Everyone talks about how they need more leads. If you talk to a sales team and ask them to define a lead, they will respond by saying “high quality.” What they mean is, “decision-makers who have a budget and are ready to buy.” That sounds easy to achieve!

If you ask a marketing team the same question, they are going to say “high volume.” They want to ensure they are getting enough leads so the sales team stops complaining.

The challenge is to ensure you are meeting both objectives without having the teams at odds with each other. Marketers often forget about how long it takes to go through a ton of leads and figure out the ones that are more promising than the others.  Lead nurturing is the missing link that is causing many companies to find themselves in situations where they do not convert their leads into warm prospects.

Lead Nurturing: The Holy Grail

A 2011 publication in the Harvard Business Review stated that around 23 percent of firms do not follow up with the leads they generate at all. A study from 2012 in Forbes highlighted that around 73 percent of leads are never contacted at all. Why does this happen?

According to Marketing Sherpa, around 68 percent of B-to-B companies do not even identify the sales funnel, which is the buying process that is used by companies to push prospects from having an awareness to an interested to a desire to purchase.

Lead nurturing is an art form that companies are getting wrong most of the time.

When someone downloads your whitepaper, they are showing an interest in a particular topic. If the whitepaper is based on research, it is addressing some points that are common in the industry.

The challenge we face is that companies are writing far too many whitepapers as self-serving brochures. They are full of marketing hype, which turns off most readers. You can read a previous blog I wrote about how to create a good whitepaper.

But when you download the document, what happens next? Please do not call! Your prospect is interested but they are not ready to converse with you. They are at the start of the buying journey – they are still gathering information. And it is your job to educate them further so they come to the “right” conclusion – that your product or service is the solution.

To get them there, you have to nurture your leads. Follow up with emails that contain links to further assets – whitepapers, videos or briefings. But do not send them a promotional brochure!

Be Helpful and Educational

Every week or so, send another email with another link to different assets. Maybe invite them to answer a question so you can further refine the assets you are sending them. Are they in a particular vertical industry? Maybe their company’s size is relevant to the solution you are presenting? Are they up to date on the latest industry trends or are they simply trying to gather more information on a particular subject? The more you know, the more information you can provide in a targeted manner. Sadly, most organizations do not create a pool of such usable assets to send. Most spend all their money on fluff promotional brochures and other such content. Even case studies are not written in the right way.

The result is that there is no lead nurturing at all. You are not building relationships or educating potential customers and clients. Is there a lead nurturing process at your company? Do you have assets that are educational and interesting and relevant to what your customers want to know? Let me know through the comments if you have an interesting story about lead nurturing.

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