Lead Development: Remember the Prospects Who Aren't Ready to Buy; 5 Steps to Converting "Almost" Customers into Buyers

by Susan Tatum

Here are five steps you can take so your prospective customers will remember you when they are ready to buy.

Want to know a really good way to waste money on B2B marketing? That's easy. Just ignore your prospects that aren't ready to buy yet. This is guaranteed to cost you 80% or more of your best opportunities.

And yet, B2B marketers do it all the time.

These companies spend all of their marketing dollars on demand generation - getting prospects to express some interest in their product or service - and then they toss them to the sales team.

The problem.

The problem is that most prospects - 80% or more - are not ready to talk to a sales person when they first contact a company. Research shows us that 90% of them will buy within the next 12 months. But most of them will end up buying from a different company for the simple reason that they were ignored.

There are all kinds of reasons prospects aren't ready to buy when they first contact you.

Maybe they've just started looking. Maybe they don't have the budget yet. Maybe they're not convinced they have a problem. Maybe they're going on vacation next month and don't want to get anything started before they leave. Who knows?



Regardless of the reason, you can't send them to your sales team, you don't want them to forget about you, and they probably need a little educating.

So, what do you do? The answer is actually pretty simple.

Establish a sequence of communications.

You arrange to communicate with them regularly. Reach out and touch them often enough so they don't forget about you, but not so often that you annoy them.

For most of our clients, the simplest way to do this is via email. If you're wondering how that can possibly be effective given the dreadful state of email overload we're all experiencing, there are a few "rules" you have to follow. Interestingly, these rules apply to any form of communication - not just to email.

1. Your message must be relevant. If you've carefully defined your target audience, you know what interests them. Stick with it.

2. The information you send to them must be useful. Most likely, your prospects have a problem they're trying to solve - or at least to learn more about. They're turning to you for help. With each communication you can provide useful information. As your prospects learn about solving their problems, they're also learning more about you. They're seeing value in the relationship with you.

3. No blatant selling. Your prospects aren't stupid. They know you have something to sell. But they're not ready to listen to a sales pitch. Here's an example. About a month ago I subscribed to a newsletter published by a very well-known and highly regarded copy writer. To date, I haven't received a newsletter; but I've gotten 3 sales pitches from him. One more pitch and I'm going for the unsubscribe link.

4. Be consistent. It's generally best to establish some kind of pattern and stick to it. If you're going to send a weekly tip sheet; fine. Do it weekly. If it's a monthly newsletter, that's fine too. Daily? If that's what your prospects want, no problem. Your prospects will expect to hear from you on a regular basis. The rhythm is good. If you change your pattern too often, people for some reason get annoyed.

5. Include a call to action. Just because you can't turn this into a full-on sales pitch doesn't mean you shouldn't ask the reader to do something. You can tell them to call you; email you; download something else. What is the next reasonable step in the buying process? Lay it out for them.

In some businesses, letters or postcards or even phone calls may be more effective than email. The overall concept is still the same. You have the prospect's contact information. Use it to do good things - both for the prospect and for you.

Copyright 2007, Tatum Marketing

 
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