Most B2B companies don’t think the sales funnel theory can help them – that it somehow doesn’t apply to them. And, even when they do buy into the concept, they don’t follow through, losing so many leads that it makes the system impractical to maintain. Here’s how to leverage leads, keep the hot, and follow through.
Capturing Leads Is A Temporary Endeavor
Most businesses believe that when they get someone’s name and email address, that that’s their lead, exclusively. Well, here’s some news: that’s not how things work. Yes, customers might be loyal, but don’t think for a moment that they won’t look at another competitor if you become uncompetitive.
Also, if you don’t stay in regular contact with them, they will eventually seek out other businesses to do business with. They have problems they want solved. If you’re not solving them, someone else will.
How To Track and Manage Leads
Tracking and managing leads doesn’t need to be complicated. If you’re using this lead management software, you can track the lead from the point of capture all the way through to the sale.
Follow up with leads at least once a month, but no more than maybe 4 times in a month unless there’s a clear and rational reason for you to do so (e.g. the lead asks you for more information or you’re going back and forth about product details or pricing).
The Offer, The Acceptance
At some point, the buyer is going to make you an offer. They’re going to want to buy your product. You need to be prepared to accept. That means having a streamlined sales process in place to fulfill the order. Oddly, many businesses fumble their way through sales because they were so worried about getting the lead that they don’t know what to do with one once they’ve got it.
Ways To Generate and Cultivate Leads
You can really only do one of two things to generate leads. You can either:
Buy them or;
That’s it. Once you’ve settled on a method that you think works for you, you have choices about how to nurture those prospects into sales. You can use:
eBooks sold through popular online venues
Publish case studies
Publish white papers
Publish buying guides
Some of the best marketing is done through email marketing. It can be automated using email sequences and intelligent list segmentation or it can be done using one-off email newsletters.
Long-form eBooks also work well as do case studies and white papers.
The key to making these types of marketing work is to provide actionable and practical advice. The typical white paper, for example, is a little dry and uninteresting. It’s too technical. The way to improve it is to organize it as a “how to” paper that demonstrates a problem, why the problem exists, and then a solution.
With case studies, this is the default format, and they tend to do very well. So do buying guides.
Finally, don’t forget to deliver every single promise and guarantee that is advertised. It’s become fashionable, for whatever reason, for the marketing department to go nuts in the ads and then leave the fulfillment department hanging when it comes to actually making good on promises. Don’t do this. You’ll only be shooting yourself in the foot over the long-term.
Ida J. Taylor is a corporate consultant. She likes to share her insights on the web. Her articles can be found on many business and marketing websites.