You created a great lead magnet. It’s converting really well — you’re bringing tons of new leads into your pipeline. But that’s just the beginning of the sales pipeline.

What now?

If you don’t follow up with those leads, they may forget about you. And if they forget about you, they definitely won’t become customers — and creating that awesome lead magnet was all for naught.

But if you ask your sales team to follow up personally with every single person who downloads your lead magnet, you’re going to need more hours in the day — or a bigger sales team. If you can’t follow up with every lead, which ones do you follow up with? How do you make sure a potentially high-value customer doesn’t slip through the cracks?

And what should you say when you follow up with leads? How often should you reach out? You want to keep your message short and not bother them too often — but you also don’t want to fall off their radar or come across as generic.

You need to do 2 things:

  1. Figure out which leads your sales team should reach out to
  2. Strategically follow up with those qualified leads

How to figure out which leads your sales team should reach out to

Your sales team doesn’t have time to follow up with every single lead who comes your way — especially if your business is growing. When should a sales rep reach out to a lead?

Whether or not your sales team reaches out should depend on how qualified the lead is. Some people are almost ready to buy from you — and others are unlikely to ever become customers.

How you reach out to people changes based on that qualification:

  • For people almost ready to buy, your sales team can call
  • For less qualified leads, you can enter them into an automated lead nurture email series
  • For the least qualified leads, your team may not need to reach out at all

Who you reach out to may also depend on how many leads you have, or how big your sales team is.

If you have a lot of leads and a small sales team, you probably need to reach out to only the most qualified prospects — but if your sales team is bigger or has fewer leads to work, it might make sense to start selling to people earlier in the sales cycle.

How can you tell who is who?

Think about which customers are the best fit for your business. What does your ideal customer look like?

The BANT method is one common way to qualify leads. By focusing on the 4 most important factors that affect lead quality, it helps you understand where to focus your attention.

Originally invented by IBM, BANT is a great way to qualify new leads for your sales team.

When qualifying a lead, focus on:

  • Budget: Does the lead have the necessary budget to purchase your product? Is the deal size big enough to make it worth your sales team’s time?
  • Authority: Does the lead have the authority to make buying decisions, or are there other people you need to talk to?
  • Needs: Does the lead have a need or problem your product can solve
  • Timeline: When does the lead plan to make a purchase? If they’re planning to buy ASAP, your team should follow up ASAP.

Identify qualified leads with lead scoring

If you want to numerically qualify your leads, lead scoring can help. Lead scoring lets you measure how engaged and qualified each lead is — without manually counting how many times they’ve answered your calls or replied to your emails.

A good lead scoring model helps you prioritize leads based on:

  • How likely they are to close
  • How much they’re likely to spend
  • How quickly they’re likely to close

ActiveCampaign’s Sales Development Manager, Dathan Brown, recommends collecting information about the deal value from the lead themselves. For B2B leads, he suggests asking the lead’s business size. (Larger businesses tend to spend more.)

“If you have a form, you can include a field that will influence how valuable the opportunity is — number of employees, number of users, what problems their business faces. Apply that info to how you score your deals.”

(Check out more tips from Dathan on managing sales leads here.)

To set up a lead scoring system, you have to figure out what behaviors and characteristics matter. When a lead takes an action, what does that tell you about what they want? Based on those criteria, each lead gets a numerical score.

How do you decide the score threshold for qualified leads vs. unqualified leads?

Zachary Hanz, a Product Marketing Manager (and resident lifecycle marketing expert) at ActiveCampaign, says not to overthink it:

“It’s better to start using scoring than not, and you can always tweak it. If your initial scoring method leads to you or your team feeling like time is being wasted on bad prospects, bump up your threshold. If you wind up with too much extra time or feel like you’re missing out, bump it down.

And you can (and should) often revisit how you score certain actions. Make sure that you’re accounting for any changes or new actions people can take so nothing slips through the cracks. Don’t just set it and forget it.”

When a lead reaches a new score, you can automatically trigger email notifications and assign tasks to your sales team.

Screensharing platform and ActiveCampaign customer Airtame uses automated lead scoring to make their sales pipeline more efficient. By automating lead nurture, only the most qualified leads reach the sales team.

Airtame tracks two separate lead scores:

  • Customer fit score: How closely does the lead’s profile match Airtame’s ideal customer?
  • Engagement score: How often is the lead interacting with Airtame’s emails?

Customer fit and Engagement lead scores are automatically updated based on activity and contact information, like:

  • Which lead magnet the lead came through
  • What information the lead provided
  • How much the lead interacts with Airtame’s website interaction

The two lead scores are added together. If the combined score is high enough, the sales team gets tagged in to help — so they only spend time on the most qualified leads.

How your sales team should follow up with qualified leads

Once you figure out which new leads are worth your time, how should your sales team follow up?

ActiveCampaign’s Director of Business Development, John Dixon, recommends both calling and emailing new leads:

“Prospects have different preferences when it comes to communication, so I’d recommend calling first and, if you don’t connect, leave a voicemail and follow up with an email referencing the message you just left and why you’re specifically reaching out. This way, your bases are covered and the potential customer can respond through their preferred method of communication.”

