Lead nurturing for B2B and professional services firms

Friday, August 16, 2013

Why does lead nurturing matter? When you consider the research conducted by MarketingSherpa that 73% of B2B leads are not ready to make a purchase, the value of lead nurturing becomes quickly apparent.  Businesses that have undertaken effective lead nurturing campaigns have seen impressive results on their bottom line.

The objectives of lead nurturing

Lead nurturing is an essential part of your business development strategy . The key aims of lead nurturing are to develop a relationship with prospects, shorten the sales cycle and to deliver leads to your business development and sales teams that are ready to convert.

Understand what is the length typical sales cycle for your business?

For many professional services and B2B firms, the sales process might be complex and protracted. For example, businesses might only review their accountants once a year when the annual accounts are being prepared. Having a clear understanding of the length of your sales cycle will help you plan your lead nurturing campaign.

Really understand your target clients by segment

Regularly research your target markets to understand their concerns and typical problems that they might wish to solve. How do they research solutions – online, talking to peers, exhibitions or trade shows?

Research your competition

Who are your direct and indirect competitors? What techniques are your competitors using to win clients? Whilst copying your competitors’ tactics is not a good idea – it is always useful to understand why potential clients might choose your competitors rather than your firm.

Be quick to respond

When you have an inbound lead, be quick to respond. Remember if you don’t you don’t get in touch fast, your competition might just be quicker off the mark and win the business. It also reflects well on your service – if you are sluggish in responding, it sets the tone for the quality of service you offer. Stay in touch with relevant, frequent contact

Stay in contact for the duration of the sales process with relevant, thoughtful content. Demonstrate your expertise and ability to help them solve their problems.  Put yourself in their shoes and think about what sort of information will help them do their job better and achieve their goals. Relevant, interesting content is key.

Move your prospects along the sales funnel

Ensure that you have planned your business development process well. At the early stages of the sales funnel, when a lead might be fact finding, provide useful eBooks, whitepapers and research would be useful. Further down the sales funnel, you might invite the lead to a seminar on a relevant topic. Finally, you might suggest that a meeting might be appropriate.

Monitor and refine

Analyse your results, test new ideas and constantly work to improve your lead nurturing process. It is an inexact science, so reviewing and enhancing the process should help you reduce the cost of new business acquisition.

Useful resources

SherpaMarketing

“Email Marketing: The importance of lead nurturing in the complex B2B sale”

http://sherpablog.marketingsherpa.com/email-marketing/b2b-lead-nurturing-importance/

Hubspot

“An introduction to lead nurturing”

http://offers.hubspot.com/free-ebook-an-introduction-to-lead-nurturing

“The definitive guide to lead nurturing”

http://www.marketo.com/definitive-guides/lead-nurturing/