As we have mentioned many times in previous posts, buyers today spend a great deal of time doing online research. This practice often brings them to the attention of a company’s sales and marketing teams long before they are ready to make a buying decision. B2B buyers often work on extended buying cycles; they may take 18 months or more to make major purchasing decisions.
But only about half of those leads are “sales ready”. The other half are in the information gathering stage. Back in the day, we called them tire kickers and forgot about them. In this day and age, that is a mistake. According to SiriusDecisions, 80% of prospects deemed “bad leads” by sales teams go on to buy within 24 months. That’s why it is critical these days to have a strategy in place to nurture those leads until they are sales ready.
One challenge, of course, is separating those that aren’t ready to buy today from the leads that represent immediate sales opportunities. That’s why lead scoring tools are increasingly popular today. Another challenge is how to engage those warm leads over time, giving them the information they need without annoying or alienating them.
Think of lead nurturing as a journey for your buyers, where your marketing department plays tour guide. You’ll learn more about what buyers like, based upon their online activity and behavior. You’ll provide relevant, timely information, based upon those preferences. Finally, you’ll learn to recognize when buyers are ready to make a decision, and to begin a conversation with your sales team.
But I don’t want to be a pest
If you follow a few rules, you won’t be a pest at all. What we’re talking about here is a consistent series of touch points to keep you and your solution top of mind. Remember this process could take many months until the prospect is “sales ready”. So how do you get started? Here are a few things to consider:
- Choosing a set of nurturing touch points: How many times do you want to contact
• Choose your content offers: Perhaps you start with a white paper, move on to a set
of case studies, and then invite the prospect to a webinar.
• Choose your cadence: Do you contact a prospect every week? Every two weeks?
• Choose your contact methods: Does your entire campaign revolve around email, or
do you contact some prospects by phone, direct mail, or other methods?
A very simple lead nurturing workflow may involve a series of four or five email messages sent over a period of several weeks. A more advanced workflow may include multiple touch points, content offers, and communication channels, all over a much longer period, and with multiple variations. Try starting with a simple workflow, and then allow your campaigns to evolve over time. Contact us for more information about designing and measuring your lead nurturing program.