Leads in the sales pipeline don’t turn into loyal customers overnight. A 2016 study showed that 48% of business leads stay in the lead nurturing phase for most of the sales funnel. Since most leads spend their time in the lead nurturing stage, it’s crucial to understand the right and wrong ways to practice lead nurturing.
Lead nurturing isn’t an easy gig, and it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t. This blog will cover problems that many sales teams encounter during the lead nurturing process. We’ll cover the following topics:
Lead nurturing is often the most challenging part of an outbound sales strategy. Not only because it’s the phase that most leads stay in, but also because it requires a lot of strategizing, creating a follow-up plan, and trusting your intuition. Here are some of the most common challenges that sales teams face with a lead nurturing strategy:
Many sales development representatives (SDRs) struggle with identifying the right time to follow up with leads in the sales pipeline. If you wait too long to follow up with a prospect, you could miss a major opportunity. If you reach out too frequently, you risk turning off the prospect from ever doing business with your company.
There can be a lot of gray areas with lead nurturing. While there is no cut and dry answer for the best time to follow up, there are a few different ways you can determine the best timeline:
- Ask the key decision-maker (KDM) what their buying cycle looks like. The best way to find the information you need is to be open and honest and ask KDMs questions. If a KDM says it’s not the right time to set an appointment, ask them when they typically reevaluate contracts or analyze their budget.
- Determine your average customer’s buying cycle. Having an idea of your average buyer’s sales cycle gives you a better chance of contacting a prospect at the right time. For example, if most of your customer’s buying cycle averages about three months from a lead to a sale, a check-in every three months is ideal because it increases the chances of them being sales-ready leads.
Depending on the industry and buyer persona, some follow-up methods are more effective than others, but many sales teams struggle to follow up with leads through the right platform.
If you find more success getting sales appointments by calling a lead, then calling the prospect is the best way to build that relationship. However, if most of your communication with that lead has been through email, sending a personalized email is the most efficient way to get that sales appointment. Always consider your target audience, their stage in the sales funnel, and their habits when determining the best follow-up method.
In addition, it’s important to be courteous of how frequently to follow up with a lead. Understanding timeliness and their stage in the buyer’s cycle is essential so you don’t risk turning them off from your business or missing the mark on a high-quality business opportunity.
Another common challenge of lead nurturing is picking the best content to create and present to leads. Developing effective marketing collateral (also known as sales enablement materials) requires really knowing your target audience and understanding what they may be interested in learning more about.
The best pieces of marketing collateral for the lead nurturing (or consideration) stage of the buyer’s cycle are case studies and infographics. Infographics are excellent sales enablement materials for explaining complex products, services, or concepts. Before creating infographics, gather market research data to better understand what potential buyers may be confused or uninformed about. Infographics could effectively present “What Is,” “How To,” or “Benefits of” topics.
For example, if you serve a jargon-heavy industry like MSP, you could create an infographic such as “What Does Cloud Migration Entail?”, “How To Ensure Your Network Is Secure,” or “Benefits of Having an Ongoing MSP.” This provides visually appealing, in-depth insight into the industry and answers potential buyers’ questions. However, again, it’s essential to understand the questions, comments, or concerns your target market may have so you can deliver valuable information.
Case studies are also great sales enablement materials for the lead nurturing stage because they encourage prospects to envision themselves in your customers’ shoes. Many businesses produce promotional videos for their case studies to add a visual element to their success stories.
When creating case studies, it’s crucial to highlight customers who had similar pain points to your prospects. For example, let’s suggest that you want to recruit more loan officers for your mortgage company. From market research, you discover that many of your loan officer prospects feel like their companies don’t support them. In this case, you could develop a case study highlighting how you recruited a loan officer who wasn’t getting the support they needed. After transferring to your mortgage company, they’ve had all the support they need to grow personally and professionally.
