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The Twelve-Step Program for Lead Nurturing
Unless you are acquiring hundreds of leads monthly, this conversion system doesn’t have to be expensive, just consistently and actively managed. Software helps automate the tracking process, but that software can be as cheap as an excel spreadsheets if you have the discipline to keep it populated with the results of your lead nurturing. (Nothing beats the energy of a great bird-dogging administrator to make that bare-bones approach work!)
However you structure your lead nurturing solution, here are twelve steps that it should contain:
Acquire quality leads (SEO, SEM, lead vendors) Don’t stint on prequalifying your leads. Stuff your sales funnel with prospects that have a chance of becoming customers. Quantity is less important than quality for a small business with limited sales resources.
Have an instant response system. This can be automated or manual, but craft an e-mail acknowledgement that alerts the prospect that you are going to contact them. Give them a reference point (through what source did they get connected to you)
– Set expectations about when you will contact them.
– Ask for more information right away, driven by what you received from the lead source.
– Offer a value for an instant response on their part)
1. Hit your mark: Contact the prospect within the time you promised (24 hours or 24 minutes, depending on your industry and what your competitors are doing.)
2. Offer immediate value. What could you give them just for interacting with you? This is usually information that they can use even if they don’t choose to do business with you. It might be “how to” guides that relate to your products, or a shopping guide that just happens to prioritize your benefits.
3. Listen closely (figure out how to do this electronically, too, by scanning e-mail communications) to understand what the prospect seeks.
4. Give the lead a special place to interact with you. Website page, Twitter address, dedicated phone number, e-mail address, etc. Make it easy to find, and a conduit to a live person that responds quickly. Chat features work well here.
5. Get permission to stay in touch. Ask! Give the prospect options (e-mail or phone)
6. Stay actively in touch. Remind them of the details of the conversation, which have been captured in your nurturing system.
7. Offer more value. Send another eBook or white paper. Make a special offer or package deal (also driven by what you learned while you were listening and noting the needs expressed by the prospect)!
8. Track, track, track the content and results of all interactions.
9. Listen some more. That includes keeping all relevant information in one place so that different people always have the lead’s history with you close at hand. (Here is where a software solution really makes a difference.)
10. Ask for the business. Whatever your selling script, train your representatives to listen for agreement and spot the times when the prospect indicates willingness to proceed to purchase.
11. Ask for a referral. Never wait for the sale to close to ask for a referral. Use judgment here. Only ask people who are clearly happy with how you have handled them so far. Groupon and other deal sites constantly ask for referrals while you are on their site, whether or not you participate in a particular offer.
12. Learn from your mistakes and adjust your lead generation and conversion systems to improve your ROI. Use your experience to adjust lead sourcing and conversion system.
I admit I monkeyed with the steps here to find twelve of them and give me a compelling headline. I can boil it down to a “lucky seven,” too:
Respond quickly to each received lead
Stay in constant touch
Offer value during the process
Ask for the business
Learn from your mistakes
Complicated back-end systems will make all this easier, but are not necessary for getting started and sticking with it, as long as the people involved in executing the lead conversion plan internalize the system and use it aggressively to fully nurture every promising lead you acquire.
By Kern Lewis
Before You are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.
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