Nurture Prospects Through the Sales Cycle

Last week, I had the good fortune of attending “Connected Marketing,” a presentation by Chris Geiser, general manager of Garrigan Lyman’s (GLG’s) New York office. The presentation was sponsored by the New York American Marketing Association.

“Connected marketing” is GLG’s term for integrated marketing gone electronic, or, as Geiser says, “delivering one message using many voices” and “using technology to sell technology.”

Through case studies of GLG’s own clients and those of other top corporations, Geiser showed innovative ways for nurturing new business relationships through the sales cycle of awareness, lead generation, sales enablement, and customer affinity (or retention).

The most compelling case study was for GLG client Avaya, a business communications company. To put Avaya on IT decision makers’ radar screens, GLG created a multitouch campaign centered around thought leadership and third-party validation of IT advisory firms, such as Gartner, InformationWeek, and Forrester.

The campaign destination, www.businessrealities.com, allowed prospects to tune into “always-on” online forums (versus Webcasts, which are only available at scheduled times). An industry analyst and a top Avaya technology professional moderated the forums. They discussed pressing business and IT challenges and offered solutions.

Prospects are drawn to the site via banner ads and email invitations. They register to view the online forum and are invited to participate in a live chat with experts. Based on prospects’ involvement and interest, qualified leads generated by the site visit are then sent to the Avaya sales force for follow up. Results are confidential, but Geiser did say both registrations and return visits exceeded expectations.

Geiser stresses the need to plan strategically for each sales-cycle phase and to anticipate the leads generated. Ask questions like, “What will we do once we have new relationships in the sales cycle?” He outlined a typical campaign for each stage of the cycle:

  • Brand awareness: Banner ads, HTML email

  • Lead generation: HTML email, white papers, Web events, surveys
  • Sales enablement: E-case studies, interactive demos
  • Customer affinity: E-newsletters, community sites

Geiser also cited some alarming statistics from Wendover Inc. about most companies’ failure to capitalize on their leads.

The average organization utilizes only 6 percent of the leads it generates yearly, because:

  • Lack of time. Only 14 percent of a sales professional’s time is spent on new business. It now takes an average of 12 attempts to get a decision maker on the phone.

  • Ignored prospects. Seventy-nine percent of prospects never receive a follow-up call.
  • Incorrectly disqualified prospects.

These stats made me think about all the prospects in my own business who got away. I’m going to make a concerted effort to plan more strategically and act more proactively to nurture the business relationships in my own sales pipeline.

How about you?

Send your case studies about business-to-business (B2B) lead-generation campaigns to Karen — and build some thought leadership for your own corporate or personal brand.

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