Measuring your lead nurturing program is essential for determining if your strategy is successful. However, many sales teams struggle to figure out what they’re supposed to be measuring. As you analyze your lead nurturing strategy, consider looking at the following metrics:
- Number of sales appointments that come from prospects in lead nurturing
- Number of dials made until a prospect in lead nurturing turns into an appointment
- Number of pitches made to prospects in the lead nurturing phase
- Number of leads that convert to sales appointments
- Number of sales appointments that convert to customers
- Average number of pitches to appointments ratio
- Sales appointment no-show rates
A good way to find, track, and analyze these metrics is by integrating a customer relationship management (CRM) platform into your outbound sales efforts. Gathering and interpreting this data manually can be time-consuming, which leaves sales teams less time to call and pitch leads in the sales pipeline. CRM programs like Salesforce can gather this data automatically and present you and your sales team with visual charts that make it easy to understand.
Tracking metrics is essential for understanding the success of your lead nurturing strategy. Overall, the goal of a lead nurturing plan is to build and maintain a relationship with a lead in the sales pipeline. Unfortunately, not every lead in the sales pipeline will result in a signed contract. However, by understanding the metrics of your lead nurturing plan, you have the opportunity to understand if your strategy is sufficient. If not, then you can make adjustments as they seem fit.
Making mistakes in a lead nurturing plan is natural and nothing to be ashamed of. The best thing about making mistakes in lead nurturing is that they can easily be corrected to make your strategy stronger than ever before. Here are some common mistakes that sales teams make when lead nurturing:
Many salespeople are scared to follow up with leads because they fear rejection. Lead nurturing can be intimidating, but it’s necessary to build relationships and get the sales appointment with qualified leads. Without lead nurturing, your sales team has no way of building a sustainable sales pipeline.
No two leads in the sales pipeline are the same. Each prospective business has its own unique struggles that it encounters. That being said, each relationship built with a prospective business must be different than the last. For example, if you’re a roofing company, marketing materials sent to an ongoing maintenance lead would be different from a new roof installation lead.
A generic lead nurturing campaign is ineffective because it doesn’t address the needs of each individual prospect. While it may provide some success, it can come off as inauthentic.
Studies show that targeted lead nurturing materials deliver six times higher transactional rates than generic lead nurturing. Targeted content makes the prospect feel understood and heard by your company. Even if they’re not ready to buy yet, targeted content continues to build their trust until they’re ready to make a purchase.
A good way to approach targeted lead nurturing is to develop specific email lists in your CRM platform. Email lists make it easy to create and distribute content to prospects that are relevant to their product or service interests, stage in the buyer’s cycle, location, and more.
Let’s refer back to the commercial roofing example. An email list for leads interested in ongoing roof maintenance can receive marketing materials about recommended roof maintenance schedules and case studies. On the other hand, leads interested in new roof installations can receive marketing materials about the best types of roofing systems and the saving benefits of different roofing materials.
Do your sales enablement materials look like they were made on the world’s first desktop? We sure hope not. Simply having marketing collateral isn’t enough to generate leads. High-quality marketing collateral is essential for an effective lead nurturing flow because it shows that your company cares about how it’s presented to the public. In addition, it must be relevant and address the needs of your target audience.
Behavioral targeting involves a sales or marketing team member receiving a CRM notification when a lead in the sales pipeline interacts with the content sent to them. This could include opening an email, watching a video, entering a landing page, reading a blog post, or being directed to other pages on your website.
Research shows that only 20% of sales and marketing teams use behavioral targeting to their advantage. If you’re not using behavioral targeting, you’re missing out on hot sales appointment opportunities. Even if they’re not ready to make a purchase, at least your SDRs can reach out, continue to build that relationship, and answer any questions they may have.
If you’re only nurturing leads by cold calling, you’re missing a significant component of your outbound appointment setting program. Integrating email marketing into your lead nurturing flow can create top-of-mind awareness of your business and encourage email recipients to check out your website, social media profiles, and marketing collateral. In addition, this gives the prospect another platform to connect with you if they have any questions or want to set up a sales appointment.
