Lead Nurturing Strategies: Warm Up Prospects and Book More Sales Meetings
Today’s companies are looking to find, keep, and enjoy closer relationships with their customers through lead nurturing. This strategy helps businesses guide more high-quality leads through the marketing funnel on their way to becoming customers.
According to HubSpot’s Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2022, converting leads into customers is a top priority for almost 75% of companies. Yet many fall short of nurturing their existing customers beyond the first purchase (81% only use early-stage lead nurturing tactics). No matter where your customers are on their journey, you need to be ready with great lead nurturing ideas to ensure the success of your business.
Here’s more evidence in support of comprehensive lead nurturing:
According to one survey, 48%of businesses say most of their leads require a long sales cycle of nurturing to convert.
Content marketing is generating more leads than traditional marketing strategies for 93% of B2B companies.
Email content marketing has been an effective channel for early-stage lead generation for 53% of marketers.
Because landing pages offer personalized, relevant content that audiences relate better to, 68% of B2B companies are using them on websites to nurture new sales leads for future conversion.
For 53% of marketers, webinars are the top-of-the-funnel format that generates the most high-quality leads.
Businesses that nurture prospects with content that’s relevant to where they are in the buying process are achieving 72% higher conversion rates.
5 Ways to Create a Successful Lead Nurturing Strategy
In this article, guest expert Angela Pointon, president of 11outof11, shares five ideas for creating lead nurturing that will help ensure your next campaign is a success.
Know who to nurture
The people who need nurturing are your ideal customers. Define them and get to know them. Explore all of the different types of your customers, not just one.
Leave the sales pitch for later
The way that lead nurturing supports and encourages your customers through the sales funnel is a soft sell, by design. Offer your customers something they can value first, so they can get ready to buy. Leave the sales pitch for later. Consider a whitepaper, an in-depth eBook, a new webinar ,or leveraging one of your existing assets that has been successful in converting leads.
Think about why you’re sending an email
After determining the content that’s relevant for each of your customer types, create a purpose for each email related to the specific stages of the buyer’s journey or how your brand meets their current needs.
Don’t rush a sale
For a lead nurturing campaign to be effective, time your emails to coincide with your business’s typical sales cycle. Send at least two or three nurturing emails spaced out over the length of your sales cycle to avoid rushing into a sale.
Test campaigns and analyze your success
Experiment with different email subject lines including preview text, test your offers, and craft specific calls-to-action for each email in your campaign. Keep improving on them with an eye toward better nurturing of leads and more lead-to-customer conversions.
Much has been said about the Hubspot Buyer’s Journey Simply stated, the buyer’s journey is the process that a buyer goes through in making a decision to buy. Hubspot’s definition: The buyer’s journey describes a buyer’s path to purchase. In other words, buyers don’t wake up and decide to buy on a whim. They go through a process to become aware of, consider and evaluate, and decide to purchase a new product or service.
There are 3 stages in the Hubspot Buyer’s Journey:
Awareness Stage: buyers become aware they have a problem.
Consideration Stage: The buyer defines the problem and considers options to fix it.
Decision Stage: buyer evaluates and decides on the right provider to administer the solution.
Here is an example of a buyer’s experience that I had:
Awareness: I value my sleep, but some nights I sleep better than others. What can I do to fix that?
Consideration: What are some different things I can do to improve my sleep? Eat earlier? Ensure I exercise daily? Have a glass of wine in the evenings? Have 2 glasses of wine? Maybe I shouldn’t have wine at all? Wow, what can I do to know what works and what doesn’t? I think the first step is to find something that can give me some data to help me! I don’t particularly like wearing a watch, but there are watches that can monitor my sleep with data.
Decision: Given my phone has everything I need on it, and I don’t like wearing accessories, my decision is based on finding the simplest watch that has the app that best tracks my sleep. I landed on a simple version of the Apple Watch.
What a great framework for a B to C marketing professional to align with in order to sell more to their target persona!
Leveraging the buyer’s journey for a B to B services decision is a bit more complicated. Decisions in this environment are more complex, involve more decision-makers, and are typically long-term engagements.
Then how can a B to B services organization leverage the buyer’s journey decision-making psychology? Ideal Client Experience is the perfect framework.
