Prospect Nurturing Done Right

Lead generation is a critical part of any successful business's operations and it is essential for marketing and sales teams to employ the right tactics to ensure that their business needs are being met. But even when businesses identify the right leads, it can be challenging to convert them into paying customers. Convincing a prospect to make a purchase can be a complex task, depending on the quality of that lead. This is where lead nurturing can support your operational goals. Lead nurturing is meant to build strong relationships with prospective customers to foster trust and recognition. The process focuses marketing communications efforts on listening to the needs or problems of a prospect and providing solutions in the form of contextual messaging. Below are five steps you can take to improve the success of your lead programs, and some examples of companies that are doing it right.

  1. Use targeted content.

Blendtec is a prime example of a company that uses targeted content to nurture leads. The company is famous for “Will it Blend?,” a highly entertaining video series that targets their top of funnel audience to build product awareness. Each video showcases the strength and durability of the Blendtec blender by demonstrating how well it pulverizes various objects including iPhones, glow sticks and even diamonds.

  1. Nurture leads through multiple channels.

HubSpot uses a holistic combination of blogging, social media, email marketing, webinars, paid advertising and video marketing to nurture their prospects, but where they truly excel is in their content marketing campaign. They publish a huge variety of valuable content including guides, checklists, online tools, eBooks, templates and case studies to direct prospects through their sales funnel. They even coined the term “inbound marketing,” securing their thought-leadership status in the digital marketing industry.

  1. Follow up with leads in a timely manner.

The Lead Response Management Study analyzes lead nurturing activities to determine sales management best practices. The study discovered that the odds of qualifying a lead within the first 10 minutes of that lead showing interest in your brand are four times lower than within the first five minutes. The odds are 21 times lower when the response time is increased to 30 minutes. These statistics should convince just about anyone that a timely follow-up is essential to your sales strategy.

  1. Use lead scoring techniques.

Lead scoring involves assigning a score to your leads based on attributes that your business defines. Essentially, higher quality leads are easier to close or are closer to making a purchase decision. These attributes form a basis for your salespeople to make better decisions on how to approach the close and where to focus their time. If a lead has a high score, that lead matches your top rated criteria for likelihood to purchase. Ranking your leads according to their score enhances the abilities of your closing team to target the most relevant prospects. IBM developed a sales opportunity identification criteria back in the 1960s called BANT. The acronym stands for:

  • Budget—Does the prospect have the required finances?
  • Authority—Is the prospect the decision-maker?
  • Need—What is the prospect’s business need?
  • Timeline—What is the expected timeframe for the purchase?

This scoring criteria remains relevant but more innovative companies have reworked their own strategies to include prospect behavior and interactions, making lead scoring techniques more accurate.

  1. Align your sales and marketing teams.

In a perfect world, sales and marketing teams would be completely collaborative and supportive in achieving their goals. Unfortunately, this isn't a perfect world and there are often mismatches between sales and marketing operations. This issue can be addressed holistically through the alignment of both teams. If they have common objectives that support each other, they no longer have their own agenda and operate purely to support the ultimate goal of acquiring new customers and increasing the profitability of current ones. Blue Coat Systems, a corporate online security and network optimization company, developed a data-driven strategy to integrate its sales and marketing departments. According to the case study published on MarketingSherpa.com, Blue Coat took the following steps to align the sales and marketing departments:

  • To capture account-level details from the end user, Blue Coat created an online form that provided access to additional data points—such as size and revenue of the prospect’s company—that allowed the marketing team to begin higher-level segmentation and scoring to move the leads through the pipeline.
  • For data standardization and hygiene, Blue Coat turned to business intelligence. The BI system aggregated the company’s prospect and customer data at the account level, performed standardization and hygiene on the data and included business rules.
  • Blue Coat engaged in lead scoring and took advantage of regular performance reports.
  • The company provided regular feedback to both teams regarding their performance. A marketing scorecard provided visibility into regional and geo-targets, and a marketing pipeline measurement report provided a holistic view of the overall impact of field marketing.

These actions helped create alignment between marketing and sales, and improved the overall efficiency of the sales process. Thanks to these efforts, Blue Coat enjoyed:

  • 11 percent growth of the contact database in 10 months
  • 20 percent decrease in lead rejection
  • 25 percent increase in volume of marketing-qualified leads

If your business can effectively address these five points, you can improve the capabilities of your sales and marketing teams and increase conversion rates. Nurturing leads is a great way to improve the quality and efficiency of your lead generation campaign, saving time and resources so your business can focus on its core operational function. Start nurturing your leads today and witness the benefits of higher conversion rates.

Pierre de Braux

Pierre de Braux

Pierre de Braux is a content strategist at Spiralytics, a performance marketing agency that helps build brands online. He loves to read and write about pretty much anything sales/marketing-related. In his free time, he likes playing tennis, golf and watching the occasional cat video on YouTube. You can find Pierre on Twitter @PierredeBraux.


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