Lead generation can be an expensive business. It can also be frustrating when positive leads come to nothing. A Gleanster report suggests 50% of qualified leads are not ready to buy at the first touch.* So what can be done to ensure this potential opportunity is not lost or worse ignored? How can we harvest this potential?
For those companies having already embraced market automation, technology can get you part of the way. Monitoring digital behaviour for signs a lead may have matured or progressed along the purchasing journey is certainly one way. However, without a structured lead management process to examine your pipeline for dormant leads ripe for re-activation, marketing automation alone will most likely fail to deliver. As a telemarketing company, we hear repeatedly from clients and prospects that tracking and re-activating dormant leads is an activity that seldom has priority.
When a lead fails to convert
Before we look at ‘the what and the how’ of lead nurturing, it’s worth reflecting on why a previous ‘hot prospect’ may have dropped out of the funnel, gone cold or qualified themselves out of the process. It’s easy to attribute a customer’s lack of readiness to buy down poor decision making, a lack of clarity on what was needed; internal conflict, the reasons we may give are endless. Salesforce, however, puts a different spin on things and points these four fingers firmly back at us:
• We allowed insufficient time to build trust in ourselves and our product
• We did not listen hard enough and failed to understand the lead’s problem
• We pushed too hard and caused the prospect to go cold and back away
• We applied too much pressure. We ran ahead of the lead’s own agenda
Whatever the reason for the lead not being ready at the time, the important take-away is ensuring as much of this intelligence is captured as possible when the lead is generated to inform any future re-activation and is crucially appended to the lead’s profile. Too often this valuable intelligence is lost or never captured in the first place as sales reps race to the next prospect. With a little nurturing, as many as 30% of dormant leads neglected by sales teams can be re-classified through careful re-cycling. If you do not have a nurturing programme, then perhaps it’s time to consider starting one now.
Nurturing in a Nutshell
Marketing appropriated the term ‘nurturing’ from raising children and other delicate saplings. Today the definition is broader. It means: “caring for and encouraging the growth or development of someone or something.” Note that nurturing is a gentle, subtle activity. It is more like tickling a trout than casting a gill net.
As we have said, with structured nurturing there is a possibility of converting 30% of ‘not ready’ leads at a later, more appropriate time. This can turn a lack-lustre marketing initiative into a solid winner.
The Keys to Refreshing Dormant Leads
Before we can even begin to start talking about reactivating leads, we must talk about data. Stale data can eat into precious telemarketing time and detract from potential ROI faster than anything else. Only once a dormant pipeline has been refreshed and updated and the data has been fully cleansed should leads be placed back in the sales process. Decision makers may have left or changed and time spent pursuing non-existent leads is almost as ineffective as a meeting without an agenda.
Once the data has been fully profiled attention can turn to the ‘how’. Critically, the key to a successful lead reactivation programme perform will be selecting and using the right marketing channel at the right time.
An email marketing drive that drip feeds the target – ideally using a marketing automation platform – combined with a voice on the phone to qualify the recovered lead as sales-ready, will perform more effectively than either channel used independently..
And a word of caution, while marketing automation can track behavioural signals, it cannot interpret them. The only tool available to interpret what is going on in a person’s mind is another intelligent and empathetic human being.
While marketing automation can help nurture leads, and can even capture valuable intelligence on how and what your prospect is interacting most with, it will be an agent on the phone that can interpret, negotiate, and truly begin the selling process.
Key Stages in Nurturing Dormant Leads
1. Set Goals - Athletes run faster when they are trying to beat a record. Companies perform best when chasing an objective that is achievable. Decide the purpose of your programme and define the metrics that you will use to measure success. How many dormant leads are you going to convert, and by when? How much revenue do you need to generate before you are satisfied with results?
2. Segment Dormant Leads – it’s worth considering multiple streams for lead re-activation programme to ensure your messages resonate with particular groups. You may wish to segment across industry sector, or role in the organisation or even by reasons why previous efforts failed
3. Stick with the programme – This stage needs tenacity and patience because quick results are unlikely. Analysts at Aberdeen report that it takes an average 10 touches to progress a lead through the funnel. Data from Sellingly confirms that 80% of sales happen between 5 and 12 contacts.
Telemarketing – Turning Lead Nurturing into Sales
When your automated marketing programme starts to reveal engagement in a digital environment, or simply once you have managed to do the necessary data analysis to reveal a core list of potential targets, it’s time to call in specialists to establish human contact and trust. An outsourced telemarketing team can breathe new life into your dormant or stalled leads by delivering a systematic and programmatic approach designed to deliver results.