Have you ever had to do door-to-door sales? Let me tell you, it takes a special kind of energy to just walk into a stranger’s life like that and try to get them to pick up what you’re putting down. It takes finesse and charisma to get through the door.
Once inside, a successful traveling salesperson wields the uncanny ability to quickly soak in their surroundings and use those contextual clues to their advantage. They glean what they can about their customer or host and work that into their presentation. They interact with their clients to figure out how, specifically, their product meets their clients’ needs. By the end of the visit, the unsuspecting consumer wonders how in the world they’ve lived this long without the product.
To be honest, when I think of walking up to a stranger’s door to make a pitch of some sort, I get a little sick to my stomach. Like a lot of digital folks I know, I enjoy the relative anonymity of existing behind my monitor. But it turns out that digital marketers could learn a lot from a traveling salesperson. Think about it, we have the same goals: endearing oneself to the customer to find out and relate how your product specifically meets their needs.
It takes time
Traveling salespeople generally only have one visit to go from cold call to closed case, but it’s a long visit, quite possibly hours. Digital marketers don’t have hours to sit with one customer. Or do we?
According to an Ascend2 survey, nearly half of businesses polled say most of their leads require “long cycle” nurturing involving many influencers.
In fact, research shows that prospects receive, on average, ten touches during their journey from the top of the sales funnel to closed sale.
In the long run, all those touches take time. Don’t try to rush it. Remember, it’s called lead nurturing and nurturing takes time.
Let’s see how lead nurturing can build momentum through your sales funnel.
TOP OF THE FUNNEL
In salesperson terms, the top of the funnel is where you get your foot in the door. These first touches include your cold (introductory or first) emails, social media and advertising. If you haven’t already, figure out your target buying personas and build targeted content that speaks to their needs. You’re going to need it.
He went that-a-way
When leads come through digital ads, use the information gathered from the ad placement to personalize your follow-up email. If the ad was placed on a sports site, send content geared toward the sporting aspects of your business. If the ad was placed on a fashion site, follow up with appropriately fashionable content. Use the information you have in front of you to direct your next steps.
Misery loves company
Thanks to click-thru content, emails are a great source for gleaning information for future personalization. Click-thru content provides information on the lead’s interests and perhaps the pain points to which you can speak. You know the old saying: “Misery loves company.” Voicing and addressing pain points is a number one tack for getting your foot in the “door”.
MIDDLE OF THE FUNNEL
The middle of the funnel is where your salesperson assesses the situation and gathers information they can use to better relate to the consumer. You’re already in the door, now it’s time to learn more about your lead – really see and address their needs. This is also the time to introduce more about yourself, your company, and your product. You see their needs and you just so happen to have a solution.
Put it on auto(mation) pilot
Are you using a marketing automation platform? If you’re not, you’re missing out. From campaign scheduling to persona identification and segmentation to trigger follow-up responses, marketing automation platforms offer all sorts of bells and whistles. You can have the best content ever created and it won’t amount to a hill of beans without the appropriate timing. Successful marketing requires having the right information in the right place at the right time. With automation, you can set follow-up responses based on depth and breadth of user interaction in addition to standard reaction mechanisms of landing page triggers and calls-to-action.
One of the most beautiful assets marketing automation provides is, of course, lead nurturing. BUT, did you know that they can help with multi-channel lead nurturing? Successful multi-channel lead nurturing takes into account direct sales outreach along with marketing automation, email marketing, dynamic website content, social media, and paid remarketing/re-targeting. Bringing together information from multiple channels allows you to better learn your prospect’s behaviors and interests. Then, you can turn around and use that information to send them emails, calls, or even direct mail with personalized content – think white papers, email newsletters, special deals and offers, etc.
Pulse it out
One of my favorite tongue-in-cheek lines comes from, of all places, the movie Beaches:
“But enough about me, let’s talk about you…what do you think of me?” I love how it showcases people’s innate desire to be known. Your prospect wants to be known and so do you. Not everything needs to be cloak and dagger with scouring analytics and tracking user interactions. Take the guesswork out of customization with quick pulse surveys. List a few options and ask what they’d like more information on or what interests them. This is a very straightforward way to let your leads know you care about them and want to best serve their needs.
BOTTOM OF THE FUNNEL
You’ve made it through the door and you’ve delivered your spiel. You’ve convinced your lead that they have a need and you have an answer to their need when the doorbell rings and there stands another salesperson with a similar product. The bottom of the funnel is where you give it your all to show your host why they should choose you and kick the competitor to the curb.
Rely on your relationship
By this point in your sales cycle, you should have a relationship with your lead. If you don’t, you’ve missed a step or two. Rewind and try again.
You have their email address. You know their spending habits. Heck, you could probably figure out their pay periods based on their grocery market schedule. Let me be clear: Do. Not. Do. That. There’s a difference in having access to information and exploiting information. Do not creep out your customers. Healthy relationships have boundaries. Healthy relationships are good. Be healthy. Do good.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on, shall we?
You have a relationship at this point. You and your lead have been exchanging information. Use that information (wisely) to your benefit. Put reminders and notifications in your project management software (TechnologyAdvice has recommendations for good project management tools) or CRM. Send a birthday or anniversary greeting. Give your lead a one-on-one phone call. Find out what is keeping them from closing and provide the answers they need to seal the deal.
This stage is all about breaking down barriers to meeting their needs.
Get into the nitty gritty and see what you can do. Show them you’re in their corner. You don’t need to contact them every day (see above: do not creep out your customers).
But you do need to let them know you’re there for them. Be present. Not overwhelming. Clients who know you’re there for them will be there for you.
Remember, it takes time to get there. Don’t be discouraged. Nurturing takes time. It’s worth the wait.
Author: Melissa Reinke is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She is a storyteller, editor, writer, and all-around word nerd extraordinaire. She spends her days managing web content and her nights unwinding in myriad creative ways, including writing for herself and others. From personal memoirs to professional solutions, when writing and editing for others Melissa’s singular goal is to sculpt each piece into its best, most successful form while maintaining the integrity of the original voice and vision.