Leads are like plants. They have the potential to blossom into something beautiful, but in order to reach that point they require a sustained period of effort and care. When nurtured correctly, leads can become loyal, paying clients. Instead of water and sun, however, they need time and attention to help them develop.

Lead nurturing involves establishing a close relationship between the agent and customer. The process entails anticipating the prospect's needs based on behavioral insights and using them to guide the prospect through the buying process. When done right, lead nurturing can build strong relationships as well as brand loyalty. An ideal outcome is the prospect purchasing the right product for them, and the salesperson obtaining a loyal, satisfied client.

Guidelines for Developing Your Lead Nurturing Plan

Before jumping into a lead nurturing plan, there is one thing to consider. Your lead may not be ready to make a buying decision so quickly. In fact, many of your potential leads are simply doing research on insurance policies. They want to feel informed and prepared come the time to actually make a decision to purchase. Still, you can always direct them to a lead nurturing plan to get them to start thinking ahead.

Making Initial Contact with Your Leads

Contact the prospect first. Yes, this is the first step, but we also mean that you want to be the first. As an agent, you want to be ahead of your competition when it comes to generating, nurturing, and closing leads. Even if you don't close immediately, your name will be first in their inbox or voicemail, and that's saying something. If you have the personnel, designate someone in your office as the primary lead responder. He/she will be responsible for calling leads the second they come in.

While you may think that calling immediately doesn't give you enough time to generate a quote, remember that your relationship and marketing strategy are what sells, not the quote directly. Plus, if you can keep the prospect on the phone for even only a few minutes, you can use that time to generate a quote.

Following Up on Leads

You want to be flexible yet aggressive when obtaining leads. Consistent follow-up is a great way to start nurturing them. In a recent study sponsored by Velocify and PossibleNow, and conducted by Zogby Analytics, the number one complaint of consumers shopping online is inadequate or even non-existent follow up. This shows that calling a second time helps you stand out to your leads because your follow up is consistent.

Recall what we learned about Internet consumers and timing. Consumers are more likely to respond in the morning, evening, or weekends. Even text message is a convenient reach-out method. Prospecting during only office hours can limit your communication with consumers, but adding in evening and weekend attempts will significantly improve the return on your lead investment. Timing your follow-up attempts is key to getting in contact with leads. Eventually, once you're in contact, you'll have the chance to nurture them and finally close.

However, you should avoid bombarding your leads with emails. Your goal is to present your company as distinguished and successful. Sending countless emails will have your leads associate your company with noise and spam.

Add A "Personal" Touch

When someone asks how you're doing or remembers an import detail about your life, you start to see them as a friend. This is the dynamic you should aim for with your customers, and you can achieve it by personalizing your emails a bit more. You can also send triggered emails when someone clicks on links in your emails or visits certain parts of your website. Whenever a customer shows a high level of engagement, send them an email. You appear just as interested, and be showing good customer service.

Target Content

If you want to nurture your leads, you'll have to get to know them. Understand their needs and goals for buying an insurance plan. Once you know more about them, you can offer them targeted content. This content will relate to their personal situation and align with their goals and objectives for buying insurance. Obviously, you wouldn't nurture a lead looking for life insurance with information on auto coverage. Your job is to find content that best suits their needs. They'll know that you truly care about their well-being, and that will make them build trust and assurance with you.

Diversify Your Communication Channels

In the digital age, email and text message are major communication methods for agents. The Internet has become a staple for social media and online marketing, which means that most of your consumers are online. They turn to the Internet for a reason: it's fast and easy. Many consumers also prefer communicating via online messaging since that's where they do their shopping. While you might favor calling for its immediacy, you should consider the importance of email and text messaging. They are vital communication channels for your prospects and should not be overlooked.

Another way to connect with consumers is through social media. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all have handy features that allow you to market your product and while connecting with prospects and clients across the web. Read more about how you can generate, nurture, and close leads by using social media here.

Conclusion

As you would nurture a plant, you would also nurture a lead to keep them from withering away. For insurance leads, communication is key. As an insurance agent, you must focus your efforts on communicating with your leads as best and as fast as you can. If you can't communicate with a lead, you probably won't be able to nurture them, either.

Which follow-up tactic does your agency find most effective in the nurturing process?