Written by Katie Daggett
Let’s start off with a little math.
First, enter your company’s revenue in the past year.
Now, multiply that number by 5.
Your total is how much revenue your company could be losing if you aren’t nurturing your long term leads. Of course, you probably aren’t losing all of your sales from long-term leads, this figure simply reflects the potential leads that could be lost at some point during the sales cycle.
“Long-term leads can represent as much as 80% of your sales,” says lead generation expert, Brian Carroll, in his book Lead Generation for the Complex Sale. And if you aren’t nurturing your leads with meaningful contact throughout the buying cycle, these are sales you could be losing to your competitors.
Now, while that figure may sound alarming. What it really represents is an amazing opportunity.
Why? Because the majority of your competitors ─59% of companies according to Marketing Sherpa’s 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report ─ still don’t have lead nurturing programs. So, by reading this report, and acting on the advice within, you’ll be well ahead of the game.
Why is lead nurturing so important?
First of all, it keeps prospects engaged with information they really care about and that can help them make the best purchasing decision. Lead nurturing is a gradual process that guides prospects from where they’re at right now, to where you want them to be in the buying cycle.
A secondary benefit is that the information you provide can serve as the “proof” your prospect needs to persuade other decision makers within their organization that yours is the solution to buy.
And what is the number one tool for nurturing your long-term leads throughout the buying cycle? Content.
If you want to ensure these future customers remain in your funnel, you must have a relevant, consistent conversation with them. This means engaging them with information — content like articles, newsletters, whitepapers, and videos — that they’re eager to read, share, and act on.
So, what determines useful content?
First, let’s discuss what it is not:
- Talking about your company, how great you are, and describing product features…
- Hard sales, strong calls to action, “buy me now” statements…
- New product or service “announcements”
What good content should do is offer information that helps solve a major problem your buyers have. For example, if you sell accounting software, you might offer a white paper that explains what to look for when purchasing accounting software.
Remember, of course, to offer a general solution, focused on the buyer’s problems, and talking about general business issues and market trends, rather than pushing your company, product or service.
It’s also important to keep in mind that leads are people, and that your goal in building a successful lead nurturing program is to build a relationship with them with useful content.
The goal when creating content is never to sell, but rather to support a conversation. The question you should be asking when creating your content are, “Is this helpful” and “Is this relevant?”
By creating valuable content, you’ll also be giving your sales people tools to support their conversations with customers, giving them something helpful and relevant to offer and discuss.
Key Benefit #1: By giving your prospective buyer genuinely helpful information, you are helping to position yourself as a trusted advisor ─ and someone he will likely look to for a solution when he finally is ready to buy.
If you’d like more tips on developing your lead nurturing program (or improving the one you have), check out my FREE white paper: Content Marketing Complete Guide.