Jul 122010
 
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SMD sales process visual - Scearce Market Development - The Lord of the LeadsIf you’re responsible for generating lead quantities in the thousands (or tens of thousands), in support of a sales team with revenue targets in the millions (or tens of millions), you probably already have a fairly well-developed analytical side. And work in the lead generation field provides an endless buffet of left brain delights like data mining, segmentation, A/B testing, campaign optimization, etc…. But in all of that analysis – as critical as it is to marketing success – it’s sometimes easy to forget that all those database records are real live people.

And if your plans involve generating  leads at any significant scale, you will at some point (if you haven’t already) implement a marketing automation solution or service. Once you do that, you will have a very powerful weapon in your hand. But even a highly-skilled user of these platforms can do unintended harm if not guided by principles of an ideal customer experience, informed by a solid understanding of your nurture leads.

The leads in your nurturing process are unique in at least two ways:

a) In most cases, they’ve already “voted once” to engage your brand, either by completing a web form or otherwise making themselves known to you (e.g., trade show, chat, direct mail response, social media interaction, etc)

b) By definition, they are not yet ready to (seriously) talk to a salesperson.

These two attributes make these people different from any other buying constituency your marketing programs touch. Accordingly, your nurturing campaigns should reflect this difference. Considerable thought should be given to how you communicate to this group. Some of the factors to decide include:

  • Frequency of touches/contacts
  • Type of touches/contacts (email only? Email + call? Email + call + twitter direct message? Etc)
  • Tone (e.g., familiar or professional)
  • Voice (e.g., authoritative or collaborative)
  • Offers (e.g.,

transactional value: “First month free for a limited time! Call me!”

educational value: “I found this blog post that I thought you might like. Here’s the link.”

entertainment value: “While you consider my request for a meeting, I had my marketing team create this funny comic strip. Here’s a link. Enjoy!”

For many marketers, it helps to write out a brief defining how customers should be treated as they go through the nurturing process. Sales should contribute to the creation of this brief and it should be shared with anyone who creates content used in campaigns. Finely tuning these and other aspects of your nurturing program can not only make a big difference in conversion rates, it can strongly influence brand perception among those people who do NOT convert. And, at least in the short run, the non-converters will far outnumber the converters.

While marketing is ultimately tasked with delivering qualified leads to sales, it is also expected to represent the company effectively to the market writ large. These two objectives are complimentary. A well-designed nurturing program is mindful of the impression it leaves with all of the people it touches, which ultimately improves brand preference, and naturally attracts more buyers.