Recently we’ve been doing a customer insights project where we are speaking with potential customers (of our client) in the real estate development industry, and it got me thinking about lead nurturing. For starters, wow, were these people hard to reach! It’s not uncommon for us to have to really hustle to find people to speak with for a project, but this particular group was uncommonly challenging to get in touch with. One individual required something like twenty separate touchpoints (phone calls, messages, etc.) before we finally reached him – for an interview he’d previously agreed to, and was happy to do!
What I found so interesting, though, was that when my colleague Dov finally spoke with him, he made a point of saying that this is in fact what it takes to get noticed by people in his industry – dogged persistence, not giving up, especially if initial interest has been expressed. He was pleased to see Dov had worked so hard to reach him, and the interview was great.
Lead nurturing is a tough part of marketing implementation, because it’s so unpredictable, and so often feels unrewarding for the people doing the work. And, as we see from this example, in some industries it feels a lot like telemarketing. There are great applications like Salesforce which can help systematize the process and make it trackable and measurable, but it still requires a lot of judgement – how many contacts will be irritating? How many are required to show determination and an appetite for the business? How can you build a relationship with someone you don’t know and haven’t done business with yet? Email, phone call, handwritten note, fruit basket, link to a relevant article, carrier pigeon, skywriting?
Systems aside, though, this recent experience really reinforced for me the power of plain old persistence. Sometimes you need a lot of finesse, but sometimes it’s purely the willingness to stick with it.
In our own business, I’ve been following up with a potential new client in a very niche type of business venture. We spoke a few months ago, but since then he’s been engaged in other pursuits on two other continents, and hasn’t had a chance to get back to this idea as quickly as he’d like. But, I keep following up, and every time he expresses appreciation that I have done so. Do I know if anything will come of this? Of course not. It’s certainly not the highest-probability type of lead we get in the door in our business. But it’s definitely worth keeping it on my radar, as long as he’s still responsive, because you just never know. And with every interaction there’s a chance for us to get to know each other a bit better. Demonstrating that I want his business is a way to demonstrate that I’ll be just as persistent when it comes to actually doing the project, I like to think.
What role does plain old persistence play in your industry? How do you keep new leads on your radar? How varied is your approach to lead nurturing depending on how the relationship evolves – even well before you have signed a deal?