Lead Nurturing is a critical part of the sales cycle because it allows marketers to maintain communication with leads that are not yet ready to buy. Planning and executing a successful lead nurturing strategy often requires the involvement of several departments within your organization—not just marketing. Before embarking on your lead nurturing journey, here are a few people you may want to consider including on your lead nurturing team.
Don’t wait until you have a list of leads to engage sales managers in the process; aligning sales and marketing early on is essential. Never assume marketing and sales define qualified leads in the same way—in fact, their definitions are often very different. It is also important to agree at what point a lead will be handed off to sales and the process for getting the leads into the hands of the right sales representatives. Many marketing automation systems, such as HubSpot and Marketo, have built-in lead scoring functionality. Points are assigned to a lead based on a variety of factors, like pages visited, content consumed, job title, company size, etc. Once a lead’s score reaches a defined threshold it is sent sales.
Lead nurturing will most likely be a new concept for your sales team. In my experience, most sales reps are accustomed to cold calling leads from a purchased list or following up on leads that have completed a sample request or sweepstakes form. Prior to launching a lead nurturing program, educate the reps on the process and how better qualified leads will benefit them: According to DemandGen Report, on average, nurtured leads produce a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities versus nonnurtured leads. It is also important to talk with the reps about the information they need to qualify a lead. Marketing can use this information to build better lead capturing forms.
In working with clients, I have found those that have included the legal/regulatory department early on in the process often face fewer barriers when submitting content for approval. You may find that not all copy may need to go through the same rigorous review process. For example, copy extracted from previously approved documents for use in emails or blogs may be able to bypass some stages of the approval process. But you will only know this if you ask the right people up front!
As marketers, if we could simply measure our success by the number of leads sent to sales, our job would be easy, right? Wishfull thinking, I know. Our success is often measured on the revenue generated from the leads. However, without having a complete picture of what happens to the leads once they are handed over to sales, it is difficult to report ROI. In an ideal situation there is a constant flow of data between your CRM and Marketing Software through the use of an API—this is where your IT team can help. Be sure to include them early in the process rather than frustrating everyone half way through.
Who knows the common questions and challenges customers face better than your front-line support teams? Your customer service and technical support departments can provide you with valuable insight. For example, in talking with technical support you may learn the three most common questions received. Why not interview a technical service rep to get answers to these questions and use this information to create a download or blog post?
Final Thought: Remember a successful lead nurturing program often requires the assistance of multiple departments within your company. Before jumping in head first, take the time to meet with and educate key players.
Have you recently embarked on the lead nurturing journey? Share your tips for success or tell us about the challenges you encountered in the comment section below.
Shannon Fuldauer has a B2B and B2C eCommerce Marketing background including roles as Vice President of Marketing & Sales Support, and subsequently Vice President of Public Relations & SEO Services, for CareerBoard.com. She has expertise in digital marketing and advanced email communications.
photo credit: Matt McGee