April 24

On Lead Nurturing: Looking for a "hot" date?

Lead Nurturing

9  comments

When it comes to lead generation, the dating analogy is nothing new. But I liked what Tom Myer at the tdog.blog said on the topic of lead nurturing in his post, "If you don’t remember me on the second date, why should we go on a third?"

Myer writes:

“If lead generation is like dating, and we’re all out there on the singles scene, most of our effort goes to landing first dates. We do everything we can to catch someone’s eye, fetch up the nerve to ask them out, and work really hard on making a good impression that first time around. We may also have well-meaning friends and families setting us up on blind dates (aka referrals), and we may also run into those people who have heard good things about us from other people and want to get to know us better (aka word of mouth). (Yes, it’s a neat metaphor, and I’m not the first to notice it, but I digress.)

All of this dating stuff aside, lead nurturing is like getting to know someone better (except in the business context multiple relationships are not only condoned but encouraged!). If you spend all that time and energy getting a “first date”, why would you blow it by not remembering important facts about your prospect on the “second date”? Also, if you’re on that second date, why not take this chance to get to know them a little better?”

I agree. He goes on in the post to talk about how to use your relevant and educational content as part of the lead nurturing mix.

As important as information gathering is, it is important to not get too personal on the first date. Think about your web forms. Are you asking for far too much information before you’ve earned their trust?  I wrote about this in my post, Why Most B2B Sites Fail to Convert Sales Leads.

Don’t blow it on the first date by thinking of it as a campaign rather than a conversation.  The challenge is to make each conversation you have be relevant and meaningful.  The reward? A more memorable conversation that will likely lead to others and eventually a relationship.

You’ll do better by thinking of lead nurturing as a process of micro-conversions based on the multiple conversations you’re having. Be patient and you’ll build the opportunity profile over time.

Sridhar Ramanathan president of Pacifica Group points this out in his blog post, "Demand Generation: Are You Making Your Prospects Lie? He writes, "One of the dirty little secrets of online marketing is that the leads you generate are only as good as the data that the customer prospect chooses to share about themselves. And very often they lie."

As a way to get started, no strings attached, why not give away something of value for free? Then later request an email address, then ask for first and last name, later requesting a phone number, and so on.

I can tell you that it does take time to use a nurturing approach, but you will end up with better and more profitable relationships, whether it be personal or professional. 

Heck, I knew that I wanted to marry my wife after the second date, but I can tell you that it took time, attention, creativity and patience to win her heart. 

Let’s go one step further with the dating analogy. If your customers made the leap to commit to working with you, do you then ignore them because you’ve already won them over?

At InTouch we believe the “yes” is only the beginning, not the final result. Take time to nurture your existing customers too. Like any good relationship, it starts with a memorable and meaningful first conversation and continues with ongoing attention and commitment.

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing. He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. The analogy works (by the way, the AMA has a white paper ‘Meet the Parents’ in a similar vein – see http://www.beetoobee.com/out.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.marketingpower.com%2Fcontent361057.php) but it falls short on one issue – the numbers.

    B2B marketeers may easily meet 100s of people per year for in-depth meetings and a multiple of that for exchanging business cards at social events.

    So can I hope that B2B is a slightly more forgiving game?

  2. Great post!

    Two comments:
    1. I’ve found that if you not only ask for a small amount of information at a time but REMEMBER the data that was previously provided and pre-populate it, you will see major increases in the leads you bring in (assuming you have good content/offers)
    2. Because of prospects lying (hey, I may say I work in the aerospace industry but I don’t!), you need to qualify leads on more then just the data they submit from forms but on the activity they’ve exhibited – downloaded white papers, attended events, opened emails etc… This helps sales when they actually make those calls and know how “hot” a lead is or if they are BS.

  3. The dating analogy is great. It also bring to mind that in dating, when you do things counter-intuitive, good things happen because you stand out so much.

    If instead of telling her she is beautiful every 10 minutes, you get playful and make fun of her or… if instead of agreeing with everything she says/does, you make decisions and take the lead in the dance called a date… things turn out much more desirable.

    These things emphasize being light-hearted, confident & being non-desperate (not sure if that is a word.) There are specific ways to do these in dating.

    You’ve got me thinking ’bout how these can be done in lead generation to test the results. Any thoughts?

    Interesting post Brian. Loved the book.

    Melvin Ram
    Volcanic Internet Marketing

  4. You bring up some interesting thoughts…

    In dating, if someone is highly motivated to be married they will act differently and may value different things than someone who is not really motivated to settle down yet.

    It’s a delicate balance. In lead nurturing, you should think about aligning your activities to where your future customers are in their buying process. So your level active engagement of depends on how “engaged” they are in the process.

    For example, if someone is happy with the status quo (just looking), we would engage them differently than someone who’s further along in the buying process; where they have identified problem, have begun researching solutions, and are actively identifying their shortlist.

    But don’t forget that the majority of your audience and buyers are happy with the status quo. If people are in the status quo (currently dating someone else), you want to be attentive but not too attentive. Interested but not too interested. Responsive but not freakishly (I’ll drop my other important commitments) responsive.

    Also, to your point, I think people (even our current customers) want to know that they are desired and we care but they also know the person (company) pursuing them is also desired by others.

    To summarize, your nurturing activities need align with who you are targeting and where they are in their buying process. I hope this was helpful.

    Cheers,
    Brian

  5. I enjoy your blog and have read your book, “Lead Generation for the Complex Sale” twice. I even made it required reading for all of my lead managers! Thank you for the excellent insight on capturing leads while building their trust and confidence. I have been subscribing to your blog for a long time and have found it invaluable, thank you!

  6. Interesting analogy! Moving a potential customer through the lead nurturing process is indeed very similar to moving a potential partner through the dating stages. Fortunately, for lead nurturing anyway, we have technology or lead generation services to do a major portion of thinking and working for us. With lead generation technology and services, we are able to program the process we will use to “date” our lead at the click of a button. Now if us tech-sales guys only had a program to tell us how and when to actually date women! That would be very great.

  7. Having have been on both sides of this issue. For 8 years I ran the Avaya lead gen program. We had ongoing battles with the “Webs team” that did not want to ask for any (or minimal) registration information. they only seemed to want to count the number of web hits and clicks. We ( who were responsible for leads) questioned the value if we could not do anything with the lack of information for further nurturing or qualification. We battled over the short forms vs the medium or long forms of data collection.

    Since leaving Avaya and setting up my own lead consulting practice “www.edemandleads.com” I am a frequent downloader of white papers or attending web conferences to get more information about the latest process and technology in the industry. I regularly give a significant amount of information to get a download of some thing I want.
    My feeling is that its not the length of the web registration that is important as the value of the content. Providing quality content and a good description of what you are offering that demonstrates the value of the offer may be more important than the length of the registration. If the content has real value then I am happy to provide the information

  8. I did a trackback and quoted from part of this post for our own entry on how to nurture prospects.

    http://blog.allyforce.com/wp/2008/12/08/nurturing-your-leads-through-introductions/

    One way to do that is almost counter-intuitive, but is to introduce a non-competing sales rep into the solution if the prospect has a more pressing pain.

    But with allyforce, you can now make sure you have reciprocal relationships and do so effectively with multiple vendors.

    Anyway, will write more in the future.

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