It’s a familiar refrain, you’ve identified 100, 500 or 1000 potential sales opportunities from an event, advertisement or through website downloads, but sales follow-up is not happening. And you don’t blame sales. The quality of these opportunities is suspect and the majority are simply not sales ready. Asking a highly trained and well-paid sales team to make dozens of fruitless calls to find that one potential gem is a waste of their time and yours.
For some organizations, the answer has been to pick out the highest potential leads and filter the rest to your distributors and resellers. Unfortunately, this simply passes the problem on to someone else and provides little to no quantitative data to help you measure and optimize your marketing performance. This also risks upsetting the often delicate relationship with your channel by asking them to do what you’re unwilling to do yourself.
The challenge you face is finding a reliable, affordable way to filter leads, identify active opportunities and maximize the performance of your marketing investment. Doing this requires a highly processed and well managed lead nurturing program that continuously evaluates and measures the quality of leads to ensure the hand-off to sales occurs at the right time. This strategy works particularly well for B2B lead generation because purchasing decisions are seldom made on the spur of the moment and almost without exception, follow a standard buying cycle.
Your goal therefore should be to identify the potential of each opportunity based on the prospect’s stage in the buying process. This will then give you a timeframe for making a purchasing decision, as well as layout a blueprint for the type of information your target needs to ensure your solution is the preferred option when that decision is ultimately made. According to Demand Gen Report, nurtured leads have 3x the conversion ratio and show a 20% increase in sales opportunities when compared to non-nurtured leads.
An additional benefit of a highly processed lead nurturing program is the ability to reduce initial follow-up costs and improve the volume of information collected about each lead opportunity. Through the better management of information, you’ll be able to avoid repeatedly touching individuals and companies that respond to multiple marketing campaigns as well as significantly enhance the quantity and quality of data used to qualify accounts.
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To further drive down costs, your nurturing processes needs to incorporate multiple avenues for tracking prospect behavior as well as optimizing how you communicate with them. This include optimizing your use of telemarketing, email, websites, direct mail and other forms of communication. All of these elements can then be tracked with proven marketing automation tools that incorporate lead scoring as another robust ranking system.
According to Forrester Research, it takes an average of seven touches to convert a “suspect” to a “prospect” and even then, this may not be a quality, sales-ready lead. By implementing a lead nurturing program, you’ll have the critical information needed to base your lead handoff decision and know when it is. And when this is done correctly, your volume of quality leads will increase and so will your sales teams willingness to engage.