Okay, B2B Marketer, you have a lead list. You know you can’t just hand that over to sales. These leads are fresh, just sprouts in the garden, hardly ready to harvest quite yet. Hand them over to sales too soon and you risk uprooting them, destroying the possibility that they’ll convert. You need to start nurturing them, tending to their needs, giving them the content they need to grow from sprouts into robust Sales Qualified Leads
But how do you nurture? There are some things you should do and some things you should most definitely avoid. Here are Madison Logic’s six Dos and Don’ts of lead nurturing.
Do: Determine What a Lead Looks Like – Just because someone downloads one of your whitepapers doesn’t mean that they’re a lead. A whitepaper download is a top of funnel interaction. All too often a salesperson is too quick to follow-up, reaching out with a phone call or a demo offer far too early in the process. Marketing and sales need to agree on and establish at least five clear pieces of lead criteria that identify a prospect as a real Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). You could use demographic data: company size, lead title, industry type. But this information should be combined with behavioral data: events attended, website engagement. The more a prospect interacts with your brand, the more likely it is that they’re receptive to a sales call.
Don’t: Harass Your Prospects – Just like that girl or guy you liked in college, a lead sometimes is just not that into you. There’s nothing you can do about it. We’ve all downloaded a whitepaper and ten minutes later received a call or an email asking if we want to receive more information. We haven’t even had time to read the whitepaper yet! And when we don’t respond to that first touch, the harassment begins. Emails, calls, demo offers pour in ever few days. It smacks of desperation. Take it easy. You need to follow-up, but early follow-ups should not attempt to schedule a 30-minute demo. Instead, offer more information: videos explainers, one-sheeters, infographics. If they respond to content like this, they’re more likely ready to take your call.
Do: Personalize Your Follow-up Email – We hate generic email. Marketing Automation (MA) is great, but when a prospect fills out a form on your site and triggers an impersonal email, they’re more than likely just going to hit the delete button. Instead, emails should be as customized as possible, recognize the person’s name and company. Identify the piece of content they downloaded and make offers around that content. Did they download a whitepaper on cloud security? Maybe they’re interested in this video on the same topic, or this eBook about best practices for company’s shifting to cloud-based solutions. And make sure that your email is signed by a real person, with real contact information.
Don’t: Pitch Your Products – This is something we talk about a lot at Madison Logic. A prospect is not interested in your product; they’re interested meeting their challenges or solving a problem. My pet peeve is when I download a single whitepaper from a vendor and receive an immediate request to set up a 30-minute demo call. I hardly want a demo when I’m not even sure what your product is or what it does. If it doesn’t address my issue, I’m not going to bother.
Do: Map Your Content to the Buying Cycle – Every piece of content you produce should map to the buying cycle: videos and infographics, top of funnel; whitepapers and eBooks, mid-funnel; product demos and product info, bottom of funnel. Take a look at all your content, assign it to a place in the funnel and serve it to the prospect as they proceed. Make sure your content follows a logical order. In a sense you’re telling the story of your brand. The easier it is to understand your story, the more likely the lead is to convert.
Don’t: Use a One Size Fits All Approach: Every prospect is different. They consume information in different ways, are more sensitive to repeated touches, or have specific preferences about the way they communicate. What’s more, a prospect may come to you at different stages of the buying cycle. It’s up to you to determine where that prospect may be and put them on the track most appropriate to their stage. Evaluate their lead criteria, determine what kind of person you’re talking to. Providing content that doesn’t match a potential buyer’s needs risks disengagement.
These aren’t the only Dos and Don’ts for lead nurturing. In truth, lead nurturing is a complex process. But when well planned and executed according to that plan, lead nurturing will move your leads through the pipeline more quickly, and that should make your sales team –and ultimately your CEO—very happy.
Download our Field Guide to the B2B Buyer to find out more about what appeals to a business to business prospect.