The rest of this blog will take a look at how an Ideal Client Experience is an effective framework to manage decisions that:
Involve multiple Stakeholders
Are more complex
Are typically long-term decisions with the opportunity to expand the services.
Before we do that, let’s remember one fundamental difference in B to B organizations and that is that there is a significantly higher investment in sales than there is in a B to C organization. In B to B, marketing is fundamental to the Awareness stage, but then the sales reps do the heavy lifting from there. On the other hand, despite arguably retail, sales reps do not even exist in many B to C organizations.
The fact that there are multiple stakeholders means that there are multiple people going through their own buyer’s journey. A properly crafted Ideal Client Experience includes strategies to engage and leverage the buyer’s journey for all stakeholders involved in a decision given the nature of the service.
For example, a decision for a CRM typically involves sales and marketing or at least it should be given there ought to be alignment and visibility between sales and marketing. That said, it would never be implemented without a “yes” from IT and finance.
Given this decision is typically initiated by sales or marketing, the primary message is typically crafted around their goals and challenges. However the Ideal Client Experience needs to include strategies to engage with all of the key stakeholders and help them navigate their buyer’s journey.
More Complex Decisions
In addition to including multiple stakeholders, B to B services decisions are much more complex, especially when the business has a strong value proposition. The challenges that are addressed are typically much more comprehensive and complicated.
Structuring the part of the Ideal Client Experience that aligns with the Consideration and Decision stages of the buyer’s journey ensures that:
The impact of all challenges are explored in the needs assessment phase.
The business outcomes are properly communicated in the proposal phase.
The Assessment part of the Ideal Client Experience should be highly structured with an objective process to show how these 3 outcomes are being affected by the current situation. Then, the proposal should clearly state how the future vision/proposal will impact these outcomes.
Having a repeatable, objective process inside of the Ideal Client Experience helps make a complex decision simple by connecting the complexity to the business outcomes.
B to C decisions typically have more limited opportunities to create future revenue streams. I also suppose items with consumables (water filters) are somewhat of an exception. I assume my Apple Watch decision might lead to additional Apple products, but the opportunity for future revenue in services organizations can be HUGE. This part of the Ideal Client Experience goes beyond the traditional buyer’s journey as we know it.
For a B to B services organization, the signing of the initial contract is just the beginning from 2 perspectives:
Onboarding – The need to create a very positive initial experience to manage change in the client organization and offset buyer’s remorse.
Client Success – The opportunity to increase value for the client by expanding/cross-selling services.
So, the Ideal Client Experience needs to be structured to ensure a smooth transition and position the business to expand services.
As Joey Coleman says, “Buyers decide in the first 100 days whether they will continue to do business with you or not.” Treating the onboarding process distinctly different from the process to deliver ongoing services is critical to the success of a services engagement. A change management strategy is critical in turning client satisfaction in this stage into long-term client loyalty.
With many organizations, when the contract is signed, the client is turned over to operations while the sales reps turn their focus to finding more clients. No matter how good an organization is from an operational perspective, the possibility for expansion of services is limited.
Both sales and operations are critical in this stage to expand services to drive revenue growth. Integrated into this stage must be a framework for:
Staying connected with the client’s business, their goals, and their challenges.
Reinforcing the value being delivered in the current engagement.
Creating additional value for the client via expanding services.
In the end, Ideal Client Experience is a fantastic framework to leverage the buyer’s journey for differentiating, driving additional client value, and increasing revenue.
When entering a time of economic uncertainty, consistent revenue is critical. While one might be happy with keeping revenue flat and “hold our own” during tough economic times, the reality is that a business is either growing or dying. Thus, in a challenging market it is critical to continue to focus on the mindset, strategies, and activities that drive predictable revenue growth.
So far we have explored two strategies to make revenue growth predictable: focusing your message on ideal clients and aligning marketing, sales, and operations around the client experience. Today we turn our focus to process.
A process is a series of steps to create a predictable outcome.
Smart businesses run on processes. There are processes for hiring, invoicing, production, shipping, and support. Without processes a business would operate inefficiently, unpredictably, and unsustainably.
Now, let’s consider sales and marketing. What processes are in place for these teams?
