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The power of B2B Lead Nurturing

Sales funnel

The sales team owns the sales funnel.
But as a B2B marketer, you feed the top of their funnel.
So you own your company’s revenue pipe.
The success or failure of your company depends entirely on the quality and quantity of opportunities you generate.

This isn’t about how many business cards your team collected from the latest trade show. It’s about how many sales-ready leads you can generate. That’s where Lead Nurturing comes in.

We’re huge fans of Lead Nurturing because it:

  • Closes the gap between marketing and sales – connecting us directly to revenue
  • Never wastes a lead – moving the cold ones forward while acting on the hot ones
  • Creates opportunities that the sales team really values – stopping them from cold calling (or ignoring undifferentiated leads)
  • Makes it easy to treat people differently – based on their demographics (job title, industry) and their behaviours (web visits, downloads, email opens…)
  • Automates a lot of boring tasks – like creating landing pages and linking them to emails and analytics

Brian Carrol, CEO of InTouch has a great 5-step way of thinking about lead nurturing:

  1. Refine – work with the sales team to hone a definition of what  a ‘sales-ready’ lead really means. This entails lead scoring and prioritization (50 points if they download White Paper X; 100 points if they visit us at an event…).
  2. Qualify – centralise all data about leads, offline and online.  Then decide who’s worth the effort. (Authority, Time Frame, Need, Budget). There’s often a non-automated, human aspect here (remember the phone?). But do it right and sales conversion rates double.
  3. Nuture –work the early stage leads until they’re sales-ready; drip feed them emails, content & contacts and score their behaviours; It’s about a relevant ongoing dialog with potential customers regardless of their timing to buy.
  4. Define – create a defined hand-off process for moving leads from marketing to sales; CRM integration of your lead nurturing system will help.
  5. Close the loop – via monthly sales/marketing meetings; get their feedback on the leads you’ve delivered; discuss what’s working and what’s not…

The upshot of all this: more effective selling time for your sales people, focused on people with a real business need – and more revenue for the business.

With lead nurturing process like this, you can track Cost per Opportunity (the ones the sales force is actively working on) instead of the clunkier, less enlightening metric, Cost per Lead.

There are an increasing number of Lead Nurturing systems that support this kind of process and automate a lot of the activities that go into it.  We’re getting up to speed on Marketo (pioneered in Europe by John Watton, CMO of ShipServ) and think you should be too.  This is where B2B marketing is going: actually generating business instead of undifferentiated names and email addresses.

(photo credit: Bram Reinders, Creative Commons)

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5 Responses to “The power of B2B Lead Nurturing”

  1. Andy Krafft

    Great piece and nice to see a UK company pushing lead nurturing. We love lead scoring as well and think that this is a big step forward in reducing the “leaky funnel” — all those thousands that visit your website but very few of who actually follow a call to action. Coping with these sorts of volumes is expensive unless you automate it and of course your website is ideal for this.

  2. Lloyd

    As a news distribution service that’s measured by RoI, we love these initiatives – anything like Marketo or Prospectvision that can help turn web traffic into quality leads is fantastic.

    I always find the gap between lead generation and sales stunning. In one of my previous companies we had an initiative called “lead to collect” – aimed at closing and streamlining this gap. An initiative driven by corporate marketing and ignored by sales – I always wondered why!

  3. Matt Gethins

    Doug,

    Very good article on Lead Nurturing. I especially liked this insight::
    “Closes the gap between marketing and sales – connecting us directly to revenue”

    We began implementing Lead Nurturing via automated email systems about 9 months ago. The data is now very clear, Lead Nurturing excelerates sales engagement. Our company is most often hired to help sales organization get more scheduled appointments and sales calls and what we have seen is this:
    -For really difficult missions like scheduling calls with C-level, Lead Nurturing makes it possible to predictably succeed.
    -For less difficult assignments, Lead Nurturing can provide a huge increases in the number sales calls and appointments.

    So to us, it is very clear that Lead Nurturing does, as you say:
    “Close the gap between marketing and sales – connecting us directly to revenue”

    It doesn’t take a sales and marketing genius to figure out that if the sales organization gets an extra 30 or 40 sales calls done each month that pretty revenue is going to improve. This is the kind of impact that Lead Nurturing can make.

  4. Doug Kessler

    Thanks Lloyd and Matt. We’re seeing lead nurturing rising up the agenda everywhere. Sounds like you are too.

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