Developing Leads Through Lead Nurturing
By: Brian Carroll
To help you start the New Year, I'd like to wrap up my Lead Generation Checklist Series with the secret to successful lead generation – and, for that matter, marketing in today's B2B space: lead nurturing.
At it's core, B2B lead generation is about building relationships. In today's commoditized business climate, the one thing that sets apart companies with a complex sale is how well they build and nurture long-term leads.
Throughout this series, I've discussed many aspects of lead generation and emphasized how organizations can optimize the process. I've talked about creating the right mindset, and how to repair the rift between sales and marketing; I've discussed how to create the ideal customer profile (and the un-ideal customer profile as well) and how a universal lead definition that fits your company's goals and culture can help organizations zone in on their sweet spot as well as the importance of a well maintained database; I've outlined a multi modal approach and emphasized its role in effective lead generation, as well as the aspects of an effective lead management process. Today, I'd like to talk about the part of the process that fundamentally stops viable leads from leaking out of your marketing funnel. Lead nurturing: It's the one thing that will make all your hard work come together – or the one thing that could make your whole process fall apart….
While lead generation initiates and perpetuates dialogue with the right people in the right companies in the quest for opportunities that are relatively imminent, lead nurturing keeps the conversation going over time, building solid relationships. It allows the creation of interest in products and services while bringing the leads to sales-ready states when the buying opportunity presents itself.
To ensure successful lead nurturing you must:
• Have a lead development process in place to cultivate marketing leads into sales ready leads.
• Employ methods to motivate sales people for consistent contact with prospects who may not yet be ready to buy.
• Have a process for ensuring that your Sales team hands back inactive leads for further nurturing by marketing. That centralized database that I keep emphasizing will come in handy now. Sales can make notes as to why they are not going to use the leads and give feedback to Marketing at this point.
• Capture future opportunities that are being currently missed and nurture them into viable sales. This is where Marketing can take many opportunities that are being ignored and keep them warm for Sales.
• Leverage content to position sales people as trusted advisors. A carefully crafted lead nurturing program anticipates the prospect's questions and responds with timely answers. This inspires awareness that you are creating value by providing useful information. Relevancy is the key.
• Aid in positioning sales people as trusted advisors. By consistently offering relevant content in the context of lead nurturing, the potential customer's inner dialogue should be: something like this: "You and I have been talking for quite a while, and I feel that you understand me, my company and my industry. You have given me useful and pertinent ideas on this issue, and you have helped me sell the idea to my colleagues and they understand and accept it. It's a challenging project, but I think you can do it. Let's get going."
The true value of lead nurturing comes from the disciplined technique of staying in touch while providing the "right information throughout the evaluation and buying processes. The result is optimized mind share, efficient budget spending, profitable relationships and increased business.
Don't let all your hard work go to waste. Keep your prospects interested, informed and feeling good about you. If you haven't already, I encourage you to read each checklist in my series.
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