On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!
Whoa—let’s slow down. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? While salespeople race to snatch up the most promising and qualified short-term prospects that come in from any marketing-lead-generation initiative, nearly three-quarters of the leads that convert to sales are ignored.
Why? Because salespeople are paid for winning the race for short-term sales, causing them to focus on the easy sales opportunities and to ignore the longer-term prospects. And because there usually is no process in place, the job of nurturing, managing and tracking the longer-term opportunities falls by the wayside. This lack of a lead-development process may be costing your organization in lost sales.
Industry experts estimate that only one-quarter of those who are going to buy do so within the first six months. Yet, roughly another quarter buy within a seven- to 12-month period, another quarter buy in a 13- to 18-month period and the final quarter buy sometime after 18 months. When all of the organization’s
concentration is on the first quarter, for quick selling turnaround, the remainder of the leads—three out of four sales opportunities—are left for the competition.
These longer-term leads must be nurtured with a series of communications efforts designed to move prospects along in their buying cycles. The implementation of these cycles requires sales or marketing to put lead-nurturing into their job descriptions, or it may require the development of a whole new department between sales and marketing
—the lead-development department. When designing your lead-nurturing programs, these are the questions to ask:
• How do we best deliver messages to the people who will influence or make the final buying decisions?
• How do we stay with them as they move through their consideration and buying process?
• What can we offer that will cause the prospects to engage when they are ready to move forward with their buying process?