Make the Sale
Boosting lead conversion requires finesse and a well-executed strategy
By Nancy Harhut
I just returned from speaking at Moscow's 5th International Direct Marketing Conference. When I was there, one of the attendees asked me if American direct marketers spend more time acquiring leads or building loyalty. A good question. But it left out that important grey zone—converting leads.
It can be a long, hard road from lead acquisition to customer retention. Unfortunately, there's no magic bullet that converts prospects. The good news is that with some smart thinking and diligence, it can be done.
Longer Buying Cycle
To start, it helps to remember that B-to-B leads often won't convert quickly. The sales cycle usually is longer than in B-to-C for three reasons: First, in B-to-B, there are a lot more stakeholders. There may be several decision makers, influencers, even committees or boards that need to approve a purchase. That's why it's smart to target as many of them as possible with messages tailored to their individual hot buttons. A CFO, for example, might get a message about affordability, whereas an end user might respond best to a message about how easy it is to adopt your product. In a mailing Hill Holliday (the agency I work with) recently executed for Cognos corporate performance management software, the message to the chief risk officers at target companies was that Cognos software could help them minimize risk.
The second reason it can take B-to-B leads longer to convert is that different industry segments have different purchase cycles. Budget, or even the ability to purchase, may be limited to specific times. For example, when we at Hill Holiday create direct marketing programs for information-technology supplier Dell Inc.'s kindergarten through 12th grade segment, we synchronize our efforts to the unique calendar that school-buying requires.
Nancy is the Chief Creative Officer at Wilde Agency. Her specialty is blending best-of-breed creative with decision science to prompt response. Along the way, she’s been named NEDMA Direct Marketer of the Year, Ad Club Top 100 Creative Influencer, OMI Top 40 Digital Marketing Strategist, and Andi Emerson Award recipient. Prior to Wilde Agency, Nancy held senior creative management positions with Hill Holliday, Mullen and Digitas.