Without a steady flow of leads, no business can succeed. While there’s more money in business from repeat customers than new ones, since it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new client than it does to sell to an existing one, leads are what help sustain steady growth.
But not every lead should be handled the same way. Marketing automation can help simplify the process, making it easier for you to qualify and nurture the leads you believe are most likely to convert, but there are some instances where manual lead nurturing is ideal, and not all leads are best converted by the same mechanisms.
Some are okay to leave to marketing automation, but others are best for sales reps. A third group is best assigned to business development partnership executives. And there are some situations, particularly those that are of the utmost strategic importance, where only CEO-on-CEO liaising will do.
If your business isn’t segmenting leads according to tiered nurturing assignments, it may be time to make some adjustments.
Deciding what to do with each lead
For each lead that comes into your system, whether it be through inbound content marketing, advertising or social selling engagement, look closely at the information available. There should be plenty – , after all. See if you can tell what department the person works for, and try to determine what level of purchasing authority he or she has. Then match everyone up with the best staff members for the job.
Basic leads can easily stay in the automation funnel until they’re ready to be handed over to the sales team. If the sales team doesn’t have the best of luck, you can always escalate them higher up the chain during the nurturing process.
If you know you’re dealing with a CEO off the bat, skip the sales team, and setup a one-on-one meeting with the CEO of your company.
Developing the appropriate nurturing strategy
Segmenting your lead base is critical here, since no two leads are the same. Though they may all follow similar buyers’ journeys, each one is coming to you from a different place, possibly for different reasons and often with different end goals in mind. As such, you can’t always use the same nurturing process. Well, nothing says you can’t, but you’ll likely see higher conversion rates, and thus higher profits, if you’re willing to change things up based on what your leads need. No matter what you’re selling and to whom you’re selling it, your approach should always be customer-centric for the best possible results.
How you nurture someone who’s only vaguely interested in your product will be different from how you nurture someone who’s almost ready to pull the trigger. – whether it’s a promo code, a free trial, a one-on-one call with your CEO, or exclusive content and offers – for each type of lead. Set it up in marketing automation whenever and wherever possible, but have a backup plan for those leads that need a little manual push.
No matter what nurturing strategy you use and where you use it, make sure you are there to provide helpful value to your prospects – not to pitch aggressively or prematurely. When you sell too hard, or make it all about you, , and fast.
Saving the cream of the crop for the c-suite
In the B2B sector, there are several people from any number of departments who can play a role in purchasing decisions. It will vary depending on industry and from business to business, so it’s not always easy to make sure you’re speaking with the person or team of people that ultimately has the power to make the call.
For particularly large contracts, it may pay off to go directly to the CEO. On the other hand, CEOs are busy people, as you no doubt understand if you’re already working in that capacity. So asking someone from your sales team to approach another company’s CEO isn’t necessarily the best approach.
Because of how limited your CEO prospect’s time may be, make sure you’ve taken all the appropriate lead nurturing steps to get them ready to speak with the contact on your end before handing them off. The sales team should be closing most of your leads for you, but the fact that your CEO is willing to take the time to speak to a prospect greatly humanizes your brand and helps add to the positive sentiment required for closing. Treat them well, and word of mouth will undoubtedly help new leads come in.
Take the lead
If you find that your company is struggling to convert an alarmingly high percentage of your leads, it’s time to adjust your strategy. You’re either attracting the wrong kinds of businesses, or you’re not providing the quality content they need to assist them in the decision making process.
By 2020, according to an oft-cited Gartner prediction, most purchase decisions will be made without speaking to a human at all, so make sure you do everything you can before contact is made, to make the deal easier to close.