Staying front and center in a potential customer’s mind without pushing them away can be a tricky line to walk. Push too hard for a sale and your lead may balk. But fail to follow up, and your lead will almost certainly vanish.
With this challenge in mind, I asked successful entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:
What is one way that you keep customer leads active in your funnel even though they have explicitly said that they are not interested (yet) in making a purchase?
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
Their suggestions are below.
1. Reach Out
We have our managers reach out to the lead and ask how the software or sales consultants are doing. Simply send, “Hey Customer, I just wanted to check in and see how things are going with X and reviewing X?”
2. Follow Up in a Couple Months
I have notes in my CRM that remind me to follow up with them four to six months after our conversation to check in. This keeps you top-of-mind for them and showcases your service and follow-up skills. Oftentimes, it finds them at a better time to make a buying decision.
– Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids
3. Celebrate Fun Holidays
People always send out holiday cards, and that’s a great way to give a personal touch to those who are clients as well as those who aren’t.
But as a unique company, we want to keep our unique brand, so we like to celebrate holidays such as the autumnal equinox or Presidents’ Day. This makes our clients (or nonclients) laugh, and it keeps us at the top of their mind without pushing too hard to make them make a decision.
4. Remarket Advertisements
Maintaining customer leads through different forms of remarketing is an essential way to keep leads active. Search remarketing allows you to display ads to customers who are searching for products similar to yours. Display remarketing will keep your brand at the forefront when they visit different websites online.
Rather than relying on the customer to remember you at the right moment, you’ll be relying on remarketing to do the remembering for them when they need your services.
– Brett Farmiloe, Digital Marketing Company
5. Build Great Relationships
To us, it’s all about relationships. Many times, our sales process can be quite long, so we have to build great relationships and respect that they might not be in a place to buy on our timetable.
We maintain relationships with our networks regardless of whether we think they’ll make a purchase decision right away because, at some point, they’ll run into a situation where they need our services, and when they do, we’ll be there.
– Chris Cancialosi, GothamCulture
6. Tag All Leads as Active
We are fairly aggressive in terms of the volume of communication we deliver to our users. Part of the reason is because we are a network and community.
It’s important that users remain engaged with our platform and its users. Everyone is tagged as active in our sales funnel regardless of how much communication they’ve asked to receive. If they end up removing themselves from our sales funnel, then it’s unlikely they were ever going to commit to being a customer anyway. This has been our experience for years.
– Janis Krums, OPPRTUNITY
7. Time It Right
Those leads aren’t hot leads anymore. They are removed from the funnel. To keep these customers engaged, we drip them into a long-term, segmented and automated follow-up sequence.
If a customer has ensured that he never wants to purchase from you, make sure you keep that person on your “do not contact” list. If he implies that there will be an eventual purchase, then send yourself some sort of reminder to call again and see if he expresses any interest in purchasing by then. Make sure you time it right if it’s a seasonal product.
– Kevin McGann, GraduationSource
8. Educate Them
Quit trying to sell the customer, and nurture the relationship instead. If you have identified a problem the customer has (even if it’s not one your product solves), go out of your way to find a solution. Provide research, information, recommendations and even introductions to competitors that they can use to solve their problem.
If you can demonstrate value outside of selling, your leads will trust you and turn to you when they do have a problem your product can directly solve. Focus on relationships instead of sales.
– Brewster Stanislaw, Inside Social
9. Add Humanized Value
We use a phrase in our sales process called “humanized value.” It’s the concept that people do business with people, and you need to provide value. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling software or tangible products; you need humanized value.
If someone is not interested in buying from you yet, provide a journey that includes a series of touchpoints that provide value in the form of check-in calls, case studies, deals/promos, tips/how-tos, customer stories and examples of giving back. Leads are people, and they expect you to be too.
– BJ Cook, Digital Operative Inc
10. Share Relevant News
One of the ways we keep customer leads engaged is by sharing relevant information about things that might help their business or about the target market they’re trying to reach.
Our customers are businesses that want to reach college parents, so one example of keeping them engaged is sending information about upcoming campus events that will help them market to visiting parents.
– Sarah Schupp, UniversityParent
11. Utilize Content Strategy
A great way to keep potential customers engaged is to execute a content strategy. We do this through our company blog. Rather than writing a bunch of blog posts about how awesome the company is, we stick to “how-to” articles, case studies and other informative content that applies to our potential customers’ industries.
In essence, we want to make our blog a destination source that is chock-full of valuable information for our potential customers. This keeps these potential customers engaged, and it keeps you in their purview for when they are interested in purchasing.
– Danny Boice, Speek
12. Ask the Right Questions
Make sure you ask all the right leading questions, so when you have an offering that meets the customer’s requirement, you might be able to close. At the very least, you should tell the customer you would like to stay in touch with him in an effort to establish an ongoing relationship and introduce future products.
– Sam Bahreini, VoloForce
13. Ask For Help
Send customers an email or call them asking for a little help with something. People want to feel they are useful and helpful. It’ll open up another line of communication, and it will help continue the relationship.
– Andrew Howlett, Rain