I was listening to a motivational sales pitch the other day from Jeffery Gitomer. He told the story of how his wife walked into a high-end boutique and was browsing the racks when a sales person walked up to his wife and said, “Oh my God, I have the most perfect jacket that would look stunning on you.” Thirty minutes later, Gitomer and his wife walked out of the boutique with a $600 jacket. The sales person saw a lead and went for it, nurturing Gitomer’s wife through the sales funnel until she walked out of it with a luxury coat. Unfortunately in e-commerce, we don’t have physical sales people to cajole and complement. So if you don’t have actual boots on the ground (jackets aside), how do you manage to guide a person from browsing on your site to clicking “checkout?” How do you scream BUY NOW without ever saying a word?
Simply put, this skill is called Lead Nurturing, or cultivating a sale from a party that’s expressed some degree of interest. According to Forrester Research, this practice can lead to a 19% increase in pipeline value. As a global online retailer, you may not be able to access your customers physically, but you can chart and observe their habits on your site. You can measure: how long a customer stays on a page; what products they are interested in; and what key words they used to navigate to the site. As an online retailer, you know that 70% of carts are left abandoned. This information can be a pivotal key to improve this statistic.
Although all sales cycles are different, here’s a step-by-step description of each state:
1. Suspect: Anyone browsing your site. For B2B sites, engage with relevant and interesting content. Conversely, B2C may find that highlighting a bestselling product and providing cross-selling and up-selling beneficial.
2. Prospect: Any visitor who has been reading your relevant content. Pursue these people with interesting content, as well as a few light pitches to help segue from a general interest in the subject matter to a realization that your product or service could address a a relevant need.
3. Lead: A prospect who has expressed interest in price. B2B sites should show these people success stories that are compelling and relatable. And B2C will find that reviews or testimonials are helpful.
4. Customer: Any individual with questions about price and product. Comparison charts will help a customer decide why your offerings are better than your competition’s.
5. Customer — SOLD: Keep in contact with anyone who you’ve successfully converted. You can work on up-selling (and cross-selling) them and prove yourself as a leader in the industry. This is the point where you can begin nurturing this customer into a habitual buyer, and maybe even a brand ambassador.
Evaluating the Sales Cycle
The trick to perfecting your nurturing skills is seeing where you’re losing potential customers in your sales cycle. For example, if you are constantly successful at getting potential customers to convert to a lead, but are losing them after, you need to reevaluate your tactics. Do you need better sales materials, are you communicating your company’s advantages, is it as simple as price vs. value? Keeping a detailed record of where you succeed and where you can do better is key to finding where you need to adjust.
Ready, Set, Go (...but start small)
Launching your campaign doesn’t have to be daunting. Start with something as easy as a “Welcome” campaign. When anyone visits your site, gather their email addresses. Engage with some relevant content, and not necessarily a sales pitch. B2B sites respond well to information about services. B2C will find that exciting the customer with sales and promotions is a safe approach. Everyone likes a “first time buyer” discount. Keep a record of what works. What makes your customer tick? The goal is to get them to move along the sales cycle as quickly as possible so that they can be the one purchasing that $600 jacket.