February 20, 2013

Lawrence Watkins' Follow-Up System with Contactually

One of Contactually's power users, Lawrence Watkins, wrote a guest blog post for us about the killer follow-up system he's created using Contactually. Check it out below, and see if you can implement some of his tips into your own follow-up system!

In 2007, I started my company, Great Black Speakers. We help organizations find African American speakers for their events. About a year ago, I created a SaaS piece of my company where our speakers pay a subscription fee to have access to our audience and tools to help grow their brands. Through search engine optimization, search engine marketing, and publicity efforts, the notoriety of my company has soared over that time period.

Although Great Black Speakers was generating a lot of interest and new leads, they weren't converting into the type of sales that I wanted. The core problem stemmed from a deficiency in my sales follow-up system. Because so many leads were coming into the system, it became increasingly difficult to make initial contact and follow up with them on a consistent basis. Consistent follow up is one of the most important factors to turn leads into customers, therefore it is wise for individuals to generate a great follow-up strategy. Here is my step by step strategy that I implemented for Great Black Speakers, and as you'll see Contactually is a core tool in the system.

Step 1: Collect Leads Using a Wufoo Form

When developing your sales system, it is important to have an effective way to capture the necessary information for leads coming to your website. We use an Unbounce landing page with a link to a Wufoo form that collects the appropriate information from the lead. To make this example easier, I created a person named Michael White who is a professional speaker wanting to list with GBS.

Step 2: Create a Email Filter in Gmail

I get a wide variety of emails that come from multiple sources talking about dozens of different issues. One of the hardest things was just finding all of the emails that I actually needed to follow up with. Gmail's label feature has made it easy to keep track of all of the sales related leads. Any email coming from Wufoo with a certain phrase like "Interested in becoming a GBS speaker" or "Request a Phone Call" gets automatically labeled in my "Contact Us" folder. Now I have all of the people who have contacted us in a single place. Here are Gmail's instructions on creating filters.

Depending on how sophisticated that you want to get, you can also automatically create a deal in your favorite CRM using Zapier. Contactually just launched a great deal feature within their system, but I use Highrise as that is the tool in which most of my team already uses. (Fortunately, Contactually has a nice Highrise integration to boot.) If you have multiple leads coming in, but you have a sales team to handle them for you, then the Wufoo to Highrise deals integration is a huge time saver.

Step 3: Respond Quickly and Bucket the Contact in Contactually

I've learned that initial response time is one of the determining indicators on whether or not we close a particular sale. Therefore, I try to call a lead back within an hour of them completing a contact form on our website or giving us a call. It gives me a chance to pitch our offerings while they are still excited about our product and exceed the potential customer's expectations. No matter if I am able to connect with the lead by phone, I always send out an email to them to follow up and bucket the contact in Contactually. Its Chrome plugin has been a life saver and makes it extremely easy to bucket contacts for future use.

Step 4: Create Email Templates in Contactually to Keep Up With the Sales Process

The last step in the process is where Contactually excels above and beyond any other sales product. Contactually makes it super easy for me to follow up with contacts at every stage of the sales pipeline. Specifically, it allows me to follow up with leads using templated emailsas a direct reply from emails previously sent. Using my "potential speakers" bucket, Contactually sends me reminders to follow up with those contacts every 7 days. With 2 clicks of my mouse, a follow up email is sent to the potential GBS speaker.
A great new feature that Contactually recently added is the ability to schedule emails for future release as well. Therefore, I can send two follow up emailswith individuals at the same time with one going out today and the latter scheduled for next week.

As an end result, the conversion rate of sales have skyrocketed over the last three months for Great Black Speakers. The great thing about the system listed above is that it can easily scale as you add more people to your sales force. This is the system that has worked for me, but I'm sure it is not perfect. I would love to hear your thoughts on improving it for more effectiveness.