Leads are the gasoline to a sales driven organization. When you have leads, you have opportunities and when you have opportunities, you can capitalize on them to drive meaningful and measurable results.
In the good old days, lead nurturing was a process that happened over the course of months. In todays world, lead identification, nurturing and closing can happen in the blink of an eye. That said, it’s still an art to be able to identify and move a lead down the funnel as they go through the typical buying process. One of the most important pieces of the buying process is the idea of lead nurturing. Lead nurturing is a system for continuing a conversation with a prospect from initial contact until the person is sales ready and closed lost/won.
Here’s four steps to increase your chances of nurturing a lead all the way to success:
Rate Your Leads
When you rate your leads you have the ability to determine which are worth spending your time on and which are going to be more challenging to close. Lead scoring has forever been a key part of the lead management process for businesses at it helps sales professionals in understanding each lead’s level of interest.
We recognize the importance of lead rating and have developed a LeadScore for a wide variety of industries. We’re using an industry specific LeadScore as it’s important to know that different industries have different buying behaviours. Thus, we take this into account through natural language processing and score leads to deliver our clients with high quality leads.
Scoring leads is an easy way to stay effective and efficient with your sales process. Potential factors that determine a lead’s score include demographics, behavioural activity and relationship data. That said, the scoring process and equation that you used to rank your leads should be specific to your particular business and industry. For those managing the lead relationship, lead scoring will not only make the process easier to qualify each lead, but it will also make it easier to prioritize calls and emails.
Research Your Leads
Once you have identified the value and relevance of a lead, it’s time to get a better idea of who they are. Part of lead nurturing and lead management is the process of understanding a leads specific needs so you can tailor a conversation to your prospect. People want to feel more like a person than they want to feel like a sales prospect and for that reason you want to do a bit of digging.
Look up a lead on Linkedin, read their bio and even scan their previous tweets before you start engaging. It’s important to capture as much information about a lead as possible, find out about their company, their position and even their job description if possible. Even demographic and psychographic information can help you in nurturing a lead down the sales funnel.
The more background information you have on your leads, the better the chances that you will truly understand their pain points and be able to position your product or service as the perfect solution.
Build On Previous Interactions
When you engage with a prospect the first time you really need to make sure it’s under the right circumstances. You don’t want to come off creepy and you don’t want to go in for the sale immediately if the prospect isn’t ready to buy. It’s important to gauge a leads comfort level with social media and come to a clear conclusion around whether or not this lead is hot, warm or cold. From there, choose your first type of engagement and continue to build on that interaction over time.
Set a specific, repeatable approach to your strategy for customer touch-points and track success. It’s important that you have a clear idea and strategy in place as it relates to how often and frequently you reach out to each of your specific leads. For example, you might decide that Hot Leads are contacted 5 times a month while Cold Leads are contacted twice.
Once you’ve identified the level of frequency for touchpoints, it’s time to start thinking about what type of interaction you will have with your leads. Some sales teams like to simply send emails that are “checking in” but those are the bare-minimum approach. Ideally, you will want to work with your marketing team to set up a content plan in which you can deliver your leads case studies, infographics and more to help nurture them through the process.
Social media has undoubtedly changed the way businesses identify potential sales leads and interact with customers. If businesses have learned anything over the last few years, it’s that social media cannot be ignored. Twitter, specifically, is an effective tool for lead discovery, relationship nurturing and driving sales. In fact, last year 82 per cent of social media driven leads came from Twitter alone.
Twitter is unique because it allows new customers to learn about your company from a distance and engage with your brand with little commitment on their part. By “following” your brand on Twitter, customers have the ability to absorb the content you share and use it to form opinions and to make purchasing decisions about your product or service.
People use Twitter to share information, opinions, recommendations and experiences. It’s highly likely that people are tweeting right now about your company, brand, product or industry. These tweets provide valuable insights that could lead to big bucks if you know how to successfully engage with potential leads through this platform.
Engaging with sales leads on Twitter is certainly a shift in the way many businesses are used to communicating. Using Twitter as a sales tool, forces companies to participate in a dialogue with their customers instead of presenting a bold and aggressive sales pitch. This can be challenging and requires commitment and investment from companies who want to see their numbers grow…and grow quickly.
