Plenty has been written about the importance of lead nurturing in B2B and industrial marketing. If you need a quick primer, read my earlier post, “B2B Lead Generation without Lead Nurturing is Doomed to Fail.”
Most of the lead nurturing best practices guides and articles that I’ve read are from a marketing perspective. Let’s switch gears for a moment and think of it from a sales point of view.
What does lead nurturing do for sales?
IMO, the two key contributions of lead nurturing to sales are:
- Realigns the timing of buyers and sellers
- Builds trusting relationships with permission
If you ask your top sales performers the secret of their success, you are most likely to hear something like “being at the right place at the right time” and “strong relationships.”
Are you beginning to see the similarities?
If you examine the two biggest benefits of lead nurturing, they closely mirror what good salespeople have always done. Let’s look at them as “before” and “after” comparisons.
Before lead nurturing:
Salespeople make cold calls to their contacts under the guise of “calling to touch base.” What they really want to know is, “are you ready to buy now?”
Results: Endless cycle of voice messages, unreturned calls and/or a rude NO! There is a high level of frustration; finger pointing for the poor quality of leads and quick burnouts from not meeting quotas.
Salespeople mail out marketing brochures and product datasheets in an effort to maintain a relationship.
Results: Very little response, wasted time and money in producing marketing collateral and even more frustrations.
After lead nurturing:
Salespeople only call those prospects that have sent a clear signal of their readiness to buy with their online interactions with your marketing content.
Results: The seller and the buyer are in sync with their timing, not by accident or luck, but by design. It is no longer a cold call; instead it is more like the buyer has sent you an invitation to call him/her.
Prospects are fed relevant content of their choice, in their preferred format and with their permission.
Results: You (the seller) are considered to be the top contender because you helped frame the discussion in the buyer’s mind. You’ve become the trusted resource and not just another vendor listed on their spreadsheet of bids. Your content has helped them make a more informed decision. Your ratio of calls to wins goes up significantly.
There are cases where the lead nurturing content proved to be so valuable, it hastened the buyer’s timing. Lead nurturing when done right can actually shorten the buying cycle.
Ah, we’ve achieved sales and marketing Nirvana!
Lead nurturing has become even more important these days because of the fundamental change in the buying process. Most B2B and industrial buyers are reluctant to engage with salespeople until they are deep into their buying cycle.
Lead nurturing now has to do what good B2B salespeople used to do before inbound marketing became the norm.