For many businesses sales and marketing are the wild west. There is no process.
Salespeople are hired based on their experience or their book of business. The goal is to look for experienced salespeople rather than taking a risk on a new salesperson because these tenured reps “know what they are doing.” These gunslingers get sent out to the territory, each doing their own thing. Out of desperation, many cobble together their own sales tools to help support the talk tracks they have developed. It’s no wonder that Blender research that revealed 82% of B2B decision-makers think sales reps are unprepared.
Marketing doesn’t get a pass on this either. Jennifer Zick sums it up when she says that most companies do “random acts of marketing.” This spray-and-pray approach leads to sporadic activities and inconsistent results.
What’s missing here?
Sales and marketing need to take a cue from other parts of the business: processes create predictability.
Processes need to become usable Client Experience Playbooks that can be used by everyone on the marketing and sales team to drive consistent actions and create predictable revenue.
What Are Client Experience Playbooks?
Client Experience Playbooks present step-by-step processes that integrate sales, marketing, and operations, creating a consistent client experience that drives predictable revenue growth.
Client Experience Playbooks are anchored around the stages of the client experience, keeping the focus on the prospect and client.
Client Experience Playbooks integrate sales, marketing, and operations. This helps reduce the silo effect of these teams doing their own thing. Instead, the playbooks help these functions work together to drive net-new and cross-sell revenue.
Client Experience Playbooks go beyond process. They describe what great looks like. They give context for where the buyer is in their journey. They provide insight into what multiple decision makers and influencers might be thinking. They provide tools and content to support the client experience. They can even include small bites of training.
The goal is to get everyone working together in a consistent way to drive revenue at every stage of the client experience.
How Do Client Experience Playbooks Help Make Revenue Predictable?
There are many ways Client Experience Playbooks can make revenue more predictable in uncertain times. Here are five.
1. Consistent Execution
Client Experience Playbooks provide a baseline for consistent execution across every stage of the client experience. From a prospect’s first engagement with your company through the buying cycle to their ongoing enjoyment of your services, Client Experience Playbooks create consistent execution. At a most basic level, they create activity. On its own, activity helps spur sales. However, it goes far beyond activity to create consistent execution across your marketing, sales, and operations teams.
2. Increased Cross-Sell
Let’s be honest, most companies struggle with consistently cross-selling or up-selling additional products and services to their clients. This continually frustrates owners and executives who believe that they should be able to sell related products and services to their customer base. The challenge is that most companies do not have a process for cross-selling. Marketing creates leads, sales land deals, and then things get handed off to operations or customer success. At that point, the selling ceases. Client Experience Playbooks solve this problem by creating integrated processes to ensure that there is an ongoing progression of value provided to current customers that motivates them to buy more things from your company.
3. More Effective Rep Coaching
Data presented by Spotio showed firms where salespeople use the company’s methodology and get consistent coaching see 73% quota attainment. Every high performance athlete has a coach. High performance sales professionals need coaching as well. However, without a process in place, coaching becomes subjective. With Client Experience Playbooks in place, leaders can coach sales reps in the execution of the plays. Much like a sports team coach would help players learn and execute the plays, sales leaders can help reps do the same.
4. Streamlined Onboarding
In today’s highly competitive job market with increased rates of turnover it is more important than ever to create an effective onboarding process. Sure, you can show new employees where the coffee pot is, how to sign up for benefits, and where to find the employee handbook. You can take them on a tour of your office to meet everyone. Can you show a new employee how the company serves prospects and employees? Client Experience Playbooks give an end-to-end picture of the company’s client experience. The new employee gets a full picture of how things work. Whether they are in marketing, sales, operations, or finance, they can see the way that everyone interacts with prospects and clients giving the new employee context for their role.
5. Continual Improvement
In Traction, Gino Wickman makes a powerful point that you can improve a process that is not documented. With “wild-west” sales and marketing, nothing is documented making improvement impossible. With Client Experience Playbooks in place for each stage of your client experience you have a baseline. You can then test new processes, tools, and content to see if there could be a better way. This leads to continual improvement. Small, incremental improvements in key ratios like lead-to-appointment or proposal-to-close can create massive revenue increases. These incremental improvements become possible when you have playbooks in place.
