The sales team owns the sales funnel.
But as a B2B marketer, you feed the top of their funnel.
So you own your company’s revenue pipe.
The success or failure of your company depends entirely on the quality and quantity of opportunities you generate.
This isn’t about how many business cards your team collected from the latest trade show. It’s about how many sales-ready leads you can generate. That’s where Lead Nurturing comes in.
We’re huge fans of Lead Nurturing because it:
- Closes the gap between marketing and sales – connecting us directly to revenue
- Never wastes a lead – moving the cold ones forward while acting on the hot ones
- Creates opportunities that the sales team really values – stopping them from cold calling (or ignoring undifferentiated leads)
- Makes it easy to treat people differently – based on their demographics (job title, industry) and their behaviours (web visits, downloads, email opens…)
- Automates a lot of boring tasks – like creating landing pages and linking them to emails and analytics
Brian Carrol, CEO of InTouch has a great 5-step way of thinking about lead nurturing:
- Refine – work with the sales team to hone a definition of what a ‘sales-ready’ lead really means. This entails lead scoring and prioritization (50 points if they download White Paper X; 100 points if they visit us at an event…).
- Qualify – centralise all data about leads, offline and online. Then decide who’s worth the effort. (Authority, Time Frame, Need, Budget). There’s often a non-automated, human aspect here (remember the phone?). But do it right and sales conversion rates double.
- Nuture –work the early stage leads until they’re sales-ready; drip feed them emails, content & contacts and score their behaviours; It’s about a relevant ongoing dialog with potential customers regardless of their timing to buy.
- Define – create a defined hand-off process for moving leads from marketing to sales; CRM integration of your lead nurturing system will help.
- Close the loop – via monthly sales/marketing meetings; get their feedback on the leads you’ve delivered; discuss what’s working and what’s not…
The upshot of all this: more effective selling time for your sales people, focused on people with a real business need – and more revenue for the business.
With lead nurturing process like this, you can track Cost per Opportunity (the ones the sales force is actively working on) instead of the clunkier, less enlightening metric, Cost per Lead.
There are an increasing number of Lead Nurturing systems that support this kind of process and automate a lot of the activities that go into it. We’re getting up to speed on Marketo (pioneered in Europe by John Watton, CMO of ShipServ) and think you should be too. This is where B2B marketing is going: actually generating business instead of undifferentiated names and email addresses.
(photo credit: Bram Reinders, Creative Commons)