There are two results from marketing. There are the low hanging fruit, the leads from prospects that want to buy now and immediately enter your sales process. Secondly, there are the leads that are seeds which need to be planted and nourished. They may turn into buyers in the future when they are ready and feel properly nurtured. It is this second group that these thoughts will address.
What do you do with a seed? You plant it. You water it. You make sure it gets the right amount of sunshine. Sometimes it takes and it grows big and strong and sometimes it doesn’t. Same thing with a new contact.
The new contact is meeting people all the time. Those new people will have top of mind recognition unless you continually remind your contact that you’re there and have something worthwhile to offer.
What’s the best thing to offer? In the professional services arena, education is the best thing to offer. It positions you and your company as experts. It keeps you top of mind. It shows your continuing value as a source of current knowledge. It gives you the opportunity to help the prospect uncover his need so that he is more likely to eventually sense that he has a problem that needs solving. It allows him to assess various vendors in the marketplace and then choose to develop a relationship with you.
People buy from people. Utilizing this time between making the initial contact and entering the buying conversation is perfect time for you to make a connection. Incorporating emotional intelligence into how you nurture that seed means that you see each seed as unique and worthy of a personal relationship. So following up with a periodic ‘checking in with you’ type phone call, offering a free gift like tickets or attendance at a seminar, a valuable newsletter, introducing the contact to someone that would be valuable to their business are all ways to keep building the personal connection.
While you’re nurturing this seed, keep in mind what the prospect is thinking. Here’s his thought, “How you sell me is how you will serve me.” So honor the prospect by treating him just as carefully while nurturing the seed as when he says he’s ready to buy.
Your seed nurturing program should have as its single focus the development of trust. Then you get more referrals. You spend less time and energy on superfluous distractions. You won’t compete on price.
Sales researchers say that it requires 8-12 touches before somebody buys. This includes all forms of communication. Those who stick with the process for the entire time earn the most sales.
How do you track all the ‘seeds that you’re planting’? How do you make sure you know when you last nurtured a seed or when someone else in your organization helped you nurture a seed? That’s where mailing list software is really helpful. There are plenty of programs that can maintain a mailing list and help you prepare and send a periodic newsletter. There is CRM (customer relationship management) software that can track all the emails, phone calls, appointments, etc. you engage the prospect with. And the information can be shared across your network because this prospect might be touching base with others in your organization and certainly you want to encourage this. It can also track contact with multiple people in your prospect’s organization.
So how are you nurturing your seeds? What tools and techniques are you using to manage and deepen the connection with each prospect? Tell us a success story of how a nurtured seed became a great client.