Why Lead Nurturing is the World’s Best Pre-sale Service

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Lead nurturingFirst off, what exactly is lead nurturing?

According to Forrester it is “ a process by which leads are tracked and developed into sales-qualified leads”

When you are standing in the supermarket with a chocolate bar in your hand, you might not need very much nurturing before you decide you are just not yourself without the Snickers. Your sugar cravings will take care of all the nurturing required.

But if you are an accountant sitting in your office already dreading next year’s tax season, you might be looking around for some software that will make your life easier. Now the tax season is months away and you have to convince your boss to invest in the software first, so you wouldn’t exactly be in a position to click the “ad to cart” button quite yet.

So lead nurturing is everything that happens in the time between a potential customer’s first interaction with a company and the time when they are actually ready to purchase.

As a marketer the last thing I want to happen is that you (play along with me – you are the accountant) visit my website, receive tons of great information and then forget all about me and when tax season comes along my company name rings no bells and some schmuck runs off with the sale.

So what happens in the time between your first visit to my website, and tax season being just around the corner?

Well it is not uncommon that the chosen path would be something like this; I’ll send an email thanking you for your interest and asking for a meeting or time to talk.

Then what? I drum my fingers on the desk for a week and then I send another email asking if you are ready now. And if I’m super annoying I’ll pick up the phone and bug you at some inconvenient time and pester you with a sales pitch that you’d rather be without.

After a few more rounds of this, I start to resemble a kid on the backseat of a car constantly pestering the parents with “are we there yet”.

And guess what I am very likely to get out that whole exercise? Nuttin! Except the status of royal pain in the ass… not really what I was aiming for.

That’s where lead nurturing comes in.

To nurture means to care for, help and/or encourage someone or something while they are growing or developing.

That is just touching… in one single sentence I managed to transform my field of work into something truly noble. I’m welling up and feeling all proud… and getting totally sidetracked!

The point here is that you (remember you are the accountant) are not ready nor able to make the purchase on the first visit, but what you would like are buckets full of enlightening and compelling information that will help you sell the idea of purchasing the software to your boss.

With the right lead nurturing system, I will be able to see what areas of my website you have visited, what information you have consumed and what type of media you prefer.

Don’t let that give you the heebie-jeebies and think it is awfully big-brotherish. If you were in a shoe store looking at pumps, you wouldn’t want me to come over and start telling you about winter boots would you? Same thing, except online I can only see what you are looking at if I can track you. Maybe it’s the word tracking… it’s kinda off-putting, like I’m spying or something, which is not the intention at all.

Good lead nurturing should be like the experience you get in a good restaurant where the waiter manages to top up your glass every time you are just about to run out of wine. Now how is the waiter going to know you are running low on dancing juice if he can’t observe you? And God forbid he tops up your glass with water instead of wine! The horror!!

Think about it, the more I know about your particular interests, the better equipped I will be to give you the exact information you need, when you need it and in the format you prefer.

And before I start growing some sort of halo above my head, yes this is all done in the name of making a sale.

I represent a company, not a charity, and we need to sell stuff to make money in order to survive. All of a sudden I don’t feel so noble anymore, but that’s ok cuz it was never the intention to begin with.

What I do want is to provide you with information that you want, when you want it and how you want it. I want that when you get that sales call, you will be like “Man I’m so glad you called – tax season is just around the corner and my boss really want us to upgrade the software!”

I believe lead nurturing is awesome service, and I’m a sucker for awesome service. How about you?

Oh and just for you numbers freaks, here are a few eye-opening stats:

  • More than 25% of leads take seven months or more to close
  • 73% of leads are lost because they are sent to sales before they are ready to buy
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost
  • Nurtured leads spend 47% more on purchases than non-nurtured leads

Tips on How To Make Customer Service Work Using Social Media

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Many businesses have a presence in social media with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and a host of other options available. Social media is a fantastic opportunity to spread the word and show lots of great content. It is also a great way for consumers to interact with a company and reach out in times of customer service needs.

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And it is exactly on the customer service side of the equation that the film often breaks. Social media is usually the responsibility of the marketing and/or and public relations departments, and they do a fantastic job when it comes to transmitting corporate messages and showing off all sorts of “can’t-live-without” features and latest models. It seems that some companies forget that good customer service is out-of-this-world fantastic marketing and PR. Adding customer service to the mix will complete the circle and add tremendous value to the overall customer experience.

Unfortunately I see an awful lot of poor customer service on the various walls around the net. Unanswered queries and messages that get answered by someone who either doesn’t work in customer service or shouldn’t be working in customer service, they often carry a  passive-aggressive tone with a hint of defensive self-righteousness. They make my toes curl – it looks ever so bad.

Seeing such walls makes me wonder what kind of customer service I can expect from these companies who seem to prioritize pushing sales messages so much that they don’t have time to stop and pay proper attention to existing customers. I have actually chosen not to buy from companies because of how poorly they have demonstrated their ability to handle after-sale service issues on social networks. Surely I’m not the only one…

So here are some tips on how to it right.

The first tip is really not a tip at all. It’s a requirement. Answer ALL customer queries. There really is no middle ground here. You answer the phone when it rings right? This is no different, except here everyone can see when you choose to ignore the call.

There is a lot discussion going on as to whether 1 hour or 24 hours is the correct amount of time to answer customer queries. I’d say it really depends on your industry, but in general the sooner the better. Customers love immediate attention; makes them feel valued and a timely reply can easily be an ice-breaker if the query is of a difficult nature.

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When a customer reaches out, the first and most important thing you must do is to acknowledge them and show them empathy. I see companies using phrases like”Oh no, we understand your frustration and will….” or “Dear XXX please accept our sincere apologies we will immediately….” These types of responses are great, they really show that you care about the customer  and appreciate their predicament. One thing to keep in mind though is to not use the same phrase in response to all queries, a whole wall full of “Oh no..” looks like the responses are insincere and rehearsed, like a broken record.

The second thing to do is to demonstrate action. Let the customer know what you intend to do about the situation. And please do not say that “there is really nothing you can do” or “Facebook is not the right place to…” Yes, I have actually seen responses such as these, and there is ALWAYS something you can do and Facebook is an obvious place to demonstrate how much you care about your customers. So tell them that you will personally see to some action taking place or ask them to contact you personally with more details.

The last bit of advise I’ll give for now, is to NEVER reply to a customer query if you are in a bad mood or feeling irritable. In that situation a later reply is likely better than what you would be delivering immediately. When we communicate in writing, we only have the actual words to interpret, there is no tone of voice or body language to guide and help us, so you have to be acutely aware of your choice of words and using positive and supportive phrases is just a lot easier when you are in a good mood.

I came across a great example of how you can turn a very uncomfortable and difficult situation 180 degrees by giving the customer the answers they are looking for. It was a furniture company with a very unhappy customer who had received a sofa in less than prime condition, the reply to the customer was a detailed explanation that with complete transparency and honesty told how and why the situation had occurred, apologized for the unfortunate events, offered a solution and was signed in person and with a personal e.mail address attached.

Not many companies would dare to expose faults as openly as this company did, but judging from the subsequent comments I think it was the right thing to do. Admitting when you are wrong is a character trait that earns respect, not just for people but for businesses too.