For just about every practice and business in existence, sales are the life force behind them. Without continually creating new customers and driving sales, your practice is essentially dead in the water. Yet for many businesses, honing down the sales process can be a difficult and seemingly elusive endeavor. What really is the best strategy to optimize your sales process and generate the highest possible number of new clients? Lead nurturing is the key to turning more of your leads into paying customers.
In our largely technology-driven world, the landscape of sales and marketing is changing, and rapidly at that. Most of the traditional avenues of advertising that businesses have relied on for decades are drying up. Do-not-call registries, email spam filters, DVR technology, ad blockers, are all making it challenging for business to reach new audiences. Likewise it is clear that people do not want to be reached via those interruptive means. At the same time, many businesses are seeing tremendous success through social media, blogging, content marketing, and permissions-based email campaigns. These newer methods help companies become more transparent and searchable online, and draw more traffic to their website. More importantly, they successfully integrate with the behaviors and interests of your target audience, and engender trust and credibility in your brand. This is essentially the process of inbound marketing, and it is the best way to generate new leads for your practice.
As any good salesman knows, the art of closing a lead is a delicate dance, a courtship of sorts whereby both parties need to feel they are gaining something by entering into an official business relationship. At any given time, there will be any number of people that are aware of your practice or business, have a problem or need that they need to address, and a timeline in which they need to address it. For some individuals, they may be ready to pull the trigger and make a purchase right then and there. For others, they are still in their information gathering phase, and perhaps aren’t on as tight of crunch to make their purchasing decision and take action. The information and selling points that compel the first individual to take action, will not necessarily be the same for the latter individual. The awareness of the different stages of the buying cycle, and creating targeted premium content and messages to address the needs, interests, and desires of people of those different stages, is the essence of lead nurturing.
What compels a lead to become a paying client?
One of the major tenets of inbound marketing is that businesses should shift from the idea of selling to people, to an overarching mentality of earning the interest and trust of their audience. The primary means of achieving this is to develop content that educates, informs, and enriches the lives of the people that would make ideal clients or customers. First and foremost, you must identify exactly who those people are, their interests, needs, and behaviors, and how and where they obtain information. By meeting your ideal clients where they already are, and offering useful, relevant, premium content, you are much more likely to garner their attention, earn their trust, and ultimately convert them from visitors to leads, and leads to sales. Again, it is incredibly important to discern where your leads are in the buyer’s journey, and develop the different means to nurture them throughout the funnel.
Some people need a solution, and they need it now. For a personal injury lawyer, this is likely a common occurrence. Someone has just suffered a terrible injury, and they need action. What is going to cause them to choose your legal practice over another? Perhaps they filled out a form on your contact page. In this instance, you would recognize the narrow window of opportunity, and the need for immediate follow-up. It sounds simple, but without the proper tools on your website to recognize and capture the information of these “hot” leads, and respond in a timely and appropriate manner, they could be slipping through your fingers without you even realizing. A firm and friendly outreach out via email or phone call may be all that is necessary to convert that lead into a paying client.
Some people need more time. This is a likely scenario for people interested in a plastic surgery procedure. Perhaps they are still in the phase of gathering information, or they haven’t quite made up their mind who the best surgeon is for them. Anyone that visits your site that is not quite ready to make a purchase is more of a “warm” lead. It is within this area that your marketing efforts will make a world of difference. 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance.
Thanks to the power of the internet, people have all of the information in the world at their fingertips. When someone conducts an online search, they will get hundreds of thousands, if not millions of results. (Granted, 75% of users never scroll past the first page). The best way to attract a target audience to your website, and keep them coming back for more, is with content such as ebooks, tipsheets, whitepapers, and the likes which address their interests and needs. Once you've captured their information from your on-site CTAs, they begin getting free premium downloads and target email follow-ups that contain additional useful, pertinent information. Coming from a place of thoughtful education is the essence of lead nurturing, and is the key to winning someone's business.
Some people may not ever become paying clients. But that is completely OK, and to be expected. For dentists, attorneys, plastic surgeons and ophthalmologists alike, the power of referrals cannot be understated. They may still read your blog, follow you on social media, and even access and download your premium content. Furthermore, at any given time, they might mention your practice’s name to someone else that is ready to become a buyer, or share a piece of your content with them. By continually producing high-quality content, and maintaining a strong web presence, you will always remain front and center in people’s minds, and set yourself up for more sales now, and in the future.