A strong lead nurturing strategy is a must for any technology organization that wants to gain the trust of prospects and generate more revenue. In fact, lead nurturing is the chief proactive tool in your arsenal to convert prospects into buyers. It ensures that leads have repeated positive experiences with your brand via active listening and personalized engagement.
This means that when leads are ready to make a purchasing decision, your organization will be the first solution provider that springs to mind. When we look at the stats, it can’t be understated how critical a role lead nurturing can play in your lead conversion strategies.
- 80% of new fresh leads never convert
- Organizations with successful lead nurturing strategies generate 40% more sales leads at 33% lesser costs per lead
However, lead nurturing is easier said than done. Pain points arise frequently in technology organizations because they lack the know-how to empower their sales development efforts into a working strategy, resulting in lost leads and wasted resources.
In fact, in our 2022 report and survey of 404 technology organizations from all over the world, we found that companies have adopted many measures of success for sales development. It needs to be a holistic affair with multiple efforts and multiple KPIs, such as:
- The generation of Sales Accepted Leads (SALs) or Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)
- The number of deals close by sales development
- The value of deals closed
- Pipeline opportunities generated
- And more
So, if you are not hitting some of these targets, and find that your sales team isn’t happy with the quality of your leads, or if you have high traffic but low conversion, there are likely some gaps in your lead nurturing strategies.
In this article, we will guide you on how to implement effective lead nurturing strategies for 2022, to get the best out of your sales development team.
Start with the right lead information
Before you embark on your lead nurturing journey, you need to narrow in on the right leads for your business needs. Do you know who your ideal buyer is, what their pain points and challenges are, and how to best educate them about the benefits of your solutions? If not, it is time to find out.
To understand your leads to help them on their purchasing journey, you need to establish their intent in the market. Without a clear idea of who your ideal lead is, your organization will waste time and resources targeting mountains of irrelevant leads, clogging up the sales pipeline.
There is an array of tools available to do the heavy lifting and provide in-depth lead information. Two useful tools that you can use both in-house, or to supplement outsourced efforts, are Triblio and Kickfire. Both tools will empower your Business Development Representatives (BDRs) with the right lead information to engage with them on a personal level.
What is Triblio and how can it help you?
Triblio is an account-based marketing (ABM) platform that directs marketing and sales campaigns at every stage of the journey. It utilizes ads, web, sales and analytics, and helps uncover new lead opportunities to create effective ABM campaigns.
However, the real star of the show is the breadth of functionality it offers through its orchestration feature that provides the opportunity to build integrated engagement campaigns across multiple channels along the buyer’s journey in an easy and intuitive way.
Through ABM software like Triblio, you can engage with target accounts through multiple channels, and with the help of its proprietary AI-powered engine, it will score leads and campaigns during the buyer’s journey, keeping you up to date on lead suitability. The potential to engage thousands of leads with relevant and timely messaging, dynamic CTAs, all across a multitude of channels will be a huge boost for accelerating your sales pipeline.
What is Kickfire and how can it help you?
Want to de-anonymize and validate leads to ensure you are targeting the right ones? Kickfire is a great tool for lead nurturing teams and BDRs because it captures the IP address of leads to help identify in-market buyers. As we know, accurate data is the fuel for sales and marketing efforts, so the ability to translate something simple like IP addresses into account level firmographic data, such as revenue, employee count, location and industry is hugely beneficial for identifying your ideal lead.
With this data, you can engage with early leads proactively to leverage personalized content and enrich your lead information forms. Ultimately, allowing you to ensure the right leads are progressing through your funnel.
The relevant and accurate lead information you generate through tools such as Triblio and Kickfire, is fuel for your lead nurturing efforts. These tools provide a sure-fire way to ensure your focus is on leads that matter, while also providing insight into the pain points leads are facing and how you can place your technology as the solution to their business challenges.
Implement a lead management process
Did you know that only about 35% of companies have an established lead nurturing plan? This is surprising when we consider that 80% of potential lead opportunities are lost because of a lack of lead nurturing.
