The Internet marketplace is growing increasingly competitive and difficult to navigate. The response rates from customer inquiries are trending downward and the process of driving new leads is becoming more expensive. Therefore, it is critical to incorporate a relationship marketing strategy into your businesses marketing plan to help maximize the power of each and every client lead with which you are presented. Simply put, not taking advantage of customer prospects that you have so diligently laid the groundwork to pursue is tantamount to handing these clients to your competition.
The process of ensuring that your client leads remain engaged and interested in ultimately pursuing a relationship with you is one of the central principles of relationship marketing. There are a few fundamental tactics to use in this early stage of building client relationships, which is also sometimes referred to as the nurture phase. These tactics are a good guide to help you increase the number of actual customers you obtain from your prospecting activities.
If you do not have or are not already using a purchase-readiness survey, it is time to incorporate this survey into your relationship marketing strategy. The purchase-readiness survey should be incorporated into all of your lead and prospect generating mechanisms. A purchase-readiness survey allows you to gather critical contact information, as well as a customer’s readiness to make a purchase. Some standard questions to consider incorporating into your survey are:
• Timeframe for considering a purchase
• The customer’s role in the decision making process
• Key qualifying questions
Finding the Right Balance of Questions
You will need to balance and be aware of a prospect’s tolerance for and willingness to share information, with your need to gather information. Nobody likes to feel invaded or pushed, so it is important to be clued into the mood of your prospect. The more information you request from a client prospect, the more time it requires of your prospect, which they may be unwilling to give. It may be that the more eager you appear to gain a prospect and make a sale, the more you will alienate this prospect. You do not want to appear desperate to land a prospect (even if you are) –most humans can smell the essence of desperation– and nothing makes a person retreat faster.
Try to take cues from your potential clients: if they seem willing to talk and divulge information, it is okay to proceed with your questions and your purchase-readiness survey. But if you sense reluctance in your prospect, it is always better to scale back and give them space, and perhaps come back and approach this prospect at a different time when they may be more amenable to hearing what you have to say. You may have better luck at forging a lasting relationship at a different time. Nobody likes to feel intruded upon or pressured. Adopting a persistent but more laissez-faire attitude in your relationship marketing plan, you are likely to be more successful and have satisfied clients who are loyal to your company.