Lead Nurturing, next to Lead Generating and, of course, the Closed Deal, is the most important part of the sales process. Lead nurturing starts with qualifying a new prospect or current client. Are they a good fit for the product or service being offered? Do they have the money available to purchase? Do they have the authority to buy or move the conversation to the next level? Is there an immediate need? As salespeople we have all been taught the Acronym, B.A.N.T. (Budget, Authority, Need and Time frame). The sales process used to end there.
Often after the qualification process has been completed, many prospects - are just not yet ready to make that final decision. To maximize your sales process, those with good potential should be nurtured, so that when they're ready, you're the company that has the relationship, with the most credibility to deliver.
Lead nurturing should continue not only with qualified prospects but also with existing clients. Staying front of mind with relevant information about your products or services until you close a sale is also critical for growing existing client relationships. Most marketers have embraced lead nurturing over the past few years; however, there are still things that many marketers do not understand about lead nurturing.
Most give undue importance to generating as many new leads as possible. They expend so much effort trying to rein in new people that they miss the boat with many prospects that have already been qualified as good candidates for their offerings. As a result, too many resources are wasted in generating new leads of which only a small percentage are interested in your offering. Most salespeople expend time and energy “cold calling” just to get new leads while ignoring an already well-defined database, which houses a wealth of people who may be “sales ready.”
What’s ironic about this is that salespeople concentrate so much on getting new leads that they’re forgetting that they have a powerhouse of prospects constantly being built up. Often times, prospects are just waiting to be given the right nudge at the right time. Unfortunately, these prospects are mostly ignored. These prospects just need a bit more coaxing, since they have already expressed previous interest and already know about the products or services being offered.
That is what true lead nurturing is about, “The right message, to the right person, at the right time.”
“Nurturing is defined as the act of growing something to its full potential.” In lead nurturing, this means you are taking advantage of the interest you have already identified in your potential customer and even your current customers. You take efforts to educate them more, to grow their interest, until they are ready to say “yes” to your offer. Lead nurturers call this "staying front of mind."
True lead nurturing is about relevant conversations and consistent follow up. Pre-set messages and e-mails may hit a few prospects with appropriate information or catch a prospect with an immediate need, but the real truth is that more conversations the salesperson has, the more likely they will uncover a pain point or true need. Pre-set messages cannot address trigger points in a conversation that prompt further discovery with your prospect or current client.
There are many different ways for you to help your prospect realize that business as usual might not be getting them where they need to be. The process requires research!! It is necessary to learn about your prospect's world, to know and understand the potential challenges that are facing them in their industry that may be affecting their bottom line.
Armed with your research, you can begin to build a relationship. Your prospect may not be ready to buy at the time of your initial contact (unless you live in a perfect world designed just for salespeople). Reaching out to your prospect occasionally over time with relevant information will keep you front of mind and help close more long-term deals.
Some marketers use automated lead generating and nurturing processes, which are not bad ideas. However, machines are less reliable than humans and cannot be programmed to understand the needs of humans. An excellent lead nurturing program requires research, diligence, tenacity and an active hand, continued knowledge gathering and persistence.
Where do you get the information to make your next nurturing call fresh? Web articles, the prospect’s website, company news, quarterly reports, industry magazine articles and LinkedIn updates on companies, prospects and clients that are being nurtured are all great tools. They offer a host of information that can be used to build knowledge and uncover a potential need. This research should be kept in a CRM solution and built upon over time. Call-backs and follow up with prospects should be done as promised and on time. Meaningful, relevant information should also sent periodically, and highly qualified leads should be forwarded to sales folks.
The nurturing process should never be considered complete once a sale is closed.
The new client should then be continually nurtured. Most companies sell more than one product or service and tend to lose sight of the wealth of potential sales that could come from existing clients. Sales and client teams should work together to build long-term relationships with new and existing clients through nurturing, “the act of growing something to its full potential.”
Contact SIGMA today to learn more about how we can help you get control of your customer data.