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Despite promoting many a proud collection of capabilities and achievements, the distinctions between competitors in most industries is still extremely narrow. That’s why I suggest a different approach. Discover what I mean. -more-

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Three Objectives For Your Lead Follow-Up Program

Getting the most out of your communications investment

The reason you invest in marketing communications is to generate leads that can be turned into sales. But all leads are not created equal.

3 Objectives of Lead Follow Up

Some leads are considered "hot" leads because they are trying to make a buying decision immediately. Some are moderately interested but may not be ready to make a serious commitment until a later date. And some are just curious with no real urgency at all.

Hot leads typically get all the attention, and understandably so, because they are the prospects who are most likely to place an order in the least amount of time and with the least amount of effort. But what about the other types of secondary leads?

Not only have you spent good money to generate them - there are also typically several times more lower-priority leads than immediate prospects. If all you do is send one mailing of product literature or make one phone call to qualify their value, few are likely to become legitimate sales opportunities. And the interest that your communications produced, as well as most of the money you invested, will have been wasted.

So what do you do? You initiate a follow-up brand communications program - a blog, an e-mail newsletter, a podcast, a social media program - whatever is most appropriate to periodically reconnect with the leads you have developed to accomplish three objectives:

Objective 1: Share Your Knowledge

The only way to turn any prospect into a sale is to demonstrate that you know what you're talking about. A hot lead has to make that decision quickly, but secondary leads have time to evaluate things more carefully. So use the time wisely. Tell them your perspective on key industry issues. Give them your thoughts on solutions that could be valuable. First steps that they could initiate themselves. Dangers to avoid. And obstacles they will encounter. Share simple ideas that will improve something they need or want to accomplish. Like "how to know when an investment should be removed from your portfolio" if you're a financial advisor or "five early signs your pumping unit needs attention" if you're an oil field service company. Let prospects see how you think and develop solutions. If they like your approach, chances are, when they're ready to buy, you're the one they'll contact. If they don't, chances are the relationship would have been difficult anyway. Sharing your knowledge gives prospects a no-obligation way to evaluate your thinking and some practical ideas they can use to demonstrate your value.

Objective 2: Highlight Your Advantages

Another thing that helps convince prospects which product or service they will eventually purchase are the advantages one competitor has over another. One thing to keep in mind when communicating with secondary leads is that you don't have to cover all your advantages at once. Spread them out. Explain them well. And illustrate them with real-life examples. If some of the advantages relate to physical properties, detail the test results that validate them and the field results they have delivered. If your advantages are operational, explain the purpose and application of key functions detailing the practical improvements customers have experienced. If your advantages are the result of exceptional skill and expertise, provide comparisons that make the difference obvious and explain the additional benefits those abilities create. The more deliberate, thorough discussion of advantages that takes place in secondary lead development often produces a better understanding of your unique strengths in those prospects' minds and, more importantly, how those advantages can ultimately benefit their company.

Objective 3: Demonstrate Solutions

The fact is, the only reason a prospect considers their vendor options and ultimately makes a change in their product of service choices is because they are trying to find a better solution to an issue they want to solve. So give them some examples of solutions you've developed. Define a problem you were asked to solve. Explain the main development decisions and the resulting strategy. And highlight some of the results. The whole idea here is to eventually demonstrate a range of successful applications of your ideas and skills. Because you don't really know all the issues a contact may be struggling to answer. So even though you might want to sell your top end 24/7/365 network maintenance plan, the prospect may see the simple, functional database solution you put together for an online retailer as a higher priority for immediate resolution. Remember, you're trying to turn a secondary lead into a hot prospect. Demonstrating solutions gives the prospect more ways to see you as the answer to the challenge they have an urgency to solve today.

Finally, while I don't have a lot of detail about the time-to-conversion or percentage of secondary leads who become hot leads in a particular program, I do have solid evidence to show that a lead that has responded once is much more likely to continue to accept communication and therefore influence than a first-time prospect. And respond at a higher rate as well.

In a program Cornerstone Brand Communications developed to maintain communications with architects who classified themselves as having "a future interest" in one client's product, documented initial electronic communications click-through rates ranging from half of one percent to just over one percent were recorded. Follow-up communications to those same responses, however, generated click-through rates from 22-39% depending on the content.

That's the whole point right there. To keep a once-responsive secondary prospect interested until something in their situation or your communication raises their urgency of action to a higher level.

To talk to someone about developing this type of follow-up plan for your business, contact Cornerstone today.