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Lead qualification – “long yes” replies from cold email campaigns

Bartosz Majewski in

Blog/Lead qualification – “long yes” replies from cold email campaigns

Lead qualification takes away the sunk-cost bias. Qualification means collecting and analysing data to know which positive sales leads are real, and which are just “no’s” in disguise. Take control and chase qualified “long yes” leads.

You’re organising a cold email campaign. You’ve researched a contact list of several, potentially interested companies. Two things are for sure – you’ve got the right messaging, and you’re writing to the right people. Will it generate cold leads?

It’s not guaranteed – you can’t control how people react to your campaign.

One thing’s for sure, a lot of the responses will be a “long yes” – a particularly tricky type of lead, which is problematic to deal with.

A “long yes” lead is a person that:

  • replies to your cold email and clearly states a need, but doesn’t have time/resources to buy right now

  • tells you he/she doesn’t have time/resources once you’ve converted a cold email reply into a call

The term “long yes” covers a wide range of responses that give you hope for closing a deal, but “for some reason” not at the moment. This is what a generic “long yes” might look like:

generic long yes

Are they just nicely rejecting you? Will they really buy in a few months? You don’t know the full truth, and you need solid lead qualification for each “long yes”. 

Otherwise there’s trouble ahead.

Lead qualification helps you focus

Salespeople often want to chase ALL THE LEADS(!!!). But this way, all your business relationships are mediocre, and the most opportune sales leads are unsatisfied and just slip away.

Indecisive, pushing you back, not replying – “Long yes” leads dance Gangnam Style all over your lateral habenula (the little bit of your brain responsible for making key, everyday decisions).

The “sunk cost” bias comes into play – when you spend resources to chase leads, the need to close a deal grows bigger. But people either ignore you, or keep re-scheduling. You’ve invested so much that you only want those deals more, so you keep sinking resources into hopeless leads.

The solution – you have to separate the good leads from the bad leads as soon as possible with lead qualification. 

Lead qualification – “long yes”

#1 – Generic “long yes”

The general rule for dealing with “long yes” leads is to hold people responsible for what they say. When you see a reply like this:

long yes example 2 righthello qualifying leads

Make that meeting as real as possible – for instance schedule time-slots in your Calendly and send an invitation, all they have to do is click the link and pick a time:

long yes when leads do not have website

At this point, a poor sales lead will respond without picking a time slot or just ignore you alltogether. Imagine trying to hook up with someone – you say “Wanna meet on friday?” and they only reply – “I can’t do friday”.

You instantly think about why they didn’t help you schedule a better date. When someone ignores you at this point, you can stop chasing the lead completely. If someone keeps responding, you still have a chance to schedule that specific meeting so keep at it.

When someone offers a weirdly distant date, ask “why not sooner?”. This makes your intentions even realer, and speeds up qualification.

So that’s the generic case –  you deal with different types of “long yes” leads very similarly.

Now I want to show you the most common reply&qualification patterns that I’ve noticed over 2 years of qualifying leads at RightHello. We’re mostly in the B2B tech market – your industry might be different, so remember to analise your own leads and draw conclusions. Or get in contact with us – we know B2B tech leads in&out. 🙂

#2 – No budget “long yes”
budget long yes example righthello

If a company can’t afford us at first, they usually can’t afford later on.

Companies that don’t have cash for you now, have even less cash when you follow-up in a few months. If there’s solid proof that their budget will get bigger (100% secured funding), I chase the lead further and push to schedule a meeting. 

If it’s just an unbacked assumption, and they can’t provide a solid reason for the promised inflow of cash – it doesn’t bode well and I don’t worry about that lead anymore. 

#3 – No website “long yes”
website long yes example bartosz majewski righthello

Implementing a website always takes longer than it should, and I’m usually pushed back again when I follow-up as scheduled. If you manage to schedule a follow-up then wait for it and get in contact, but if you can’t even agree on a good time to follow-up – forget about that lead.

If it’s not implementation, then it’s “not translated” – to this I say “Okay, but from what I see it would take 2,5 hours to translate the whole website”. 

Other times it’s “not good enough” – to which I say “if it works, and people can read about what you do, then it’s good enough”. People are either convinced they’ve been exaggerating the problem, or they ignore me from there on out.

If they’re convinced, push to schedule future meeting. When it’s impossible to schedule – cut-off.

#4 – Bad customer profile fit “long yes”
no sales team long yes

In our case it’s mostly “we don’t have a sales team”. This is specific to our Customer Profile. In your case, this might translate to “no marketing team” or something completely different. The thing is, you don’t want a client that doesn’t fit your ICP.

To me, “we’ll start as soon as we have a salesperson on-board” is a really bad signal, because:

  • in an early stage start-up, the founder (or co-founders) can do sales for a while

  • at some point they run out of resources (mostly time), that creates a need for middle-management

  • the existing team becomes the managing team – they make mistakes, thus increasing costs, because of which overall company performance drops for some time

So when I follow-up, they’re usually in more trouble than when I first contacted them and have even less time for me.

When I get a get a “long yes” like this, I push to schedule a meeting if there’s hope (good growth strategy for example), keeping in mind that it’s a low priority lead. If there are problems with scheduling – cut-off.

#5 – No time / production capacity “long yes”
no time long yes

Everyone is busy, so when the only reason I get is “not enough time” or “too busy” – I just call and say “I didn’t want you to waste time replying to my email, so I decided to call – I’ll only take 3 minutes”. I use those 3 minutes for lead qualification and to schedule a meeting.

no capacity long yes

As for production capacity – busy, successful teams only get busier with time. Until they decide on their own that they need a solution like ours (and that we’re the best), there’s almost 0% chance that my follow-up will change anything. I push to find out when they suspect to be less busy and schedule a meeting then. When there are problems with scheduling, I cut-off.

There you have it, analysing leads for over 2 years in RightHello has given me a pretty good idea of who is really interested, and who isn’t.

Qualify leads quickly, don’t waste resources on poor leads

Lead qualification is a method to get a feel for your target group’s buying signals. The core of “long yes” analysis is collecting data about:

  • reasons provided by all “long yes” leads

  • amount of resources you’ve used to qualify them

  • the outcomes of qualifying them

let go of cold leads, don't hold on to them

After a while of it, you can separate hot leads from cold leads, and in turn make good decisions to re-focus your sales efforts. Your goal is to quickly reach the truth – do they really need your solution, or are they just avoiding the “no” to be nice?

So the main and final takeaway I want you to remember is: in B2B Sales it’s more important to let go of leads, not hold on to as many as you can.

Aim to chase only qualified sales leads, and it will make a huge difference for you and your team.

Excerpt from the RightHello-Arkency webinar:

“What is the best strategy for “long yes” leads? What to do with these contacts?”

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Bartosz Majewski

Co-founder at RightHello. 10 years experience in sales. Executed business expansion into 38 markets in 6 continents. A regular speaker at business conferences. An active snowboarder outside of work. Avid book reader and blogger.