Monday, October 18, 2010

Its more effective to nurture the relationship with a current prospects than to find a new one...

By Mark Helfen

► Instead of the marketing department just finding more leads and throwing them over the wall to sales, how about prospects that get nurtured until they become real sales leads.

► Instead of trying to sell potential customers who aren't interested, or at least aren't interested yet, how about letting customers educate themselves until they are interested in your product.

► Instead of your direct sales force spending time prospecting for customers from large list of unqualified names, spending time educating early stage prospects and working a wide pipeline, how about those same reps spending time with people who are ready to buy, or at least educated enough to decide if they are interested.

At Monday's (October 11) SDForum Marketing SIG, Jon Miller, VP of Marketing at Marketo, talked about broadening your thinking from a sales cycle to a highly effective revenue cycle.

According to Miller, "the internet has changed everything," and the result is "customers have seized control of the [sales] process." Marketo's model reflects the change in power from sellers to empowered buyers. Potential customers can get information about your products with no help from you or your sales force. They won't speak to sales reps until they want to. They're in charge.

Marketing needs to take responsibility for the entire revenue cycle, including the sales cycle, and 'nurture relationships" with potential customers not yet ready to consider buying. Miller said that just like its easier and cheaper to sell to an existing customer than a new one, its easier and cheaper to sell to a prospect once they have a relationship with your company, than to start with a new prospect.

In this model, marketing finds names, and nurtures them until they become leads. Marketing becomes a publisher, providing useful information - documenting best practices, or generating white papers. Eventually Miller plans to ad video to the mix.

By providing valuable information you gain permission to keep in touch and stay in contact. By tracking your prospects interests and their activity on your web site, you can find when there is enough interest for a name to become a lead, and it's given to sales.

Marketo's software system tracks information about names and leads, and generates statistics on how the whole process is working. Miller claims that the information tracked allows him to predict the number of leads that will be given to sales over a quarter, and visibility into revenue that will be generated.


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:



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