Boy meets girl. Boy asks girl out.
On their first date, boy asks, “Will you marry me?” Girl says no.
Boy promptly sends her phone number to the bottom of his list. Six months later, boy calls again.
“Want to marry me yet?” he asks. Girl rolls her eyes, hangs up and blocks his number.
I fully realize this is a silly scenario, but it’s really not unlike what sales professionals do when they call prospects every few months to “touch base” and ask “whether they’re ready to buy yet.”
That time between the first “not yet” or “maybe” and the next phone call is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate to prospects — through appropriate contact on a regular basis — the value you can bring to their organizations.
This is what lead nurturing is all about. It’s absolutely essential in the complex sale, where the time from first contact to closing is typically many months. However, appropriate contact means providing customers information they want — not trying to sell them something.
Here’s the lead-nurturing litmus test: Can prospects benefit from the information you provide regardless of whether they buy from you? To help pass this test, here are three tips:
Tip #1. Know whom you’re talking to
Analyze your database and identify audiences with common demographics, such as titles and industries, and common behaviors, such as how they first engaged with you and why. This will help you target the right information to the right people; it will help you identify what information is most relevant to them and how they want to consume it.
Tip #2. Find out where it hurts
Talk directly to each of your audiences to identify what they want to know more about. Ask questions like:
- What sorts of issues keep you up at night?
- What resources help you respond to those challenges? (Do they attend events, read whitepapers, forums, instructional videos, etc.?)
- What kind of knowledge/service would make your life easier?
- What sort of information informs your buying decisions?
Tip #3. Help ease the pain
Identify and/or create content that will help them with these issues. (Remember, no selling!) Email this information to them at regular intervals, every three to six weeks.
Over time, prospects are going to think, “You know, this company has really helped me out. They’ve given me information I can use. They really seem to know what they’re talking about.”
The Payoff: Next time your salesperson calls, they don’t have to make small talk until they conclude with some lame line about the customer’s readiness to buy. They can conduct a meaningful conversation about the latest whitepaper (or article, or blog post, or instructional video) that was sent as part of your lead-nurturing program.
Another Payoff: B2B marketers who nurture leads have a nearly 30% higher return on investment than those who don’t, according to the MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Benchmark Report. Even better, nurturing leads will give you a competitive edge considering a whopping 65% of B2B organizations don’t have any kind of lead-nurturing program.