Nurturing Your Leads into Opportunities
There are multiple factors that play a role in successful lead generation. From converting contacts into leads and nurturing those leads into profitable opportunities, attracting the right clients for your business doesn’t need to be a struggle.
While some attribute the challenges to the always changing economy and the competitiveness of their industry, the root of the problem typically lies within creating and maintaining an effective lead generation program.
Lead generation is the process of attracting the interest of prospects to increase sales and grow profit. This is the first and crucial step of the sales process where both quality and quantity need to be considered. While it’s vital to generate an adequate amount of leads, ensuring they are ones with a high chance of closing is even more critical.
Where to Start?
A lead is a person or business that has shown interest in the services or products that your business provides. Often handled by the marketing team, an effective lead generation program warms up the potential prospects and guides them on the initial path to eventually buying. The biggest challenge facing most business is targeting the right prospects. Salespeople run out of momentum because they feel they’ve hit the limit of people and businesses they can reasonably expect to be interested in purchasing their product or service. More often than not, this happens for three main reasons: (1) they are looking in the wrong places or audiences for new business; (2) they don’t have a process for qualifying or disqualifying leads; and (3) they don’t have their buyer personas identified properly.
Generating the Right Leads
Implementing a lead generation program by itself doesn’t automatically mean you will gain quality leads and increase sales. The initiative takes time and effort to maintain. More importantly, it must nurture the right individual or business into one that expresses interest in engaging your sales team.
Before someone becomes a lead, they begin as a simple contact. You will be able to determine each lead’s potential based on their interest levels from your marketing efforts. From there, you will want to put forth a communications strategy to cultivate that lead. Be sure to categorize that person or business as a hot, warm or cold lead depending on the their response to the promotional material. Leads that have taken an action, whether that’s asking for a call back or engaging with your firm, should be marked as hot leads. Hot leads are your highest chance of closing, warm leads are secondary only needing a little more interaction to convince them to buy and cold leads have shown minimal interest but aren’t completely disqualified.
From here, your marketing team or lead generation manager will outline who will follow up and how they will follow up with each category of lead. Most often, sales takes over the hot leads first and then moves to the warm leads. While marketing nurtures the cold leads though promotional campaigns to keep your firm in the forefront of their mind.
Leads to Opportunities
The process doesn’t stop after categorizing the lead. Qualifying, nurturing and transferring these existing as well as new contacts into leads takes sustained effort. The more qualified leads you gain through this process, the stronger your sales will be with selling opportunities to those leads.
For most small businesses it’s ideal to review your lead lists a minimum of twice a week. This way you can remain on top of nurturing those warm leads into hot leads and those hot leads into revenue for your business.
Developing a lead generation program that best suits your business isn’t always the easiest project. It’s essential to have sales and marketing supporting each other to increase the success of your program. Your team needs to follow through in maintaining and overseeing the leads process. We recommend working with a business advisor who can provide clarity and guidance along the way.