It involves keeping prospects warm and engaged through subtle marketing messages and maintaining contact throughout the sales cycle until the lead is a “sales-ready lead”.According to Hubspot, 50 per cent of leads are qualified, but not ready to buy. If your sales team engage with this 50 per cent too soon, you could end up pushing customers away. Recognising which leads are “sales-ready” and which need nurturing can take time and effort, and many organisations are turning to telemarketing companies to handle this crucial aspect of the sales funnel. I have been running lead nurturing campaigns for a long time now, and with this experience, I want to share the main challenges that organisations and their marketing companies face during the process.
Lead validationLead validation is part of the qualification process and this involves gathering all the leads that have shown an interest in your product, analysing their personas and the similarities between each of them. Part of this process is to identify whether a prospect should talk to sales immediately or be routed through the lead nurturing process. Lead validation is essentially organising your data in such a way as to enable you to easily identify a suspect from a prospect, a prospect from a lead, and a lead that’s ready for conversion. Without a methodical approach for qualifying and validating prospects, a business can be left high and dry with many lost new sales opportunities.
Securing decision-making buy-inOne of the biggest challenges faced during a lead nurturing campaign is engaging with the right people within an organisation, those that control the purse strings and have enough influence in the business to make decisions. There are stakeholders at multiple levels of a business, and knowing how to open dialogue and influence these individuals is key to any successful lead nurturing campaign. In large organisations, major decisions are often made by committee. This means that you have to spread your net wide and influence at multiple levels to ensure that you significantly shorten the sales cycle.
Keeping prospects engagedThe main role of lead nurturing is to send the prospect the right information, according to their buyer personas, at the right stage of the sales cycle, and in a timely manner. More importantly, lead nurturing is about maintaining contact, reinforcing messages and building a relationship. Ideally, this needs to be executed through multi-channel marketing activities in order to gauge feedback and nurture a relationship with the right individual. Research shows that by nurturing leads and keeping them engaged with your company on an ongoing basis will gradually draw them down the sales funnel.
Sales and marketing alignmentFor lead nurturing to succeed, sales and marketing must work together seamlessly. The sales team must understand that just because a new lead has come through the door, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready to buy. The first step is to take a friendly, no-strings-attached approach to find out what stage there are in the sales cycle before deciding on the next best method of communication. Sales and marketing both need to agree on what metrics are going to be used to assess each lead, and trust that by working together, they will achieve better success. If sales are to be measured on the quality of a lead, then surely nurturing these leads right up to the point of the sale is going incentivise both sales and marketing teams to align their approach and achieve better results. As with any successful marketing campaign, a multi-channel approach consisting of a range of on and offline communication tactics is always recommended in order to target prospects at multiple touch points and stages of the buying cycle. But the important thing is to ensure that each lead is properly qualified through a methodical nurturing process in order to result in a long-lasting and profitable relationship. Su Copeland is MD of B2B telemarketing and lead generation company Lingo. Image source
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