While there are many benefits to incorporating Twitter and social media into your sales mix, or toolbox, there are a few things you need to avoid. Just as there are rules of engagement in offline social settings, so there are when engaging on Twitter.
Here are three Twitter mistakes that could cost you sales:
Going in for the Hard Sell
Tweeters don’t want be pitched. That’s the truth. So don’t pitch them.
When you’re approaching customers, whether for the first time or fifteenth time, don’t go in for the kill and try to close a sale in 140 characters (or less). Twitter is a tool that is used to share information, so start by learning about your customer. What they are talking about? Who they are interacting with? Use this information to offer them content that’s relevant and will help you build a relationship with them. Engage with them by asking questions or perhaps assist them with a problem like offering tips to help resolve an issue with a product or respond to a question they might have posed in a tweet.
Leads derived from Twitter are not all sales-ready. Before you go in for the sale, you need to identify if this is a sales-ready lead or a non sales-ready lead. To do this, to look for information within the context of a tweet and the information related to the user who sends the tweet. Look for indications that inform you about the status of the user and whether this is a lead to nurture or a lead to act upon.
You might need to do a little courting to help move them to a place where they are ready to make a purchase. If you act to quickly, you will kill the sale and potentially push them in the direction of your competitor.
It’s important to build a relationship with your leads before you try to make a sale. Too often marketers see a potential lead on social media and immediately pitch the sale. It’s the easiest way to turn off a customer and could damage your brands reputation.
While both cold and hot leads have a place in your marketing mix, it’s clear that hot leads are the easiest to close. Each of these types of leads, sales ready and not, need to be approached differently. Both need to be approached personally and authentically. For a sales-ready lead you can be a bit more aggressive with the sale. With a non-sales-ready lead you need to approach with caution and focus on building a relationship.
No Existing Relationship
The mistake that will surely send a potential customer in the opposite direction is attempting to make a sale without first establishing a relationship. It’s like a bad pick-up line; it simply won’t get you where you want to go.
Social media is all about building relationships and developing strong networks around shared interests. In order to succeed in making a sale using Twitter you need to switch up your approach and invest the time in getting to know your customers and letting them get to know you.
It truly is a two-way street, and if you don’t approach it as such, you’ll kill the sale and send your customers down another road.
Creating a relationship with your customers through Twitter requires you to be personable and approachable. Leave the corporate jargon, sales pitches and one-liners in the presentation deck. When you enter the Twittersphere, bring some personality with you.
People do business with people they like and trust. For that reason, you need to develop your own sense of personality and align that with the audience with which you’re trying to connect.
Essentially, you need to humanize your brand and keep in mind that the person on the other side of the computer is a human too. Your customers, followers, and the leads you’re pursuing need to be approached as if you were connecting face-to-face. Putting the time and effort into developing a human connection in a digital space will go a long way in developing strong relationships and building brand loyalty.
When courting your leads, don’t forget to be sincere and steer away from trying to sell them. This will help build trust and relationships that can be leveraged into sales.
Not Putting Their Wants First
Not putting the customer’s wants first is one mistake a company should never make. When you only have 140 characters to communicate, it’s pretty easy to make your point clearly. Your customers’ needs and wants are probably quite obvious and it’s up to you to recognize them and address them.
Again, start by listening; is there a problem or concern that you can solve? Is there confusion you can clarify? Is there a need that you can satisfy? From there, create content that satisfies this need.
Once you have an understanding of the situation, deliver content that has value and is relevant to the specific lead. Don’t focus on yourself; focus on what’s important to them. Don’t be afraid to avoid talking about your product and instead discuss personal interests. Avoid corporate speak and humanize your brand by presenting a personality.
Keep in mind; what’s valuable to one potential customer may not be to another. You must ensure that your messages are specific to the need of each lead and treat each relationship uniquely.
It’s clear that Twitter is an effective space for companies to identify and nurture leads. It can lead to a deeper understanding of the needs and wants of potential customers, the development of stronger relationships with your customers and increased sales.
In the end, it’s about leaving the sales pitch behind and engaging in organic, relevant conversations that establish a relationship between your brand and your customer. Companies will gain more from using Twitter when they commit to providing value through tweets, rather than constantly trying to sell their product or service.
