Generating qualified leads is a difficult task which requires substantial research, dollars and time commitments. After all of that hard work and investment, are you moving beyond the initial lead generation and doing what it takes to maximize the results of your efforts and drive more sales?
The Path through the Pipeline
If a lead is qualified and sales-ready, the next steps are quite obvious—turn the lead over to sales to begin the journey through the pipeline. So, what should you do with those leads that hover at the entrance of the pipeline, those who are qualified but not sales-ready? Or, those leads that have started to work their way through the pipeline, but for one reason or another have “stalled out?”
Generating qualified lead is only the first chapter in a B2B marketer’s playbook, as there are many leads that get caught up in the pipeline, somewhere between a qualified lead and a sale. The lead generation role played by marketing may be complete once the lead has entered the pipeline, however, the role that marketing plays in the sales cycle is not. The extended challenge faced by marketing professionals is nurturing those static leads to help guide them further down the pipeline into a closed sale.
Importance of Nurturing Campaigns
A majority of leads that enter the pipeline turn out to be classified as “not sales-ready.” While this discovery is quite disappointing, these leads, sales-ready or not, are extremely valuable. So, what happens next? What do you do with these qualified leads that meet your target profile but may lack the budget and/or need at that particular time? It is quite common for these qualified leads to simply sit in the pipeline with little or no movement and even worse, little or no attention.
So, what should you do with stalled leads to move them through the pipeline? Well, the truth is, stalled leads are more likely than new leads to turn into a sale down the road if they are nurtured. In fact, according to Mike Wallen, President of The Lead Dogs, a B2B lead development company, “Nurtured contacts tend to have a 2X higher close rate than inquiries.” The good news is, you found the right people. The bad news is, you found them at the wrong time. The trick is, to make sure you are front and center when the timing is right. To ensure this, marketers should be implementing ongoing nurturing campaigns aimed at reinforcing key messages and keeping their company top of mind. This means, if and when your targeted prospect is sales-ready, your product and/or service is more likely to be in the running.
Creating Effective Nurturing Campaigns
With the right message, the right mix of marketing activities and the right timing, stalled leads can be nudged through the pipeline, moving closer to a sale. To create effective nurturing campaigns, marketers should incorporate:
- The Right Message: To implement successful nurturing campaigns marketers should segment their leads and target their messaging to appeal to those leads’ interests, and always avoid sales messages. For nurturing campaigns, you have already determined the leads are not sales-ready, so high pressure communications will be unwelcome. The key in nurturing campaigns is to hone in on a specific segment’s pain points and send marketing communications that provide valuable tips, materials and activities that address these pain points. The more value the recipient receives from the communications, the more likely they will continue to welcome them.
- The Right Activities: When it comes to nurturing campaigns, a mix of marketing activities is key. It is important to position your company as a thought leader and a resource, not a company with a product and/or service to sell. To do this, create communications focused around best practices and leverage customers and third-party industry experts to support your case. Successful nurturing campaigns could include invitations to webcasts and regional best practices seminars or email marketing communications offering whitepapers and articles or driving recipients to blog postings, etc. In addition, for key prospects, attention grabbing dimensional mailers with one-to-one follow up calls can help to reengage.
- The Right Timing: It is practically impossible for marketers to know when, and if, static leads in the pipeline will convert to sales-ready leads. This is why the timing of nurture campaigns is incredibly important. When a lead is ready to buy, it is crucial that your product/service is top of mind. To accomplish this, nurture campaigns need to have consistent timing and be implemented on a regular basis. However, it is equally important to avoid overloading your target with communications, so they are not perceived as a nuisance. Monthly campaigns are a nice balance between over communicating and under communicating.
The Nurturing Nudge
While it varies from company to company, in most B2B situations, generating a qualified lead does not usually mean an instant sale, making it quite common for leads to sit in the pipeline. While many of the hard earned leads generated are not exactly sales-ready, this does not make them any less valuable. Instead, they may simply need a little extra attention and a few reminders to help move them through the pipeline. By implementing strategic marketing campaigns, marketers can help to nudge these static leads into motion, helping to reengage and drive sales.
Need help implementing a nurturing program? Contact Launch Marketing today for insights into best practices and drivers of successful campaigns.
Graphic Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqEaKxG5GMk