A dedicated lead management plan, along with a sales development team, is vital to nurture leads are brought to the point of sales at the right time.
By having a defined process, you give every lead a chance to make it through your sales funnel. Of course, this ensures that weak leads that are not suited to your organization will leave the sales funnel at the earliest possible stage, ensuring your efforts are directed towards high-quality leads that are more likely to convert.
What does this process look like? Marketing generates leads, which are passed onto the BDR in your sales development team. Your BDRs will then nurture leads and engage with them on a personal level before handing them over to the sales team. You can learn more about the role of BDRs here.
Here are examples of a basic lead management process:
Step 1: Understand leads and build your messaging around their needs
First, determine who your ideal buyer is, which will help you generate messaging around the information that you used to define your leads. For example, demographics, behavior and how the lead made its way into your funnel. The deeper you dig to understand your leads, the more precise messaging you can generate.
Messaging that speaks to leads on a personal level and tugs at their pain points will go a long way in connecting a lead to your brand. If you use general messaging, you miss out on forming personal connections.
Learn more about buyer personas: Tips to nurture marketing qualified leads to sales accepted leads
Step 2: Score and qualify leads
A solid lead qualification framework is a vital part of your sales development plan and will give you a sign of a lead’s interest in your solutions. The end goal of lead qualification is to allow sales to focus on high-quality leads. When a lead has a high enough score against your ideal buyer persona, it is ready to be engaged by sales.
You can use lead information to determine a lead score, which is typically based on data in the following categories: geography, demographic, attitude, technology, behavioral, lead needs and value. The higher the lead scores in these categories, the more likely they will convert into a buyer.
Step 3: Nurture leads
The next step in your lead management process is to nurture leads. At this stage, your BDRs educate leads about how your solutions will solve their problems through a variety of channels, including emails, phone calls, social media and content marketing.
For each ideal buyer type and lead segment, BDRs should have a playbook in hand, which will be key in helping to plan the best kind of engagement for each interaction. Simply put, a playbook will help formalize the lead nurturing process to ensure that each lead segment is receiving the best possible engagement defined by their stage in the funnel and their business challenges.
Each playbook for every lead nurturing programme should have defined strategy, assets and flow. For example, a playbook that welcomes a new lead into your sales funnel will be unique compared to the playbook for nurturing a lead that has been in the funnel for an extended period.
Playbooks are complex and require a lot of trial and error and fine tuning. This is one reason many organizations turn to outsourcing, as outsourced teams already have the technologies, playbooks, strategy, knowledge and experience firmly in place – so they only need to align those existing tools towards nurturing your ideal buyers.
Learn more: The complete guide to lead nurturing
Step 4: Send qualified leads to sales
The previous steps culminate in the handoff to sales. By going through each step methodically, you ensure that the lead handoff isn’t premature, and the only leads that sales receive are high-quality and likely to convert. But the work doesn’t stop here.
Both teams need to be on the same page to ensure the sales team follows up in a timely fashion, and that engagement is maintained in the interim. You don’t want to waste the efforts of your BDRs through a delayed handover to sales, which might result in the lead falling back into the lead nurturing stage.
Another consideration is to double check the lead qualification and scoring process for particularly valuable leads, to ensure that they are scored correctly and aren’t being handed to sales prematurely. And lastly, ensure that marketing, sales and sales development are working hand in hand to ensure leads are researched to the fullest extent to provide sales with the greatest opportunity to convert.
Step 5: Analyze and measure your efforts
As we all know, process improvement is key. Make sure you are not resting on your laurels because data is ever changing – to maintain efficiency, you need to analyze and improve. There is a wide variety of tools available to help your BDRs ensure their work is driven by actionable data, and can help optimize lead interaction. It can take some time working out what tools are best for your organization, but it is vital that you constantly strive for the perfect lead management processes if you want to close more sales.
Learn more about sales development organization here.
