Farming vs. Hunting | The Future of Sales & Marketing

Posted by Bill Hunter on Mar 9th, 2018 in Marketing & Design

We all know someone who has a green thumb. They painstakingly water and fertilize… and, sure enough, their fresh flowers and plants are always greener and make everyone else jealous. 

In the same way, in any marketing or sales office, there’s always an employee who is a nurturer to clients. This person is a relationship-builder who is comfortable working with a long-term mindset with potential leads. 

Sadly, not all of us can say that we’re that nurturing salesperson. We neglect the tedious process of nurturing for the sake of a quick sale. This is a quintessential hunting mentality.

When you meet a potential customer face-to-face, you gauge their level of interest in your business. In the same way, people online are also engaging with your company with different levels of interest. Instead of recognizing these varying degrees of engagement, typically, businesses tend to treat online leads from a hunting perspective and view nonresponsive online leads as not worth their time.

A lack of response from an online lead doesn’t necessarily mean that the customer isn’t interested or aware of your value proposition. The modern mindset for online sales is more about nurturing.

Take a moment to think about farmers. They take precious care of their fields, investing time in preparing and selecting the right seeds, planting many seeds, and focusing their attention on the ones that sprout. They tend to their fields for an entire year, knowing that without proper care and attention, they will have no crops to show for their hard work.

Think about online engagement in the same way. Unless you operate an e-commerce site, it isn’t about whether or not the visitor is clicking “buy now” this very moment. Typically, only about 5% of your visitors will complete a contact form, and about half of online leads won’t respond to your initial outreach, but this doesn’t mean online leads are bad - They’re just not ready quite yet.

Focusing on Online Leads by Managing Prospects       

Online leads hold infinite possibilities. They represent varying levels of engagement across so many different platforms, and their attention spans vary from device to device. Too many businesses look at leads in digital channels with a hunting mindset, which tends to suggest, ‘If a person doesn’t respond to a lead right away, then the lead is bad.’

So how do you start thinking like a sales farmer? It involves shifting your focus to a CRM (customer relationship management) model. You have to learn to accept that half of your online leads will not engage. This is totally different than what traditional sales reps are used to. Those who have been trained in traditional sales will want to view an online lead as bad if no response is reciprocated, but it is important to remember that a growing percentage of your online sale needs to be cultivated over time.

Here are a few tools to help shift your mindset to a farming mentality for online leads    

  • Implement a Contact Management System (CMS) - Be sure you have a place to store your leads. Examples of CMS systems include Close.io, Pipedrive, and Salesforce.
  • Email Marketing - Utilize platforms like MailChimp or Constant Contact to stay in touch with potential leads.
  • SMS Text Messaging - Follow up with leads through automatic SMS messaging. Many of the newer CMS systems have texting built in, if not, take a look at Twilio.com, textedly.com or simpletexting.com
  • Chatbot - Chatbots and conversational style marketing is a rapidly emerging and very effective tool for engaging potential customers at different phases of interest. Examples of chat and chatbot tools include Drift, Zopim, Replika, Intercom and even Facebook chat.
  • White Papers - Consider creating informational white papers that you can provide prospects in “mid-funnel” or consideration phase of the sales cycle. Include information and or solutions to the products or services that you offer to assist with the decision making.

Just like a farmer, work consistently on your online presence. Do one small thing every day to help with lead cultivation.

We’re definitely not suggesting an either/or approach, great sales happen when sales and marketing types understand the customer well enough to put on the appropriate hat. However, if you haven’t considered aligning your sales process with more of a farming mentality, your business could have higher profits and sustainability in today’s digital economy. As you learn more about the online customer journey, hopefully you will be able to increase conversions - by deploying some of the farming mentality!

 If you aren't sure where to start with cultivating online leads, contact us and we'd be happy to help your business start planting seeds today.