How Nurturing Sales Leads Builds Lasting Relationships and Increases Revenue

Fact: Only 20% of B2B leads become customers, but it’s not like prospects don’t need the solution — so where is the gap? Answer: Lack of lead nurturing. Once a qualified lead is identified, it needs to be nurtured throughout the buyer journey to build mutual trust.

Lead nurturing can turn 50% of your presumably dead opportunities into sales-ready candidates. Easier said than done though, am I right?!?

Not going to lie, a proper nurturing strategy takes time to implement. However, even though it’s not a quick fix, the benefits of a strong lead nurturing program outweigh the wait.

If your sales reps are struggling to meet revenue goals, we have some practical processes to help you integrate a strong lead nurturing strategy into your company’s workflow so they can build lasting relationships and increase sales.

What is Lead Nurturing?

Lead nurturing is the practice of engaging prospects with relevant and helpful information throughout the buying journey in a way that provides support and builds meaningful relationships. 

Lead nurturing is not selling and that seems to be the most difficult part for sales professionals: shifting from product promoters to competent counselors. It doesn’t mean that you should lose focus on the ultimate goal of converting prospects into purchasers, but it does mean that you should understand the unique problems of prospects before offering solutions.

Why Lead Nurturing is Important?

Have you ever wondered how someone who was once a stranger, is now a close companion? What brought you into a relationship where you trust each other’s opinions? Research says that it takes 50 hours for a stranger to develop a casual relationship and over 200 hours to hit best friend status.

Turning a lead into a customer is a lot like turning a stranger into a friend. You have to put in quality time so your prospect can get to know your business. You have to educate them at every stage in their journey so they can trust your opinion. And you have to be available, so they feel confident you’ll be there when you’re needed most.

Without lead nurturing you are asking prospects to leap before they look, which when you think about it seems, at best, a bit presumptuous. In a day and age where we can’t trust most people to abide by the rules of a four-way stop, how are we to trust a stranger to point us in the right direction? We just can’t. And that is why lead nurturing is not just important, it’s essential.

What Are the Benefits of a Lead Nurturing Program?

Customers are savvier these days. The market has so much to offer and there is no doubt that B2B buyers are doing their due diligence before making any purchasing decision. While you may be the perfect fit for your prospects, they will need some reassurance along the way.

Rarely are businesses in a rush to buy, and this lack of urgency is most likely in direct opposition to your desired sales cycle. That being said, this extra bit of time with your potential clients has some amazing benefits that will change the way you look at the sales process.

Better Communication Between Target Customers and the Sales Team

Have you ever made it to the deal table only to discover the jigsaw pieces you brought don’t fit the puzzle? Oops! You missed something along the way and not only is this bout of miscommunication frustrating and embarrassing, but it’s also a deal-breaker.

Concise communication is key to ensuring your sales team has a complete understanding of your prospects’ problems. Only then can you provide a comprehensive plan that will seamlessly fill in the gaps to create a picture-perfect solution.

Here are some lead nurturing questions your sales team can ask to prevent assumptive selling mishaps.

  • What goals do you have regarding applicable metrics?
  • What challenges are you trying to overcome so you can meet your goals?
  • What have you tried to do to fix the problem?
  • What was the outcome?
  • What does success look like for your team?
  • If nothing changes, what do you believe will happen?

As you see, these questions are meant to get prospects talking. By learning as much as possible at the beginning of the relationship, your sales team will be able to create a bespoke proposal that makes it hard to say “no”.

Improved Customer’s Buying Journey Experience

There is a reason why we in sales and marketing so affectionally call the purchasing process a journey. For customers, the buying journey is filled with moments of self-discovery, exciting realizations, and transformative experiences. Your brand is the guide helping prospects reach their destination.

A lead nurturing strategy works like a GPS by keeping your team queued in on where prospects are in their journey so sales reps can foretell what lies ahead. By anticipating the leads’ next steps, the path to purchasing becomes easier to navigate and less likely to fatigue or discourage the buyer before the journey has come to a close.

Build Long-Lasting Business Relationships

In B2B markets, securing a deal with another business is just the beginning. A long-term relationship helps both companies achieve their business goals in a more stable environment.

Nurturing leads always results in an epic customer experience which can lead to a stronger, more reliable relationship. When you work hard to make your communication effective and the buying journey experience more enjoyable, you are already in the position to earn your customer’s trust!

Continue developing long-lasting business relationships with your customers for mutual growth and success!

How to Develop a Lead Nurturing Strategy

Developing a lead nurturing strategy requires a joint effort between sales and marketing to ensure the process integrates seamlessly with your lead generation. If you don’t have one already, you may want to consider investing in a CRM or lead management system that will be used to store essential data about your leads.

The lead nurturing strategy must focus on filtering out marketing and sales-qualified leads into segmented outreach programs so prospects are receiving the content they need at the time they need it. It will not only help those leads get enough information to make a decision, but it will also help you achieve a higher ROI.

There are three main steps to devising a lead nurturing strategy that interlocks with lead generation. First, you’ll need to define what’s important to your target market and buyer personas. Second, you’ll need to carefully consider each campaign step in your sales channels, and last but not the least, you’ll need to add additional steps using your lead gen tools to create personalized follow-up sequences. Let’s go into more detail.

Define What’s Important to Your Target Market and Buyer Personas

Knowing the root problem is mandatory when it comes to finding a solution. But prospect A’s problem might be worlds away from prospect B’s problem. When generating leads we often use more generic surface problems to attract leads in a funnel, but nurturing leads requires that we dig deeper. 

Based on your target market, buyer persona, and purchasing stage, find out what type of content your audience would love to see, which communication style would be suitable, and what type of offerings is enticing — all of these aspects can be defined by your marketing team.

