Thursday, January 23, 2014

On lead nurturing, from .@jonmiller and .@sladenwest

In business, if you're not talking about stacks, you're talking about funnels. (Now you see why I play with Lego blocks and their equivalents - all these stacks and funnels are very concrete.)

Of course, the term "funnel" refers to an opportunity funnel. Let's say that you sell...Lego blocks. Of the billions of people in the world, there are only some who like to build things, fewer who have a need to build things, even fewer who are receptive to the idea of using Lego blocks to build things, only a select few who will buy Lego blocks, and fewer still who will buy Lego blocks from you.

How do you funnel the universe down to those people who will actually buy your product?

One possible approach is to attack - I mean, contact - people at the early stages of the funnel. As Jon Miller points out, this may not go so well.

Jim, my name is Mike, and I’m your sales rep from Widgets R-Us. I saw you downloaded our whitepaper “10 Ways to Improve Profits through Widget Optimization” and I wanted to know if you have any questions…. Oh, you haven’t read it yet? That’s OK. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?

And that's just the beginning of the attempted - and unsuccessful - pitch. Read the rest here.

Miller and others recommend the use of "lead nurturing" during these early stages, in which an organization other than the sales organization works the earlier stages of the funnel. As Sladen West explains:

The top of the funnel is the informational stage. At this point, you interact with anyone looking for general information about your industry or product. Seek to provide as valuable of information as possible at this stage without asking for anything in return.

The next step is the evaluation stage. When leads are at this stage, they have decided they have a business problem to be addressed and are looking at options of how to solve this problem. Finally, at the consideration stage, the leads have identified the problem and solution and are now selecting the vendor they want to use.

That's when you call sales in.

West then names three things that lead nurturers need to remember. You can find them here.

(West, incidentally, is a freelance writer whom I learned about through the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. His primary area of expertise? He "is dedicated to safe driving skills gained through defensive driving courses." My guess is that he has run into a pushy driving course company - or, more likely, a pushy car salesperson - which led him to research lead nurturing.)
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