Intelligent Lead Nurturing

It seems today that everyone is talking about some aspect of lead nurturing. Of course, a lot of the buzz is from the software manufacturers that sell automated processes for lead scoring, lead grading, automated responses and more. Many of these are great solutions, but as with all things related to automation, you have to start with a good plan and a good process. Otherwise, you’re simply speeding up a bad process.

As I see it, the major challenge in Intelligent Lead Nurturing is understanding what’s important. Who are these people out there and what do they want? Names gathered from trade shows or free webinar registrations often amount to little. And we all know that the days are long gone when you could saturate your market with advertising and direct mail and expect brand recognition and qualified sales leads.

For most B2B products, services and solutions, legitimate leads require serious conversation. Scores of people are involved in the purchasing cycle: from manufacturing managers, IT professionals, and purchasing agents to vice presidents and C-level officers. Team-buying initiatives have created empowered armies of evaluators that put your product or service under a microscope. Who are these decision makers? Who are the key influencers? Where do they hang out?

Information that Informs

Keeping in mind the nature of your audience, lead nurturing is more important than ever. Valuable longer-term B2B leads must be nurtured at critical points in their decision-making process with compelling, interactive, just-in-time messaging designed to help potential customers clarify their thinking one step at a time. To get started, ask yourself:

  • How do we best deliver messages to the people who will influence or make the final buying decisions?
  • How do we stay in touch with our audience as they move through their consideration and buying processes?
  • How can we communicate in a way that addresses the audience’s issues and reduces the perceived risk of buying from our company?
  • What can we offer that will engage the audience when they are ready to move forward with their buying processes?

Building a Sales-winning Relationship

To assist the education of your audience, you need to create marketing programs that compel people to actively seek your company out in search of further insight, ideas, and solutions.

You might structure a series of ongoing communications — by mail, email or phone — designed to keep pace with your audience’s information needs. Multiple offers that appeal to audience members at all stages of the buying process are essential.

For example, if prospective customers are early in the buying process, they are more receptive to offers for free information in the form of how-to guides, white papers or email newsletters.

As your audience moves further along in the buying process, appropriate offers may include those that require a higher level of interest or commitment, such as webinar invitations, demonstrations, checklists and other decision-making tools.

Finally, as your audience approaches being ready to buy, they may be more receptive to longer, in-depth seminars; needs assessments; or receiving a proposal or quotation.

Keep in mind the nature of your hivemind audience and you’ll be more successful nurturing these leads.

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