Nurturing warm leads into hot leads takes time and persistence. To drive more sales, you may have tried sending out more email blasts, automating more of your follow-up process, or even doing more prospecting just to try and talk with more potential customers, but you probably experienced firsthand just how difficult it is to get results with these tactics. In today’s competitive, digital world, emails get lost in the inbox, phone calls go to voicemail, and budding relationships with new leads fade out all too quickly.

Turning leads into customers becomes much easier when a personal relationship develops. The best way to invite your prospects and customers into a relationship is to show them that you’re listening and that you understand and care about their challenges. When customers engage with the personality behind your brand, they will be more ready to hear about the relevant solution to their challenges that you have to offer.

To connect with your leads on a human level, follow these steps.

1. Map Out the Customer Lifecycle

The first thing you’ll need is a master map of all the interactions that you consistently have with customers and leads. Think of this as a blueprint or diagram that clearly shows what’s supposed to happen to your customers and leads at every step. Here are some questions to account for on your map:

  • Where do your leads come from?
  • What processes do you have in place that help leads make the transition to customers?
  • What does your sales funnel look like?
  • Do you have a customer onboarding process?
  • Do you offer support to your clients?
  • What do cancellation and/or refund processes look like?
  • Do you have a referral system?

Once you’ve answered all the relevant questions, physically map out your lifecycle. You can write it on a whiteboard or create a campaign map using your automation software. You can do this using a platform such as Ontraport’s visual Campaign Builder or with a mapping tool like LucidChart.

Your map might look something like this:

2. Find Opportunities to Add Valuable Human Interactions

Consider the times in your business when people make — or should make — an impact on your lead and/or customer experience. Giving one-on-one demonstrations of your product, supporting clients when they have questions, or giving them a call and thanking them for a purchase are just a few examples.

If you’re a coach/consultant, this is the whole value proposition of your business, so your value probably lies in your coaching calls. Similarly, you likely talk with leads on the phone while they’re in the evaluation phase of working with you, so that’s another time when human interaction is necessary.

You might want to send thank you notes to leads after you have a sales call with them to thank them for their time. Sales automation technology actually makes it much easier to send handwritten thank you notes to the right leads at the right time, plus it can speed up production of these notes by sending the right information about each lead to the person who will write the notes. It’s easy to add a task for anyone on your team to write a handwritten message — without any guesswork about what the message should say.

Here are several types of personal interactions that you can add to your automated processes:

  • Thank you notes
  • Sales follow-up calls
  • New customer welcome calls
  • In-person appointments
  • Annual customer check-in calls

3. Personalize and Humanize Your Automated Interactions

Using sales automation technology to humanize every interaction is the most scalable way to get personal with each lead in your pipeline.

Top brands such as Stitch Fix have successfully used personalization to get new customers and retain them for longer. Your customers are unique, and they like to be treated as such, which is why tailoring the experience to their preferences and needs is so effective.

Personalization doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as sending your customers messages that match up with what you know about them. For example, if you are in ecommerce, you could send customers promos for products in the same categories that they have browsed on your website. If you are in B2B sales, you might nurture leads by sending them follow-up emails with links to blog articles and content about a particular topic that you had discussed. Processes like these are easy to automate and are, therefore, completely scalable, which means that you don’t have to increase the time spent on building relationships as your list of contacts grows.

You can ensure that each lead receives relevant follow-up content by grouping all of your content into categories that correspond with the most common challenges your leads and customers face. For each content category, you would build a funnel of several follow-up emails that deliver the content and explain how it relates to their unique situation. For example, the body of your email might look like this:

Just remember, when writing your follow-up emails, to be as specific as possible based on what you know about each lead.

Here are some additional personalization ideas:

  • Birthday emails or postcards
  • Quizzes or surveys that provide personalized suggestions (and valuable segmentation data for you to use later)
  • One-year customer anniversary cards
  • Emails personalized with merge fields that recap important info your customers shared with you
  • Narrowly targeted promotions based on content or products in which your contacts have already shown interest

In addition to personalization, you should also focus on humanization, or making your automated messages show the unique personality of your brand or your team.

For example, you can film a short but fun intro video with each person on your client-facing team. In the video, have them introduce themselves, share some fun facts and show off their unique personality. You can use these intro videos in the first email you send new leads to introduce them to the sales rep they’ll be in touch with once they book a call on someone’s calendar or as a link in each team member’s email signature. The best part is, you can use automation to make sure each new lead receives the intro video at the right time.

Final Thoughts

There are hundreds of ways you can outclass your competition with genuine human experiences. Regardless of the options you choose, you’ll discover that no matter how much automation technology provides in the future, those who maintain the human element will ultimately win.

About Megan Monroe
Associate Editor Megan Monroe is a graduate of Santa Barbara’s Westmont College where she studied Philosophy and Communications. After working for several local small businesses (where she gained firsthand experience with the frustration of manual segmentation and follow-up), Megan joined the Ontraport Growth Team. When she isn’t writing marketing copy, social media posts or educational guides for entrepreneurs, she enjoys taking advantage of the Central Coast's amazing wineries and cooking without following a recipe.