Creating predictable revenue growth in unpredictable times requires you to manage things you can control. You cannot control the economy. You cannot control your prospects or clients. You can control your message, ensuring it is focused on the current outcomes your prospects and clients want. You can control your client experience. And, you can control your execution by creating Client Experience Playbooks. Together, these initiatives help ensure your revenue stays as predictable as possible when everything around you seems uncertain.
Growth Architect and author of Revenue Growth Engine, helping companies align sales and marketing to grow revenue faster.
When times get tough, it can be tempting to look for revenue anywhere you can find it. As one of my first sales managers used to say, “If they can fog a mirror and sign an order, we’ll take it.”
The reality is that not all revenue is created equal. And, as I say in my own business, “Not all clients are created equally.” There are some clients who provide more value than others. In this current environment, it is more important than ever to focus on “ideal clients.”
What is an ideal client? These are clients who need everything you sell. They have value because they are candidates for all of your products and/or services. They have to fit because they align with your culture. Ideal clients are especially important when:
You have limited marketing and sales resources.
Unless you are a major company, chances are you have limited sales and marketing resources. If you try to market and sell to everyone, you will end up reaching no one. Understanding your ideal client profile allows you to focus your business development efforts on a specific group of prospects. You might tell your sales team, “You can sell to anyone, but 100% of the time you will call on these ideal prospects.”
With ideal clients, business development also takes on an additional dimension. Since these clients need everything you offer, the marketing and selling don’t stop when the first order comes in. In fact, selling and marketing begin with the first order. Focusing your business on ideal clients allows you to direct marketing and sales resources to harvest the additional revenue opportunities in these accounts.
You have limited operational resources.
The combination of the current supply chain crisis and the tight labor market clearly demonstrate that even the best companies have limited operational resources. In this environment where we are acutely aware of limitations, it makes sense to focus resources on serving the type of clients who have the most revenue potential.
The old adage, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” tends to be true in daily operations. The reality is that many of the squeaky wheels tend to be nonideal clients. As a result, many times it’s your nonideal clients who end up getting most of your team’s effort. At the same time, morale suffers. Resources get diverted away from ideal clients and you miss the opportunity to maximize revenue and retention of ideal clients.
In the book At Your Best, author Carey Nieuwhof explained how leaders can fall into the trap of spending their best time on fire drills and challenging employees rather than proactively investing in their top leaders. But we need to intentionally schedule time with our top leaders because this is what will drive the organization forward.
Similarly, it can be easy to let the team’s resources get diverted toward challenging clients who are not ideal for your business, thus causing you to neglect ideal clients. But your ideal clients are ideal because they are likely easy to work with. That means you need to intentionally invest time and resources in them, even if they are not being the squeaky wheel.
You have limited financial resources.
Revenue is the lifeblood of business. I conduct revenue growth workshops with businesses across multiple industries, and I have consistently seen that ideal clients have significantly more revenue potential. Plus, ideal clients will be those customers who are more loyal, value what you do for them and see you as less of a vendor and more of a partner. That means they have a much greater chance of sticking around. If you need more revenue, I believe ideal clients provide the most sustainable path. Since they value what you do, they tend to pose fewer problems.
Focus on ideal clients.
Now, more than ever, smart businesses focus on ideal clients. This begins by understanding your ideal client profile. Next, identify the current and prospective clients who fit the profile. This allows you to focus your sales, marketing and operations efforts around attracting ideal clients and cross-selling all of your products and services to them to maximize revenue potential.
Every growing business needs a stream of leads from ideal prospects. One way to create leads is with lead magnets.
A lead magnet is information of value to a prospect that captures their attention and motivates them to exchange contact information.
In Revenue Growth Engine I highlight the problem of the filter. In today’s world, buyers are subjected to thousands of messages each day. Advertisements, email, and social platforms all compete for attention. We have adapted (survived!) by filtering out everything except for one thing: ideas that are valuable to us.
The only thing that gets through the filter are ideas that are related to the outcomes we want to achieve. These can include ideas and answers related goals we have or problems we want solved.
A Lead Magnet Example: My Trek To Mount Everest Base Camp
For example, I am currently training to go on a trek to Mount Everest Base Camp. This has opened up a long list of questions for me:
– What kind of jacket do I need to buy?
