50 to 80 percent of all leads are potentially wasted if not managed properly. Industry surveys indicate that only 10 to 25 percent of all leads are interested and ready to buy. A similar percentage of leads are not qualified at all. The problem is how do you get those leads from a “blind date” to happily “married with children”?
It’s getting from that first date to the birth of a child that is the interesting part. For some that may happen on the same night but for most, the long, complex journey can be very trying and testing. When you’re dating, you’re learning about each other: what you like to do, the things he or she doesn’t eat, the stuff you do that totally drives them wild. It’s no different when it comes to B2B marketing. You need to continue to deepen your relationship with the prospect over time, interacting in a variety of settings, learning more about each other’s needs and capabilities while progressing seamlessly from one interaction to the next. And you need to know when to commit more resources to the relationship as well as when to pull back and give the prospect some space. Sometimes the ability to pull back can be one of the biggest differentiators in the customer’s buying decision, because no one likes a pushy salesman.
In B2B marketing world, this “wooing” process is called lead nurturing, defined as the process of building a relationship with qualified prospects who are not yet sales-ready, regardless of budget, authority, or timing – to become a happy satisfied repeat customer who refers you to their friends. In our guide, “The 6 Steps to Lead Nurturing: From Blind Date to Married with Children” we discuss how to make this happen.
Just as in dating, lead nurturing can be described with defined stages, including:
Getting found online can be very challenging for many companies. Due to the nature of the internet, you don’t always have direct control over the introduction, but the more you can do to influence it, the better. You know who your ideal prospect is and what they are interested in so package your company so that they could potentially be interested in partnering with your company.
- First Date
In B2B marketing, this means you should deliver some form of premium content that is worth registering for. While thought leadership content should influence and guide people before they’re in a buying cycle, the content here should be targeted to those who are just beginning to look for solutions, such as self-running video demos and customer case studies.
This is where the lead nurturing comes in. Your prospect has shown at least some interest in you. You don’t want to ruin a good first impression by calling too often or asking for too much commitment too soon. No one loves a needy or desperate partner. Instead you need to develop the relationship by sharing additional information at the right time.
In B2B lead nurturing the proposal is when marketing hands the lead off to sales. When creating your ideal customer, marketing and sales must work together to determine the best indicators of success, in terms of what the customer looks like (demographics, etc.). During this discussion, you should also determine the activities that result in a sales-ready lead.
The Deal. The Close. The Win. Ultimately, making the sale (the marriage) is up to your sales team, but by implementing a sound nurturing and scoring process, you have helped them by establishing a relationship and positioning your company as a leader with the prospect.
The greatest ROI and the best leads come from referrals. Yet, very few salespeople actually get very many high quality referrals because they don’t directly ask for them. Some manage to get a name and phone number here and there. And a few will get several. But the four of the most basic steps,detailed in our guide, will turn your organization into the talk of the town.
From Blind Date to Married with Children, the B2B lead management can be a very complex and dynamic process. You need to continue to deepen your relationship with the prospect over time, interacting in a variety of settings, learning more about each other’s needs and capabilities while progressing seamlessly from one interaction to the next. And you need to know when to commit more resources to the relationship as well as when to pull back and give the prospect some space. Sometimes the ability to pull back can be one of the biggest differentiators in the customers buying decision – no one likes pushy sales people.
Done right,proper lead management creates more educated buyers, helps you better understand their needs, and ultimately translates into more revenue. According to Aberdeen research companies that are Best-in-Class in the lead management so a 90% improvement on companywide annual revenue growth, and on average 59% performance increase.
Great post and I love the analogy! The only point I’d add is that marketers shouldn’t ask for too much information on the first date. After all, you can easily scare away a prospective long-term “partner” by asking to know everything from how to get in touch to what are their long-term plans. Marketers need to take it slow and collect that information over time.