Many business owners believe that business growth requires increased marketing to generate more leads. Many times they already have enough leads but haven’t done a good job following up and nurturing them.
In this challenging economy customers are doing more research and delaying their purchases which leads to longer sales cycles. Remember, customers buy from you on their time frame, not necessarily when you contact them. It may take up to 20 ‘touches before a prospect actually buys something so never give up after the first few emails or phone calls. This is why a good lead management program (also called follow-up, keep-in-touch, or marketing automation) is critical.
So what are the principles of a good lead management program?
- Have Leads Opt-In – Nobody likes SPAM. Just because someone gives you their business card doesn’t mean they want to be added to your newsletter. A better approach is to send them a few short (but informative) emails and then ask if they want to continue receiving information from you.
- Use Mixed-Media – Mix up your correspondence using a combination of email, direct mail, phone calls, face-to-face meetings and even the old-fashioned FAX.
- Make It Concise, Informative, and Timely – If you want your emails/letters to be read then make them short and concise. You’ll also want to offer something informative (and timely) so it’s worthwhile reading. As you can see, this is much more than sending a generic newsletter to a distribution list!
- Give Something of Value – As the saying goes ‘givers gain’. Offer a good article, a link to a new website you found, or maybe suggest an upcoming webinar you heard about. The goal is to be a trusted advisor in their business world. Resist the temptation to send them too much stuff about you and your business.
- Customize Your Follow-Up – Don’t send everyone the same email. Categorize the people you meet. You might (for example) categorize your contacts into leads, partners, customers, etc. and optimize a sequence of correspondences for each category.
- Regularly Check Their Interest Level – Ideally, you want them to tell you when to contact them to discuss a buying opportunity! There are great lead management tools out there that monitor email opens, clickthrus, forwards, etc. that can used to ‘score’ your leads and highlight the ones with current activity. Alternatively, simply remind them every few months to contact you if they want more information. Also don’t forget to ask for referrals (in a casual way).
- Allow Them to Opt-Out – The last thing you want to do is keep sending information to someone who doesn’t really care. If you think there is a potential business opportunity then put them on an extended ‘keep-in-touch’ program but if they aren’t showing any signs of interest then offer them a simple opt-out opportunity.
By properly implementing a well thought-out lead management program you will soon be able to hand over sales-qualified leads to your sales team.
For more information check out this nice article: Ten Tips for Best Practices in Lead Management from Marketo.
– Steve (www.SPMsolutions.NET)