social_media_conversationB2B sales today call for a strong back-and-forth between brand and customer to fully nurture a lead or create a long-term relationship.

Don’t believe me? Ready…set…stats!

  • 50% of leads are qualified but not ready to buy (Gleanster Research)
  • Only 25% of leads are high-quality and should advance to sales (Gleanster Research)
  • Companies with lead nurturing strategies generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower costs (Forrester Research)

To launch a lead nurturing campaign that will drive more sales, consider approaching prospects as you would a stranger and engage in a discussion rather than a series of sales pitches. Here are some steps to follow when discussing products or services, rather than selling them:

Don’t Be Afraid to Scare Them

After introducing the company and its mission to a prospective buyer, ask some open-ended questions to make him or her consider how new solutions could improve current operations. Within a content marketing strategy, this would require messages to do more than lay out a company’s basics like a presentation. It would call for marketing communications to instill a sense of urgency or fear in the customer.

For example, if your company offers marketing automation solutions, your campaigns will outline the many uses and benefits of the technology. What the content should be sure to include is the potential negative impact of NOT using marketing automation solutions, such as: inaccurate campaign reporting, inconsistent messaging, or missed leads. When buyers realize the error of their ways, they will feel compelled to avoid costly oversight and discuss solutions to get back on track.

Identify Needs

Once fear has been appropriately instilled, the customer will start to research what options are available. Sales and marketing teams should be at the ready to field these phone calls, emails, and other interactions swiftly and efficiently. To put the customer at ease and let them know you have the right solutions, marketing and sales should first discover the buyer’s specific needs or concerns. This means more listening and less pitching.
Don’t think of the initial encounter with the buyer as the first and last chance to sell them on a product or service. Rather, think of it as a first date. Get to know one another, hash out the fears and expectations, and ask enough questions to make the customer feel the experience is customized. The more details you obtain initially, the easier it will be to exceed expectations later in the sales conversation.

Follow a Train of Thought

If a buyer starts to browse a company’s website or social media content and is interested in engaging in a dialogue, be sure to track what messages prompted the interaction. For example, a phone call can be traced back to a display ad, direct marketing piece, or other source with call tracking technology, while Google Analytics identifies visitor behavior on websites. When you know where a lead is coming from before a conversation is started, sales and marketing can discuss appropriate needs and solutions based on demonstrated interests.

Tracking technology should be placed on all marketing initiatives to provide a more detailed look at the customer experience and relationship when the data is stored in a CRM. Marketing and sales can access a customer profile in the CRM to see what messaging they have been exposed to and what they sought out on their own. This will guide teams on how best to nurture the lead with consistent messaging and appropriate follow-ups.

After a customer downloads an e-book or participates in a webinar, marketing and sales should make themselves available to answer any questions or guide customers to specific blog posts, research reports, or other content that is most relevant to his or her needs. Sales and marketing must place themselves in the shoes of the buyer and predict their train of thought throughout the sales cycle to pre-emptively provide the best information at the appropriate times.

Provide Advice

No matter how hard you fight it, there will always be customers who are interested in the product or service, but may not fit into the ideal buyer mold. Rather than focus energies on a sale in the short-term that will not build a trusting relationship, fully nurture a lead and provide unbiased guidance centered on what is in the best interest of the buyer.

If a customer acknowledges your company as a trusted advisor and not working to sneak in an unnecessary upsell, they will be more likely to return in the future for other purchases and refer the brand to their customers or partners. Just as you wouldn’t give your friend or coworker bad advice just because it is convenient for you, so too marketing and sales should have honest conversations with buyers to ensure the outcome is win-win!

To learn more about how marketing analytics can enhance a conversation with customers, download our “Google Universal Analytics & Call Tracking” webinar.

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