Director, Lead Services
Today’s connected world means that clients are in the driver’s seat. When evaluating product options, purchasers perform most of the analysis before they ever think about engaging a company’s sales team.
We already know that the sales process can play out almost exclusively online: Prospective clients do an online search, go to your company website where they evaluate your product or solution – some in great detail – before reaching out to you for more information or just abandoning for another option.
Recent stats validate this trend. “B2B buyers are 70% through the buying process before contacting the vendor.” – Sirius Decisions
So how do B-to-B marketer companies ensure they remain top of mind for potential customers? How do you establish and build a relationship in the formative stage of the potential client’s buying journey to help shape the decision and influence the sale?
It starts with adoption of a lead nurturing methodology that talks to your audience based on where they are in the buyer’s journey, nurtures them through to a deeper level engagement and prioritizes your leads for your sales team.
This strategic approach to developing client relationship has shown proven results. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, all of the top performing technology companies have a nurturing program, and nearly 10% of the worst performers did not nurture leads at all.
Impact: Leads are Leaking Out of the Funnel
Too often, marketers’ efforts to generate leads are lost in the handoff to sales. The marketing team spends lots of time and dollars to generate large volumes of leads, when quality is what is really needed. The result – leads are leaking out of the funnel.
So, how does this affect your bottom line?
- Wasted investment to recapture leads
- No method for prioritizing leads
- Sales productivity is lower than it could be
What this all add up to is that marketing gets a bad rap from sales; the sales team wastes time on unqualified leads; and the company’s business suffers.
It’s All About Relevance
As a marketer, you understand the importance of continually generating a steady pool of prospects so your funnel never dries up. Finding top-notch sources to identify new customers is a never-ending challenge, so it’s an important investment to keep those recently-acquired prospects interested and engaged in your product or solution.
However, once companies acquire new contacts they rely too heavily on batch-and-blast communications that are not targeted to talk to the prospects based on where they are in the buyer’s journey. All the hard work – and expense – to acquire new names results too quickly in a non-responsive list, lost deals and potential negative impact for your brand.
In Truth from the Trenches, a 2011 Penton Marketing Services survey of more than 5,000 respondents, we discovered that although using targeted content to continuously engage prospects might be the goal, our survey revealed that less than one-fourth of respondents used content to start, maintain, and grow relationships.
In fact, when asked the question “How do you manage your lead process currently?” only 15% developed case studies and client testimonials to engage with leads.
Relevant messaging, targeted to your prospects based on how they respond with your content, is a proven strategy for closing more deals more quickly. Understanding when your prospects are ready to buy means adopting a strategy that looks at both demographic attributes as well as behavioral cues.
Programs such as Penton Marketing Services’ Lead Lifecycling program, which uses a combination of content written by market experts, targeted email communications and digital body language to nurture, score and qualify leads can help marketers maximize their acquisition investments and accelerate leads through the sales funnel.
In summary, even quality leads can go stale if they are not properly managed and nurtured. Marketing campaigns that nurture leads through the funnel with relevant, targeted content based on where they are in the buyer’s journey will maximize their investment by turning prospects into customers. Find out how to boost lead conversion by watching our free on-demand web seminar, “How B2B Marketing Teams are Turning Prospects into Customers.”
Sandy Lang is Director, Lead Services at Penton Marketing Services. @SandyLang