Are You Nurturing Your Leads?

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Photo © Leonardini

Only one out of 50 sales deals happen following the first meeting with a prospect, and 80 percent of deals come on the fifth contact or later, according to various sales studies. Yet it seems many trade show exhibitors give up after making only one contact following a show … if that.

I doubt any exhibitor sets out to ignore the leads they’ve worked so hard to gather. Using a strategic follow-up campaign is crucial, yet few exhibitors have any type of campaign in place prior to going to a show so that it’s a plug-and-play process afterwards. The hottest leads should get immediate follow-up, but what about that 80 percent that take time to convert into sales? Nurture them!

Nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases, according to research from the Annuitas Group.  Yet 65 percent of B2B marketers have no established lead nurturing plan, according to MarketingSherpa. One of my business mentors puts it like this: Your business is like a shopping mall, with multiple points of entry and escalators moving up and down. Don’t assume all leads want the same kind of contact from you. It’s important to provide content that addresses each stage of the buying process to connect with them where they are: research, consideration, evaluation, point of purchase, or post-purchase loyalty.

Be social and engage them in all types of platforms to build relationships and create two-way dialogue. Personalize it whenever possible and make the contacts more concentrated in the beginning before tapering off into a steady method of contact, such as a newsletter. Include their sales rep’s contact information in every e-mail (using personalization tools). Use articles, case studies, white papers, videos, and third-party research, among other things. And offer a call to action within every contact – download a free report, watch a video, or some other easy-to-complete task.

Does this nurturing process pay off? You bet! Companies which excel at lead nurturing (far beyond that first contact) generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at a 33 percent lower cost, according to Forrester Research. (More lead-nurturing stats can be found in this article from HubSpot.)

Want to learn more ideas for lead gathering, nurturing and management? That’s what we’ll be covering in-depth during next month’s strategy in the Exhibit Marketers Café.

© 2014 Marlys K. Arnold (reprinted from the October 2014 TradeShowTips Online – To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

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