Follow Up Properly To Improve Your Industrial Marketing
In a perfect world every qualified sales lead would be ready to buy today. Your marketing department would do an excellent job of qualifying inquiries and your sales leads would say, “Yes please, could I have it tomorrow?” Your staff would marvel at the ease and effectiveness of industrial marketing and the total lack of a need for any follow up.
But what are the odds of contacting your leads at the perfect moment?
The answer is not often and here is why: Only 2-5% of any market is ready to buy now.
The Sad Truth About Buying Cycles And Their Effect On Industrial Marketing
Five years ago many buyers had three to six month buying cycles. In today’s marketplace buying cycles are getting longer and it appears this trend has no end in sight.
Many companies are running lean and mean and cannot afford to make purchasing mistakes. The consequences of a poor purchasing decision could be catastrophic. These companies are using a couple of techniques to reduce their purchasing risk. Some are creating buying committees or teams with multiple decision makers. Other companies are adding new steps to their purchasing process to mitigate risk. Both of these techniques have the effect of greatly lengthening the buying cycle.
The Disconnect That’s Killing Sales
If longer buying cycles aren’t enough to make selling more time consuming, there is a second disturbing trend. Many salespeople don’t recognize these new buying processes and are using sales processes that are completely disconnected with today’s buying process.
Sellers are interested in accelerating the purchasing decision while buyers are adding steps and being more cautious. This puts sellers and buyers at cross-purposes.
If the bulk of sales force compensation is commission-based it encourages salespeople to pressure reluctant buyers to make purchasing decisions – now. Otherwise these salespeople move on. Worse still, when many of today’s cautious buyers feel pressured they simply will not buy – until they are ready.
Salespeople anxious to close sales immediately allow many of these longer-term qualified sales opportunities slip through the cracks. This is a very expensive mistake as your most profitable sale may arrive in six months as a result of a selling process that began today.
The Critical Industrial Marketing Importance Of The Rule Of 45
Most marketing experts agree that up to 45% of qualified sales leads in a given marketplace will be ready to purchase within twelve months. This is referred to as the Rule of 45 which reveals that on average:
Within 3 months 10% to 15% of qualified sales leads will purchase
Within 6 months 26% of qualified sales leads will purchase
Within 12 months 45% of qualified sales leads will purchase
What this means is if your salespeople focus strictly on prospects ready to buy within 90 days you are missing out on 66% to 78% of the total selling opportunities.
Using The Rule of 45 To Your Advantage
The key to taking advantage of the Rule of 45 is to create a system that allows you to get a substantial share of the 45% of qualified sales leads who will buy within 12 months.
This is done by creating a lead development system that offers your buyers useful educational information for up to 12 months from the time of your initial contact.
Your lead development system requires a series of communications which promote timely and relevant content to assist your buyers in making wise purchasing decisions. These communications typically take the form of tip-sheets, reports, white papers, blog posts, emails, webinars, or podcasts.
By creating a methodical and properly sequenced lead development system you will profit from a higher percentage of longer-term sales opportunities and strongly differentiate your company. It will also reduce the risk of your salespeople either putting pressure on buyers or ignoring longer-term sales opportunities.
Align Your Lead Development Content With Their Buying Process
Most buying cycles follow a predictable set of stages. You cannot force your buyers to buy earlier by compelling them to skip any of these stages. By aligning your lead development system content with these buying stages you will provide great value for your buyers. It also allows you to reset the buying criteria in your marketplace.
During the early stages of the buying cycle provide your buyers with content that encourages them to reconsider the status quo. Do not create sales pitches about your company but rather content that educates your buyers about how they can deal with their issues and pain. Show them how others are solving similar problems. It’s especially powerful to use market data and industry trends at this point to enhance your credibility.
In addition, if you can provide buyers with a check list that facilitates their decision making process you will reduce the length of their buying cycle.
As the buying cycle progresses provide your buyers with content that reduces their fear about purchasing. Provide case studies, testimonials, and other content that demonstrates proof of how others have benefited by choosing your company.
A methodical lead development system positions your company as a thought leader, powers up your industrial marketing, and helps to pave the way for your salespeople.