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Nurture Sales Leads Until They’re Ready To Buy.

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A major problem for most sales organisations is generating new leads. A worse problem is that sales staffs let too many leads slip away by not paying enough attention to potential customers or clients who want to buy from you – but they’re not ready to buy right now.

A recent study done reveals that, on average, 25% of leads are considered sales-ready, 50% require further nurturing and 25% are disqualified. Pay attention to the middle group: Half of all leads require further nurturing before the time arrives when they are ready to make a purchase decision.

The problem is that too few sales organisations are geared to nurturing leads, and the issue appears to be widespread. A study by The Yankee Group concludes from 40% to 80% of new business leads are lost, not followed up, or otherwise mishandled due to poor sales processes in a company. No research shows any positive shift in those appalling statistics over the past four-plus years.

Changing The Terms

There is a pro-active way to nurture the “not ready to buy yet” group – and one which buyers won’t resent or end up feeling as if they’re being “sold.” Instead of trying to make a sales pitch whenever you make a follow-up call to the prospect, change the terms of the call to ask probing questions and determine how far along they are in their own buying process.

This does two things for buyers and offers an important benefit for sellers.

To buyers, first it demonstrates vividly that you’re not just interested in making a sale, any sale. Rather, it shows vividly that you are trying to understand the issues they are dealing with, and their concerns or problems. Secondly, it becomes an important way to help them move along the path in their own buying process because it compels them to focus their thinking.

For sellers, instead of merely calling to say, “I’m just following up on our last conversation and wondering if we can get together next week?” you can use a call during the “nurturing time” to ask specific questions about any issues that were discussed or uncovered in previous meetings. This goes a long way to position a seller in the prospect’s mind as problem solver, not an order taker.

Nurture, Don’t Nudge

Nurturing a sales lead means the seller is helping a buyer make their own decision by advancing the customer or client’s own, internal buying process. But the moment sellers begin thinking in terms of their own selling process, they stop nurturing and begin nudging.

And the moment a prospect feels they are being “nudged” – or pressured – their resistance builds, the seller loses the coveted position of a helpful advisor and falls back into the category of order taker like every other sales person calling on the contact. That’s no good for the prospect, no good for the seller and certainly no good for the seller’s business.
Published: 2008-03-18
Author: Charley James

About the author or the publisher
A former assistant editor of "Business Week" magazine, and a television news producer and reporter before that, Charley James began writing when he was about eight and hasn't stopped.

Now, he covers and writes news articles including his own independent investigative reporting, writes articles, websites and newsletters for clients, drafts speeches, creates and writes ad copy, and crafts humorous essays about things people encounter every day.

Charley has been published in many magazines.

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