MPB2B Takeaway Series #5 – Lead Planning & Nurturing

Fresh off the presentation by Mitch Joel, Author, Six Pixels of Separation, preceded by a mountain of Tilapia and risotto for lunch.

I’m currently obsessed with lead generation and nurturing as most of my clients are marketers, and so are, in general, not as attuned to the sales process as they (admittedly) probably should be. Since the whole purpose of undertaking an expertise PR program is to make getting the door opened easier, I’m naturally concerned that they know how to do that. And so, I am here, at “Lead Planning & Nurturing that Converts More Customers.”

Our speaker:  Carlos Hidalgo, President, The Annuitas Group. Annuitas is a process consulting and technology (marketing and sales automation) company whose mission is to help clients get measurable return on their sales and marketing practices.

The changing B2B Buyer

Buyers are much, much more educated now and usually won’t talk to sales person until develop a short list based on Internet-based research. There is also more than one buyer, now are dealing with “buying units.” (Like a committee. Each person looks at project differently) We’re all turning to each other to share information. New dynamic is that the buyer is now driving the process. Buyers are more informed and seek information independent of sales.

Today’s B2B Marketer

There are issues with measurement and acquisition. 70-80% of leads never get followed up. (Not surprising – .Ed) 52% of marketers say lead gen is their biggest challenge. More than half can’t track ROI on program spend. Shrinking budgets, pressure to justify spend, shifts from traditional to new tactics, increased use of technology. And…marketing is being asked to assist in pipeline acceleration and sales enablement. Sales is asking for this, and it’s good for marketing. So, we need to adapt.

Think lead management not lead generation. Managing a one-to-one relationship. Remember you are marketing to people, and they want the individual relationship. Technology is increasingly enabling this. Will dramatically change our roles, bringing sales and marketing closer together, particularly in buyer interaction and communication. It also will change the way we think.

Lead Management, defined
What it’s not: just scoring. It’s a process, supported by technology that allows you to respond to the buyer’s power. Includes: data; lead planning, qualification, nurturing, routing and metrics. Be careful about buying a system, because it’s really easy to “automate chaos.”

Lead generation is different than lead management. Visual: sales funnel  The problem is that most leads (read money) start to leak out of funnel somewhere between the marketing and sales focus. Process based lead management approach (lead nurturing) “plugs” the leak.

Nurturing and Planning

Why nurture? Eliminates “one-off” exercises. Functions based on integrated, best practice approach. Keeps you from putting all eggs in one basket. It also allows you to target a specific audience and build a continual stream of qualified, interested contacts. Marketing must have quotas and pipelines. Must show sales (their customer) that we’re feeding them a stream of qualified leads. This will drive higher conversion rates, etc.

According to MarketingSherpa statistics, 70% of initial leads are not ready to buy. (Tons of people using the dating scenario regarding relationship building. -.Ed) 17.50% not qualified; 12.5% sales ready now. Buyers will let you know – do not miss that signal. Rank signals, ex. prospect that downloads whitepaper less ready than executive attending breakfast. Develop and be guided by ideal customer profiles.

Aberdeen study: Leads that were nurtured recorded 47% higher order value over those leads that were not nurtured. Achieving that number is a matter of marketing sophistication, needs to be worked at, but is possible.

How to Plan and Nurture

Start with revenue number (looking at the “waterfall”) can have several iterations based on biz unit, etc.  Back that into number of deals that need to be closed to achieve that and continue to work backwards. In one example, marketer had signed up for $2.M in revenue/month. When the number was backed into, turned out need 3,000 responses to achieve that. Caveat: You cannot do this without sales buying in.

Waterfall should be checked frequently. This will allow you to pinpoint problem areas, or the weak links in the chain. Process takes time, and spending some time with sales to define the different steps.

Once planning is done, you can start running nurture campaigns to start to qualify leads. Nurture campaigns can address the delta between valid responses and marketing qualified leads. Nurture campaigns not just for marketers. Once leads are handed off to sales, we need to help them accelerate the deal by developing ways to help them communicate with buyers (with their buy-in). With new tools, can be personalized and automated. It doesn’t end with the sale, however, to help them navigate the inevitable “buyer’s remorse” phase.

Whoa, huge, detailed (but pretty) process flow chart “Prospect Nurture Plan.” Leaves nothing to the imagination. Helps keep sales from beating you up as the leads ebb and flow. Next, another, equally colorful, Post-Sales Nurture Plan.  Process is vital, though. It’s what allows you to maximize profitability (at every level) and create efficiencies. You need to block out the process, don’t build it on the fly. If you have it blocked, you can sit down with sales and walk through it. Marketing should go on sales calls and ask them what’s important to them.

Prospect Lead Nurturing Strategy

Know the intended purpose. Where is the prospect in the flow? Who are they, what role? (This will impact how you talk to them.)

Understand the dependencies. What is your available content. Repurpose your content (Repurposing is another mantra at this forum -.Ed) Create an offer map that denotes call to action that is tailored to where they are in (what stage) the buying cycle. Content is key. Work together with sales to determine the right approach.

Finally, automate the process. (This is targeted to a big company, obviously.) Still, especially now, having a sales process in place is absolutely essential, no matter what size the company is. And even the smallest company should have some type of contact management application so that everyone gets the attention they need.

And next, the wrap up. And then dinner at The No Name Restaurant, a Boston institution!

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