3 Lead Nurturing Strategies for a Healthy Sales Pipeline

This is a guest post from Allison TetreaultMarketing Content Coordinator for QuotaFactory.

Is your sales pipeline a little sluggish?

It may be that you’re not nurturing your sales pipeline sufficiently.

The Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) that are in your pipeline today still need love and attention during the selling process. Unfortunately, if your sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned correctly, these leads won’t be nurtured enough to convert into deals.

When leads are handed off from marketing to sales, too often there isn’t a process in place to continue to engage those leads effectively via email and other channels. That’s where a targeted lead nurturing strategy can help bridge the gap between your sales and marketing efforts.

If you start caring for your leads better throughout the sales process, your sales team will find MQLs are more engaged, more interested in your product, and far more likely to close.

(For even more detailed information on pipeline management, check out our FREE eBook: The Definitive Guide to Pipeline Management.)

The Problem Behind Lead Nurturing Campaigns

Unfortunately, 98% of MQLs don’t result in closed business according to research from SiriusDecisions. Read that again — it’s a pretty scary number. How do you improve that conversion rate?

At QuotaFactory, we believe the problem is that there is a clear disconnect between sales and marketing. Even though you may think you’re aligned — hey, at least sales and marketing are in the same building! — you’re not if you’re still partitioning certain tasks and responsibilities.

A lead nurturing campaign is one tool that can help you attack this issue from both sides — sales and marketing — to increase the conversion rate for your sales opportunities. For example, CSO Insights recently did a study on the effect that an aligned sales and marketing team would have on lead nurturing conversion rates.

89.1% of companies that aligned sales and marketing reported measurable increases in leads that converted to opportunities. (Tweet this.)

When both sales and marketing shared responsibility for lead nurturing, companies experienced a significant increase in conversion rates. In fact, 89.1% of companies that aligned sales and marketing lead generation efforts reported measurable increases in the number of leads that converted to opportunities.

QuotaFactory has found 16 aligned lead nurturing strategies that have worked for B2B sales and marketing executives. I’m going to outline 3 of my favorites and show you how you can implement them in your business today.

Discover Jason Jordan's Secrets to Pipeline Management »

Segment Campaigns

Relevancy is key in lead nurturing, and prospects have a sixth sense about mass emails that aren’t personalized to them, or voicemails that don’t include key information about their company to show you did your research. They think, “I see salespeople,” and shut down. You won’t get reply.

If you’re working off of a big list, you need to segment it by various qualities. What you segment by depends on your goals as a company. These are the segments we use:

  • Lead source
  • Job function
  • Industry
  • Interest
  • Activity
  • Disqualification reasoning

However, be careful. You wouldn’t want to compartmentalize so much that you’re making more work for yourself. 64% of field sales’ time is spent on administrative responsibilities around demand generation and more of that time should be spent focused on selling.

Instead, concentrate on the critical factors first, and continue to develop the lead nurturing program once you’re able to measure what works best and what resonates with your prospects.

Develop Closed-Loop Feedback Between Departments

Closed-loop feedback ensures that all activities with all leads are tracked and accessible within your organization, for both sales and marketing.

Marketing should share their lead intelligence with sales, who can use that data to further their sales efforts down the funnel. Meanwhile, sales should let marketing know of any feedback they receive from leads about marketing efforts.

If a lead is disqualified, the hand-off process from sales to marketing (to return back to the funnel in a disqualification campaign specific to their situation) should also be clear.

Contacts in a disqualification nurture program (already touched by sales but uninterested at the time) have already had an initial conversation with sales development to uncover sales context criteria and have already been introduced to your company. Marketing should then work to re-engage these prospects over time, to hopefully renew the opportunity at a later date. Without a closed-loop feedback system at your company, this re-engagement of disqualified opportunities will never happen.

There are a few ways to implement a closed-loop feedback system at your company. Sometimes, simply normalizing notes in Salesforce can help marketing and sales align their lead nurturing efforts. Other times, it’s best to create an entire Wiki outlining the process that both departments can contribute to. You may also find that including this feedback process in the Service Level Agreement between your company’s marketing and sales teams will work best.

Does your company have a closed-loop feedback process? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Prioritize and Track Key Metrics

Marketing and sales should be tracking a number of key lead nurturing metrics in their CMS and CRM systems. However, not everything should have the same importance. For example, emails sent is definitely not as important as clickthrough rate. One tells you about the size of your database, while the other tells you about the effectiveness of your marketing and sales messaging.

Here are three of the most useful metrics to share between sales and marketing so you can work together to tailor your lead nurturing campaigns:

  1. Email Conversion Rate: The percentage of prospects who clicked on a link in a lead nurturing message and completed a desired action, easily tracked in your marketing automation system.
  2. Sales Qualified-to-Sale Ratio: The percentage of qualified leads that convert to customers over a given period of time.
  3. Customer Acquisition Cost: The marketing cost of acquiring a new customer.

Focusing on improving these key metrics that both sales and marketing is responsible for will ensure that your aligned lead nurturing machine is running smoothly.

Learn More About Tracking Sales and Marketing Metrics»

Want 13 More Actionable Tips?

QuotaFactory built out 16 actionable steps to align B2B sales and marketing towards lead nurturing and increase our sales every quarter, driving that 98% MQL stat down. These were three of my favorites.

If you’d like to learn more about how to implement all 16 strategies, as well as pick up some more key metrics you should track for lead nurturing success, get the Aligned Lead Nurturing Guide for B2B Sales and Marketing Executives.

About the author: Allison Tetreault is the Marketing Content Coordinator for QuotaFactory, a company that helps tech businesses increase conversions to forecast by 60% with a proven methodology and process. She’s often found on the QuotaFactory blog, Sales Wars, providing lightsaber-like strategies for sales acceleration. Follow her on Twitter.

 

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