GingerbreadMenLineIn the second part of my post on qualifying prospects through content, I'm going to be talking about how to use progressive profiling to further nurture leads, and grow the amount of information in your contact database, to improve sales conversions further down the line.  If you missed part one, and want to know what the bobbins I'm wittering on about, go and check out thoughts on the importance of context and relevance in "top of funnel" offers.

What is Progressive Profiling?

If you've been in business a while, and at the front line of closing the deal, you'll have a relatively good sense of what amount of information leaves you comfortable in the sales meeting.  Not knowing enough about the lead, their needs ,their pain points, not to mention the timescales and budget they're working to, can leave you hugh and dry, searching for the exit within minutes of sitting down.  Progressive profiling deals with this very situation, and ensures you have all the information you demand, in order to maximise the chance of conversion.  In layman's terms, we're gathering more and more information about the lead, with every touch point we have with them, until we deem them "sales qualified".

Start with the End in Mind

The relationship between sales and marketing has been lampooned seemingly for all time - even, it seems, where they're performed by the same person!  In every cartoon scene, Marketing casts daggers towards Sales for not converting the opportunities they're given, whilst Sales derides Marketing for the poor quality of the leads.  In the age of inbound marketing, the sales team are asked what amount of information will give them the best conversion possibility, and that becomes the criteria for a Sales Qualified Lead.  Over time, the performance of sales can be measured, and feedback used to determine what's surplus to requirements, as well as what's missing.  Marketing adjust their efforts accordingly, and new iterations of contact dossier are created.  This continuous optimisation ensures everyone's working to the same goal of increased revenues.

First Touch

For most companies, the first touch with a new lead requires the least amount of information - a first name, last name (splitting them ensures better personalisation options later) and email address.  Assuming you followed the rules of context and relevance, as dicussed in part one, then you'll be growing a list of high quality contacts, all of them valid potential customers for your products and services.

Bridge the Gap

The real value in adopting a progressive profiling approach is in bridging the gap between the rather minimalist set of contact information established at the first touch, and the sometimes vast wealth of information required at sales qualification.  Eliciting that data is all about continuing to provide bags of value, and establishing trust sufficient to grab those vital statistics.  For example, the second touch might ask for basic contact details - address and phone number - wheras the 3rd touch might require a company size and budget for your specific range of services.  There is no templated procedure, and it may take time to establish the optimal approach.  The key is in judging what your ideal prospects are comfortable with sharing at each stage of the journey.

We work with organisations to fill their CRM with truly qualified sales leads in this way, but it seems to be the case that many businesses still try to close too early, or pass a subset of the greatest data to their sales teams, about the otherwise perfect prospect they've put so much effort into attracting.  How does your lead nurturing support your sales effort?  Please share your comments below, and if you know a marketing or sales team that could benefit from this post - please feel free to pass it on!

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