Implementing a Lead Nurturing Program is one of the most important things a Marketing Department can do for its Sales Team.

While Marketing is embroiled in creating videos, brochures and social engagement strategies, Sales teams are often left to their own devices, reliant on sales presentations and the occasional imprinted specialty to make an impression. When Sales and Marketing make an effort to operate in a greater degree on alignment, Marketing often finds itself more committed than ever to finding a lead nurturing solution to help those sales professionals squeeze every bit of potential out of the most promising leads.

To help get your sales and marketing teams on the same page and on their way to converting more sales, we’ve put together helpful insights, tips and actionable steps to move your business forward.

Tickle & Woo is part of a family of businesses that includes Longbotham Strategic Marketing. Read the full post on their blog.

Are you Consistently Nurturing Leads?

We all know consistency is a key to success in many situations, but how many of us can claim we’re as consistent in our approach to nurturing leads as we should be. With some sales cycles spanning months and even years, actively communicating with a lead can be the difference between making a sale or watching it slip through your fingers.

Keep your brand (and yourself) top-of-mind

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about how many things they’re juggling at any given moment. They probably aren’t thinking about you as much as you’d like. The fact is, you’re going to have to give them a reason to give you any thought at all. Reaching out to these time-strapped individuals on a regular basis ensures your message is not forgotten in the clutter of everyday life.

Build stronger relationships

Another added benefit of being consistent is that it builds stronger, lasting relationships. Think about it, a strong relationship is built on the ability to communicate and the development of trust. By reaching out to a prospect regularly, you’re showing them that you’re actively engaged in their success, thereby ensuring your own.

Explore opportunities as they arise

After talking to a prospect, do you find yourself thinking, “If only I had know that sooner, I could have helped?” Keeping the lines of communication open helps promote your continuing awareness of your customers’ current challenges and needs. If something comes up, you’re already there, ready to jump on the opportunity.

Guidelines for success

Pick an appropriate, realistic time frame and stick to it. Each industry is unique and some may require “touching” the customer more frequently than others. Focus on the quality of the experience. Being consistent is more than just repeating the same dry sales pitch over and over. Take time to learn about your prospects’ interests and engage them with relevant, insightful communications.

Embrace consistency

Once you begin to reap the rewards of your consistent lead nurturing efforts, you can introduce the same mindset and tactics into other areas of your business. For example, take a look at your current customers. Engaging them on a regular basis can lead to higher retention rates, chances to up-sell, cross-sell or get referrals.

Leverage Customers‘ Personal Interests for your Benefit

Getting to know each of your top customers on a personal level may seem like a daunting task at first, but we’ve put together a few key reasons why it’s actually very good for business. Don’t know where to start? That’s OK, here are some tips and tricks to get you started.

 

A little insight can go a long way

Taking time to learn about your customers’ interests and hobbies will actually make your job easier. Knowing what motivates them allows you to make connections that help you build stronger relationships, faster. This newly acquired insight will prove valuable in giving you additional topics to discuss on sales calls and visits, even generating new reasons to make contact.

As your conversations begin to take on a more friendly tone, it will be easier to overcome objections as you may receive more than a hard “NO” when pushing for a sale…the friendlier things are, the more “lowdown” you’ll get. The better the relationship, the easier you’ll find it to turn roadblocks into opportunities.

 

Do your homework

The first step and most direct is to simply talk to your customers. Ask questions. Use conversation starters like, “Do you have any interesting plans for the weekend?” or “Are you doing anything now that the weather is getting nicer?”. Many people will show no hesitation sharing things they find interesting and will jump at the chance to discuss a topic other than business.

Want to do some research before having the first conversation? In this digital age, it has never been easier to find out basic information about your customers online. You can use social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to find out how people enjoy spending their time outside of work. Take notice of the pictures they post and share as well as the groups they may have joined. Through careful analysis you can begin to infer how that person enjoys spending their time off the clock.

Do you make sales visits? Keep your eyes open and take notice of hints in their office or on their desk, or even the type of vehicle they drive. A coffee mug with a team logo may indicate an interest in a certain sport while their car may have a bicycle rack on the back. Always be on the lookout for interesting things to use in upcoming conversations.

 

Taking advantage of this knowledge

Consistent communication is important to building B2B relationships. Once you know your customer on a personal level, you’ll be able to have higher quality conversations without relying on the same old, tired sales pitches you’ve used time and again.

You can also incorporate their interests into your marketing outreach. Send them something related to their interests or hobbies. These personal, seemingly better “thought out” items will be remembered more then a typical branded promotional item.

Most companies want to keep their customers around, which means long relationships and many conversations. By getting to knowing your customers, you’re better equipped to keep the relationships alive and the sales coming in.

When I was a Child, Something Extraordinary Happened…

Bonnie Longbotham

Me…no age on the back of the photo, so ???

I might have won a spelling bee or finished first in a footrace, but decades later, I really can’t remember. Truthfully, in hindsight, it may not have been all that glorious. But what was extraordinary and what I do recall, distinctly, is that after my achievement was published in my hometown newspaper, I got mail. A real letter with an actual stamp. My first. And, surprisingly, it came from Mayflower Movers.

