Turn Leads Into Prospects by Nurturing
If you ask the sales team what defines a lead, they’ll tell you “high quality.” That translates to “ready to buy decision-makers who have a budget in place”. Sure, piece of cake — let me snap my fingers.
If you ask the marketing team what defines a lead, they’ll tell you “high volume.” They want to deliver enough leads to sales so they will stop whining.
The challenge, of course, is these two objectives are at odds. Yet, when working with many marketers, they have not budgeted to take the extra time and expense necessary to help cull down leads from simply being aware of the product/service to actually be sales-ready — ready for a conversation about the possibility of making a purchase.
That missing link is called lead nurturing, and it’s why so many companies are failing at converting leads into warm prospects.
Lead Nurturing: The Holy Grail
According to a 2011 article in the Harvard Business Review, 23 percent of firms never follow up on leads at all. A more recent 2012 study published in Forbes showed that 73 percent of leads never get contacted. But, why not?
Marketing Sherpa claims a whopping 68 percent of B-to-B organizations have not even identified their sales funnel — the buying process that companies use to lead prospects from awareness to interest, interest to desire and desire to purchase.
Lead nurturing is an art and more often than not, companies get it all wrong.
When an individual downloads a whitepaper, it’s signaling an interest in a topic. If that whitepaper is based on good old fashioned research, it addresses a pain point that’s common in the industry.
The first challenge is too many whitepapers are written as either self-serving brochures or are plastered with marketing hype so the reader is turned off immediately. For some insight into what makes a good whitepaper, read my previous blog, “Have Whitepapers Lost Their Strategic Purpose.”
But, after the document is downloaded, then what? Please, I beg you, don’t call. Your prospect is not ready to have a conversation. They are probably at the start of their buying journey — they are in information gathering mode. And your job is to help them get educated so that they ultimately reach the right conclusion — your product or service may be the answer.
To get them to that point, you need to nurture them. Follow up with an email and a link to an additional asset — another whitepaper, a helpful video or an executive briefing. But, definitely don’t send a brochure.
Be Helpful, Educational and Targeted
Every seven to 10 days, drop another email with a link to another asset. Perhaps invite them to answer a question or two so you can refine the assets you’re providing. Are they in a specific vertical industry? Perhaps their company size or number of employees is relevant to your solution? Are they just staying abreast of the latest industry trends or are they just trying to get as much information as they can on a particular topic?
The more you know about them, the more targeted the information you can provide.
Alas, most organizations haven’t created a pool of assets that are useable. Most have spent their money on self-serving fluff. Even the case studies are poorly written and disguised versions of a sales piece.
The result? No lead nurturing process, no educational opportunity, no relationship building, no opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership in the category and no low conversion.
Do you have a lead nurturing process in place? Do you have assets that a prospect would find interesting, educational and valuable in their buying journey? Let me know in the comments because it’s likely that you have an excellent sales conversion story to share.
A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.