Here’s the shocking reality of B2B lead generation – 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales opportunities. (Source: Marketing Sherpa/ KnowledgeStorm). B2B marketing and lead generation experts point to a lack of lead nurturing as the primary cause of this poor performance.
Why is lead nurturing important?
It is a fact of life that the bulk of your site visitors and/or conversions from landing pages are not ready to buy now. This is because of the prevalent trend of industrial buyers using online resources to go deeper and deeper into their buying cycle before engaging with your sales people.
Handing off these semi-qualified and not sales ready leads to sales before adequate lead nurturing only reinforces the impression that “marketing generates crappy leads.”
According to Kelly Gay, KnowledgeStorm CEO, “79% of all leads generated by marketing are not followed up by sales in a typical technology company. Of the remaining 21%, 70% are discarded by sales as not being qualified. So, less than 10% of all leads are actually followed up.”
- Reduced the number of marketing-generated leads ignored by sales to as low as 25%
- Raised win rates on marketing-generated leads by 7% and reduced “no decisions” by 6%
- Helped 9% more sales reps make quota and shortened ramp up time of new ones by 10%
What is lead nurturing?
Google “lead nurturing” and you’ll get back 81,900 results. So there is no dearth of information about it.
I like the definition and the analogy from Brian Carroll, founder and CEO of InTouch, and the author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale. He defines lead nurturing as “… having consistent and meaningful dialog with viable prospects regardless of their timing to buy. It’s about building trusted relationships with the right people.”
Brian considers lead nurturing analogous to ripening the right bananas. He says, “Imagine your marketplace is like a field of banana trees. Your marketing people are those who nurture and pick the bananas. Bananas are harvested when they are green, and they turn yellow as they ripen. Fully 95% of your leads are like harvested green bananas, and, off the top, your sales team needs only the other 5%, those that are ripe.”
How do you nurture leads?
Content is what drives the lead nurturing engine. It is not just about posting a bunch of white papers, case studies, online demos and webinars on your website and hoping that someone will download and read. Neither is it sending out a “one size fits all” drip email campaign to your entire database of contacts.
Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, Inc. and the author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, in one of her blog posts wrote, “Sending an Email Is NOT Nurturing.” She said that lead nurturing should be “…about providing the right content at the right time that addresses a problem that a prospect is focused on (or at least considering) solving.”
She also wrote that “Lead nurturing can be done via email, but it’s not about the delivery system of email, it’s about the perceived relevance of the content delivered via the email.”
Lead nurturing and its best practices is a vast subject. It would be impossible to cover everything about it in one short blog post. Instead I’ll point you to two excellent resources that I’ve found.
- The Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing from Marketo
- A Layered Approach to Lead Nurturing in B2B Demand Generation by Adam Needles
By now you should be convinced that to prevent this colossal waste of time and effort in lead generation, it is crucial to implement a carefully planned lead nurturing strategy. If not, it behooves you to at least investigate where you may be coming up short with your B2B lead generation and nurturing efforts.