Do you prefer bite-sized content? You can follow the updates on Twitter

Build a startup in 6 months by reading 5-min reports.

Every step of the startup journey explained succinctly. Join 1155 entrepreneurs and startup aspirants. Delivered in your inbox each Wednesday.

Thank you! You have subscribed to awesomeness :-)
Erm! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Improve conversions by aligning with your customer buying cycle 🎯


If you have already read the preface on the email, directly start reading from here.

We all have been there. A customer expresses interest - a sign-up or a filled form. And then, radio silence...ahh, that silence can be very deafening.

In the initial days of my startup, Flexiple, we had many such occasions. I was responsible for bringing in leads - inbound was (and is) my main focus. My partner, Suvansh, looks into lead conversion.

Naturally, I asked him for updates on the leads captured. I slowly became used to his disappointed nods and grunts :P. "No replies - sorry, your leads are no good".

Of course, all of us were equally dejected. But for me, it was a bit of an insult. We had to solve this problem and ASAP.


Starting the diagnosis

Staying true to the process I shared last week, we started with the easiest answer - the leads are indeed sh*tty. The truth of any industry is that a lot of your leads are not going to convert. People like to browse and many times have very little intent.

But surely not all can fall in that category, can they? As in any early-stage startup, our initial customers were through our network. Therefore, conversations usually already began at an advanced stage. To put it nicely, at that time we were really inexperienced in dealing with inbound leads.


Initial research

We started by researching each of our leads. The best source was LinkedIn, as that allowed us to understand their professional background in detail. Immediately, a couple of things became apparent.

  1. Many leads were college students. These leads came from google ads. You see, we've really experienced developers on our platform and they command a decent price. It is tough for college students to afford such prices - ergo, they are not our target audience.
  2. Some were absolute non-tech individuals, who were probably just inquisitive. For e.g. A teacher at a school considering to build an app for her students.

Basically, such leads were in fact not right for us. I, immediately, made changes in the paid channels. As an example, I added a constraint around age (min. 25) to exclude college students.


What about the other leads?

Now that's not the whole story. There were many other cases where the 'quality' of the leads didn't explain the lack of response. They were good tech companies, software agencies, etc. They are exactly the kind of clientele we desire.


Help in brand recall

So, we looked into the outreach process. Turns out the first mail we sent to them was about 24 hours later. Unless you are a big brand, it is very likely that your customer will forget who you are in 24 hours.

First version of the introduction mail

So, we set up an automated mail confirming the receipt of their details. In the same mail we:

  • Introduced the person who would be getting in touch with them
  • Laid out the exact process we would follow to help them achieve their goal


The clincher - are we in touch when the client really needs us?

One part of the problem was solved. The next one was the clincher - the part that made a huge difference. Let me explain.

Customers don't always make impulse purchases. There tends to be a proper buying cycle. I don't like too much theory or jargon - but in a nutshell, just because a customer has expressed interest doesn't mean they are ready to buy your product.

Further, this decision-making period varies from business-to-business and tends to be longer for B2B companies. Your goal is to be at the top of your (potential) customer's mind through this entire period. Google ads, etc. give you the ability to follow such customers around on the web - my expertise is a bit low on this front, not to mention that I find this a bit creepy.

What we did, though, is to execute this through a series of mails. Here are some quick lessons for this process:

  • Estimate the duration of the buying process. For us, it was 4 to 6 weeks. Your mail campaign needs to span this entire duration.
  • Don't bunch your mails together. That can get really annoying for the recipient.
  • Each mail you send needs to build on the previous; i.e. build a coherent series of mails
  • Every mail you send shouldn't be a "when are you going to buy from me" message. Give some additional value - thought-leadership articles of your domain, a nifty tool that they might find useful, etc.


The success - landing a customer

Of course, the process required many minor tweaks before actually working for us. However, after we implemented it, we had a new customer within a month! While we have continued to improve this process, the foundation remains the same - it continues to deliver on its promise.

I truly believe that many such small improvements make a successful startup. Do you have such a story which worked well for you? You can share it in the newly-added comments section :)