Your CRM system and customer information can be used to tailor content for leads of different types. Lead nurturing strategies are crucial, especially if you want to get more leads and sales. These strategies can be done by reviewing social media activity, using keyword research to identify topics of interest, asking customers questions in surveys, or interviewing them.

Once you have a firm grasp on how to guide leads through the buying journey, your team can form­ personalized solutions as prospects move closer to the bottom of the funnel.

Carefully Consider Each Campaign Step in Your Sales Channels

A lead nurturing program isn’t about sending emails regarding helpful tips, it’s about helping your prospects get through the journey. Down the beaten path that purchasers follow, there are stages that act as road signs along the buying journey: awareness, consideration, and decision. While you might not intercept every prospect at the awareness phase, understanding which campaigns and channels bring in leads — and at which stage — can help you build nurturing strategies that don’t derail your prospects.

When you do attract a lead into your funnel there should be clear next steps as to what happens next based on the content or context that brought them to your doorstep. For example, a webinar on overcoming information silos hits on a broad problem. An attendee would be in the awareness stage of the buying journey and should be carefully nurtured into the consideration stage with email outreach, retargeting ads, and follow-up calls. While, on the flip side, a demo requester is already considering their option and should be nurtured through personalized messaging and materials provided by sales and marketing.

There’s no single way of doing lead nurturing, try mixing things up and see what works best for you and your prospects.

Use Lead Gen Tools to Create Personalized Follow-Up Sequences

It’s important to anticipate the needs of potential buyers by dissecting characteristics like job title, company size, industry, current challenges, and so on. But pouring over each prospect’s profile can take time away from other important tasks.

Lead gen tools can help your team gain a deeper understanding of individuals as well as cohorts so you can build more personalized follow-up sequences that resonate with your prospects. There are databases that store intent data, enrichment tools to help you fill in missing information, and various tracking codes that identify trending online behaviors.

By collecting, analyzing, and utilizing the data, your follow-up sequences, however automated, will feel like you are speaking one-on-one with your prospects. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be a human touch to the nurturing process, but there should be ways to personalize without penalizing time with sales-ready leads.

How to Increase Sales Through Lead Nurturing Campaigns

Lead nurturing increases sales opportunities but it’s not like waving a magic wand. You’ll want to employ these additional tactics to maximize the return on your lead nurturing campaigns.

Segment Your Email Nurturing Lists

If content is king, then personalization is its right-hand man. Personalization makes leads feel unique and valued. But to adopt a more personalization approach, you need to segment your content based on buyers’ journey stages, demographics, and psychographics.

I know, we have already ranted about personalization not 15 seconds ago, but it’s so vital it bears repeating.

Segmenting seems pretty basic, but as you try to untangle the web of leads in your database, you may find a little or a lot of overlap in buyer personas. So, how do you unbind them all?

The truth is you cannot always segment groups into neatly bound bundles. You will find some buyers that fit neatly in a box, but most of the time, you’ll have intersecting or even conflicting interests.

What you have to do is focus on the commonalities; the rallying points that rouse the troops to act. That may mean that both CEOs and COOs get similar emails, and that’s okay as long as you are using the information you know about their industry, company, or unique business challenges to validate why the message matters.

Nurture Sales Leads with Targeted Content

After segmenting your email lists, it’s time to send targeted content. The targeted content addresses the pain points of your segmented audiences. What content is used is determined by the marketing funnel and your buyer personas.

At every stage in the marketing funnel, you need to create different content to cater to the different needs of prospects. You can do that by mapping out your customer journey and creating content for prospects at different levels in the funnel.

For the prospects at the top of the funnel, you need to work with engaging blog posts, videos, infographics, social media posts, and even events to build brand awareness.

Those in the middle of the funnel are looking for research material like case studies, white pages, and data sheets to consider your offerings and make a short list of competitors and alternatives.

And for the prospects at the bottom of the funnel, you can use demos, sales presentations, and competitor comparisons.

Creating content is so much more than revamping templates and posting them on social media. Lead nurturing just doesn’t work like that. Your content must be engaging, and it must be capable of grabbing your prospects’ attention.

Engage Stale Leads with Retargeting Campaigns

Stale leads are the ones who engaged once or twice and then dropped off the radar. But consider this way. Stale leads were once interested, right? There are so many reasons a lead goes cold, from budget restraints to a shift in priorities and everything in between. So, why not try and reconnect?!?

Retargeting campaigns are set up to re-engage leads that you have previously contacted to measure interest or rekindle the conversation.

Retargeting campaigns can be launched through nearly any sales channel from email to search engines. Often times though, marketers use retargeting campaigns to display ads on channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn that basically follow users who have visited your website or interacted with your content.

Whether it’s an email or a social media ad, it must be planned in such a way that it retains the value of the product and differs from what was already conveyed on your website when the visitor first encountered your brand.

If you want to retarget a specific segment of users, search engine and social media ads are the best way to go. Choose your platforms based on your segment. Gen Xers are easier to reach on LinkedIn and Facebook, but Millennials hang out more on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.

Conclusion: Nurturing Leads

Today, every market is saturated, and buyers can answer any question with just a few clicks. And to add to the complexity of the sales cycle, it is becomes very difficult to bring prospects down the sales funnel because they are spending more time in the consideration stage.

For these reasons, nurturing leads has become one of the best ways to generate more sales opportunities for your business and build close relationships with your prospects. If you feel like your lead nurturing program is lacking, focus on the bottom-of-the-funnel prospects first, and climb your way to the top. This way you can refine your tactics with your most receptive leads first. As you perfect converting sales-ready leads to customers, it will become easier to tweak your strategies in the other stages of the buying journey.

Vito Vishnepolsky
Vito Vishnepolsky
CEO and Founder at Martal Group