This blog originally was published on Marketo.com on Friday, September 6, 2017.
Alright, alright, alright. It’s 2017 and the dating scene is now digital. With Tinder making more than 26 million matches a day, it is time for marketing and sales departments to take a play from the online dating handbook.
Think about how your marketing and sales teams are engaging digitally with prospects. Would you “swipe right” for those messages? Chances are your organization’s messages might be raising “creeper” flags for prospects. In this blog, I’ll cover tips for lead management to make sure your “first date” with a prospect isn’t your last.
Awareness & Attraction
The first stage in both the dating and marketing/sales process is making sure the prospect knows who you are (awareness) and is interested in learning more about the value you could provide (attraction). Just like with dating, attraction is critical for moving beyond simply being an acquaintance.
When working to create awareness and interest with potential customers, it is important to think of these interactions as you would on a blind date (or in the case of online dating, your first message).
Imagine if you received a message like this from an online dating app, you would probably be creeped out and wondering if there are any normal people out there. This person doesn’t even know anything about you but already wants to enter a life-long commitment with you. Too much, too soon? Heck yes! [Delete Message]
The same thing applies to cold marketing/sales emails. I am sure you all have received an email from a person/company that you have never heard of that talks about how they can solve all of your problems before they have ever taken the time to hear what your interests and concerns are, to begin with. Unsubscribe.
This is why it is so important in business (as well as online dating) that these first interactions are treated as first dates. Don’t make assumptions and don’t come off too strong. Spend time learning about the other person’s’ areas of interest, then determine if he or she is a mutual attraction (yes, mutual attraction is critical, since they’re vetting you as much as you’re vetting them) and plan out next steps.
This top-of-funnel engagement should really be focused on educating the prospect on why you are “Mr./Mrs. Right” and building credibility and trust for them to want to learn more. Advertising, digital content (blogs, infographics, cheat sheets), social media, and webinars are great mediums for creating awareness and attraction with prospects.
Okay, you have now gone on a couple of dates and things are going well. This becomes the pivotal point in the relationship when both parties have to decide if they want to get more serious and potentially become exclusive. This decision requires both parties to determine if the other party meets all of their ideal criteria for a potential suitor.
For businesses, this is typically done when a prospect meets their qualification criteria, generally through lead scoring. It is important when creating this criterion that you factor in both the prospect’s fit and interest level.
Fit generally refers to demographic/firmographic characteristics. These are key attributes of the prospect such as company size, location, job title, etc. Your fit criteria generally aligns with the details of your ideal customer profile.
Interest refers to the actions or behaviors a prospect has taken that demonstrates consideration of your solution. This could be activities such as clicking an email link, requesting a demo, attending a webinar, etc. Your interest criteria generally reflects a level of engagement a prospect has taken to learn more about your solution.
A business or personal relationship will not work if there is not both fit and interest. Even though Brad Pitt meets all of my firmographic requirements for a husband, being that he has no interest in me (let alone has no idea who I am), my fairytale wedding is probably never going to happen. The same goes for that prospect you keep emailing and never responds.
During the qualification stage of the relationship, it is important for both marketing and sales to work together to provide the prospect with content that positions you as the right solution to solve the prospect’s challenges. Stronger content such as case studies, ebooks, testimonials, and videos can provide more real-world and relatable examples on how your customers are using your solution.
Commitment & Acquisition
In the words of my mother, “Are you two ever going to get married? I am ready to be a grandmother!”
I am sure many of you can relate to the constant nagging of, “Are these two ever going to make it official?” In relationships, either professional or personal, eventually the time comes when it’s time to “fish or cut bait.”
For both relationships, it is all about mutually agreeing on the next step, whether that’s an engagement or a signed order form.
It is important as you work toward this acquisition that you have a strong understanding of your prospects’ pain points and requirements (including budget, authority, need, timeline, aka BANT) and have mutual confidence that your solution is the right one to overcome their challenges.
No one wants to or intends to breakup, whether it’s a personal relationship or in business. We all know it is cheaper to retain a customer than acquire a new one, which is why it is critical to start the relationship with confidence that everything is going to work out.
During these opportunity stages, it is important that marketing and sales are nurturing the prospect through the decision-making process, providing tailored resources ensuring that your solution is the best choice, as well as using tactics to create urgency (such as a discount or additional functionality) to help move the deal across the goal line sooner.
As you work to engage prospects and move them through your buyer’s journey, think about how you would respond to the messages you are planning on sending. That is generally a good indicator if it is going to create the right experience and generate a positive response. Because let’s face it, no one wants to be like Tom.
Image credit: BuzzFeed