Nurturing your B2B leads is a highly effective way to accelerate your sales process, all while requiring a minimal amount of time and resources. According to a 2015 study conducted by MarketingSherpa, however, only 36% of marketers nurture their sales leads. This isn't because it's lead nurturing is ineffective. Rather, it's because sales people and marketers don't know how to do it.
Segment Your Sales Leads
The first step in nurturing sales leads is to segment your prospects. If all of your prospects are grouped into a single, oversized list, you won't be able to customize your messaging; thus making it impossible to make your communications feel personal. Go through your list of sales leads and segment them based on different criteria like industry, size, new vs existing customer, method of acquisition, product fits, etc.
Go Beyond Email
Email is undoubtedly one of the most powerful platforms on which to promote a product or service. As long as you have a prospective customer's email address, you can market your business to him or her. But this doesn't necessarily mean that you should only use email. When nurturing sales leads, it's best to use a multi-channel approach with a variety of platforms. Some of the most effective lead nurturing campaigns include a combination of phone, emial and social media enagements throughout the entire sales funnel.
A Forrester Research survey recently found that roughly one-third of business-to-business (B2B) sales people cited “targeted delivery of content” as being their biggest challenge to lead nurturing. Don't fall victim to this same pitfall, as it could hinder your ability to nurture leads and ultimately move prospects down the funnel. Think about what type of content your prospects are interested in at their relative stage in the sales cycle, and deliver this content to them on a regular basis. This can even help to save sales costs becuase, if done correclty, your content will answer many of the questions that a sales rep would have to address otherwise.
You can't expect to nurture a prospect into a paying customer after just a single correspondence. Studies have shown that it take an average of 10 correspondences before a prospect decides to buy. So, sales people should create, and follow, a schedule in which they reach out to prospects at specific dates and times. If a prospect declined the next steps, perhaps you can follow-up with a special promotion or relevent piece o premium contect to get the prospect back into the natural nurturing cycle.
Last but not least, you need to measure the results of your lead nurturing efforts. If you aren't measuring KPIs, you won't know whether or not your nurturing efforts are working. The good news is that most digital marketing platforms offer some type of analytics solution for this very purpose. And even some offline marketing platforms support tracking and measuring, although to a lesser degree.