The term 'lead nurturing' has evolved in recent times to become a crucial element in any modern B2B marketing strategy.
It refers to the tactics used to cultivate leads through a funnel of activity from the point when interest is expressed, to the customer being more purchase-ready.
Business leads are gathered in a variety of ways such as trade shows, web and inbound or outbound calls and just because someone has expressed an interest in your products doesn't mean they are at a point where they are ready to purchase.
You could argue that it's the job of sales people to convert leads into sales and to a certain extent this is true, however in today's super-informed business environment where buyers have access to so much information, they are in control of developing their own product knowledge and may prefer not to rely on potential bias from sales people until such a time as they are ready to buy.
In order to cater for such an informed buyer one needs to appreciate the modern buying process and nurture leads in this way. Instead of the hard sell, you are building up your prospect's knowledge and comfort level through multiple touch points, until such a time as they are ready to buy. You can do this in some innovative ways which include:
- Providing knowledge - Imparting regular good quality knowledge about your industry, your company or your product is probably one of the most critical lead nurturing strategies. This can be done through articles, research or case studies.
- Exending offers - Extending regular offers or package deals to prospects can act as another nurturing touch point. They are a reminder even if prospects are not ready to buy and can help move buyers further down the purchasing cycle as well as educate them about your offerings.
- Utilising events - Hosting or participating in third party events is also effective. Whether it's a trade show, webinar or product demonstration; prospects often feel more comfortable interacting with and learning about your company when others are seen to be doing the same. Events are far less confronting than a sales call and prospects are often far more relaxed.
Sales people can also integrate the theory of 'lead nurturing' into their day to day sales activities. For instance, when doing sales calls don't always try to get the sale; build up trust in you and the company by offering them something of value like a relevant article, tell them about a new feature of your product or talk about a trend in the industry.
And remember, any lead nurturing strategy should be consistent. It requires regular touch points using good quality information to build credibility, trust and an intent to purchase. It takes time to see results but the effects can be incremental if you put in the effort.