The idea of warming leads is an important one for small businesses.  Warming leads is the process of building trust with potential customers over time until they are ready to buy from you.  If you think about what it feels like to have someone try to sell something to you in the first five minutes of knowing you, you know that this is exactly the feeling you don’t want your customers to have.  When no trust has been established, a lead is more likely to walk away and remember your company in a negative light.  But as you warm leads, the percentage that will convert to a sale increases.

As you warm leads, the percentage that will convert to a sale increases. #marketing #smallbiz Click To Tweet

When it comes to a formal sales process, most sizeable companies have systems in place.  These systems involve consistently introducing the brand to a potential customer (a “lead”).  By regularly exposing the lead to the name and message of the brand, over time the lead builds trust in the brand.  During this process of warming leads, you are actually priming them so you can eventually close the sale.  Companies with a robust, defined sales process will track the phone calls, emails, messages, and other outreach to each lead so that they know precisely where each person is in the process.

Some people use “The Rule of Seven” as a way to quantify warming leads.  The Rule of Seven is the marketing and sales principle that it takes at least seven touches with a lead before that lead is ready to be closed.  (Read here for more information on the Rule of Seven and how you can use it to maximize sales). Some companies use an even higher number.  In fact, I have heard as high as 13 touches.  A “touch” could be seeing your logo at an event, hearing your business name, reading a blog, seeing that your business page “liked” a social media post, seeing a newsletter in an email inbox, or any other marketing method where your company name and mission registers with the lead for a moment.

Thinking about all of the marketing you do as a way of warming leads might completely change how you look at marketing your business – and may also improve your long-term success rate of converting and retaining customers.

The Rule of Seven is a commonly used reference, but I want to encourage all of the small business owners out there to reframe this rule.  I want you to remember that EVERY time you are in front of a lead is an opportunity to warm that lead.

Every time you are in front of a lead is an opportunity to warm that lead. #mktg #business Click To Tweet

What does this mean?

Every single time your customer interacts with your business, you have a chance to warm the lead.  Imagine that a hard sell cools them.  When you go in for a hard sell with price tag attached, you cool the lead a little unless they were already prepared to buy your product or service right now.  So, you have to be thoughtful about how many times you cool the lead.  There are only so many times you can cool a lead before that lead becomes ice cold and walks away, unsubscribes, and stops interacting.  You want to keep building warmth and messaging, keep building positive interaction so that you can continue to prime your lead for future sales and referrals.

Even if you are currently closing a sale with a lead, you can be using this opportunity right now to warm them.  Give them a good customer service experience.  Thank them and remind them all the benefits you believe they will get from your product or service.  Reward them for making their purchase.  Give them special packaging.  Find a way to make them feel special.  And use whatever conversation you have with them or whatever knowledge you get from their purchase to inform you of how to interact with them next time.

Your relationship with a lead does not stop when they make their first purchase.  It does not stop the first time you market to them.  Marketing is a constant, long-term process of building the reputation of your brand with potential customers.  So, think about how you can capitalize on warming leads and how to maximize the number of ways and times you warm your leads to keep them constantly thinking about your business.

Your marketing strategy will benefit for it!

And if you want to start building a marketing funnel for your business, check out my Marketing Funnel Worksheet. This guide will help you set up the levels of your funnel so you know the path you will lead your customers down. Having a solid marketing funnel for your business will allow you to warm your audience so you can improve your rate of conversions and sales!