Marketing can take you on a long hike. Getting get more potential customers to raise their hands is not better if you don’t know how to nurture for progression.
The goal of lead nurturing is to help potential customers on their buying journey. It’s about helping them progress along the way to make a decision.
That said, I’ve seen companies spend most of their budget getting people to raise their hands but not putting enough toward progression.
I define lead nurturing as consistent and meaningful communication with viable potential customers regardless of their timing to buy.
It’s not “following up” every few months to find out if a prospect is “ready to buy yet.”
Or doing random acts of nurturing via email only.
True nurturing involves a sometimes long and circuitous path, but along the way, you’ll be building long, meaningful and trust-filled relationships with the right people.
Salespeople often struggle with developing nurturing content without marketing support.
If you’re wondering what kinds of content helps with progression, do this: Ask your sales team.
Start by asking your sales team questions like, “What’s the content you share with leads that seems to help the most?” or “What’s the content you use to help take people to the next level?”
The first step on that path to success is to start thinking like a customer.
How? By interviewing recent customers about their buying journey.
Be the customer. Get out of your building and be as close as you can to their experience by actually observing the behaviors of your customer. After you’ve gained a solid understanding, build your customer journey map.
What is a customer journey map? It tells the story of the client’s experience: from initial contact, through the process of engagement and into a long-term relationship.
In sum, you will do the following:
Take a “Deep Dive” into each step to answer the following:
Identify questions customers have at each stage of the journey
Help prospects find the answers to these questions, and you’ll remind them of the benefits of working with you. You’re creating value by giving them useful information in digestible, bite-sized chunks.
The journey map is about helping you understand the fundamental interactions that your future customer will have with the organization.
What are their motivations? What are their questions about each marketing touch point? Try to understand what they want and the concerns they’ll have when they talk with their peers. The goal of customer journey mapping is to get actionable customer insight.
Invest as much in forming creative and content for lead progression as you do for lead capture. I’ve seen companies spend most of their budget getting people to raise their hands but not enough toward progression.
The goal of lead nurturing is to help progress leads from initial interest toward purchase intent. It’s about progression.
It’s worth noting:
In a complex sale, the journey can be long and challenging to help people move from initial interest to purchase intent.
Your only job is to make certain you nourish your customer along the way and guide them with a meaningful compass toward the right and best decision for their needs.
Think of your marketing team as trail guides who will need to point out all the sights along the way that are useful in the decision-making process.
Slow down, and walk at the customer’s pace, even if that means taking the long route with them when it comes to buying your service or product. If you hurry them along, you might end up with an exhausted customer who doesn’t feel good about the journey and won’t turn to you to continue the path to purchase.
How you sell me is how you will serve me.
Most economic buyers evaluate you based on this, “how you sell me indicates how you will serve me.” Here’s where that little statistic I mentioned earlier comes in. A study of business-to-business buyers shows that sales people who become trusted advisors and understood the needs of economic buyers are 69% more likely to get away with a deal.
The complex sale requires that your prospect:
Remember you can’t automate trust. Trust-building should be the theme of your nurturing efforts.
By providing valuable education and information to potential clients up front, you become a trusted advisor. You are then perceived to be an expert. You don’t sell; you don’t make pitches. Instead, you provide insights and solutions all within the realm of your expertise and, as a result, become the first company they turn to when there’s a need.
Make your marketing program’s single point of focus be to develop trust, and your business will become more profitable and less reliant on competing on price. Selling, per se, is reduced in the interest of more open and honest conversations with prospects. You win more business on a sole-source basis, and more new business referrals come your way.
Startling as it may seem, recent research (and even studies from 20 years ago) shows that longer-term leads (future opportunities), often ignored by salespeople, represent almost 40 to 70% of potential sales. Research compiled by the MarketingSherpa Lead Generation Benchmark Report showed, “marketing departments with a lead nurturing campaign reported a 45% higher ROI than marketing departments that did not utilize a lead nurturing track.”
If inquiries are directly passed on to salespeople, reps, partners or distributors for follow-up, beware. You may be leaving as many as eight out of 10 sales prospects on the sales path for your competitors.
Now, get your compasses out and begin the long-yet-fruitful journey toward an effective lead nurturing program. You’ll be surprised how many potential customers will want to join you along the way.
Photo Credit: Sujay Sarkhel.
You can follow Brian Carroll, Twitter @brianjcarroll.
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Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing. He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, and the B2B Lead Blog which is read by thousands each week. He also founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.