Make use of lead scoring
We touched upon lead scoring above, but let’s go into more detail. A sales development team needs lead scoring to function. Without it, they end up with mountains of leads with no information on how each touchpoint affects the lead. Lead scoring will help you rank prospects against your ideal buyer persona, informing you how likely they are to convert and how suited they are to your organization and its solutions.
By attaching a numerical value to leads, you have a clear sign of how much nurturing they need when the lead is passed on from marketing to sales development. Besides high-level lead scoring segments such as demographics and value, you can also score leads on implicit criteria and explicit criteria.
Implicit criteria: Based on marketing engagement and observable behavior. For example, if the lead attended a webinar, downloaded a report, or visited a product page.
Explicit criteria: This scores prospects against your buyer personas and by grouping demographic data that you get from leads, normally through online forms.
Finding a lead scoring framework that suits you can be tricky. Fortunately, there are many established and time-tested frameworks for scoring leads that provide a good foundation for your lead nurturing efforts.
Here are a couple of examples:
What it stands for:
Budget: How much money can the lead spend?
Authority: Is the lead the decision maker?
Need: What pain points or challenge is the prospect looking to solve?
Timeframe: How long will sales take?
What it stands for:
CHallenges: What challenges is the prospect facing?
Authorisation: Is this person the decision maker?
Money: Does the prospect have the budget?
Prioritization: When are they hoping to solve the issue?
Learn more about lead qualification frameworks here: The complete guide to lead qualification
Working on the same side: marketing and sales
Businesses with strong sales and marketing alignment are 67% more effective at closing deals, according to LinkedIn Research. It might sound obvious that marketing and sales need to be on the same page when it comes to lead nurturing, but this is often overlooked.
You might find that both teams have differing opinions on what the ideal buyer is, what the best lead scoring system is, or even what lead nurturing strategies will help nurture leads.
Collaboration and a shared strategy are key. A successful lead journey moves from marketing to sales development and sales seamlessly.
Sales and Marketing should understand what leads they are after and why in order to develop a coordinated strategy. If teams aren’t aligned on these points, it will lead to conflict with no team taking ownership – and ultimately, a poor customer journey. The solution to this is to have a dedicated sales development team, or an outsourced team.
Why do you need a dedicated team to focus on lead nurturing? Because it is a vast amount of work and organized teams should focus on specialized roles.
Sales development comprises a team who specifically works on converting these leads; who use the right technology and understand the business challenge each lead is facing.
If marketing or sales engage in day-to-day lead nurturing, you are splitting their time, work capacity, and diluting their ability to succeed in their primary roles.
In our 2022 sales development report, we found that scaling up sales development requires input from marketing and sales to enrich efforts, with 64% of respondents saying sales development reports to sales, and 21% saying that it reports to marketing.
360 degree feedback loop
To this end, it is also vital to establish a 360 degree-feedback loop from sales to sales development and marketing. This will go a long way in aligning all activities towards the goals of the organization and maximize ROI.
Each sales attempt, successful or unsuccessful, needs to be reported across the relevant teams, to evaluate the strategies and methods you employed that guided the lead through the funnel. Not only will this provide marketing with insight into the far end of the sales funnel, which they are often separated from, it will also provide valuable feedback to ensure better leads make their way towards sales.
In the same vein, ensure you have a strong Quality Assurance system in place to evaluate soft issues that may be linked to ongoing training and individual coaching. Iterative process improvement is key, so each of your teams should be measured to ensure:
- adherence to shared strategies and procedures
- to identify training needs
- determine what processes frustrate individuals
- how to maintain consistent customer interactions
- and how to identify business opportunities.
Overall, sales and marketing teams should not be distracted with finding and nurturing leads but should instead focus on their core tasks. Lead generation for the former and closing sales for the latter. A dedicated business development team solely focused on lead nurturing will ensure that each lead receives the attention they deserve.
Lead nurture and targeting
If you have a sales development team in place and you are wondering why their lead nurturing efforts are not yielding the results you are after, the problem may be that they are sticking too close to the marketing rule book and tactics.
Marketing and sales development teams have different skill sets and goals, and each team should take advantage of the unique position they have in the sales cycle and the opportunities available to them to engage leads.
