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This post originally appeared on the Focus.com Group, where InsideView regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology for sales organizations.

Lets face it, sometimes the hardest thing to do is “get in the door” with a new lead. There have been hundreds of books written about it, countless podcasts and even entire sales enablement companies built around helping sales teams learn new tactics and strategies on making the first contact. With a lifetime of content available to a sales person, I don’t think that there is any one answer that cracks the code. That being said, it is much easier now than it was 3 years ago. [tweetmeme source= “insideview” only_single=false]

The perfect lead

The idea of the perfect lead could span all the colors of a double rainbow. Every company will have a different definition but they all boil down to a few key points. Someone has a pain, you have a product or service that can help and the clincher is that they have a budget that will cover the costs. Within that you can classify or rank your leads a thousand different ways to identify an even more specific list of the perfect lead. As a sales person you can only do so much so make sure that you are contacting the people that will have the quickest and easiest sales cycle possible. Even if the average sales cycle for your product is 6-9 months you want to keep that as close to the 6 month mark as possible right?

First impressions matter most

What you do with your leads is your business but there have been some horror stories told over the years about a shiny new lead that matched all of the criteria of the “perfect lead” just to be destroyed by first contact. If you typically send out an email first then make sure these are not some form letter sent to everyone. Since these leads are special make sure you add some great content into the email that grabs their attention and starts building the relationship that you want. Ask a question, attach a piece of  key content that is tailored to their issue and give them multiple ways to contact you with any questions.

Laurie Lynard of Telemasters offered some great advice that has worked for her.

First, I am always prepared. If they were a referral, I craft a message like “John Smith referred me to you as having a potential need for X to streamline your process and reduce your costs”. If they were a web lead or an inquiry, I will remind them that they expressed interest in XYZ.

Next, I script a value proposition that will resonate with my prospect: “At ABC Company we specialize in provide solutions that shorten time to market and reduce R&D costs”.

(Note: These two steps also prepare me to convince the gatekeeper to put me through to the decision-maker when she asks “What is this call regarding?”)

Lastly, I script a clear and compelling call purpose with a benefit to set the stage for a “discovery” conversation to understand their current process or system to determine whether it would be of benefit to partner. I also determine which question I will ask to begin the qualifying conversation.

By following this process, when I actually make the call, I am prepared to talk to:

A. The Gatekeeper
B. The Decision-Maker
C. The Decision-Maker’s Voice Mail (Different approaches need to be used in each subsequent voice mail or email)

When approaching the perfect lead you want to come across sincere and professional. They are a perfect lead for a reason and you need to make sure you can articulate that to them especially if they aren’t convinced yet. If you can position yourself as an advisor or an expert in a certain area then that can go along way.

On top of all of this, it adds another layer on the relationship if you take an interest in the people you are dealing with. Using common social selling tips will keep you ‘in the know’ about your leads and the companies they work for. Set up a new watchlist and add some value to questions they ask online. This will set you apart from being just another sales person.

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