8 Steps to Optimizing Your Lead Nurturing Program: Part 1
Takeaway notes from a BtoB Magazine webinar. By Aliza Bornstein, copywriter, Melissa Data
Lead nurturing is about fostering an ongoing dialog
with your prospects and customers. But in a
landscape filled with noise from email, social
media, and a variety of outlets, how can you make
the most of your efforts?
How can you cultivate better relationships with
your prospects and leads? There’s an ocean of
prospects that require nurturing over time, along
the path to sales ready status. Moreover, unique
B-to-B sales leads are complex constructs, involving
multiple decision makers.
Lead nurturing requires a human touch component.
Sales people need to be aided by tools that make it
easy for them to continue conversation and make
appropriate offers based on behavior and engagement.
Lead nurturing automation tools must support lower
volume, ad hoc delivery (drive conversations), and
track multiple touch points (phone, email, online,
Ultimately, you’re going to be looking for leads to
nurture that would normally go to your sales team,
but your sales team is focused on who can convert in
the next quarter or two. What you’re trying to do is
cultivate them in a different way, at a different
With your lead nurturing process there are five
categories to go through:
For those who are sending prospects immediately to
sales after they submit their form, you’re missing
out on potentially 60-70 percent of your revenue.
This is because, most of the time, leads are not
free to talk to sales people. So you need to have
nurturing in your sales process, until they’re ready
to move through the sales organization.
2. Landing page
3. Form submit
4. Lead qualification
In order for you to nurture, you have to have people
to nurture, and to do that you need to qualify all
of your leads and inquiries.
This article will provide you with the strategies
you need to make your program more effective. Here
are the first four steps.
Step 1: Ideal Customer Profile
You can’t nurture everyone that’s in your database
and do it well. So you need to develop an ideal
customer profile, and to do that, you need to have a
clear way of how you’re segmenting your data so you
can look at who your first, second, and third tier
are. The amount of effort and energy you’re going to
put into each of these tiers is going to be driven
by things such as:
• Industry code
The idea is you need to nurture companies that can
buy from you. If you don’t have that intelligence to
know whether or not an organization is an asset,
then you really need to put them in a qualification
process to research that. You’re not trying to build
the biggest database of nurturing campaigns
possible. What you’re really trying to do is drive
relevancy. That will ultimately drive conversions.
• Employee size
• Trigger events
• Sphere of influence
Step 2: Your Universal Lead Definition
Going into 2010, 60 percent of companies still do
not have a clearly defined definition of a lead
between a marketing and sales organization. The
problem with this is that you don’t have a clear
definition of when a sales lead is ready to be
handed off to your sales team.
Allow your leads to be scored and prioritized (BANT):
When three of the four are known, the lead is
• Authority (Economic buyer; Influencer; End User;
Information Gatherer; Champion).
• Need (Identify problem; Look for solutions;
Evaluate options; Select shortlist; Buying
• Time frame (Less than 3 months; Less than 6
months; Less than 12 months).
Spectrum for sales readiness
Level 1: A response from an individual to a
marketing campaign or someone who has taken
proactive steps to demonstrate interest in your
message, product, or service.
Level 2: A meaningful interaction (via phone or
email) with an individual meeting fulfilling the
requirements of a fully qualified company and
Hand off to sales
Level 3: Level 2, plus the individual demonstrates a
specific need for and interest in your products or
Level 4: Level 3, plus the individual is in the
process of defining a requirement for your product
Level 5: Level 4, plus the individual has the
responsibility, budget, and a defined timeline for
Step 3: Lead Qualification
Inquiry Form—First Step (Welcome)
Looking at your current lead qualification process,
examine your “contact us” forms. Is there enough
Inquiry Form—Second Step
A confirmation page allows you to ask for qualifying
information that your sales team needs to know.
Inquiry Form—Confirmation (Thank you!)
Instead of just a confirmation of information
received, an automated inquiry email response is one
of the most overlooked ways to open dialog with your
customer. The goal is to connect right from the
Step 4: Understand & Capture Your Audience
Unless you have an ideal customer profile, a
definition of a sales ready lead, and a lead
qualification process, you can’t perform nurturing
because you don’t have the baseline infrastructure
to know what you’re nurturing to.
Whom do you nurture?
Whose involved in your buying process? As you’re
thinking of your marketing database, your goal is
not to build the widest list possible, but to go
deep—because the goal of nurturing is to start
What you need to determine is two things:
1. Who is involved in your buying process?
The best way to do that is to go to your sales team
and talk to them about recent sales they have had
and ask them who was involved in the first step, the
middle step, and the later stages of the process.
2. How deep do you want to go with your nurturing?
If you know how deep you want to go, you can then
start to determine how many different types of
communication (phone, email, etc) you’re going to
use with people.
Make sure that your database is the hub, so that
every touch point that you have, regardless of
source, gets into your lead nurturing and marketing
database, and that becomes the hub for all nurturing
Check back next week for the last four steps in
optimizing your lead nurturing program!
---Source: BtoB Magazine webinar on
Nov. 10, 2009 (www.the-dma.org). Brian Carroll is
the CEO of In Touch and the author of Lead
Generation for the Complex Sale. Reach him at
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