As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, all leads are not created equal. Some leads require a bit more work to get them from point A to point B and others are simply impossible.
The emergence of social selling is placing an increased responsibility on sales professionals and brands to stay competitive. Organization of all shapes and sizes are starting to figure out how they can use social media to drive meaningful and measurable results for their business. Social media presents businesses with a new opportunity to drive revenue through lead identification and nurturing.
One of the biggest challenges with social selling is the differentiation between warm, cold and hot leads. It’s not easy for businesses to evaluate and understand the core difference between someone who’s simply tweeting for the sake of tweeting and someone who’s genuinely interested in a brands product or service.
This is a pain point for many businesses yet one that we’re solving with our LeadSift platform. That said, if you don’t have an algorithm in your back pocket and you see a potential lead fly across your twitter stream – Here’s a guide to help identify whether a lead is hot, cold or warm.
Traditionally, lead nurturing has been seen as a process between a salesman and a prospect. It has been an ongoing process of phone calls and direct mail pieces. Over time, lead nurturing became exclusively connected to email-driven campaigns. Today however, the landscape has shifted and email, phone calls and direct mail are no longer the only opportunities that exist for lead nurturing.
Today, consumers are turning to social media for product recommendations, feedback, reviews and brand connections. As the general public becomes more reliant on social media to build loyal connections with people and brands alike, businesses need to integrate lead nurturing and social media to build stronger relationships with potential customers.
According to a ATYM Market Research study, of the 2,000 internet users in the US surveyed, 85% are on Facebook and 49% have a Twitter account with most of them visiting these sites on a daily basis. This research also revealed that social media and purchase decisions are closely linked – with prospects being 71% more likely to purchase a product if they’ve been referred directly through social media.
So how can you build stronger relationships with your leads through social media? Here are three ways you can make that happen:
Be human, have conversations
When a brand is nurturing their relationship with a lead through social media it becomes important to remember that the person on the other side of the computer is a human not a number or twitter handle. Your customers, followers, and the lead you’re pursuing need to be approached like you would want to be approached online. Thus, it’s important to approach these relationships as if you are connecting face-to-face and put time and effort into developing a human connection.
Don’t focus on yourself; focus on what’s important to them. Don’t be afraid to avoid talking about your product and instead discuss personal interests. Avoid corporate speak and spark conversations by humanizing your brand and presenting a personality. But be sincere and steer away from trying to sell them. This will help build trust and relationships that can be leveraged into sales.
Connect on other social networks
It’s easier than ever to find online information about someone than ever before. Once you have identified a lead, connect with them across a variety of social networks to allow your brand to stay top of mind and nurture your relationship. Most people have a presence on more than one social platform such as a Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, Facebook, Quora and Google+ accounts.
Building a lasting relationship with a potential lead requires you to also have a presence across various social networks. The key to engaging potential leads is to reach them with the same and/or similar messages in the many online spaces where they regularly interact.
While you’re there, engage! Mention people in your blog, re-tweet them, comment on their blog postings, “like” and “share” their content. And if you want to understand them, go hang out where they do, such as in LinkedIn Groups and Quora.
Efforts like these are more challenging for businesses that operate in high volume, low margin industries but for those in low volume, high margin industries; these efforts and knowledge can provide you with a real competitive advantage.
Share the Right Content With the Right People
With 30 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook per month and another 60 million tweets posted daily, now more than ever people are bombarded with content online. It’s important that your business recognizes the role content plays in the customer context and ensure that the content you’re developing and delivering is content that they will find valuable.
Their various streams of news and updates are consistently populated with ideas, opinions and messages. As a result, consumers are filtering out everything that isn’t relevant to them. If your content is not relevant it will be ignored.
Relevant content is the muscle behind lead nurturing success.
Identifying the right content isn’t difficult. Start by listening – is there a problem or concern that you can solve? What is the sentiment of the conversation? Is there a need that you can satisfy? From there, create content that fills this pain point.
Once you have an understanding of the situation, deliver content that has value and is relevant to the specific lead. But remember, what’s valuable to one potential customer may not be to another. Ensure that your messages are specific to the need of each lead and treat each relationship uniquely.