You worked hard to market your capabilities and nurture your prospects. Now your sales team has a healthy list of leads. However, research shows that 40-50% of these leads are ignored and never followed up on, which can add up to a lot of lost revenue for your business.
Developing an effective lead follow-up process can ensure that you don’t leave potential opportunities on the table. Here are the strategies that should be a part of your process.
1. Be Quick To Follow-Up
Speed is the name of the game when it comes to following up with leads. According to The Harvard Business Review, companies that follow-up within an hour of receiving an online query from a potential customer are seven times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker than those who wait only an hour more.
The faster you connect with your potential customers, the more likely your business will be top of mind when the prospect picks up the phone.
2. Use Marketing Automation
Don't have a dedicated team for your marketing? Is hiring a marketing agency out of scope? If so, investing in a marketing automation platform may be the right choice for you and your business goals.
Marketing automation is the process of using a software to automate your lead generation efforts and usually goes hand-in-hand with email campaigning. According to Emailmonday, about 49% of businesses use some form of email automation. With the rise of different marketing technologies over the past decade, automation allows businesses to produce better lead generation results without having to invest time in traditional outbound marketing and sales.
Popular marketing automation platforms include: Hubspot, Marketo, and ActiveCampaign.
3. Segment Your Leads
Not all leads should be treated equally. Each potential customer you interact with will have different budgets and needs. Segmenting your leads will help you determine who is ready to buy and who needs more time to warm up to your business. That's why it's so important to segment your prospects and find out where they are in their decision-making process.
It’s most effective to segment your leads into three groups, and communicate to each accordingly:
These are visitors who are interested in what you offer for one reason or another, but haven’t yet made a purchase from you. You’ll want to share general, top of the funnel information with them, like one-sheets, “Top 10” pointers, and product guides. Remember — these leads might be looking at other vendors as well, or might not even be looking to buy at the moment. Don’t turn them off with a hard sales pitch.
They’ve bought from you before, so the purpose of nurturing this list is to make sure they keep the orders coming, preferably in larger quantities. Product comparisons, industry updates, and “how-to” guides all make great content to share with this list. They already know what you’ve done for them — make sure they know that they chose correctly, and what else you can do.
Provided that you’re approved to send them emails, former customers are also a wise audience to nurture. Buyers choose other suppliers for all sorts of reasons, and can return to you just as easily as they left. Not only do nurturing campaigns act as a “no hard feelings” olive branch — they can distinguish you from competitors as more than just another vendor.
Learn More: Here are 8 Manufacturing Content Marketing Ideas (With Examples!) that can help you nurture your leads in each segmentation.
4. Nurture Your Leads
You never know when your customer will be ready to buy, which means that you have to continuously follow-up with them to make sure you connect at the right time.
Recent research from The Harvard Business Review reveals that sales reps can experience up to a 70% increase in contact rates by simply making a few more call attempts. Although email marketing is an extremely strong way to nurture leads and should definitely be used, it's important to not forget to pair inbound marketing methods with more traditional outbound methods like cold calling as well.
- Don't rely purely on email marketing
- Use content marketing throughout the buyer's journey
5. Build Trust
It’s important to showcase valuable information to your leads when you do follow-up with them. Provide them relevant content that addresses their needs each time you reach out.
Think about the questions that most potential customers have when they reach out to you, and have answers ready and in your back pocket. Being helpful and informative is a great way to earn trust with potential customers, which can be a key factor in their decision to do business with you.
When creating content centralized around this idea of nurturing, it's best to generate different content depending what problem your prospect is having and how you can help solve it at that specific stage of the industrial buying process. For example, if a prospect is in the need or research stage, you'll want to serve them higher level educational content that is top of funnel instead of content that is more sales and action oriented like someone who is in the shortlist or purchase stage.
Top Of Funnel Content For The Need & Research Stages
Situation: Your potential buyer realizes they need a specific product or service so they begin to do some research on their own to figure out exactly what they should purchase down the road.
Type Of Content To Create: For buyers at the top of the funnel, you want to provide educational content that distills complex concepts into useful insight like blog posts, 101 eBooks, and industry research.
Middle Of Funnel Content For The Design & Evaluation Stages
Situation: If executing a new design, the buyer will need to get the latest product data and then evaluate potential suppliers aka size your business up to your competitors.
Type Of Content To Create: This is your chance to really build on your initial relationship, establish trust, and start to showcase what separates you from your competitors with a variety of content like comparison guides, case studies and buyers guides.
Bottom Of Funnel Content For The Shortlist & Purchase Stages
Situation: The buyer at this point will create a shortlist of some of the top suppliers they have evaluated, and you're in luck because you've made the list so this buyer makes a purchase and is now a customer, congrats!
Type Of Content To Create: This is it, your time to close the deal with the buyer. At these stages you can create content that is a little promotional like product videos, spec sheets and brochures.
Here's a deeper dive and more examples of how to meet the needs of buyers through their buying journey.
6. Find Out What Works Best
Once you start following up and leads start moving down the pipeline, be sure to keep track of your activity to continually fine-tune your process. A deep understanding of your personas and ideal customers will ensure you're reaching the right people at the right time with the right content.
While research from MIT shows that the best time to call a lead is Wednesday or Thursday between 4 pm and 6 pm, every company is different. Log phone calls, times, and conversions into your CRM and take note of trends to see what is most effective. The only way your sales will improve is if you know what works and what doesn’t.
Now that you understand the best ways to stay in contact with leads, it’s time to get to work. Keep these in mind and it will lead you down the right road for sales success.
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