Who shall cast the first stone? Who shall cast the first stone at they who have never been tempted to “throw” at a list of leads a communication that was above all intended for their clients? It’s often tempting, even more so when the communication in question is a great deal and not necessarily personalised… but is it a good idea?
Some will respond, first and foremost, that it works. And I couldn‘t say that they are (all) wrong. Yet in B2B, the purchases where we can make a decision in just a few minutes are few and far between! For all the others, we will need time, we need to build a relationship of trust, to discuss… and that really is a whole different kettle of fish.
Prospect Relationship Management (PRM) — or Lead Relationship Management — is not new and probably began its life at the same time as Customer Relationship Management (CRM). However, it seems that it was necessary to establish a semantic distinction at a given moment, if only to mark the occasion and highlight the fact that we do not treat a client in the same way we might treat a lead.
But PRM entails challenges that are often more complex from a marketing point of view than CRM. When you are working with a client, you already have the beginning of a shared story that you can count on to move forward. As for the lead, they have yet to be convinced by your offers, your solutions, or your customer service. They have yet to experience your brand. So you need to create a dedicated story for them, a way to inform them of all the necessary information that will enable them to become your client.
What also makes matters more complicated is that no two leads are the same: they do not all have the same requirements, they are not all necessarily in your target, not necessarily decision-makers, not necessarily…the right leads!
In the rest of this article, we’re going to show you four (and a half) stages that will let you foresee the different projects to put into place.
Stage zero: collect leads
Stage zero of the implementation of a PRM strategy involves having leads. If you cannot supply your PRM, it is obvious that you won’t get anything out of it. So you need to collect data and points of contact.
Anything goes here; you can use your inbound marketing strategy (including the traces left by your anonymous visitors), the organisation of/involvement in events, associations with partners, etc.
Buying or hiring files is obviously a significant starting point for lead collection. Solutions such as Sparklane will let you automatically receive new leads responding to very precise criteria. Why not enter these into a PRM solution with the aim of maturing them?
Stage 1: know and qualify your leads
Your leads, whether they have come from events, inbound marketing or external files, are not all valuable. It is important to sort the wheat from the chaff. To do so, it is crucial to enrich the data you possess on your leads via external sources, but also to conceive PRM scenarios so as to learn more about your leads.
For this last part, it is important to provide a tangible example. So, if you categorise your web pages so as to find out who visits the content pages (blogs, white paper, etc.) compared with the sales pages (product factsheets, prices, catalogue, etc.), then you could build a fairly simple score which will place a lead who really has been consulting your content for several months, yet has shown no interest in your products, on a siding (or in a different scenario).
Still in the aim of knowing and qualifying your leads better, it is important to very clearly separate the subjects dealt with in your communications so that you can analyse the categories preferred by different leads. If you have three large product categories, then design communications that will enable sorting. If you make new content or new forms available, then add a qualification question related to this content that will help you get to know the lead better.
Stage 2: differentiate between the level of maturity of your leads in order to communicate correctly
In creating your PRM scenarios, it is important to distinguish between the three types of leads that do not have the same requirements and for whom the work to be undertaken to get them to purchase is not the same.
- The cold lead: in this case, you have very little information about the lead, and the lead has not yet had the occasion to prove themselves. Here, you have to be very subtle in your use of Lead Nurturing. There is a double goal: on the one hand, to prove to them ‘softly’ that you are a specialist and that your services can be trusted; on the other hand, to try to find out if the lead has buying projects, with which type of product, and with which deadlines.
- The lukewarm lead: here you already have information at your disposal. The lead has a buying project in mind, but not for straight away. Your PRM scenarios and communications will therefore have to try to keep their attention during a given period of time so that they will still think of you when the right time comes.
- The hot lead: the ideal case, this lead has a short-term buying project and is ready to place the order, there’s not much missing now… Be careful that you don’t rush them. There are not many missing elements, but you’re going to have to choose the right ones. The goal of your PRM scenarios is going to be to create spontaneous contacts, to generate demonstration requests, etc., and to hand over to your sales team without rushing the future client.
Stage 3: generate self-learning with the collected data
We’ve already mentioned this in different forms in the two previous points: it is necessary to adapt along the way. If you have planned a communication cycle over several months for a particular type of lead, it is important to be capable of making it change its scenario along the way. This will be the case either because you got your starting point wrong, or because the needs of the lead, their position, their requirements, have evolved along the way.
Moreover, the data collected by your different communication actions will be very important information for your sales team, who, if the information has good value, will make enormous use of it. Turning it the other way round, your sales team should — at any point — be able to enrich a lead’s information with the aim of influencing your PRM programmes.
Stage 4: test, measure and hone!
The old marketing chestnut (with the advantage that we can talk about it every day)! Test, measure, hone… constantly. In theory, that twist of the screwdriver should be permanent, but your products evolve, needs evolve, technologies evolve, and your starting point necessarily needs improving. This point alone could be the subject of a dedicated article.
Your goal is not just to generate new clients
To conclude, a PRM strategy is not just intended to convert leads into clients, but above all to find good clients, who will positively participate to your company’s turnover. The PRM strategy is there to create a long-lasting foundation, a relationship of trust with your clients on which you can base yourself once the lead is no longer just a lead.