Lead Nurturing: Moving from a “NO” and a “MAYBE” to a “SOLID YES”
Lead nurturing supports the conversation with the customer before, during and after their buying process.
In today’s fast-paced competitive environment, it’s very important for B2B businesses to understand that leads are the lifeline of a B2B company. And it’s their obligation to nurture each and every lead, through careful listening, building trust and strengthening the relationships.
Benefits of Lead Nurturing
A Forrester research, done in 2012, shows that nurturing leads can increase sales opportunities by 20% over non-nurtured leads. Furthermore, an effective lead nurturing strategy can:
- Increase sales-ready leads by at least 50%, at 33% reduced cost per lead
- Lower the number of ignored and disregarded leads, from as high as 80% to as low as 25%
- Increase closings on marketing-generated leads by 7%
- Increase sales quote by approximately 10%
- Reduce “no decisions” by 6%
But if the benefits are so good, why do so many executives wonder if they should invest in lead nurturing?
B2B marketers know that it takes several exposures before a buyer chooses a vendor, but too long buying cycles can be counter-productive and can make the buyers forget about your business. And when it comes to the IT industry, you need to stay very visible in order to make it to the buyer’s shortlist of vendors.
How to Turn Cold and Warm Leads into Hot Ones
Lead nurturing is a balancing act between the art & science, and guesswork & knowledge about your “leads pool”. But the key to successful lead nurturing lies in good communication. And many companies make the mistake of giving up on their cold(er) leads, without attempting another exposure. Truth is, more than half of the leads you follow up on are not ready to make a purchase right away, but they could be ready the next week or the next month. That’s why none of your leads should feel neglected or forgotten because that way, they will be pushed out of your sales funnel, and may end up buying from your competitors.
So, how should a successful lead nurturing program look like in order to convert leads and speed up the sales process?
- Understand Your Typical Buyer’s Approach and Segment Leads
You first must understand a typical buyer’s journey and engagement level in order to align your presence and commitment to staying visible throughout the entire buying process. Learn about your customer’s problems and objectives, and identify which ones are harder to address. Work on resolving those issues first. Then, learn all you can from the internal teams such as sales, accounting, and product stakeholders. Use this specialised knowledge to refine your approach, segment leads based on location, gender, age, occupation, interests or purchasing habits, then tailor your correspondence accordingly. That will help you to stay relevant and speed up the sales cycle.
• How do customers typically buy products – online or in-store?;
• How long are their buying cycles?;
• How many times on average do you (sales team) need to contact a prospect before they turn into a customer?;
• What are the most common objections you hear and which ones are harder to address?
2. Be Persistent and Build Trust
People tend to trust companies that make them feel valued. And that requires keeping a continuous conversation, showing your brand’s personality in all your efforts. By keeping the conversation flowing, but clear and focused at every step of the buying cycle, you will slowly build trust and develop a relationship with your leads. The more helpful you are, the more valued the customers will feel, and the closer you will get them to a purchase.
Persistence Pays & it is Easy:
- Use your logo and brand message in all your digital and printed communications.
- Use a style guide to help you write in a single voice, and avoid using too heavy industry jargon. Everyone should be able to understand your content.
- Keep an editorial calendar for both, your social media posts and your blog, and stick to it.
- Use automated drip campaigns to send your prospects timed and segment-specific emails. That way they won’t feel neglected.
- Spread the responsibilities by assigning deliverables to different teammates. Keep everyone in the loop, and available to continue the conversation with the customers in the correct tone.
- Whenever your prospects and customers contact you, try to answer as fast and as concisely as possible.
- Optimise your “Exposure Strategies”
It is important to keep altering and optimising your exposure techniques, see what clicks with which category. For example:
- If you are running an email campaign, try out different campaigns with different subject lines.
- Do an A/B testing to check which subject line increases the CTR (Click through rate), use the winning formula in future campaigns, but never stop testing.
- For a cold calling campaign, find at what times prospects engage with you the most. (A helpful tip: In various studies, Wednesday & Thursday are considered the best days to cold-call and 5-7 PM the best time for getting favourable response)
Keep a tab of what is not clicking with your prospects. Once you learn why your leads didn’t make a purchase on the first or second exposure, you can easily fine-tune your future efforts and approach those and similar leads in a different manner.
Cold leads need a more subtle approach and a few more exposures, while warm ones might be just an exposure away. Don’t give up, but vary your communication methods in order to avoid becoming boring or annoying. Invest in a robust CRM system to be able to store more information. And when things get complex, don’t hesitate to enlist an outside resource, like Beyond Codes, that will create a unique program for your lead nurturing efforts, help you evaluate progress, and plan your next steps.
Lead nurturing is a MUST-HAVE for B2B companies, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach. To get the most out of it, you must invest time, knowledge and resources. Once you find the winning combination, stick to it, revise it every few months, and repeat the steps that work for each particular segment. In no time, your cold and warm leads will start turning into hot ones because they will feel that they are important to you. Just stay consistent in your efforts. Only that way your hot leads will turn into happy customers. And remember, happy customers are returning customers.