How Do You Move a Marketing Lead from Suspect to Client?

Clients are in control these days. They do online research, read reviews and check social circles for support or criticism of a brand. Brands are now at the will of the online community

Clients are in control these days. They do online research, read reviews and check social circles for support or criticism of a brand. Brands are now at the will of the online community.

But how do you convert a lead from one who may be skeptical about your brand to one who buys? How do you overcome a poor first impression? Luckily, the steps are similar to a routine marketing/sales process. There are just some nuances to the approach. If you're starting out with a suspect who has objections from the start, here are a few suggestions to move her to a satisfied client.

1. Prospect Acquisition

Getting a skeptical lead to become a prospect will likely take a heavier dose of inbound activities. For example, distribute valuable, free content on third-party websites that link to your brand's blog. Successful acquisition will require you to convince her to take the time to investigate your solution. This is best accomplished by becoming helpful in the decision-making process and creating a strong brand message that he will see as valuable and, in turn, be moved to explore your company and its solutions. Look to deploy inbound marketing tactics such as providing positive independent reviews from clients or industry experts on a landing page or offering free samples or other relevant information.

2. Relationship Nurturing

The next step is to nurture a relationship with your prospect through email, PPC ads, free content offers (white paper, free membership, etc.) or other assets that shine a positive light on your brand. Explain how your solutions have made a positive impact on most clients or that you've been recognized by industry critics as being focused.

Nurturing isn't accomplished through a one-way channel; ask for responses to your positive messaging. The key is to enable an ongoing conversation by providing valuable information and requesting a response from her, such as providing an email address or completing a survey. During this period, try to get to know your prospect's objections better, then overcome those objections in an appealing way.

3. Making the Pitch

Once a relationship has been established, find the right time to make your sales pitch through an "intimate" digital channel, such as an email or text message. Speak one-to-one with your prospect. Recall the positive messaging you've deployed through the nurturing process then ask her to buy now. But caution is important. Avoid making a pitch until you're convinced her journey to a purchase is in its final stage; asking too early may revive the skepticism and lose her completely.

It's critical to understand your typical clients in order to make the best pitch. Who are they? Why do they need your solution? How does your solution fulfill their needs? Where do they typically make purchases (online, in-store, by catalog)? You've got to have a solid view of your client before you can expect success from your pitch.

4. Sales Engagement

If your lead has engaged digitally with your brand multiple times without purchasing, it's time to bring in a salesperson. By now, your prospect should be at an advanced stage in the marketing funnel, so it's time to move her to the sales funnel. A sales agent can uncover hidden objections better and provide more responsive, one-to-one engagement; this can be a valuable tactic to convince and convert that skeptical prospect.

Once you've gone through this process of moving a lead from suspect to client, your work is not done. You've got to work just as hard to keep that client – and prevent her from becoming suspect again after the sale. This requires more relationship nurturing. You want to move her toward brand advocacy/evangelism by ensuring she is excited about your solution, satisfied with your buying process, and convinced that the poor publicity you once suffered from doesn't pertain to her experience with you.