You know the story. Jake is a sales rep looking to sell his medical disposable product to Jan, the Purchasing Manager for a local hospital. Jake calls Jan every other week to say, “Hey just checking in.” What he’s really saying is “I know you haven’t made a decision yet on whether to purchase our product but I thought I’d call anyways at the off chance you have.” Not the best use of time for either party.
However, this sort of thing happens all day long. Why not provide Jan more information that will help her and her team through the sales process? This is when educational content that drives prospects into the consideration stage really helps. A case study, for example, can help Jan to conceptually understand what Jake’s product can really do for her and the company. The way to avoid the just ‘checking in call’ is to nurture Jan with valuable content that will earn her trust and value Jake’s company as a solution provider rather than a product pusher.
To properly assess what stage a prospect is in the sales funnel, take a look at these three criteria:
Develop a lead scoring system:
A lead scoring system scores your leads based on their actions. For example: when a prospect downloads a white paper, they receive a different score than if they attended a webinar.
Leads will make their way through your sales process by educating themselves with your material. At a certain point you will want to “trigger” a direct action, a personal email or a phone call. A lead scoring system can help you determine when this ‘right time’ is.
Develop a content strategy:
There is no doubt about the power of content. Without a content strategy you won’t understand your audience, which makes it hard to communicate.
A content strategy accomplishes the following:
- Identifies your target audience or multiple personas
- Gives you a genuine understanding of your customers including their behaviors, their needs and the best way to reach them
- Helps you develop a competitive analysis so you can identify your competition and differentiate your brand
Set up email nurturing sequences:
Lead nurturing is as, if not more important than getting the lead in the first place. Most sales, for B2B companies especially, aren’t transactional. The first time a user learns about your brand, is most likely not the same time they’re ready to make a purchase. Lead nurturing helps to fill in the gap. The “just checking in” sales call should be replaced with a lead-nurture sequence that provides relevant and timely information that nurtures the user to that specific buying stage.
Just look at these stats:
- Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (The Annuitas Group)
- Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost (Forrester Research)
- Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails (Jupiter Research)
Jake is a happy camper if inbound marketing can help him avoid the ‘just checking in’ sales call. He can then focus his time on closing the prospects who are actually ready to buy.