When it comes to nurturing leads, most sales reps understand the importance of conversational marketing and social selling. But cultivating these customer connections is not always easy.
In a report from IDG (published by Marketo), 43% of B2B marketers agreed that converting and nurturing leads was the most difficult part of lead generation, nearly topping the list of their biggest challenges overall.
The real secret to improving conversions through nurturing is to find ways to connect with individual customers. And the best way to do this is by having meaningful conversations.
Through conversation, sales teams can build relationships with customers and clients that will (ideally) result in a more natural conversion.
Chances are that you’ve bought something that you possibly didn’t even need or consider beforehand – simply because the salesperson you interacted with was engaging and interested in helping you. Whether it was a face cream or a car, when you can tell that a salesperson is genuinely trying to connect and help you make a smart purchase, you’re a lot more likely to convert.
However, in today’s digital world, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to engage in real conversations with customers, particularly on an individual basis. Unfortunately, this leads to many conversion-killing mistakes.
So if you’re looking to level-up your conversational selling, here are three common mistakes to avoid:
1) Using Automation in the Wrong Ways
There’s no question that marketing automation has made it much easier for salespeople to connect instantly and jumpstart the lead nurturing process. But just because automation makes it easier to start nurturing a potential lead, that doesn’t mean it’s always the best approach.
How many times have you gotten a connection on LinkedIn followed immediately by an automated sales message? In most cases, these conversations are over before they start. There’s very little incentive to respond when you can tell that their message is totally generic.
So when making the first contact, your first order of business is to make the conversation natural. Yes it will take more time, but try to get a better understanding of what they do, what they do well, and what their struggles are.
This doesn’t mean that marketing automation has lost its place in conversational lead nurturing – it’s still a powerful tool. One way that automation can be extremely useful is with lead scoring.
Since sending out individual messages to each lead can be a time-consuming process, using an automated scoring system to identify which leads are the most likely to convert can help you prioritize which accounts to connect with first.
This frees up more time for you to have real conversations with your prospects. A win-win.
2) Having the “What Can You Do for Me?” Mentality
When approaching someone on social media – or any other communication platform – it’s super obvious when salespeople are strictly focused on making a sale and nothing else.
Remember that customers are generally skeptical these days. According to HubSpot’s report, salespeople are reported to be some of the least trustworthy sources for informed decision-making 😬
At the end of the day, regardless of what you are selling, your goal needs to be providing solutions and establishing relationships with your clients that extend far beyond an initial conversion. Helping is the new selling. Getting the commission is (and always should be) secondary.
As you engage in conversation, it needs to be clear that you have a “how can we help each other grow” mentality. Ask them questions and show a genuine interest in their answers. Don’t lead them through a scripted conversation that allows you to interject and promote your product/service. It’s best to follow the three key pillars of the Conversational Framework:
Start by making an effort to truly connect with your lead by engaging in a genuine conversation. Do your best to get to know them a little bit on a personal level. By building a rapport, you can start to gain their trust and create a relationship that is built on something more than just a potential sale.
The best salespeople are the ones who actually listen to their customers and then suggest the products/services that are most relevant. So, you need to understand exactly what their needs are before you can suggest solutions. In order to do this, you should ask the kinds of questions that will help you understand their motivations and challenges.
Here are a few ideas:
- Where are you seeing the biggest struggles within your team?
- Have you had trouble generating leads?
- Which tools are really saving you lots of time and effort?
The key here is to listen and then respond. Take the time to hear what they are saying and get an idea of their top priorities. Then, genuinely explain what your company can do to help make those goals a reality.
3) Thinking Conversations Are Restricted to Business Hours
Doing outreach during business hours can definitely be effective. But your messages can also easily be left for dead if the lead or connection is in the middle of their busy workday.
Some studies have found that starting conversations for B2B lead nurturing works best in the evening – with 8 pm being one of the best times to actually reach out to a lead. A report from LinkedIn also found that 79% of professionals consume industry-related content at home, less than half of which do so while at work.
Be mindful of these shifts from making sales connections from the office. It might actually be better to connect with leads later in the evening when they’re at home, instead of during a busy workday.
On top of that, you’ve got to make sure your business website is equipped for immediate responses to inquiries at all times of the day. Unless you want to be sitting by your computer 24/7, you should consider utilizing an intelligent chatbot solution that can instantly engage with a potential lead when you’re out of the office.
Chatbots can be programmed to answer basic FAQs and help to nurture the lead until you’re able to reach out to them personally.
So, you want to know what makes a truly great salesperson?
It’s not always their expertise on the product or service, or even their commitment to closing a sale.
It’s the genuine connections they’re able to create with customers that make them feel confident and even excited that they are making the right purchase.
If you use these conversational tips, you’ll be well on your way building more genuine relationships and nurturing your leads into loyal, satisfied customers.
Manish Dudharejia is the President and Founder of E2M Solutions Inc., a San Diego-based digital agency that specializes in white label services for website design and development and e-commerce SEO. With over 10 years of experience in the technology and digital marketing industry, he is passionate about helping online businesses take their branding to the next level.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post. Interested in contributing content to the Drift blog? Email Molly Sloan at firstname.lastname@example.org.