This is the second installment in a four part series dedicated to lead generation and lead nurturing process. No accounting firm can be successful with new client development without a strong understanding of this phase in the sales cycle. You can read the initial installment by clicking here.
Obviously, trade shows are not the only venue for Accountants to generate suspects. Anyone that visits your website, or picks up one of your flyers, or holds a spot in your mailing list database is merely a suspect. A person walking in the door makes them a suspect. It is the conversion of those suspects to prospects, or leads, that are crucial to the sales process.
Suspects don’t turn into prospects until some form of communication occurs with a suspect and a member of your company. This sharing of information will let both parties mutually determine if there is genuine interest in your particular services, and that there is credibility in your promise to deliver it. Only then will they graduate to the position of lead. They are now at the top end of the sales funnel (see Figure 1, below).
Understanding the Lead Nurturing Concept
Lead nurturing is the approach marketers use to develop and “care for” individual relationships with these immature prospects – even while they’re not yet ready to purchase – in order to earn their particular business should they eventually ready themselves to purchase.
I’m sure you will notice that the sales funnel in figure 1 is specifically illustrated for inbound marketing, but the concept holds true for all approaches involving relationship or content marketing. The top of the funnel is where the suspects first convert into leads, and these leads make their way toward the sales end through lead nurturing. The process is the same regardless of what type of marketing you perform.
You begin finding suspects to turn into leads, to convert to customers. The further down the funnel improves their “qualification” rating, or rank if you will. This is where you provide the level of nurturing they require, by returning for additional information. They may either contact you or you may contact them. The choices are numerous, and they are yours to make. What is certain today is that today’s customer or decision maker, be it business to business or business to consumer, is performing a lot of online search prior to making a buying decision.
Your responsibility as a business professional is to provide individual leads an easy path to the information they require to reach a purchasing decision, to keep your brand name top of mind during this time, and to be there when they are eventually in a position to make a commitment.
Within this article, I will attempt to explain the fundamental actions your business should take to establish an efficient and effective lead nurturing system.
For instance, these aspects are important to the overall success of your lead nurturing system:
- Knowing and understanding the fundamental principles associated with prospect nurturing
- Creating an uncomplicated prospect nurturing process
- Understanding how to perfect and broaden your current process
- Evaluate the success of your company lead nurturing program
- Understanding how to employ prospect nurturing to produce a greater, more productive connection involving the marketing and advertising and sales teams
Suspects & Prospects
People, especially those looking to select the right accountant, often produce an extended buying cycle; they may take weeks or even months (up to eighteen months for one of our clients) to make major purchasing decisions. While this may not be true for all individuals, most people will still take their time on any major selection decision (and selecting someone to oversee their financials usually falls into this thinking), unless of course, the issue is one of an emergency nature. When the clothes washer goes out, they may not perform all the research they would have like to because the pile of clothes keeps rapidly growing. But selecting a firm for a long term relationship, and supporting their vision for their business, always requires a lot of research and evaluation.
Remember, lead nurturing is a lot like creating a pathway for prospective buyers, specifically where your company marketing and advertising group serves as the ever-attentive instructor.
You can learn more about what buyers are researching or looking to purchase, which is determined by their particular actions and patterns. If the prospect has visited (revisited?) your website; your analytics will tell you how much time they spent on a particular page, or what information they downloaded. If you use more traditional marketing strategies, by keeping a record of their inquiries, communications and/or visits, you can nurture them accordingly. In either process, you can produce engaging, well-timed information and facts, in relation to those needs and wants. It may be an eBook, white paper, brochure, flyer or product cut sheet.
Today’s accounting prospects also spend far more time performing online and offline research – a situation that often brings the prospective buyer to the attention of a firm’s sales and marketing teams, long before they are prepared to make a buying decision. A particular concern, naturally, is the ability to isolate these “warm” potential customers – the ones that aren’t prepared to purchase at this time – from your “hot” sales opportunities, which characterize instant sales and profits possibilities. This is precisely why prospect rating resources tend to be ever more popular these days.
Another challenge is knowing the way to interact with individuals that display a “maybe now-maybe later” attitude. Potential customers gradually make their way down the sales funnel, and you nurture them by providing with the information they require without disturbing or perhaps offending them. Performing a rush to judgment by pushing the lead toward a sale is not a good idea, despite the sales person’s need to make their quota. We will cover conversion chaos in another segment of the article.
Lead nurturing might be overwhelming, and it can become a complicated challenge. Getting started with lead nurturing, on the other hand, could be a straightforward process, provided an efficient strategy is developed, together with clearly defined objectives.
Quantify and qualify leads and lead data, merged with a marketing automation solution.
Automation presents your company with the opportunity to monitor and evaluate the process efficacy of your marketing endeavors.
NEXT – Part Three of this four part article will cover dissecting a lead nurturing program, and how it works. See you next time.