Now, although that’s the name that stuck in my head for years, I’m not even sure it’s accurate or if they’re still around. Let’s Google them…hang on…I’m doing it now. Oh, wow…yep…there they are. Now it’s Mayflower Transit…sounds a bit more sophisticated, right? Says they’ve been in business since 1927. As I think back, the card was intensely green, flirting between kelly and hunter. Today, their corporate color feels brighter, more modern, kelly with a lime complex. See?

Who knows what the card actually said – probably some twist on congratulations – but I’ll never forget the moment the newspaper clipping drifted out into my lap. The printing was slightly faded, as though it had been sitting in the sun on someone’s desk, waiting to be handled. When I picked it up, the thin paper crackled slightly in my fingers. The edges had been trimmed precisely, carefully, as to not inadvertently nip off a single letter.

This happened decades before social media closed the gap and personalized the connection between customers and companies. A big, seemingly faceless organization reached out to recognize a small child, and that single act of kindness has stayed with me for a lifetime.

Occasionally, over the years, I’ve seen one of their green and gold tractor-trailers on a highway somewhere. And it feels familiar. And suddenly I’m five or seven or nine or whatever-I-was, and I’m curled up in a patch of sunlight in the far corner of the scratchy green and gold couch in the living room of my childhood home. I can hear my mother’s heels clacking as she walks over to me, crossing the small patch of hardwood between the carpeted hallway and living room rug. My little brother, surely an imp reincarnated, pops up out of nowhere and snatches the card from my hand, anxious to see what fascinates me. I smell lasagna bubbling in the oven. And I’m wearing plaid…when I look down at the clipping in my lap, my pleated skirt is plaid.

To this day, I find it incredible that one piece of direct mail instigated a memorable, tactile experience that has forever lodged a brand in my brain…and in my heart.

How We Curate Tickle Boxes for Lead Nurturing

Tickle Box curation, a fairly painstaking process that requires time and thoughtfulness, is a full-time activity at Tickle & Woo. Our Curators are always on the lookout for unique, memorable items that will turn a head or inspire a smile. But even the most interesting item is quickly cast aside if it fails to fit the category and serve our purpose for being…to provide creative, consistent lead nurturing programs…to help our clients’ close more sales by sparking conversations and forging connections with valued prospects and customers.

One of the coolest things about Tickle & Woo’s inventory is that it’s always evolving. On any given day, our Curators are off hunting for specific products suggested by our sales team as well as searching for new items that might fit into an existing category or one that’s on the drawing board. Sometimes, we just browse for inspiration. Usually the time is spent online, but at other times you can find us picking through unusual items in eclectic little shops. When something strikes our fancy, we go right to the source. Occasionally it’s a wholesaler, but more often than not we end up talking with the manufacturer, or even better, the actual inventor. Our top considerations are quality, product design, packaging and appropriateness for the category in question.

Jim Talarico, our Head Curator,  is a big fan of the Ball Eagle Putter Retriever, found in our Avid Golfer category. Now, he’s no golfer, but he spent a good amount of time as a kid caddying for his father and grandfather, so he knows a thing or two about the game. He was sure this would be a great item to add to our Tickle Boxes! The Ball Eagle Putter Retriever is a small device that, attached to the handle of a putter, allows you to pick up your golf ball without the need to bend over. Jim’s father, a man who struggled with back issues for years, would have approved. After enjoying a pleasant conversation with the product’s inventor, we were happy to place an order.

 

The hard sell is dead

If the Hard Sell Approach is Dead, What Do I Do Now?

It’s true. The old-school car salesman approach of yesteryear is dead and gone. Back in the day, the Hard Sell represented the epitome of sales skill…the idea of talking a prospect into buying something that may or may not meet their needs was hailed as a supreme accomplishment. That’s no longer the case. People have quick, easy access to information (and yes, I’m talking to you, smartphone). Because of that, it’s much more difficult to talk someone out of objections with fast lingo, half-truths and exaggeration. The internet has also done consumers an unintended favor: it got everyone used to the idea of evaluating information for themselves. In recent years, customers have become much more likely to question the source of information both online and in person. Armed with this newfound knowledge, they’re more confident in their own decision-making abilities while being less willing to be bullied into making a quick decision by a pushy salesman. We’re all more willing to walk away, get a second opinion, or check other sources for better deals.

In this shall we say “more-evolved” era of sales, the process of selling has become more intellectual. Talent and art still have their place, but today’s sales process is based more in hard numbers and facts. Sales has become more defined and yet more interdisciplinary (and, if we’re being honest, a bit more overwhelming). We have seen companies struggle in two areas. On one end of the spectrum are the companies that refuse to embrace modern tools and methods like information gathering, the psychology of buying and selling, etc. On the other end are the companies that jump at every gimmick and fad without being thoughtful about the process ad how it will relate, in real-world applications, to their business model.

We might reflect a bit on that time when the Hard Sell was an effective ploy and think we’re doing so much better now, but mark my words, at some point in the not-so-distant future, today’s approach will also slip into memory. It will probably be incremental – as most things are – but, eventually, it will become outdated too. Since the world keeps changing and the way we process information continually evolves, effective sales outreach needs to evolve with it, or be left behind.

The take-away here?
Education is a primary pit-stop on the road to conversion.

Make sure your company’s sales materials are selling your products’ or services’ primary benefits in terms that directly relate to your customers’ needs. Tickle & Woo encourages companies to craft compelling, informative sales messages that can be emblazoned inside every Tickle Box mailing. Our Customer Happiness Team can even help you write the content!