A Guide to Nurturing Leads into Clients + Free Calendar
To be successful in sales, leads are your livelihood. Without a constant stream of potential leads, your sales funnel can dry up pretty quickly. Much of the difference between just getting by and getting to that next-level-income as a freelancer is understanding what to do with prospects who are not ready to hire you today.
Sometimes, clients who reach out to you may not be willing to negotiate and begin a project right away. These clients are super important to keep track of, especially if they approach you first. By keeping in touch with these long-term clients in a non-threatening way, you'll hopefully be the first person they think of when the timing is right.
Client relationships take time, and chances are, prospects will visit your website numerous times before deciding to reach out and make a connection with you. After that initial point of contact, it's up to you to be strategic and methodical about nurturing your lead into a buying customer.
Being authentic in your desire to keep in touch is critical for a long-term nurturing strategy. Coming off as desperate and sales-y can be a turn off for prospects, especially if they aren't in a position to make a decision just yet. Developing a productive dialogue with your prospects stems from providing them with valuable information first. It's an opportunity to show that you care enough to make the time to keep in touch.
Consistency is the fine line between pestering your lead so much they become annoyed, and keeping in touch so infrequently that they forget about you. Frequency of your touch points should be once every other month. But depending on the specific lead, you want to think about relevancy and usefulness.
If a lead expresses interest in your services within a shorter time frame, it may be okay to contact them more frequency. You'll have to experiment a bit and see what works best and feels most comfortable for you.
Developing a library of information that would be appealing to your target audience can be very helpful in nurturing interested prospects. Touch touch points with your leads should always provide something of value. Delivering advice, tips and tools is a great way to show that you're on the client's side. Here's a few examples of value-adds:
Blog posts. Your own content can be a professional and credible way to provide relevant articles to leads. It can also give them insight into what working with you would be like and positions you as an expert in your field.
Case studies. Case studies are portfolio pieces that gives leads reassurance that you've done this before. If a lead can see that you've solved a previous client's problems before, it can show how that lead would also benefit from your services.
Helpful tools, plugins, and media. Sending along third-party articles, reports, press releases, tools, podcasts, white papers or reference materials can be a non promotional way to still provide your prospect with value.
Keep a schedule
Creating a "lead nurturing" calendar is a good way to keep things organized. Your schedule should consist of basic information such as: a timeline of touch points exchanged between you and the lead, contact information of the decision maker, what articles/tools you've decided to send to them and the date of your next follow up email.
In my experience, many of my sales cycles don't ever get to be over a year long unless I'm dealing with a larger company. You also need to be fair to yourself and realize that some clients are just not worth pursuing if they are not ready to take action. Having a lead nurturing calendar makes it easy to re-evaluate on a monthly basis who's worth staying in touch with.
When done properly, lead nurturing can greatly reduce your marketing labours in the long run and improve the overall quality of leads in your sales funnel.