Lead nurturing makes the popcorn pop

As a child I really liked popcorn. The eating it was one thing; that was always a tasty delight with tons of butter and salt.

The popping fascinated me. Whether it was in a big pan with oil or from an hot air popper, watching it pop fascinated me.

The unpredictability of it all, that no two kernels popped at the same time.


Even when I applied a pattern to what I saw, the randomness kept popping and popping.

Like sales.

Segue to the ERE Expo this week. So many quality speakers and sessions that it was enough to make my head pop like a hot corn kernel.

One theme that kept coming up time and again was "talent community". How to build, sustain, adapt, thrive, engage, nurture, hire from said talent community. Many companies are creating them for the greater recruitment and hiring effort good.

Susan Burns, chief talent strategist at Talent Synchronicity, presented on just that and it got me thinking how that relates to your prospect community.

How as HR suppliers we build, sustain, adapt, thrive, engage, nurture, sell to from said prospect community. But we don't really treat them the same way.

Hammering your sales pipeline with demo requests and maybe a monthly newsletter isn't engaging them or nurturing. The same customer service outreach you give your customers can and should be applied to your prospects.

In fact the community should includes customers and prospects alike. We are doing more of that ourselves and seeing consistent conversion and up-sell results. According to one of our recent posts, it could be months before a prospect converts to a sale once they become a lead. It's only every few years that companies invest in HR software solutions. That's makes for long sales cycles.

Consider these:

  1. Hire an online customer/prospect community manager. Someone with a sales and marketing background. If you can't bring on headcount, make sure to assign to existing sales, marketing and/or biz dev folk. Person or persons must monitor and interact with both the customer and prospect communities -- listen, converse and relationship build.
  2. Keep your touches value-based and content-laced. Every bit of content you generate for your outbound and inbound marketing efforts should be distributed to your prospects as well, exclusively.
  3. Encourage your prospects to collaborate and engage with one another. Whether that be in a LinkedIn group, Facebook group, a Twitter stream and/or Twibe, one of many HR/recruitment professional networks, and/or your own collaborative platform. Encourage it, facilitate it and monitor it.
  4. Be available to answer any and all questions. And not just about your products or services either. Be available to talk about the greater part of the HR marketplace you occupy. Be a thought leader and be "live" -- use social media, talk on the phone or via a Skype video call (to be seen). Email only doesn't cut it any more.
  5. Encourage philanthropy and social causes. Corporate responsibility and virtue are the new differentiators. Get involved and encourage involvement with your firm, your employers, your customers and prospects.
  6. Breakdown and analyze your community demographics. If you can, that is. This way you can better serve your prospects by providing them with regionally specific content and encouraging collaborative discussions among like companies (and you) sharing the same regional pain points. Your already doing this with your customers and this could help to close more deals.
  7. Run regular informal polls and surveys. Ask your customers and prospects about what's going on in their world, what are the ever-changing events that affect their businesses today, what kinds of products and services do they need to meet their ever-changing needs -- so many things to ask. Take the time.
  8. Shut up and sell me stuff. The point of all these activities is to drive sales conversations. Don't forget that.

That's only the beginning. Your sales pipeline needs to be full of popcorn because you never know when they're going to pop.

Invest the time for these lead-nurturing activities because that's what makes them pop.

Post by Kevin W. Grossman (join me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn - and now join HRmarketer on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn!)

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