If SDRs are slow to respond to leads who leave them a voicemail or reply to an email, they risk not connecting with prospects and missing hot business opportunities. Research shows that leads are 21 times more likely to convert into a customer if they respond within five minutes. However, we know this isn’t always feasible.
As mentioned previously, many leads in the sales pipeline remain in the lead nurturing phase for an extended period of time. Even if you can’t respond to a lead in five minutes, it’s crucial to follow up with them as soon as you hear the voicemail or read the email. The quicker you reply to a prospect, the greater your chances are of converting them from a lead into a customer.
Lead scoring is when sales and marketing teams rank leads in the sales pipeline from higher to lower closing opportunities. In addition, the higher the lead score, the more significant the ROI is for your company.
Lead scoring can be done by an SDR or automatically through your CRM platform. CRMs score leads by analyzing how recently and frequently they interact with content. This includes specific behaviors like opening emails, directing to websites, engaging on social media, and more.
Lead scoring is important for lead nurturing because it allows SDRs to prioritize leads that are interacting with content to ensure they reach the lead at the right time.
Researching leads before contacting them is essential for lead nurturing because it allows your SDRs to present a more targeted pitch. Even if you discovered a KDM during the prospecting phase of sales enablement, there’s a chance the KDM may have changed since you last contacted them. Company research enables SDRs to ask for the right person to discuss their business’s product or service.
Researching leads before connecting with them also helps your SDRs pitch products or services that align with their needs. For example, suppose you’re a marketing company that wants more business from nonprofit organizations. In that case, your SDRs can present leads with insight about how they’ve been able to help other nonprofits optimize their digital marketing strategy. This shows the lead that you’re knowledgeable about how their industry operates and what’s been successful for other nonprofits.
Any company can have a lead nurturing campaign, but does it have the potential for success? You know you have a good lead nurturing plan when:
Like any business, sales, or marketing strategy, a clear goal must be established. Having a clear goal for your lead nurturing flow allows you to track and measure results more effectively. What are you hoping to achieve from your lead nurturing campaign? Once you understand this, you have the opportunity to measure success and make adjustments to the strategy as needed.
No matter your overall goal, every business strategy should start with identifying a target audience. Identifying a target audience and drilling down who you really want to sell to enables you and your sales team to personalize each conversation and make each prospect’s experience with your company different from the next. This allows your sales reps to tailor each conversation and pitch products or services that align with their wants, needs, and goals.
As mentioned above, personalizing pitches and marketing collateral is essential to attract the attention of potential buyers. Customizing pitches and content marketing materials shows the prospect that your company hears and understands their concerns, and your company offers products and services that relieve those pain points.
Are you only making warm calls or sending follow-up emails as a form of lead nurturing? If so, you may be missing a big mark in your lead nurturing strategy. A good lead nurturing plan encourages sales development reps to use several communication channels to connect with leads in the sales pipeline and build that relationship over time.
If you’re not tracking your lead nurturing strategy metrics, how do you know if it’s successful? For a lead nurturing flow to be sustainable, the program must be measurable to help you understand where there may be gaps in the process. This allows you and your sales team to strategize and make changes as needed to advance your lead nurturing flow.
Your sales strategy should always align with the goals of the marketing department. When your sales and marketing teams align their strategies, you have the opportunity to generate more leads and present prospects with content that matters to them. By integrating the strategies of both teams, you have the opportunity to target prospects on various platforms and gain top-of-mind awareness.
Since 48% of business leads stay in the lead nurturing phase for most of the sales cycle, developing a plan that works is essential. Lead nurturing takes a lot of trial and error, but the good news is that it’ll only make your strategy stronger in the long run.
Over the last decade, Abstrakt Marketing Group has been perfecting the game of lead nurturing—and now we have it down to a science. Our sales development reps collaborate with businesses to develop an effective appointment setting process, build relationships with prospective businesses, and set qualified sales appointments. If you’re tired of trying to develop a lead nurturing strategy that works, contact the sales reps at Abstrakt Marketing Group to lend a helping hand.