’ve picked a niche for a purpose. It helps you focus your marketing and streamline how you deliver your services to your clients. If you start getting too broad you can easily get overwhelmed and swamped by all of the differences and angles you need to cover between industries . Find your niche and stick with it.
 

It’s Ok to Say No

 
Passing on a “sure deal” can be hard, but in my experience, there are no such things as “sure deals.” Yes, I’ve taken work just because I needed it to survive, that’s part of being an entrepreneur, but sometimes NO is your best bet. Here’s a scenario:
 
A lead engages with your site. They download a ton of information and then before you can even reach out, the phone rings. It’s the person who just filled out the form!!! Based on their interaction with your content you know they are interested. Before you can ask a question they tell you about their amazing, disruptive and life changing idea. That they have millions in backers but need to get this idea out now. They have cash and are willing to pay today if you can help them. Drawn in by the excitement and enthusiasm you say, “we sure can!” And just like that, you have a deposit and a new client.
 
There are a number of red flags in this that we often miss in the intensity of a situation. First off, we know nothing about this person, what they do and even if what they are selling works. We didn’t take the time to even see if they were a company we want to work with. We saw the easy close and we said yes. The idea of a quick and easy sale captivated us and now we are scrambling to learn about this new customer.
 
Now, I have had a sale close fast before and they can work out great. But more often than not, they are terrible. I have found that most people in a panic to close this fast are usually in trouble, need results now and want more than what they pay for. This leaves you, the marketer, stressed, frustrated and ready to pull your hair out. If you find yourself in this situation here are three things to do.
 
  1. Slow the conversation down: Take back control of the conversation and start asking questions about them and their company.
  2. Set up a follow-up call: Never say yes on the first interaction. Have them convince you they are worth your time. 
  3. Say No Thanks: If they won’t agree to a follow-up, politely say “This is not an opportunity we want to take on at this time. Thank you for your call."
 
Learning to say no is one of the hardest things to do, but it’s a must if you want to truly grow your business. In order to effectively vet your leads, you first need to know who you are looking to do business with. Remember, when determining a niche keep in mind what drives you. You need to be passionate about the people you serve. After that, stick to your guns. You chose the niche you are targeting for a reason. Don’t lose focus. When interacting with leads, make sure you know who they are and what they are doing. Take control and uncover as much about them and their business as you can. Trust your gut! If it feels like a bad deal, it probably is.
 
 Business Leads - Lead Gen Tips
 

 

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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