How Should Companies Woo Potential Clients?

Not by flooding them with newsletters and calling them three times a day, is the short answer. In the world of business-to-business, most of us do a good job making contact with potential clients, or “leads.” But how do you convert leads into customers? This is the more difficult part.

If you contact potential buyers too often, they may get annoyed, but if you fail to contact them enough, you risk losing them to a competitor. To help you strike the right balance, “lead nurturing” comes into play. Getting this right can make a big different to cutting costs and boosting sales.

Taking good care of potential customers is even more important for start-ups than for established companies, since they have to ensure they make the most out of the few leads they have. But for most start-ups, this often comes as an afterthought. When I first started my company, for instance, I had no clue about lead nurturing. It’s only later that I became aware of quite how important this is and how best to go about it.

Lead nurturing requires you to first identify the needs of your prospective clients and then to work toward satisfying them. All this should be timed according to the buyers’ needs. That’s quite basic, you might say. And, yet, how many of us have mindlessly bugged our leads with endless calls, newsletters, emails without considering whether they are really necessary? Developing a lead nurturing program, centered around an effective communication strategy, can help prevent such mistakes.

What to include in your lead nurturing program depends on your company and your sales cycle. But here are a few tips that can help you out:

1.) Understand the client’s buying cycle. The timing and content of your communication depends on each stage of the buyer’s cycle. It is key for you to know when the prospective customer is ready to buy your product or service. Potential clients either fall in the “ready-to-buy” category or in the “not-yet-ready-to-buy” category. Most are likely to fall in the latter group, meaning that it is particularly important that you have an effective strategy to nurture your leads at all stages.

3.) Focus on the client’s specific needs, rather than flooding them with generic marketing material. To know whether you are on the right track ask yourself: How is the information I’m giving to potential buyers useful to them? For instance, instead of blogging about how great your company is, you should blog about industry-related news and about how this may affect your customers. If you plan a webinar, make sure it addresses questions raised by your potential customers.

2.) Be coherent in your communication strategy. Make sure the messages you deliver to your client through case studies, white papers, videos, follow-up calls and webinars are consistent.

4.) Once you develop a lead nurturing program, keep your clients informed of your plans. Like all relationships, that between a marketer and a lead has a “you” and a “me.” A relationship which is all about “me” is unlikely to last. You can give your clients the choice of opting in or out of your campaign.

But does lead nurturing really work? Take a look at a study led by Marketo, a revenue performance management firm:

It found that companies that “excel at lead nurturing:”

· Increase the rate of conversion of potential to actual clients by around 7%.

· Generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost per lead.

Does lead nurturing now look more attractive? Are you eager to invest in a lead nurturing campaign for your organization? You can turn to “customer relationship management” systems that focus on lead nurturing to help you get started. These systems can help you track your campaign across multiple channels – like email, social media and phone calls – and assess how successful each channel has been. To do this, they monitor metrics like clicks, email responses and revenues generated from the client.

Introducing lead nurturing in your organization also requires a change in attitude: you will need to accept that it is the buyer is in control. Today, clients are constantly improving their Web research skills and turning to third parties for additional information. To stand out, improve your visibility and tailor your services to your clients’ needs. Give them what they want and not what you want to sell!


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