B-to-B Insights: Nurture Vs. Nature
In the early 1980s, when I was advertising manager of Koch Engineering—a manufacturer of process equipment—industrial marketing was a simple two-step process. First, you generated sales leads. Second, you turned the leads over to the sales force, who took it from there.
The most common complaint from the salesforce was the leads we gave them often were of poor quality—not interested or ready to buy. But we thought following-up with the leads until they were ready to buy was the job of the sales rep. Today we know better, and 21st century marketers have added another stage to the marketing process: lead nurturing.
A Good Marketer Nurtures
Marketo, in its e-book "The Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing," defines lead nurturing as "the process of building relationships with qualified prospects regardless of their timing to buy, with the goal of earning their business when they are ready."
Ruth Stevens, president of the consulting firm eMarketing Strategy and author of "Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers," says: "Lead nurturing is a series of communications to build awareness and trust and maintain contact until the prospect is ready to see a salesperson."
Why bother with lead nurturing? There are many reasons. To begin, when you deliver better quality leads to sales, sales is happier with marketing. Lead nurturing systems also prevent leads from falling through the cracks, reducing the percentage of marketing leads who are ignored by sales from as high as 80 percent to as low as 25 percent.
In addition, the Marketo e-book says companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent lower cost per lead. On average, nurtured leads produce a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities vs. non-nurtured leads. According to Stevens, 45 percent of all business inquiries result in a sale eventually.
Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter who has written copy for more than 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Praxair, Intuit, Forbes, and Ingersoll-Rand. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s top copywriter” and he is the author of 90 books, including “The Copywriter's Handbook.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.