Imagine your marketplace is a field of banana trees. Your marketing people are those who nurture and pick the bananas.
Bananas are harvested when they are green, and they turn yellow as they ripen. (Check out Chris Coleman's book, The Green Banana Papers.) In my estimation, 95% of your leads are like harvested green bananas. Here's how to ripen all those green bananas before you pick them.
Effective lead generation is the biggest issue for contemporary business-to-business marketers. But up to 80% of marketing expenditures on lead generation and collateral goes to waste for lack of commitment and discipline. Those tools end up in the scrap heap, because the sales department doesn't know what to do with them.
The secret to successful lead generation, and in turn marketing, in the business-to-business space today is process. This process converts more inquiries into qualified leads and qualified leads into sales. It is called lead nurturing.
Lead nurturing is all about having consistent and meaningful dialog with viable prospects regardless of their timing to buy. It's about building trusted relationships with the right people. In the end, it's the act of maintaining mind share and building solid relationships with economic buyers. It's not a salesperson calling up every few months to find out if a prospect is "ready to buy yet."
Selling How You Service
Most economic buyers subscribe to the notion that how you sell indicates how you will service. A recent study of business-to-business buyers shows that sales people who become trusted advisors and understand the needs of economic buyers are 69% more likely to come away with a sale.
The complex sale requires the following:
- Your prospect must be familiar with you and your company, and with what you and your company do.
- Your prospect must perceive you and your company to be experts in the field.
- Your prospect must believe that you and your company understand his or her specific issues and can solve them.
- Your prospect likes you and your company enough to want to work with you.