There’s a knock on your office door, and it’s one of your top sales reps. She’s letting you know that the big client you had your eyes on wouldn’t commit to the sale, but you’ll get the next one. It’s not the first conversation like this you’ve had with a rep, nor do you figure it’ll be the last. You close your door to ponder the implications of so many big opportunities falling through the cracks.
You dive into the internet for some research and come up with two words: lead nurturing. The more you read, the more you see your company in everything that is being said. You have top sellers, there’s no question about that; the sales they close are phenomenal. But for every couple closed, there’s one major sale that gets away. You’re starting to think that, with a focus on lead nurturing, you can turn this trend around. A client who’s not ready to commit isn’t lost—simply held up somewhere in the buyer’s cycle.
You start making some calls and following your research deeper. You’re looking for some training but also a way to sell it to your staff (change is always met with some form of resistance, after all). But the numbers aren’t lying. Lead nurturing helps, a lot, and you will make it a part of your company’s culture.
Here are reasons why your sales team needs lead nurturing, and more importantly, how to integrate it into your company’s sales culture.
What Is Lead Nurturing?
At its core, lead nurturing is about building relationships with clients. This description may make you pause and say, “We’re doing that already!” But the nature of a nurtured relationship is very specific to a client in a current time and place—namely, those not ready to buy yet.
It’s all about making sure that you’re kept in mind as leads who aren’t yet ready to buy move through the buyer’s journey. While they’re still making their purchasing decisions, you want to be educating, building awareness, and trust, so that when it is time to buy, they come back to you.
How Does It Help Sales Teams?
Lead nurturing provides your sales team with a strategy to close the gap between the leads that inbound marketing is generating and the clients who actually make purchases. Sometimes, especially with inbound, leads will actually come in faster than you can manage (that’s the dream, right?). The good news in those situations is that you don’t have to hold everyone’s hand the entire way through the buyer’s journey.
An effective method is to leave those top-of-the-funnel and middle-of-the-funnel leads with marketing. They can worry about bringing in the leads and getting them interested (or holding their interest). With proper CRM, marketing can then transition prospects at the opportune time to the sales team when they reach the bottom of the buyer’s journey and are almost ready to buy). Then, your sales reps can do what they do best—close the deal.
This helps bridge the divide between marketing and sales, and helps your sales team stay focused on prospects who are ready and willing to buy.
Why Does It Matter?
Some clients just aren’t ready to buy when they land on your site. Whether that’s due to logistical reasons, budgetary constraints, or timing, the truth is you’re not going to get a sale from them—today.
By taking that initial attention and gently cultivating an ongoing relationship through automated processes and some well-timed follow-ups (especially through email), companies are finding that those “not ready” clients will actually convert into customers. If you integrate lead nurturing effectively, you will start to see improvements at every stage of the buyer’s cycle—more people will move through it and becoming purchasers at the end.
New technology is making all this easier and easier, with very little effort on your team’s part. Here are several ways to start building lead nurturing into your company’s current culture and reap the benefits.
No one likes a general email blast. With some simple list segmentation and the targeting specific groups/behaviours, you can tailor specific content that reaches these audiences—just as they want it. Obviously, using someone’s name is a great start, but by focusing on their needs, you’ll find your email marketing resonates just that much more with your leads.
Be Aware of the Buyer’s Journey
Regardless of who the prospective client is, make sure to pay attention to where in the buyer’s journey they currently are. You want to be educating them on the aspects of your business as they need to know.
Learning to time an email that outlines prices the same week a person is preparing for the budget ask meeting makes you seem perceptive and effective—two great qualities to instill in your clients.
Some Emails for Some Clients
One of the worst ways to manage your lead nurturing is to send everything you produce to every client. Remember, your nurturing needs to be tailored to the individual, the company, and their place in the buyer’s journey.
Receiving emails about your pricing when still thinking about functionality isn’t going to be effective. Learn to use your CRM and other technologies to trigger emails based on actions, timeframes, and conversations. The more relevant your communications are, the more likely you will ease them into the next buyer’s stage.
Find Ways to Re-Engage Stale Leads
Sometimes, leads will grow stale; this is actually the problem you were having before when you weren’t using nurturing methods. When this happens, an effective email marketing strategy is to provide engagement opportunities—add incentives or ask for feedback.
It may seem like a simple trick, but reappearing with new, quality information and a simple call-to-action serves to remind the potential buyers your company exists and is thinking of them.
Content for Pain Points
A key element of lead nurturing is creating content that speaks to your potential clients’ pain points. Buyers are savvier these days, able to research for hours before you even know they’re interested. By creating compelling content that speaks to the exact pain points leads are experiencing, you’re likely to draw them in and demonstrate your expertise in solving these problems.
Don’t wait—start now! Sure, there are technologies that can help you do it better, but while you look into them, start nurturing some of those big leads, even if you have to do it manually for a little while. Your sales staff may grumble a bit, but once that big client they thought was off the line comes reeling back in, you’ll hear a different tune. By that time, you should have the tech ready to make the process even easier.
Weeks later, after you’ve introduced your teams to lead nurturing, the conversations you’ll have with your sales reps will be different. “We got ‘em!” will become your sales team’s new catchphrase.