lead nurturingLead nurturing is the act of following up with leads in a consistent and, hopefully, logical way moving them gently along the path of becoming a customer.

In some high end, long decision process selling environments it’s the only way a sale is made. “Hi, glad to meet you, call me when you’re ready to buy,” isn’t a very nurturing approach.

In today’s marketing world smart companies are tapping powerful nurturing tools and technology to help their prospects get to know, like, and trust them, make sales when competitors can’t get past the front lobby, and charge a premium for their products and services.

In some cases it’s a matter of automatically dripping more and more information, in others it’s case of knowing exactly when your prospect is showing interest and in still others it can come down to gaining greater knowledge about your prospect by simply using technology to understand their behavior. (Don’t worry, none of this need be done in a creepy way, it’s all a matter of using technology and the information your prospects willing share.)

The secret is to stay top of mind and continue to educate, but do it ways that have impact.

The following ten tools are ones that I would suggest to most any small business owner to use in tandem with a cadre of education based marketing content in the form of ebooks, audio, video, newsletters, surveys and seminars.

1. BatchBlue – a lightweight CRM tool with a twist. BatchBlue makes it very simple to add your prospect’s social media profiles thereby having access to their blog and twitter feeds right at the point of interaction. Really great for your journalist target market too!

2. ACT! – still the grandaddy of the desktop CRM software. Sage had done a nice job with the most recent release and I still think ACT!’s campaigns are the most intuitive and effective for the very small business.

3. InfusionSoft – this is a hybrid CRM, email, shopping cart, affiliate tool all rolled into one and not for every business, but if you have large lists to manage and want a really great tool for segmenting and targeting those lists, this is a great tool.

4. SwiftPage – this tool allows you send batches of email to prospects and then receive ranking reports based on how the prospect interacted with the email. Integrates with ACT! and Outlook and works for one email or many. The best time to follow-up is when your prospect takes interest.

5. Enthusem – this is a fairly new tool to me, but I really like the presentation. You can send a high end greeting card to prospects that sends them pick up a free report or watch a video. The system then alerts you when the recipient visits your landing page.

6. AWeber – this is low cost, but very effective, autoresponder and email service. Autoresponders have been around for some time now, but I still find them a very effective way to drip information to prospects via email.

7. Vertical Response – this email and post card sending service is one of the simplest to use, allowing you to send large amounts of high-impact email messages, campaigns and newsletters.

8. SendPepper – another tool that is newer to me, but I really like what they have to offer. Think autoresponder, but with direct mail. Someone visits you site and fills out a form and then they receive an auto email message right away and a high impact post card a few days later. The postcard further had a personal URL that sends them to a landing page to receive more details created just for them.

9. Web Conferencing – using a service like iLinc, GoToWebinar, or Calliflower you can offer your prospects the ability to attend demos, peer2peer panels, collaboration sessions, or even sales presentations from the comfort of their office. Great to archive and offer in other formats as well.

10. Hand-written notes – low tech and still the greatest lead nurturing tool around. Get in the habit of sending a dozen or so a week and you’ll be hooked.

Photo credit: BrockVicky

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • funny…i get excited about the cool technology and new way of doing things laid out in this post. but i find myself walking away most valuing the reminder to write personal notes 🙂

    • I know, I kind of meant that to be the subtle irony of this post.

  • Your dripping analogy is great John. I think so much of us give up so quickly without looking at the typical sales cycle of our customers. I have found in one particular application that it takes 4 to 6 months for the person to ultimately become an “ideal client.” Effective “dripping” has shorten the sales cycle but time is still a factor. Your analogy hits home with me!

    I like the previous comment, so much. It is so true!

  • Thanks for sharing these. As a small business business development professional I am constantly amazed at the low cost and free tools for marketing via the web.

  • The old number was 13 touches. So it could be an array of integrated marketing tactics from phone calls, personal visits, social media, email blast, e-newsletter etc.

    The first key is sustained effort. You cant plant seeds and just walk away. You have to water them, make sure they get sunshine, keep the soil in good condition.

    The second is be solid educator of information and value to your prospects. Show them you understand their business and you have the solutions to what keeps them up at night. Dont push your product, but instead become a trusted source and advisor. As trust & credibility grow… so will your sales.

    Outlook is as good as any. Just put in your calendar when to follow up, or reminders. There are several that incorporate with Outlook which is nice to keep it all together.

    Chad Rothschild

  • Thanks John. I'm a big fan of Act. Also find AWeber simple and useful. The other tools I don't know so well – but I'm going to check them out.

  • Since you've done some great research into these services, could you comment on KudosWorks? It's a system I've used over the last couple of years to collect, manage, & share customer testimonials. The idea is to use customer testimonials to promote your company/service to your customers' friends (in addition to getting great supportive content for your web site). You can see it on my site… click the KudosWorks link on the sidebar: http://www.modernoutpost.com
    I would be very interested to know what you think, and if there is a better way in your mind to spread the word without pushing the direct marketing approach. I much prefer to get my customers talking, as I don't have the time to push for new leads, and not enough cash to advertise.
    I look forward to your comments.
    Graham Morfitt

  • EH

    It's interesting that even with all of the online media things available, nothing can replace the genuine sincerity of a hand written note. In almost every case, a hand written note will make the largest impact on the receiver.

  • Great post. You might also want to take a look at Nurture http://www.nurturehq.com which is probably the simplest one and yet very powerful.

  • Know who is visiting your website by company. As your nurturing is through many channels (email, telephone, letters) only your website knows who actually responds on your nurturing.

  • So many small business owners just don't understand the need for, and the power of, keeping in touch.

    Good job!

  • So many small business owners just don't understand the need for, and the power of, keeping in touch.

    Good job!