Ever missed a sales opportunity? Feels like dropping your ice cream and watching it melt into the sidewalk before you’ve even taken the first bite.Well, you’re not alone. It happens to businesses all the time.In fact, it happens more now than ever! In this digital age, opportunities and leads come from all over the place, and it’s hard to keep track of them. This is part of why a study by Harvard Business Review found that 71% of qualified leads are never followed up with. That’s crazy.It’s also a real shame, because getting leads is tough. Four in 10 salespeople find prospecting to be the hardest part of their job. Imagine how hard it must be for businesses without a sales team!How ironic is all this? Especially when you consider that generating leads is the entire purpose of marketing, and converting leads is the entire purpose of the sales team?In order to avoid wasting literally all the money you spend on marketing (and missing out on all that potential income), you’ve got to make sure your hard earned leads don’t go to waste. Here’s How NOT to Waste Your LeadsHow does one avoid wasting leads? Follow them up quickly and consistently. Sounds simple, but in order to do that, a lot of moving pieces have to be working perfectly.In order to follow up leads well, you must:Know where all your leads are coming from.Get notified when they come through.Know when to follow your leads up.Have a system to help you follow up effectively and efficiently.We’re going to go through these pieces and give you a few tips that will help you get a handle on your incoming leads. With a bit of a game plan, it can be surprisingly satisfying to follow up your leads. Know Where Your Leads are Coming FromThis may sound basic, but we see a lot of businesses miss out on leads that they didn’t even know existed.Social Media is one of the top places leads are overlooked (leads here are sneaky, but valuable!), but we often find that web enquiries and even email leads are missed as well.So take a quick inventory of where a customer might find you, and how the lead comes in.Here’s a list of places leads commonly come from.Tip: Be taking mental notes about how you get notified about these leads, and who checks them! Get Notified When Leads Come ThroughYou don’t want to be digging around for your leads. Make it easy for yourself and/or your team to find them.The best way to do this may be to designate one place you want to check leads and try to get them all feeding into that spot. The most popular pick for notifications is email. Most types of leads can be set up to pop up in your inbox as soon as they’re registered.The method for linking leads to email is slightly different for each source (your website, an ad management system, Facebook, etc.), so your best bet is to google “how to get email notifications from ____”There are also a few great automation programs like Zapier and IFTTT that make it easy to get notifications from all sorts of places. Check them out and if possible, get your leads all rolling into a spot you’re sure to see them, because as the data in the next section shows, you’ll need to be very aware of your enquiries in order to land them as customers. Know When to Follow up Your Leads“The odds of making contact drop by 3000x if the first call is made 5 hours after lead submission.”– Ken Crogue | Sales Expert | Founder of InsideSales.comWhen should you follow up leads? The short answer is as quickly as possible.Ken Crogue’s quote demonstrates the value of getting back within 5 hours, but recent studies show that the ideal window for making contact is within one hour.And this study, drawn from 3 years of data across 6 companies, showed that responding to web-generated leads within five minutes increases contact rates by 900%.In the age of instant satisfaction, customers get distracted easily. Follow up all leads quickly, and follow up web leads as quickly as possible. Have a System for Following Up LeadsWithout an organised system for responding to leads, this task can quickly swamp you. Before you know it it’s Friday and that lead that came through Monday hasn’t heard from anyone. Chances are when you finally get back to them they’ll no longer be interested.Organising Your LeadsYou need a place to store contact information, track what contact has been made, track the results of your follow-ups, and maybe provide you with alerts when it’s time to follow up again.Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are built for exactly this purpose. If you don’t have one or are not happy with yours, here is a list of 7 economical small business CRM tools.If your needs are simple or you’re not ready to invest in a CRM, you might be ok with a basic spreadsheet.Follow Up SequenceMaking a sale requires building a relationship, and this requires multiple contact points.More and more businesses these days build their marketing and sales around this idea. They create ads and contact messages designed to act like breadcrumbs that lead a prospect from stranger to happy customer.Having your messages planned out will save heaps of time and confusion. Going a step further, you can set these messages to get sent out automatically – for example, by setting up an automated email chain that sends out to new leads.This series of steps required to take a prospect from stranger to happy customer is often called a sales funnel. If you draw up your customer’s journey, plan out the steps and have contact times and messages ready, you set yourself up for success from the beginning. Now go Land some Customers!Go check all your lead channels. If you’ve got new enquiries, follow them up as soon as you can!If you don’t have enquiries, this is the perfect time to tick off the items we just went through. Know where your leads are coming from. Set up notifications so you never miss an opportunity. And build a system so that when your next lead comes through, you’ll be ready!And if you need help generating or following up leads, we’re here for you. We specialise in helping businesses reach new customers, and bring them onboard with the perfect follow up.