keeping prospects on the boil - lead nurturing

Sales Lead Nurturing: Keeping Prospects On The Boil

Gee Ranasinha Sales 3 Comments

A business can’t go very far, for very long, without having sales. But finding customers is often easier said than done.

Generating sales leads is a key part of most companies efforts to keep the sales funnel active. It’s an often frustrating and expensive process in terms of time, money and resources. But, hey, if it were easy everyone would be doing it, right?

The thing is, all sales leads aren’t created equal, which is why many sales teams ‘rank’ incoming leads by how likely it is that they’ll buy within a prescribed timeframe. Salespeople, since they’re usually a) up against a sales target and b) paid on commission, inevitably focus on the “hot” leads emerging from the sales funnel. The ones that, based upon their assessment, will result in a sale in the shortest space of time.

That’s all great, super, and wonderful. But while that’s going on, who’s looking after the other leads?

Lead Nurturing: Keeping Them On The Boil

One of the great things about the internet is that buyers can engage with sellers earlier in their buying process. However the other side of the coin is that, for many companies, new sales leads are often not ready to engage from Day One – even if they may be ready in the medium to long term.

So what do you do? Hope that the lead will contact you again when they’re ready to buy? Perhaps risk them getting lost or ignored in the sales funnel – or scooped-up by the competition? That’s where Lead Nurturing comes in.

Lead nurturing is the process of building and maintaining a relationship with a qualified sales prospect – regardless of their buying timeline – to help ensure that their business comes to you rather than goes to someone else. It’s a very different animal from Lead Generation, which is about feeding (usually) the Sales department qualified leads that wish to buy within a specified timeframe.

Both functions are equally important. However, in most companies these two distinctly separate roles are handled by the same department: Sales. And that’s wrong.

Why? Because salespeople don’t want to nurture. Salespeople want to sell. Salespeople want to take over when the prospect’s ready to buy – because when they buy is when the salespeople gets paid. However, since the process of buying has changed (forever), the issue of who’s responsible with managing the “warm” leads – ones that may be only just in the sales funnel – is only going to get more important.

Buyers are doing more of their research on their own – using search, social media, etc. Part of this change means that, while they can be engaging with brands earlier than ever, they’re not in a position – or are even willing – to be “sold” to. This changes many of the fundamental tenets that most company marketing departments were built upon (and, unfortunately, haven’t changed ever since).

Buying Isn’t What It Used To Be.
But Then, Neither Is Selling.

Marketing used to be about little more than generating leads to pass to Sales. Today, however, it needs to be about a synchronized initiative that follows and enhances the lead’s buying experience and helps them make their decision, providing contextually-relevant content that is seen as having value.

When I say “having value”, I mean to them. Not to you. Lead nurturing may be many things, but it’s not:

  • Blasting everyone who’s ever contacted the company about anything ever with a email newsletter talking about how great the company thinks it is;
  • Emails/phone calls every now and again to see “how they’re doing” and if they’re any nearer to a purchasing decision;
  • “Like Us on Facebook / Follow Us On Twitter” outreaches that link to an account that isn’t regularly updated and shows no audience engagement;
  • Providing content that talks all about the company, its products/services, its people, etc. without taking into account the prospect’s interests, needs, or buying decision criteria.

Most research suggests that this “internet-empowered” customer (who, you’ll remember, is doing all the legwork themselves because they trust their own networks more than they trust you) only expects to get in front of a salesperson once they’ve made it two-thirds down the sales funnel. To get to that point, a certain amount of knowledge transfer needs to happen (quite a lot, in the case of complex sales).

The question that you need to consider is whether they’re getting that information from you, or someone else?

About the Author
Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha

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After founding a successful media production firm, Gee became worldwide director of marketing for a European software company. As well as CEO of KEXINO he's an author, lecturer, husband, and father; and one hell of a nice bloke. He lives in a world of his own in Strasbourg, France, tolerated by his wife and young son. Find out more about Gee at kexino.com/gee-ranasinha.



