The relationship between sales people and their prospects has never been more important for creating new business, which means that lead nurturing to strengthen relationships with prospective clients should be front and center for sales people looking to increase sales. As better ways of automating this nurturing are becoming available, more sales people are realizing that nurturing leads does not need to be as time consuming as it once was. This may leave sales people who are not adopting workable nurturing processes at a competitive disadvantage. Following are three ways to make lead nurturing easier and more effective without detracting needed time from other important sales tasks.
1. Create Categories for Nurturing Leads with Individualized Content
Lead nurturing works best when the content provided is individualized to the prospect and the needs of his or her organization. It is only by providing content that has specific value for the prospect that you will be able to truly engage the prospect in your nurturing effort. However, this does not mean that you must choose individual content for every prospect in your pipeline. By creating high-level categories for periodic e-mails and other follow up, you can provide content that is relevant but also streamlines the lead nurturing workload. Categories can be chosen based on:
- The size of the target organization;
- The industry, line of business (B2B, B2C), or product and service niche;
- The prospect’s location in your sales pipeline (before or after initial call, initial presentation, follow-up meeting, etc.);
- Other perimeters important to your sales approach, including priority sales for current targets and relationship to competitors
- Specific areas of interest based on the prospects engagement with your site
Once you have identified your content categories, you can choose content that is appropriate for the prospects in each category and provide lead nurturing with a higher level of customization and effectiveness.
2. Implement a Scoring System to Prioritize Follow Up Activities
Effective sales people have mastered the art of time management, and a large part of time management revolves on being able to prioritize working on and nurturing leads. Prioritization through a scoring system maximizes sales results from existing leads by enabling you to objectively measure how likely each lead is to progress to the next stage in the sales process and respond within an appropriate timeframe with the right follow up to keep that lead interested. A strong scoring system to support priority nurturing should incorporate:
- The lead’s ability to buy and whether or not the lead has expressed interest in making a deal.
- The lead’s authority to move forward with a buy.
- The number of interactions that the lead has had with your organization.
- The time horizon on which the lead anticipates making a decision.
- Feedback provided through previous engagement with the prospect
Objectively scoring leads according to these factors can give you a baseline for working on nurturing activities that helps to streamline priorities and keep the most likely leads at the forefront of your sales activities. This in turn can lead to higher engagement and closing rates, which is after all a key objective in lead nurturing.
3. Incorporate Calls to Action Throughout the Lead Nurturing System
Lead nurturing can allow you to stay in contact with a promising lead or prospect without resorting to aggressive tactics or making contacts without a specific purpose. At the same time, calls to action should be clear at each step in the process. Sales people who send content that does not influence the lead to take action are missing out on an essential opportunity, since once a lead initiates a point of contact he or she is firmly in the sales pipeline and has demonstrated commitment to a potential deal. Periodically encourage leads to make these minor commitments to improve overall results and put your lead nurturing activities to work for you.