– What do I need to do to train?
– How can I avoid mountain sickness?
All of these questions and more are on my radar. As I go about my day, I successfully filter out thousands of messages. But as you can guess, an email that comes in about “The 10 Best Jackets for Severe Mountain Environments” or a social post about “How To Train to Hike at Elevation” will catch my eye. Furthermore, I’m spending time on Google almost every day searching for answers to these questions.
Let’s consider my concerns about training to hike at 18,500 feet. You’ve probably heard of “The couch to 5K.” I needed to do a dad-bod-office-jockey to 18.5K mountain man in less than 120 days. The outcome that I want is to get to Mount Everest Base Camp without the Sherpas having to call a helicopter in because I can’t keep up. I want to avoid being injured. At a more emotional level, I want to avoid being embarrassed in the eyes of my family, friends, and colleagues who know I’m going on this trek.
When it comes to solutions to my problem there are plenty of companies offering personal training, diet plans, and supplements. A smart company understands my real need isn’t for these products. My radar is attuned to ideas that will help me achieve my outcome of successfully getting to my mountain destination without embarrassing or hurting myself!
A smart company creates a lead magnet that captures my attention by addressing the outcomes I want. While looking for answers to my dilemma, I found a guide titled something like this: “How New Hikers Can Train For a Mountain Trek At High Elevation—Without Getting Hurt or Embarrassing Themselves.”
I saw this on the web during one of my searches. In exchange for my email address, they sent the lead magnet to me. Of course, the company that offered the advice also sells personal training plans, diet plans, and supplements. Since downloading the report they have made these offers to me by email. I also recognize their offers through retargeting ads that I see in Google ads, social ads, and YouTube ads. It’s not surprising that I reached out for a consultation with their trainer.
Characteristics of an Effective Lead Magnet
How can this apply to your business? Here are a few key characteristics of an effective lead magnet.
1. Must be related to the outcomes your prospects want
The lead magnet needs to be focused on the specific goals your prospect have and/or the problems they encounter hitting these goals. Information about anything else simply will not get through their filter.
How do you find out what’s important to your prospects? Pay attention. Listen to your best clients. Watch the trends of the economy and the industry you serve. Change is the one constant in our world. Any time there is change, there are problems. Focus your lead magnets on these types of topics.
Pay specific attention to the title or headline of your lead magnet. Be focused and specific. This is what will capture the prospect’s attention.
2. Must be useful enough for the prospect to give you contact information
The information needs to be useful enough for the prospect to give you contact information. You don’t have to give away a book. (Although, this is exactly what we do. You can get a free copy of Revenue Growth Engine by clicking here.) You do need to give away something substantial enough for someone to give you their contact information. This could be a special report, an ebook, a webinar recording, or an online course.
Remember, your offer may be free but in the eyes of the prospect it is not completely free. You are asking the prospect to give their contact information and a piece of their privacy in exchange for the information. This contact information has value to both you and the prospect. It’s important to remember this when you are creating your offer.
Fortunately, these days prospects know they can unsubscribe from email lists. While this has confounded many marketers, I think it actually helps boost conversion rates when someone knows that they can opt out if they get hammered by emails after filling out a form.
What Lead Magnets Could You Create?
Lead magnets can be used in all of your top-of-funnel activities. They can become calls-to-action on your website and blog. They can be served up in paid advertising to targeted audiences on Google and social platforms. They can be shared by salespeople.
To get started, think of the top 5 goals and/or challenges your clients face. (If you don’t know, ask!) Then begin brainstorming titles for content that answers those questions. This creates a menu of ideas from which you can build special reports, guides, webinars, live streams, checklists, and all types of lead magnets that will break through your prospects’ filters and generate leads.
Part of what we do at Convergo is help companies create a Focused Message Plan. This is a strategic approach to understanding the desired outcomes of each decision maker and influencer in your Ideal Prospects. This helps ensure that your company has helpful and relevant information to not only create leads but guide buyers through the entire journey of becoming a 100% sold client.
To learn more about how Convergo could help you create a Focused Message Plan and effective Lead Magnets schedule your complimentary explore meeting.