When you own and operate a business, generating leads is critical and understanding that not all leads will immediately by willing or able to buy your product or service is perhaps even more important. These leads can come from a variety of sources such as seminars, advertisements, social media posts, emails, or Google searches. It’s encouraging to generate leads, but often frustrating when those leads don’t turn into clients. Rather than labeling leads as “bad” when they don’t convert, consider a fresh approach.
So how do you get better results turning leads into closed business? Remember, even a “bad lead” could turn into a “good referral” if it is nurtured properly.
There are two ways to address this question:
First, how do you define “results”?
Second, after the lead is generated, what steps do you take to nurture the lead?
Many business owners would define “results” as “sales”. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, and that is indeed the end goal. But today’s sales funnel is far more complex and typically requires more work than a simple stimulus and response. In most cases, one touch (or even 2 or 3) won’t convert a prospect into a client. Expecting that to happen is probably a case of wishful thinking.
Remember, attracting and converting prospects is much like marriage. It rarely happens on the first date. It requires a courting period that may range from a few months to a few years. Depending on the product or service you sell, your business model may require more relationship nurturing than others. Clearly, buying a pair of tennis shoes will require less of a decision making process than retirement planning or health insurance coverage. Most people need time to gather information and weigh their options before making a decision.
Marketing works in very much the same way. Since marketing is about forming relationships – with increased sales as a natural end result of good relationships – it can be helpful to reframe your expectations. With relationships as your expected result, now you can begin to understand marketing as a process. After all, no one forms an instant relationship. But in time, after you’ve nurtured a lead, they will be ready to commit to you.
So that brings us to our second point: What should you do to nurture those leads?
Seek to understand your leads. A lead will make the decision to buy only when they are ready. And as you might have experienced yourself, most people will be scared off when they feel pushed into a commitment before they are ready. They need time to gather information, weigh their options, and develop trust in you. Therefore, it is important for you to gauge your leads and understand where they are in the buying cycle.
Educate your leads. Did you know that 96 percent of visitors who land on your website are not ready to buy yet? That’s because they’re at the beginning of the buying cycle, and they’re still gathering information. This isn’t the time to push for a sale, but it is an opportunity to begin the relationship. This is why blog content matters and contact forms are vital. If your visitors fill out a contact form, you can continue to nurture the relationship via email.
Social media works in a similar fashion. Most people checking out your Facebook page are not ready to buy, but they might be enticed to click the “follow” button. Then you can continue educating them and forming a relationship. You will do this by posting helpful content and answering their questions.
Stay top of mind. An initial lead generation won’t usually go anywhere if the relationship is not continued. You want to keep blogging regularly, posting on social media, and sending emails. Consistency is key.
Social media has become one of our primary modes of accomplishing that goal. You should be asking all clients and prospects to follow you on social media. But first, do your research on your target demographic, so that you will use the social media platform most relevant to that group. Facebook is great for the above-forty crowd, while Instagram is essential if you’re targeting twenty-somethings. Business-to-business marketing is appropriately geared for LinkedIn.
Email is more direct and personal, and will deliver your messages straight to your leads. Make sure you always ask every client and prospect for their email address. If you seek to understand their position in the buying cycle, you can create more personalized messages to nurture them along.
Bottom line: Keep in touch. You want to be the first name that comes to mind, when they decide they’re ready for your product or service.
When can you close the deal? Yes, at some point after you have established a solid relationship, you naturally want to ask for the sale. But when?
In order to answer that question, let’s evaluate your marketing practices so far. We will analyze the steps you’ve taken to generate leads, determine how to nurture those leads, and help you understand your prospects’ position in the buying cycle. We’ll show you ways to deepen those relationships, so that they feel ready to commit.