Businesses normally work hard at getting leads and then just blast them all with the same message via the phone or email. Securing a sale can be a complex process that can take a lot of time. An integral part of your marketing strategy needs to be a conversion process where you nurture leads over time and build a relationship with them.
Most of the time a lead is not ready for contact with one of your sales people. Maybe they are in research mode and trying to figure out which company or solution best fits their needs. You lead nurturing efforts enable you to work out which leads are hot leads and ready for a serious sales conversation.
Follow these six steps to help the sales process:
1. Capture contact details
Without the contact information of prospects who visit your site you can’t do anything. If you want to “warm up” leads then you need at least a name and email address (and permission to talk to them). The most effective way to do this is to have a series of offers on your website – eBooks, articles, webinars, free product trial etc. The idea is that the prospect needs to give some basic contact information in exchange for the great content.
It is a good idea to have different offers for different stages of the buying cycle – for example an article on a common industry problem experienced by your leads (and that you have a solution for) is fairly broad and will be for people who are only at the beginning of the sales cycle. On the other hand, Visitors who “Request a product demo” are much closer to having a sales conversation. You will need to act accordingly depending on the type of lead.
2. Implement a lead nurture campaign
Once you have a regular stream of leads going into your database it’s time to nurture them into being ready to have a sales conversation with you. Email marketing is the best way to do this. If you have leads that are at the beginning stages of the buying cycle then use a series of emails to educate, inform and position your company as a reliable expert in the field.
If it is leads who have signaled they are further into the sales process, then its time to talk about features and benefits of doing business with you. At the end of these nurture campaigns it’s time to ask for further action.
The other important factor to mention here is timing. How often do you want to communicate with the prospect? Again this will differ based on where in the buying cycle they are. If they are at the beginning then it can be more spaced out. If they appear to be closer to a purchase decision process then it needs to be quicker.
3. Remember to include information that guides the buying decision
Most B2B companies are looking to open up the sales conversation with the prospect. You need to make sure that in all nurture campaigns there is company information in place (done sensitively – no one wants the hard sell to quick!).
Things that can work well are well thought-out case studies, customer testimonials, industry awards, high-profile speaking engagements. You can always fall back on newsletters and product info but it’s nowhere near as strong.
4. Tailor the campaign
You will need to always talk to the prospect within the context of how they first ended up in your lead database. Keep the conversation relevant and as meaningful to them. Nothing turns off a prospect faster than irrelevant information. Customize your emails whenever possible.
5. Treat hot leads as if they’re already customers
You need to build up a list of your best leads. The ones who stand the best chance of converting, the ones you really want to work with. Make sure these leads get a more personalized experience.
Consider giving these leads preferential treatment. What select advantages can you give them, special offers, better pricing, added extras that make the package a great deal for them. In short – how do you exceed their expectations and how do you make yourself stand out from the competition?
6. Look for the sales conversation opportunities
The end game for your B2B lead generation efforts is a telephone call and face to face meeting with the prospect. You need to put in place a range of opportunities to do this. Create opportunities to meet or talk, that you can sensitively place in your nurture campaigns.
Inviting leads to events is a good way to do this. Think seminars, webinars, trade shows, open days etc.