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Comments 3

  1. Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

    HI Gee, so here I am reading your blog and I agree with everything you say (as usual) So here is the question.

    Little old me is trying desperately to manage/juggle every minute to
    a) keep CRM up to date
    b)return calls and emails
    c)manage day to day activities
    d)scrub the toilet
    e)maintain an aura of confidence and calm
    f)all other menial tasks that need doing when running a startup.

    With every minute being critical, what are the 5 ‘must do’s’ and what are the 5 ‘don’t bother’s’ in an online promotion strategy.

  2. Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

    Note: I’ve edited this after checking out Andy’s site – http://www.mathsnoproblem.co.uk/.

    Hi Andy,

    Much depends on what your goals are. But if we make the assumption that you’re looking to increase visibility of your site from searches and referrals, increase site stickiness and get more leads, then:

    • Get a keyword list together. These are words or phrases that visitors are using as search criteria when looking for products such as yours. The Google Adwords Keyword tool is a good source for this. Once you have a list, create content based around these keywords. Blog articles, videos, infographics, whatever – but NOT sales pitch stuff. You want to create content that the people looking for your products would be interested in consuming.
    Publish this stuff on your site, taking care of basic SEO duties (good “title” and “description” tags, image “alt” tags, etc.) along the way. Each time you publish something, scream about it from the highest virtual rooftop – social media, word-of-mouth, semaphore, smoke signals, whatever. In my opinion you need to blog far more frequently than you are at the moment. Also, the blog posts could be better SEO optimized (contact me offline and I’ll fill you in).

    • Optimize your website.
    Don’t skimp by using a crappy cheapy web host. It WILL come back to bite you – trust me.
    I see that you’re using Magento for your site, and I understand why. I don’t know how you’re doing for search, but a quick look behind the scenes shows that many of your pages could do with a SEO tweak. By the way, don’t waste time with the “keywords” metatag. Search engines don’t use it.

    Structure your site’s homepage text to be as compelling as possible. When I visit your homepage, I’m looking for a single phrase that explains what you offer. The nearest I get is the text that’s in the first slider. However that text doesn’t really leap out at me, and the slider moved to the next image before I see it. Lead the user through a series of pages/sections of benefits, testimonials, product information, and (finally) an email sign-up form (and “Buy” button, if relevant). Your aim is to build up an email list to market to on a regular basis.

    Have a range of landing pages set up based on the top 5 or 10 keywords that you’ve identified from #1. Landing pages are very different from “normal” web pages: you want visitors to take an action once they’re there. A quick web search will give you all the info you need on crafting killer landing pages (or we can help you).

    • Get out there. Post stuff on your social media channel(s) at least once every day. Join forums, user groups, etc. that cater for topics in your field and post answers to people’s questions as often as you can. DO NOT PITCH. Your forum signature will do the selling for you.

    What NOT to do?

    • Don’t try to cheat. Don’t buy backlinks or Facebook likes. Don’t try underhand SEO stuff. Don’t copy content that you’ve found somewhere else. Google WILL find out.

    • Don’t create 1001 social media accounts and spread yourself across all of them. Pick one, or maybe two, and do them well. I’m guessing that for your business Facebook is where your audience is, so concentrate your efforts there.

    • Don’t go with your gut. Base decisions on what your customers are saying, and what your analytics data is telling you. You are not your target market.

    Wow, this answer is turning out to be a blog post all of its own!

    The above should get you started. Sounds like a lot of work? Yes, it is. Trust me, I’m doing it every day! What I can say is that it gets easier over time, and there are various automation tools out there that can help. Feel free to get in touch with me offline if you need more info / clarification.

    Of course, you could always offload all/some of this to us. Yeah, it’s a shameless plug, what can I tell you? Do as I say, not as I do… 😉

    Thanks for leaving a comment. Hope we’ll see you around these parts again soon.

    Gee

    1. Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

      WOW Gee, thanks for that! You are a star. All I need to do is clone myself and get cracking. Let’s catchup when you got a sec (offline)

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