Ace the Race
While salespeople scramble to catch the most promising and qualified short-term prospects from marketing-generated leads, nearly three-quarters of these leads that convert to sales are ignored. Why? Because salespeople are measured and paid for winning the short-term sales race, typically leading them to only focus on easy opportunities. This lack of effort in the lead development process may be costing organizations a bundle in profits.
Industry experts estimate only one-quarter of those who are going to buy do so within the first six months of being approached. Yet roughly another quarter buy within a seven- to 12-month period, another quarter buy in a 13- to 18-month period and the final quarter buy sometime after 18 months. If organizations solely concentrate on the first quarter, they are leaving the remainder of those sales leads for their competition to grab.
Longer-term leads must be nurtured with a series of communication efforts designed to move prospects along in their buying cycles. In other words, the strategy for getting a share of those future sales is simple: stay in sight, stay in mind and stay in the race.
When designing sales lead nurturing programs, salespeople should ask themselves the following questions:
• How can we communicate in a way that addresses the prospect’s issues and reduces the perceived risk of buying from our company?
• What can we offer that will cause the prospects to engage when they are ready to move forward with their buying process?
To engage prospects and start a sales-winning relationship with sales leads, several things must be considered. First, use a series of ongoing communications—by mail, e-mail or phone—designed to keep pace with the prospects’ information needs to make decisions about your company’s products or services.
Be sure to include multiple offers appealing to all stages of a prospect’s buying process. For example, if potential customers are still early in their buying process, they will be more receptive to free information in the form of how-to guides, white papers and e-mail newsletters. As prospects move further along in their buying process, appropriate offers may include those requiring a higher level of prospect interest or commitment. These include webinar invitations, demonstrations, checklists and other decision-making tools. As clients approach being ready to buy, they will be more receptive to such offers as longer, in-depth seminars and needs assessments.