Blog

by Danielle DiStefano
on July 17, 2015

Expert Selling Tips: Lead Nurturing

The latest installment in our “Expert Selling Tips” series. 

Lead nurturing. Arguably one of the most important activities for sales and marketing, yet not nearly enough organizations are taking advantage of it.

Sales dismisses it as a marketing activity, and most b2b marketers don’t have a process for it.

The truth is, sales and marketing both need to embrace nurture to ensure the right leads are being passed through the funnel and that time is spent on the right prospects. Nurturing allows marketing to engage prospects at various stages in the sales cycle, so sales can work to close more deals with the people who are ready to buy.

The benefits are compelling. Increased sales productivity, more qualified leads being converted to opportunities, stronger engagement, sales and marketing alignment, the list goes on.

So where’s the disconnect on nurture?

We compiled a list of out 6 favorite blog posts about lead nurturing and it’s importance for B2B organizations.

 

How to Get Started with Lead Nurturing by Molly Hoffmeister

Lead nurturing takes the work you’ve already done, and reaps more benefits from it.

Molly Hoffmeister says lead nurturing, also known as drip marketing, drives revenue from leads you’ve already acquired, transforming the way companies do business. To get started with marketing automation, there are a few things to get in order: understand your goals, and start simple.

There are many benefits that come from lead nurturing, Hoffmeister says, so it’s important to understand which you are most focused on achieving. Nurture can make your organization more productive, build trust, and allow teams to play to their strengths.

Don’t take on too much too quickly, though. Start with the basics, and get input from your sales team to understand their most prevalent challenges. This will help you set up an effective nurture campaign that moves warm and cold leads through the buying cycle.

 

Why Sales Leaders Should Love Lead Nurturing by Jay Gaines

Sales leaders often see lead nurturing as purely a marketing activity, and they certainly don’t have time for it. But sales can reap benefits from nurture, read: productivity.

In this post, Jay Gaines discusses his meeting with a seasoned Chief Sales Officer, who experienced a complete transformation on her perspective of nurture in one hour-long meeting. What did it take?

  • Defining the purpose of nurture. Nurturing is not about “coddling” prospects. It’s about increasing productivity in lead qualification and management. Marketing should use nurture to weed out the information seekers from the engaged buyers.
  • Clarifying the importance of nurture. Lead nurturing is like gatekeeping. Marketers should have multiple touchpoints with a potential buyer before it is handed off to sales to avoid filling the pipeline with unqualified prospects.
  • Communicating the value of nurture. Sales and marketing don’t always agree on the specifications of a qualified lead. Recycled lead nurturing is one of the most valuable types of nurture. Sales disqualified leads are passed back through the funnel to inside sales and marketing, and then included in re-engagement programs to ensure that good prospects who just weren’t ready to buy don’t slip through the cracks.

Gaines says it’s best to find a process that spends less time focused on unsure prospects at the top of the funnel, and more time conveying value at the middle and bottom to close more deals.

 

10 Aligned Lead Nurturing Statistics for B2B Sales and Marketing by Allison Tetreault

Lead nurturing requires alignment. Marketing needs sales, and vice versa, to maximize the number of leads that convert to sales.

In a survey by CSO Insights and Velocify, 89% of companies that aligned sales and marketing for lead gen and nurture saw significant increases in leads that turned into opportunities.

So why isn’t everyone doing it?

In this post, Allison Tetreault lists 10 statistics surrounding nurture to emphasize the necessity of sales and marketing alignment for success. Here’s a quick preview:

1) Companies that excel in aligned lead nurturing reduce the percent of marketing-generated leads ignored by sales (from as high as 80% to as low as 25%) (Marketo)

2) 50% of leads are qualified but not ready to buy. (Gleanster Research)

3) 65% of B2B marketers have not established lead nurturing. (MarketingSherpa)

 

How to Expand Your Lead Nurturing Strategy Beyond Just Email [SlideShare] by Lindsey Gusenburg

Today’s sales challenges, especially changes in the buyer’s journey, make lead nurturing more important than ever before.

Marketers have adopted a few strategies to manage the process, mainly email marketing and marketing automation. But the truth is, says Lindsey Gusenburg, reaching prospects via email is hard.

What’s the solution? Multi-channel nurturing. The concept is straightforward. Lead nurturing should be more than a one-touch process. Rather, it should include multiple contact points to help a buyer along in their journey, Gusenberg says.

Here are the keys to success in multi-channel nurturing:

  • The right tools, such as marketing automation, social media, dynamic website content, and sales enablement tools.
  • The right content, which requires a comprehensive understanding of the buyer’s persona and stage in the journey to target content accordingly.
  • The right message, which is valuable, insightful, timely, and not spammy or annoying.

 

5 Mid-Funnel Lead Nurturing Mistakes by Steve Gershik

The top and bottom of the funnel have specific goals. At the top, reps are looking to educate buyers about their solutions and begin to build a relationship. At the bottom, prospects are making sales decisions.

But according to Steve Gershik, those prospects who live in the middle require the most attention.

Mid-funnel prospects are difficult to reach. They aren’t quite ready to buy, so they need a some convincing. During this process, here are the 5 mistakes you’ll want to avoid:

1) Bad Data

2) Forgetting to Test

3) Jargon

4) Talking Like a Robot

5) Overdoing it

Personalizing Your Lead Nurturing by Kyle Winder

Nurturing is important, but it requires strategy.

Two basics:

  • Don’t waste your time nurturing a lead if the interaction is impersonal.
  • Avoid traditional imitations of personalization that are being eclipsed by technology

Kyle Winder says there more to lead nurturing than sending a “thank you for your business” email or offering a personal insight during a cold call. Developments in sales acceleration technology means it’s not impressive if you are able to figure out a prospect’s birthday. Instead, he recommends using details gleaned from conversations with prospects and existing customers to develop customized messages.

Above all, he says that technology is meant to complement human interaction, not replace it. The same idea applies to lead nurturing.

 

Our Point of View

The bottom line is, without nurture you risk missing out on prospects with real potential. We’re talking:

  • Middle of the funnel leads who are unsure
  • Disqualified leads who, at the time, weren’t ready to buy
  • Sales disqualified leads who could be reengaged

Use nurture to align sales and marketing. At a minimum, it’s an opportunity for sales and marketing to solidify how prospects should be engaged at each level of the buying cycle, and better understand what it means for a lead to be qualified. It helps marketing label different prospects and interact with them accordingly, and makes salespeople more productive when it comes to helping leads turn into sales at the end of the funnel.