A common business misconception is that sales and marketing are the same. This mistaken belief leads to:
1. The misallocation of resources
2. The inappropriate use of technology to achieve a company goal
3. Pure frustration
Sales complains that the tradeshow, web and other leads they get from marketing are junk. Marketing moans that sales doesn’t call the quality leads that marketing produces.
Sound familiar? The basis for this common rift is a poor lead generation, qualification, scoring and nurturing program. The solution is lead nurturing.
What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is all about having consistent and meaningful communication with viable prospects regardless of their timing to buy.
It’s not calling up every few months to find out if a prospect is ‘ready to buy yet?’ Lead nurturing is about building solid relationships – friendships even – with prospective customers.
What are benefits of lead nurturing?
- Fewer missed opportunities. Many sales reps give up on an opportunity after one unsuccessful sales attempt, even though the stats show that people who take a vendor demo usually end up buying inside of 18 months. Getting a prospect to demo a project is more likely if the prospect has a trusted connection with the sales rep.
- Better allocation of resources. By plugging your longer-term opportunities into a lead nurturing program, you can automate a ‘drip-style’ email marketing campaign that provides white papers, webcasts and other valuable material that will help your prospect decide. This is more cost effective than having a sales rep call every two months to ‘check in.’
- The alignment of sales and marketing. Working together to establish a lead scoring and nurturing system will better qualify opportunities, set proper expectations and avoid the syndrome of fighting about how ineffective the other side is.
Getting started with lead nurturing
To begin the process of lead nurturing, here are three easy steps that lay the proper groundwork for a program you can use for the rest of your career.
1. Index every lead. A database will be necessary, even if your group of prospects is small. If your budget also is small, an Excel spreadsheet is a great place to start.
As your budget and database needs grow, you can easily import Excel data into a more robust platform. Tracking every lead is key to being a helpful salesperson, and it also is tremendously useful for sales forecasting and trendspotting.
2. Evaluate online marketing automation tools. Marketing automation will take much of the heavy lifting off your shoulders, but it’s not a “set it and forget it” environment.
Even automation needs caretaking, unless you want thoughtless and repeated emails to drive your customers away. As you evaluate tools, make sure there is always an element of manual control. Examples of automation tools are customer relationship management, or CRM; content marketing and sales engagement systems.
3. Create a drip campaign. A drip campaign provides tiered information and materials to prospects as a way of ushering them into ‘membership’ in your club of customers. Depending on the size of your prospect list and the value of certain prospects, personal phone calls and visits might be integrated into this series as well. Example: Write six to 12 emails that will be sent to prospects monthly, over a six-month period, to keep your solution top of mind.
Once you get your feet wet with these initial steps, you will be ready to experience the joy that comes from properly nurturing your leads. In addition to increasing sales, you will also be growing a professional network that can be invaluable in your current position and beyond.
SalesCocktail helps MWBEs take advantage of technology business tools. Greenhill can be contacted at [email protected].