Suppose you had 100 inquiries on your website today. In other words, 100 visitors registered to watch a webinar; download a white paper; or take a free trial of your product. Which ones do you call back? And which ones do you discard?
Some inquiries are easy to discard. University students are likely doing research for a project and are not good prospects. Shareholders should be contacted through investor relations. And job seekers are better handled by human resources.
Inquiries from personas in leadership roles (vice president and above) are easy to categorize as well. Of course, you should prioritize these decision makers and attempt to contact them several times via phone, email and social networks.
Most sales representatives would also pursue inquiries from middle managers. Think Director of Financial Planning & Analysis or Manager of Application Development. Even if these individuals are not the ultimate decision maker, they are likely to be an influencer who will have a voice in a vendor selection exercise. They may also be tasked with day-to-day leadership of the project you are bidding.
Inquiries from end-user types (Accounts Payable Manager, Enterprise Architect, Business Process Analyst) usually receive lower priority. Nonetheless, most sales reps will send a few emails or make a few phone calls, hoping to get information that can be useful for calling higher.
What about Interns, Assistants and Consultants (IAC)? Most sales reps and marketing managers would discard these leads as bad prospects. But this is often a mistake.
Why would an executive assistant be downloading your white paper on Predictive Analytics? It’s unlikely that they are building up their knowledge of emerging technologies in their spare time. It is far more likely that the EA is gathering information for their boss – the CIO (CFO, CMO, etc.). Executive Assistants are paid to answer the phone so you know you can reach them. A friendly call to ask if there is an additional information you can help them to gather could be a great way to build a relationship with the gatekeeper of a hard-to-reach C-level executive.
Similarly, it is unlikely that an intern is registering to watch your webinar on the Internet of Things for his/her own education. The intern has likely been tasked by a more senior manager to gather information about vendor solutions for a new manufacturing plant they are building. A friendly call to the intern can often be a great source of insights. They are far more likely to answer the phone than other prospects. And they can often share details about a project that can be useful before calling higher in the organization.
Inquiries from consultants are often dismissed as well. But most consultants are working on behalf of a client to gather information. Consultants can be more influential than middle managers in some projects. Even if they are not currently engaged on a project that could use your product, they may be in the near future. A helpful call to share insights or additional information could yield future dividends down the road.