Here’s the approach that ActiveCampaign’s sales development representatives (SDRs) use to follow up with new leads:

  1. New lead comes in and is assigned to an SDR
  2. SDR scans the lead for important details
    1. Name, email address
    2. Job title
    3. Location
    4. Key goals or reasons for becoming a lead
  3. Research on LinkedIn and the prospect’s website
  4. Call ASAP, leave a voicemail if no answer
  5. Follow up with an email
  6. Set a reminder to follow up again later that week

But there’s no one-size-fits all follow-up cadence, explains John: “My best advice would be to A/B test with variations of cadences until you find one that works best for you and your process. If that cadence is no longer getting the results you’re looking for, switch it up again.”

What should you say in your follow-up emails?

“A good follow up email is personalized, direct/specific, and clearly helps the prospect understand the value your solution could provide,” says John.

When prospects submit a lead magnet on your site, they tell you something about what they’re interested in. When your team member follows up, they already have some information to work with — and when you don’t have to go in cold, you can close more deals. Make your message relevant to the content they downloaded — and the pain points it relates to.

That said, these leads might not be expecting to hear from you, especially if your lead magnet wasn’t related to a quote or consultation. When you reach out, remind the lead how they opted in and what the lead magnet or content they received was. Otherwise, you may as well be cold calling or emailing!

Some more tips for following up with new leads:

  • Wait a couple of days between follow-up emails — you want to stay top of mind, but you don’t want your email marked as spam.
  • Don’t give up after the first email… or the second… or even the fourth. It can take an average of 8 touches (emails, phone calls, etc.) to set an initial meeting with a prospect! John recommends a minimum of 9 touches: “Prospecting is a combination of art and science, and there are different schools of thought around what the best cadence to communicate with a prospect would be, but my argument would be a minimum of 9 touches across multiple channels: calls, email, and social media.”
  • Share more content. Send leads content that’s relevant to their pain points or industry. It can help build trust with leads and show them the value your business has to offer.
  • Know when to let go. “If you’ve exhausted a thorough cadence across multiple channels, with multiple contacts, and have gotten no traction, it’s probably time to put that lead on the back burner,” says John. “As salespeople, time is one of our most precious commodities, and we need to ensure we’re spending it in areas that make sense and provide returns. Circle back a few months down the road when the timing might be better for the prospect.”

3 sales follow-up email examples

Here are 3 of the top-performing follow-up emails used by ActiveCampaign’s sales team.

1. Selling on price

{{first_name}},

We often hear hesitations from marketers and executives alike that making a change to their marketing stacks can be expensive. They’re not wrong. Many of our competitors either charge startup fees OR require hiring someone to deploy the solution.

ActiveCampaign is a marketing automation tool that does not ask for additional startup costs or require a certified expert to deploy (and maintain). Additionally, we’ll migrate and rebuild everything from your incumbent technology for you – at no cost.

I understand ActiveCampaign isn’t for everyone, but if a quicker ROI and mitigated risk is something appealing, have your team trial us for free.

Thanks and stay safe!

2. Sharing a customer success story

Hi {{first_name}},

I wanted to share this story about {{success story link}} and how ActiveCampaign helped them to:

    • {{Proof point}}
    • {{Proof point}}

While I know not all use cases are exactly alike, I’d love to hear about what you’re trying to accomplish.

What does your availability look like next week?

3. Last follow-up after not receiving a response

Hi {{first_name}},

We’ve been trying to reach you, unsuccessfully, so I was hoping you could help me out by responding with the one of the options below:

A: I’m interested in my options, let’s discuss now!

B: We’re locked into a contract, stay in touch.

C: Sorry, I’m just not that into this.

If I don’t hear from you, all is well, just keep ActiveCampaign in mind for the future.

Kindly,

{{Sender name}}

How the Tampa Bay School of Real Estate follows up with leads

Tampa Bay School of Real Estate (TSRE) offers online courses for aspiring real estate agents — and uses lead magnets to get those aspiring agents on their email list.

If you visit TSRE’s website and want more information on a course:

  1. You fill out one of several lead magnet opt-in forms
  2. You enter an automation that emails useful real estate information you’ve indicated you want (and that include “register” or “request more info” CTAs)
  3. If you engage with the emails, you enter another email automation that asks you to schedule a conversation with the sales team
  4. A member of the sales team contacts you

A sample follow-up email from TSRE’s sales team.

The results of this new lead magnet follow-up approach? TSRE sold nearly 5x more courses in a month than they used to (and saw 50% year-over-year sales growth).

How to automatically deliver the lead magnet, create a deal in your CRM, and notify your sales team

With automation, you can deliver the lead magnet and create a new deal when a contact submits your lead magnet form. This is a great way to track a new contact from the beginning of their journey throughout your pipeline.

Here’s how the Lead Magnet Delivery and Deal Creation Automation Recipe works:

  1. A lead signs up for a lead magnet
  2. They receive the lead magnet or content
  3. They’re added as a deal in your CRM
  4. The deal owner (your sales team/salesperson) is notified

All automatically — no manual data entry or work necessary. Get the automation recipe here.