Marketo provided the inspiration for these tips. They propose a process for growing business to business sales leads.
1. Nurture. Lead nurturing is the process of using many channels including the mail, phone, web, email, and other channels to build relationships with qualified prospects who are not ready for sales efforts. Many leads are still in research mode, so communication and offers should provide best practices, statistics, research, etc. to help the customer frame their research.
- Builds relationships with prospects
- Creates understanding of needs
- Facilitates lead scoring
2. Frame the research. Lead nurturing is not sending a newsletter to your entire database, or calling prospects every few weeks to see if they are ready to buy yet. B2B purchases are, by their nature, complex. Buyers need help to see possibilities and issues they wouldn’t think about on their own. If you can help frame the discussion, you will be seen as a trusted advisor and thought leader. This will help buyers believe that your company understands their problems and knows how to solve them. Lead nurturing is your opportunity to demonstrate the value you can provide and to position yourself as a resource.
3. Define what makes a lead “ready”. Work with your sales team to build criteria that determine the steps prospects should take before they are ready for a sales call. Criteria could include:
- Demographic information – Geographic location, company size, etc.
- “Push” actions – What have you done to interact with the lead, what have you told them?
- “Pull” actions – What has the lead done to pull information to them? What pages have they visited? Have they downloaded special information?
4. Score the lead. The prospect is in control of the buying process. Monitor their efforts to pull information and interaction to know when they’re ready to move to the next stage. Interest level should be defined not just by their words but their actions. Actions speak louder than words. Track all the actions and update scores accordingly.
5. Provide detailed information to sales when leads are determined to be “ready”. Don’t just toss the lead over and leave it up to the sales rep to create a continuous experience for the customer.
- Let sales know what marketing activities the prospect has responded to, and indicate which product the prospect is most likely to purchase based on responses to date.
- Create tools such as templates, qualifying questions, and call scripts to guide sales reps during their initial contact with the lead. Be sure to refer to the marketing activities they have responded to.
6. Track follow up. Work with sales to create the scoring criteria to build goodwill with them. After that, regularly analyze the leads that were determined to be sales-ready to further refine your lead scoring criteria.
- Adjust lead score thresholds based on business conditions.
- Make sure sales follows up with leads and reassign leads that don’t get contacted.
- When leads aren’t closed by sales as expected, recycle them back into marketing for further nurturing.
7. Track every marketing activity. Tracking every marketing activity is critical to understanding which marketing programs work. What programs directly contributed to sales? What programs generated the highest quality leads? Which programs had the greatest influence on the sales pipeline? You need to know the impact of all the programs.
8. Understand prospects needs. As you build a relationship with your prospects, you should also be learning more about their needs. Every campaign the prospect responds to tells you about their interests. Every page they visit on your website tells you about their interests. Every link they click, and every piece of information they fill out on a form, tells you more about them. Be clever with your forms – don’t ask prospects to enter information you already know, and use the opportunity to find out something new!
9. Track all traffic and tie to new leads. Simple code on your Web pages help you track prospects, whether anonymous or known. This helps tell you which companies are interested in your products. As anonymous prospects complete forms on your website or landing pages, any previous web visits can be automatically attributed to the new lead. This is important to determine the sales readiness of new leads, since you know the entire history of the relationship with that prospect – including which campaign helped them find you in the first place.
10. Data quality standards, including de-duplication. Demographic analysis has long been a part of the sales process, and the Web makes it easier to collect this information. Certain information such as company size can help you determine the lead score. With many demand generation and lead nurturing activities running concurrently, automatic deduplication is imperative. Forms which auto-complete if the visitor is recognized not only help your prospects but can also facilitate the collection of additional information for profiling and scoring.