A product marketing manager asked me if we were just wasting money and time on lead generation: The sales force had just informed him that they already knew all the customers that his lead generation campaign had produced. Here is why generating the same lead repeatedly through Nurturing Demand Generation can be a very good use of money.
A customer in your target market is anyone who could use your product. A “lead” is someone who has the inclination and ability to buy your product in the near future. A customer goes in and out of that “lead” state over time as their needs and ability to buy emerge, get met, and eventually re-emerge.
If you are new to the target market, then your lead generation objective is to find people new to your company who should get to know you before making a decision. In contrast, if you have been in the market for a while you may have encountered many (maybe all) of the customers for your product. In this case, you have additional lead generation objectives: You want to make sure that you are top of mind and aware every time that they go into lead mode. Since customers are not always shopping with intent to buy, lead generation efforts are well worth the money if they:
- Tip customers into “lead-dom” by stimulating an appetite for a new product
- Make you aware when a customer you may already know, has become an active shopper – a real lead rather than a passive customer.
In the past, it was the sales force’s job to keep your product top of mind during the times when a customer was not ready to buy. Sales was expected to know when a customer became an active lead/buyer by staying in constant touch. Reality: This kind of “nurturing” was rarely practical outside of top accounts. Today, most sales forces don’t have the time or access for this level of intimacy across the needed number of prospects. Enter Marketing.
Marketing is the Cyrano de Bergerac to Sales’ Christian. By keeping in contact with customers, giving them a range of enticing offers to which to respond and carefully assessing their responses, marketing can precipitate and detect when a customer turns into an active lead. It is estimated that you need to communicate with a customer an average of 5 to 7 times before they are ready to buy from you. Marketing automation makes this kind of Nurturing Demand Generation possible.
Just as Cyrano provided the poetry, marketing can use automation to provide the attentiveness and relevancy that customers seek. In this world, Marketing’s gift to Sales is not a new name, it is the gift of high efficiency — a stream of old and new customers who are informed, intrigued and feel cared for and ready to be influenced and buy.
Input welcome: I’ve met so many customers who complained that they felt ignored by the industry. Similarly, marketing and sales people always get a big motivation boost from getting to know customers better and meeting their relationship needs. The possibility of High Touch/Low Cost personalized marketing and customer relationship management is finally here. It is in its early stage. What has been your experience with this?