To nurture is to care for and encourage the growth or development of something. Mothers are sometimes described as nurturing for the way they care for their children. While lead nurturing isn’t the same thing, they’re are some similarities. In the same way that a mother cares for their children, salespeople have to care for and nurture prospects to convert them into customers.
Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with potential customers throughout every stage of the sales funnel. Relationship building in sales focuses on various marketing and communication efforts and listening to the needs of prospects during their buying journey.
According to the Annuitas Group, nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
Nurturing is an absolutely essential component of a successful outbound sales program. It helps sales reps develop leads and convert leads into sales. If you’re not guiding customers through the sales process, you won’t be as successful in closing deals. Even if you’re just getting started in sales, you should know how important it is to nurture leads. Unfortunately, building a nurturing process is no simple task, and there are essential pieces to consider.
Here are six problems you might face when building a lead nurture process:
Timing: How long should a lead be nurtured?
One of the first problems you’ll face when building a lead nurture process is deciding how long to nurture a lead. Assuming that your target has gone through cleansing (you’re talking to the right company, they are the right fit for your organization, and you’re nurturing the decision-maker) then they are likely in the nurture phase because the timing is off.
So, how long should the sales nurturing process be? When do you eventually give up? Trick question—you don’t. You’re going to nurture a lead forever unless:
- An appointment is set: If you close a deal or set an appointment, you’ve achieved the whole goal of nurturing. The reason for nurturing in the first place is to earn a prospect’s business by guiding them through the buying journey. If they agree to an appointment, or, better yet, buy your product or service, they’re now a customer and not a lead.
- The company becomes disqualified: The only other reason why a business would ever leave the nurture phase is because they become disqualified. If something changes about a company and they are no longer a qualified lead, you can stop the nurture process (e.g. the move to a different size facility, the number of employees they have changes).
Whether a lead tells you they’re not ready to buy or not interested at all, the lead nurturing campaign should still continue. Always assume that the decision-maker is going to change and that, at some point, the target will be re-evaluating service providers for exactly what you offer. You never know when it will be the right time for them to buy.
Frequency: How often do you touch base with a lead?
Another big thing to think about is the frequency of your communication (i.e. how often do you touch base with leads?) This is important to think about as you don’t want your leads to become overwhelmed. There are a few different things to consider when you decide how often you want to touch base with leads in your pipeline:
When did they say to reach out?
The first and most obvious timeframe in which you should reach out: whenever the lead told you to. If a decision-maker said “call me on this date,” or “call me in six months” you’ll want to make sure you follow up when you said you would.
Or, if a lead says the evaluate new partners for your service offering annually, plan to call them in about six to eight months (before the year mark). You want to catch them before anybody else does. This goes back to having great salespeople who ask leads when they’ll be considering so they have a specific timeframe in which they can reach out.
What is the buying cycle for what you’re selling?
Ask yourself, “what is the buying cycle on what I’m selling?” How often do companies typically need what you’re selling? Or, how often do they re-evaluate their current provider for what you’re providing? Consider the following examples:
- If a prospect blows you off today and you’re selling commercial insurance, you nurture more slowly (this isn’t something people purchase or re-consider often)
- If you sell paper towels (something that companies purchase every month) you can nurture more quickly
- Community playground equipment vs. supplies for park restrooms (if you sell playground equipment—nurture very slowly vs. supplies—nurture very quickly).
What is your rule of thumb for leads who don’t give you a timeframe?
If a lead doesn’t provide you with a timeframe of when to follow-up (which happens fairly often), you still need to have a rule of thumb for when you follow-up. When it’s not the right time to buy but they don’t tell you when to follow up, it’s usually a safe bet to follow up every 60 to 90 days. If they say they’re not interested at all, assume the decision-maker will change and follow up every 90 days to six months. When someone says they aren’t interested at all, more than a third of your appointments will come from these people. Don’t give up on companies even if they say they have no interest in what you have to offer.
Important to note: When it comes to frequency of touch, you’re going to treat warm leads much differently than you’d treat other leads. Think about it this way: when you purchase a Disney vacation 12 months in advance, you receive 12 things (one piece of communication each month) about how awesome your vacation is going to be. When you know a lead is interested but can still change their mind at any time, you have to be in contact often and in a valuable way.
Variety: What forms of communication should you use?
It’s silly to assume that you know what your clients are going to respond to. For this reason, you shouldn’t limit yourself to only one or even two forms of communication. With so many forms of communication available, it’s best to use a variety to see the most sales success.
There are several forms of communication you can use to reach prospects, including:
You have to assume that your prospect could respond to all of the above, so prepare to use all of the above (three at minimum) in your marketing and lead generation strategy. To take it a step further, learn more about your ideal customers: what do they look at on a daily basis? What’s their demographic? Also, send valuable pieces of information to warm leads (whitepapers, case studies, etc.) to spice up what might otherwise be a boring email.
Tracking: How do you track your touchpoints?
Once you determine your frequency of touch and what types of communication you want to use with prospects, it’s time to decide how you’ll track your communication. The best way to track your touchpoints is with a reliable customer relationship management (CRM) platform.
It’s absolutely essential for any sales organization to have a CRM that is able to send out most of the correspondents to prospects. It’s ideal to have a CRM that you can send emails out of and make phone calls out of. The more you can do in one centralized platform, the easier you can track your activity.
Analyzing: How do you improve your nurture process?
Once you figure out how to track activity, you then need to put that information to use. How do you analyze your activity to see what’s working and what isn’t? The best way to do this is to have metrics built in to what you’re doing. From there, salesforce experts can build reports into the activity you’re already doing. For example, reporting could track the following:
- If you make 10 phone calls, how many appointments did you get?
- How many phone calls did it take to get an appointment?
- How many nurture days were between the first touchpoint and the appointment?
- Dials per appointment
- Open rates on emails
Find a way to have every phone call, email, and other activity in your sales process tracked and recorded. Once you start looking at all of this data, you can make decisions on how to improve your process.
Value: What value is your nurture process providing?
Last but certainly not least, you must determine: what value add is your nurture process providing to the prospect? Once you have your nurture process completely figured out, figure out ways to make what you’re doing more valuable than what your competitors are doing.
In your nurture process, you have an opportunity to warm a prospect up by sending them things that competitors might not be. Send them case studies, whitepapers, and show them that you’ve solved problems for companies just like theirs. Or, send them information that is pertinent to their industry such as statistics and valuable tips they could share with their own customers. The goal is to earn a prospect’s business by being a resource for them before they’re a customer.
Don’t just send a, “Hi, how are you?” email—add value to your email. Here are some examples:
- A fun article or valuable content (Ex: “3 Things to Improve Your Week”)
- Case studies or other forms of marketing collateral
- Testimonials or success stories from satisfied customers
- Make your email less text-heavy with memes and gifs
The list doesn’t stop there! You should always be thinking of ways to add value to your so you can become a trusted resource for a potential customer.
You can build a lead nurture process yourself, or you can work with a team of experts who already have it figured out. Abstrakt Marketing Group knows the importance of nurturing leads. We have our process down to a science. Whether it takes us six months or two years to close a deal for your business, we continue to be a valuable resource for all potential customers in your pipeline so that we can help you grow your business.
To get started with a B2B appointment setting program, contact our team today!