The Long And Fruitful Courtship Of Prospective Clients And Customers
One lesson I’ve learned in the marketing and public relations game over the years is that gathering leads is not just about trying to reach a point where you can close a sale – it’s about building a relationship.
Sure, it’s understandable that people want to convert those leads into sales as quickly as possible.
Nearly all of us want – and need – to see our hard work and efforts turned into cash. For example, when I field calls from people interested in a public relations campaign, a question they often hit me with is how many books or products they can expect to sell.
Maybe it’s human nature. We want to travel directly from Point A (the lead) to Point E (the sale), unwilling or unable to acknowledge that the journey may take us through Points B, C and D along the way as we cultivate a long-term relationship with prospects.
But here’s the thing. When you gauge a lead’s worth by whether you made a quick sale, you risk neglecting the incremental steps that don’t add anything to the bank account today, but could result in a big score tomorrow.
You see, one of the key points of marketing is that you need to build enthusiasm for your brand, and often that takes time.
Perhaps you have heard people refer to the “lifetime value of a customer.” That is, how much value will a business derive over time from a relationship with a customer?
In the same sense – though it’s not as easy to quantify – there’s the lifetime value of a prospect.
These are the people interested in what you offer, but aren’t ready to commit just yet.
No need to despair. Those people may have good reasons for not making a commitment right now. Perhaps they don’t have the money, but in a year or two they will. Perhaps other professional or personal commitments take priority at the moment, but that could change in six months.
Because today’s elusive prospect may transform into tomorrow’s major client, your goal is to reach broadly and create as many relationships as possible with the understanding that only a small percentage may result in actual sales immediately.
Some people call this a “sales funnel” – wide at the top to represent all those prospects and narrow at the bottom to represent those who became a customer.
The sales funnel is a nice metaphor, I suppose, but I cringe slightly when I hear the term. It sounds so dehumanizing.
I prefer to view it as the courtship of your prospects.
And as in an actual courtship, you can’t afford to let the flame of interest die. Let me share a few tips for keeping the relationship alive as your courtship matures from that getting-acquainted moment with a prospect to the day you can celebrate closing on a sale.
- Offer a blog or newsletter. One way to keep the connection going is to have a blog or newsletter that the person can subscribe to so you remain on their radar. If you don’t have one, you need to seriously consider starting one. But before you commit to creating one, realize it needs to be updated regularly to keep people coming back.
- Turn the lead into a social media connection. When people follow you or your company on Twitter and Facebook, you have the potential to establish a long-term relationship – even when you don’t realize it. Your updates pass through their news feeds regularly. Maybe they read all of them. Maybe they don’t. But you are kept alive in their consciousness, even if it’s in a small way. And you never know when those relationships might pay off. We just recently signed a new client we first connected with through Twitter in 2013. It was two years from lead to sale – but it was worth the wait. You also never know who that connection from a few years ago might be friends with, so those connections can keep growing.
- Stay engaged in conversation. I try to respond to nearly every email I receive, even if it’s just with a “thank you so much for writing.” This seems like a simple thing, but it’s truly important. Remember, you’re not just devoting attention to converting leads into sales; you are building a long-lasting relationship. Such relationships often hinge on those simplest of human interactions.
The most fundamental piece to all this is continually building your foundation of leads, or people interested in your service. Of course, publicity is one way to do that because the media spotlight gives you great visibility and positions you as an expert who people will want to engage with.
As an aside, I can tell you that one of the most rewarding aspects of this entire process and the conversations that come with it is the wonderful friendships I’ve made along the way!
P.S. If you need help with being spotlighted in the media, give us a call at 727-443-7115 ext. 211 or simply reply to this email.