As sales people we know that converting leads into sales prospects is our lifeblood, so we naturally plan to take good care of them. All too often though, they show up in big batches (how inconvenient of them!) and we are unable to properly follow up in a timely fashion. We find a few that are hot sales prospects, they get our attention and away we go. This is just human nature. But wait a minute, what about the rest of the batch?
The rest of the batch of leads though certainly contains some useful sales prospects, they just weren’t hot on the day they arrived. What we do with them and how we treat them determines their future. So what is our plan? How do we handle this mass of leads? What do we do to convert them to prospects? We take good care of them.
Customers buy from people they trust. So the first step with new leads is to start the process of gaining their trust. When you gain someone’s trust, they will look to you for solutions, you become an advisor who understands their problems and can supply answers (products) to solve their problems. How do we gain this trust? Not by making sales pitches, but rather by demonstrating expertise in your field, by taking the time to learn what your customers real needs are. Trust-building is a process though and it takes time. This implies developing a relationship with prospective customers by nurturing them.
Relationships of course require communication, and constant useful communications with our prospects builds trust. The form of the communications will (and must) vary, but phone calls, visits, whitepapers, webinars, trade shows, brochures, emailers, etc. are all part of the mix. The hard bit though is being useful. Being useful is what separates you (and your product) from everyone else. How do we become useful?
This goes back to the advisor role we are working on. As advisors and experts we can offer truly valuable solutions to customer needs. we have taken the time to understand their requirements, how their research is performed, how their budgets are allocated, when they typically purchase products (solutions) and who needs to be on-board to get the approvals done.
However this is not enough. Being an advisor also implies that we have taken the time to learn when and how often we communicate with our leads. Do they prefer email? Do they prefer phone calls, or personal visits? Understanding their preferences is part of trust-building and moves us further into the advisor role.
Taking the time to nurture leads, to become a trusted advisor for our sales prospects is not easy, but it is very worthwhile. There are many case studies showing the value of nurturing sales leads. You can find some here.
So remember, Nurture, not nature!