To close more leads, you need to nurture “not ready to buy now” leads.
Lead conversion is the process of converting a “touch” (email, Web site visit, banner ad click, phone inquiry, etc.) into an opportunity or a sale. You must typically touch prospects many times before they buy. Lead nurturing is the process of managing the touches.
To effectively nurture your hard-earned leads, you need a solid lead management system. If you are dealing with many prospects the best way to manage this process is to use an automatic lead nurturing system.
Before you start a campaign, define what makes a good conversion first
We worked for a company selling high-tech building management systems. After we launched the first lead generation campaign, we met with the company’s sales VP to get feedback on our program’s results.
At the meeting, the sales VP said his team needed more leads. We asked about results from the first campaign. To our amazement, the VP showed us a long list of emails and exclaimed that he needed more. The company’s sales team had followed up with very few of the emails.
The lesson we learned: a company must define the conversion and follow-up process BEFORE launching a lead generation program.
For a complex selling environment, we suggest the following steps for developing a successful lead management program:
- Develop a lead scoring system. Score each lead based on how qualified it is. Send only the most qualified leads to sales. Send the less qualified leads, through a lead nurturing program. Typically, you should not send raw leads to your sales team
- Remember that sales and marketing often view leads very differently. To a sales person, a lead is someone ready to buy. To the marketing staff, a lead is someone who, with nurturing, might buy one day. Get your marketing and sales teams to work together and agree on the definition of a qualified lead.
- Know what you want prospects to do before you launch your campaign. Your campaign should promote that one “call to action”. The action can be a phone call, a click to your Web site, an email inquiry, etc.
- Set-up a system for quick response. An auto-responder can help greatly if you do not have enough staff to quickly get information out to each inquiry.
- Use a set of incremental conversion points for lead nurturing. Provide different response incentives based on where the prospect is in the buying cycle. For example: If they are seeking early-stage information, promote Webinars. If they are in the later stages, schedule phone interviews.
Tips for better lead nurturing
A lead nurturing system for your not-ready-to-buy-now leads enables you to:
- Automate your communications. You can set-up a system that automatically sends out follow-up emails. This auto messaging means you can easily stay in touch with each lead without spending a lot of time managing the interaction.
- Ease the too-slow follow-up problem. When people respond to your message, they are actively looking for something (information, vendors, etc.). They are also likely sending inquiries to competing companies. The first company following up with relevant information has the inside track. A good system allows you to quickly communicate with each prospect based on the prospect’s interests.
- Save time by pre-writing several email series. With the top systems, you can create a series of emails, which prospects trigger based on their responses.For example, assume you score an initial inquiry as a 0 and a qualified prospect as a 1.
- In this example, if the prospect takes the time to attend a webinar, you consider the prospect qualified and ready for more aggressive marketing approach. A prospect comes to your Web site and completes an initial form (score 0).
- Your system sends a series of 3 follow-up emails, with each email offering a new benefit and an invitation to a Webinar.
- If the prospect signs up for your Webinar after the second email, you would now score the prospect a 1 and the system automatically moves him to a different track.