How to Get Leads from Customers

May 26, 2011

In Your Customers Are Leads Too, Nadia de Villa outlines three practices for generating leads and boosting retention. de Villa also confirms what I believe in: "Customer retention is far more cost effective than customer acquisition."

The three areas for generating leads and retaining customers de Villa covers include lead scoring, lead nurturing and active/inactive analysis.

Lead Scoring: Ranking prospects and customers

With lead scoring, prospects get points based on your set criteria. You determine the criteria by looking at the traits of customers and prospects that have done or will do business with you. After you assign points to prospects and customers, you highlight those with the highest scores and bring them into the sales cycle or forward them to the sales team.

Here's a simple example. Let's say you sell parts to oil and gas companies that use them for drilling.You meet three people:

  1. Owner of company that manufacturers well heads, valves and blowout preventers.
  2. Executive of an oilfield drilling company.
  3. Consultant with geophysical seismic data company.

Which would score highest? Obviously, #2. The manufacturer, #1, could score somewhere in the middle because you may consider partnering with the manufacturer to refer leads to each other. Furthermore, manufacturers don't always do the selling and their products may not compete with yours. #3 gets the lowest score of the three.

Lead Nurturing: Education

This involves educating prospects and customers through valuable content that keeps them engaged. Webinars, white papers, tips for using the product or service and email newsletters are some of the ways you can deliver informational and relevant content while prompting customers to remember you.

Some lead nurturing activities can provide feedback on the success rate. For example, if you send an email newsletter related to the oilfield services industry through an email service provider, the provider most likely offers reports that show you what works and what doesn't work. You can also review the metrics for webinar sign ups and attendance. Same for content promoting a white paper and the number of downloads.

Active/Inactive Analysis: Prospect and customer engagement

The prospects and customers in your lead nurturing process have given your company permission to contact them whether it's through email newsletters, email messages or other marketing tool. As a result, your company sends them information on a regular basis. Eventually, some unsubscribe because the content isn't relevant or it comes too often. Some don't even make the effort to unsubscribe and delete the emails.

That's where reports like those from email newsletters give you insight. Not only do you look at the number of subscribers and unsubscribed, but also whether they open the email. Unopened emails are either sitting in the customer's inbox or deleted. All these activities determine a prospect's level of engagement. Analyzing the engagement lets you figure out what's working and what's not so you can make adjustments to your communications and marketing campaigns.

How do you manage your leads?