Converting your leads into sales is a complex process that businesses should be intimately familiar with. Without identifying who your target audience is, what makes a prospect an ideal customer, and which steps to follow to turn those leads into sales, a business cannot get a handle on successfully creating a workflow to handle incoming sales. Lead nurturing is a vital part of this process.
How Do You Qualify Leads?
First things first — you need to qualify your leads before you can begin the lead nurturing process. So how do you qualify those prospects and then turn them into real leads? As a refresher, a prospect is someone who has the potential to become a customer. If your team is not able to qualify a lead — meaning determine if they are a true prospective buyer of your product or service — then your team members may be wasting their time on a customer who does not even want to make a purchase.
This is where lead scoring comes in. Lead scoring, basically assigning points to determine how qualified a prospect is and how much potential they have to become a customer, helps sales representatives to only talk to people who are interested in buying your products. To qualify your leads, you must determine if they are in the market for your particular product or service, if they can make the purchase (i.e. can pay for it and is authorized to do so), and if they plan to do so in the determined time period.
Firstly, get to know who your buyer is. You’ve created your buyer personas — determine where this lead falls within those personas. Ensure they’re part of your target audience. Next, examine what actions the leads are taking on your website. Are they looking at products in your ecommerce store, attending your webinars, looking at your blog posts? This will help you identify the interests of your lead, which helps you understand if they’re a qualified lead.
To qualify your leads, use your resources. When using social media channels, utilize the marketing analytics given for each social media platform to understand the traffic that is coming for your services. This will help you to understand the interests, needs, and problems of every lead that is clicking your ad, landing page or website. The end goal of the business should be to convert these leads into marketable sales that can benefit the company and the marketing team as a whole.
How Do You Nurture Leads?
The next step in your lead generation and management process is to nurture your leads. Lead nurturing is the process of creating relationships with the leads at the early life stages of the marketing funnel, and also through each stage that a lead passes through until becoming a customer. Lead nurturing campaigns are run to maintain relationships with the customers from their initial contact with your business through the time they become a customer. Through delivering content that addresses the concerns of your customers and responds to their interests, you will effectively introduce solutions to their problems and pave the way to delivering options that contribute to long-term consumer partnerships and revenue.
You may choose to use a marketing automation program to help you efficiently nurture leads. 57% of vendors regard lead nurturing to be one of the content management program’s most critical components (Ascend2). While growing a company, it’s important to use automated tools to cultivate the leads and ensure that you reach your customers throughout every stage of the purchasing process. Studies show that businesses make 50% more revenue at a reduced expense of 33% when they focus on lead nurturing. This implies that the ROI is much higher if the company concentrates on nurturing, which is why lead nurturing is extremely important as part of your online lead generation plan. The time needed for the lead to be nurtured is well worth it, due to the high ROI.
Once a lead enters your system, your sales team has to manage the information it has gathered from the lead. You should track where the leads are converting:
- TOFU (top of the funnel). TOFU buyers are among the widest audience you’ll have –these buyers are just recently aware of a problem they’re seeking a solution for, are beginning their research and hence, they’re the least likely to convert.
- MOFU (middle of the funnel). MOFU buyers are your target audience – they may already know about your product or service, your brand and may even already be a lead.
- or BOFU (bottom of the funnel). BOFU buyers are in the decision-making stage. These are your most valuable leads, and ideally you’d have already established a relationship with them through the other stages in their customer journey.
Consider the Sales Cycle
While determining your nurturing practices, you’ll also need to consider that the timeline for your potential customers is different depending on the product or service you offer. For example, many customers shopping for a new car begin their research 3-6 months before they are actually ready to buy. With sales funnels prolonging, customers becoming more autonomous and life span diminishing, the demand for pragmatic, successful lead nurturing continues to expand. Since these clients will stay in the sales cycle for a longer period of time, that means you’ll likely need to communicate with them multiple times.
Communication Channels are Key
Which brings us to communication channels. How will you communicate with your leads? The channels you choose should allow you to interact with your potential customers in ways they prefer. Some prefer phone calls, while others will interact better with email or SMS. You can determine these preferences by giving your leads the option to choose and respecting those choices.
A very important element of lead nurturing details how you will engage your customers through your chosen communication channels. For example, you may choose to send a coupon via SMS, or you may host a contest on social media, or you may send a rebate via email. If you keep the lead engaged through your sales cycle, you’ll continuously move them to the goal line and score that sale.
Also a part of nurturing your lead is the process of comparing two marketing assets to determine performance. This is relevant because your communications must be constantly fine-tuned in order to achieve top performance. Many marketing automation platforms have A/B testing built into the system. This helps you understand how well or how poorly your communication channels are performing, and then tweak to improve. Some leads respond well to communications such as free e-books related to your industry or periodic newsletters sent to their inbox. These methods can be effective in moving a lead down your funnel. Creating catchy content for these lead nurturing campaigns is a must, as ideally they are going to convert themselves into a sale in the future. Educating and demonstrating your services to potential customers is an integral part of all of the campaigns that the business is going to run. The goal of the business, in the end, should be to convert these leads into marketable sales.
Create a Content Map
The content that is to be shared should have a maintained content map that will help in determining the type of content that is going to be published. Your sales team should be in personal contact with the potential client to build a friendly relationship with them. Do include a relevant call to action in every piece of content that is going to be delivered to the customer. Remember that nurturing is never about selling right away. Rather it is about encouraging true dedication and sharing your company’s core values and mission to your potential customers, beginning a hopefully long-lasting relationship. This is the cornerstone of a good lead management program.
At this point, you’re ready to get the hot leads to your top salespeople. Make sure that the marketing team is providing correct and consistent information regarding the lead that is being generated, which helps maintain consistency between the team and the customer. Ensure that the research team of marketers is also researching the information regarding each lead proficiently so that further communication with the lead can be done by the means of whichever communication channels you’ve chosen to employ.