If we accept marketing as the foundation for discovering what makes a lead tick from a surface level, it is the job of sales development to find out everything they can in microscopic detail. As you would expect, different strategies need to be employed to meet this goal. Remember, this is the part in the cycle where you focus on the leads that have potential for conversion, not uninterested leads.
Let’s consider how marketing engages a lead. This is often through content marketing, social media, emails and online forms. If a lead engages in marketing efforts on multiple fronts and has a high lead score, it is up to sales development to connect the dots to determine what that lead is interested in, and engage those interests on a personal level.
Instead of sending that lead to another piece of related content (which a marketer might do) a good sales development rep should go one step further to show how they understand the lead’s pain points. In practice, this might be through substantial and educative content that reveals how your solution will solve their challenges. Conversely, if a lead has only engaged a few times, a lighter touch is required to not alienate the lead.
Want to make lead nurturing simpler? Learn more about automation lead nurturing here.
Use CANT to make your personal touchpoints simpler
We all know that great sales teams are always hungry for new leads to convert. However, overzealousness can be detrimental to the lead and its journey. If a lead is engaged by sales too early, it can effectively put the brakes on that lead progressing further through the sales funnel.
The lead may not be ready to make a purchasing decision, they might not know enough about your solutions and services, or they simply might feel pressured and subsequently put-off. That lead you have alienated might have ended up as a conversion if given more time in the lead nurturing stage of the journey, so it is up to you to ensure they are engaged by sales at the right time.
CANT: Convert Audience to Next Touchpoint
CANT is the foundation to optimize the touch points scattered throughout your customer journey to make sure they are positive, consistent and follow a clear route towards the sales call at the end of the sales funnel. While your organization might have an array of touchpoints, you can ensure each one offers more to the lead with this framework.
First, to improve interactions through your touch points, you have to gain a firm understanding of what those touch points are, why they take place, and what the purpose of the touch point is. As with all touchpoint projects, build a touchpoint map, which will give you a high-level overview of your interactions.
You need to find the touchpoints that are the most significant part of the journey from a lead standpoint, and will reveal more about the lead’s potential to convert. Find out:
- If the touchpoint is appropriate based on what the customer is trying to accomplish
- If the touchpoint is meaningful and adds to the customer journey
- Which touchpoints lead to more conversions
- If the messaging is clear and consistent
- If the touchpoints are engaging and lead into another touchpoint
By examining your touchpoints with the above criteria, you will be able to develop a better understanding of how to improve them for a better customer journey. Not only will this ensure each interaction is meaningful and leads consistently into the next interaction, but it will also ensure customers are engaged thoroughly until they are ready for a sales call.
Sales outsourcing with IDG Sales Development Services
Lead nurturing has been a hot topic for a while now, and many companies understand the importance lead nurturing can have on the bottom line. However, putting an effective lead strategy remains a challenge in the technology sector.
In fact, in our 2022 sales development report, we found that organizations are turning to outside help for lead nurturing and sales development
48% of respondents said the process of converting Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) to Sales Accepted Leads (SAL) was being outsourced. The reasons why? (multiple choice)
- To gain better access to technology than they have in house (49%)
- To manage costs more effectively (48%)
- To scales sales development (48%)
- To avoid the cost/time hiring and training of in-house staff (47%)
Outsourcing is a toolkit with many ways to help companies, when firms are challenged by an under-supply of people, knowledge and state-of-the-art technology.
IDG SDS will create a bespoke lead nurturing program, comprising Inbound Lead Nurturing and Outbound Lead Nurturing, to deliver high-quality leads that fit the buyer persona of your business development strategy.
Working with IDG SDS you will benefit from:
- Managers with experience of working with other companies in the Tech market
- A transparent service that offers a 360-degree of our activities and insight into your own lead and data performance
- A highly trained team of experienced BDR’s that we will manage to meet your goals
- The expertise and infrastructure to optimize activity and performance in real time
- Our ability to execute your workflows
- Utilising the right lead nurturing resources at the right time