How to generate leads: STOP selling, start nurturing
Leads are to be nurtured, not neglected. Seems obvious doesn’t it?
As the customer journey from ‘none the wiser’, to spectator to loyal fan becomes more complex for businesses to master, so do the ways in which brands generate leads. Consumers are less attracted to ‘Sale’ style adverts these days, but instead prefer to build a connection with a brand before committing to a purchase.
Consumers are choosing Google as their very own Amanda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada, to brutally rank the value of products and services in relation to their own specific search demands. This kind of consumer influence can be both a blessing and a challenge, but what is clear is the need for an effective content marketing plan.
Are you in the mind’s eye of your perfect lead regularly? You may think that by promoting your brand, its products and services frequently, this is providing a consistent and informative brand image. Yet, if we take a second to consider what the customer actually values, we might want to think about building a more lasting impression, such as one focussed on the lifestyle connected to your product. This will make them feel like they’re part of something exclusive. Equally, does your service help the wider community and will they feel like they’ve contributed to making a difference too?
In most instances, your product or service needs to be more than just readily available; it needs to solve a problem. You can choose whether this is an easily identifiable or new problem. For example, who knew we would need our emails on our phone? Apple did. Who knew that coffee would become part of our daily routines? Kaldi in Ethiopia and his goats did.
So how can we drive those leads to us?
Coffee became cool by association with sophistication, encouraged by celebrity endorsement, creating a consumer yearning to be in the ‘cool coffee club‘ too. Thanks to technology, particularly social media, brands, consumers and celebrities have the perfect bragging platform.
Celebrity endorsements made coffee cool
The Starbucks experience led to shareable content
To be on top of your content marketing in a way that encourages the sales process, develop relationships, as opposed to more traditional methods of direct selling.
The lead generation problem
Research regularly shows that e.g. 61% of marketers find generating high quality leads their biggest challenge. (Hall, J. 2018)
Is there a secret system used to generate leads?
In short, yes and no. Everyone has their own way, which is a variation on the content marketing principles that we are discussing.
The selling process, such as this one taken from the Chartered Institute of Marketing is relatively simple to follow:
- Prospecting for customers
- Qualifying prospects
- Developing the relationship
- Presenting the sales message
- Handling queries and objections
- Closing the sale
- Providing service and support
- Developing the relationship
- Maintaining trust and commitment
Perhaps what is also important to point out is that the above selling process doesn’t end when the sale is closed. Remember a lasting impression is just as important as your first impression.
How do you track leads?
A consistent approach to following up with existing interested parties, or, putting yourself in front of an audience, like at exhibitions should be common practice. Traditional ‘fishbowl’ methods of collecting ‘leads’ (business cards in a bowl) are commonly seen, however the effectiveness is not clear.
Today 28% of businesses are choosing technology such as online forms capable of identifying the nature of and level of interest a person might have. These point scoring systems then use the data to send specific content tailored to their stated needs. And they highlight priorities who should be contacted by a sales person.
What if they were interested, but now they’re not?
Even though a lead has demonstrated a keen interest in your product, or service, it doesn’t mean they will convert immediately. They may not be available the first time you follow up with them, or, they may have additional priorities that you are competing with. What will you do then? You won’t wait for them to call you, believe me, there is a high chance you will disappear from the ‘mind’s eye’ of a busy director very quickly.
Be organised and listen
It is key that you are highly organised and be sure to confidently talk about the needs they have initially highlighted. Remembering small details will be important to your lead. Always make sure you follow up as promised, not repeatedly in a single day, but certainly within a few days, unless asked to do it later. Don’t be pushy and don’t claim to be too busy to work around them, they will see straight through it. Be honest, always.
Relationship building at its best
We are not always the best person for every job and understanding this is key when building a rapport with clients and converting a lead. We all have our strengths. As the saying goes, people buy from people, so as exciting as it is chasing leads and hoping to win new business, make sure the best colleague is chosen to do this. Being flexible, proactive and organised will set you off to a great start with managing leads and relationships.