Three Ways to Plug a Leaky Sales Funnel

Three Ways to Plug a Leaky Sales FunnelDo you have B2B leads that aren’t converting to sales because they are falling through the cracks of a poorly managed sales funnel? If your company’s lead management system isn’t preserving your marketing leads, you’re not alone. According to B2B experts, 80% of leads aren’t converted because of poor lead management. The good news is there are ways to keep your sales funnel from leaking.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation (MA) software packages provide a programmed method of maintaining a connection with leads while they are being nurtured towards sales-readiness. An MA program helps prevent funnel leakage through a reporting structure which exhibits the status for each marketing lead.

If you’re running a lean sales team, agents are likely balancing the management of existing accounts and new account acquisition. Agents can quickly lose focus on a lead. An effective MA program engages your leads until they are contacted by a sales representative.

MA also allows your sales team to determine a contact strategy for building new accounts; it helps manage leads through a process of qualification, interest building, and preparation for sales engagement. When a sales agent contacts a lead, she is aware of the marketing activities that lead has been exposed to.

Lead Scoring

Developing a lead scoring system helps to prioritize and cultivate leads – and keeps leads from dropping off the face of your B2B world. A good lead scoring model identifies worthwhile leads and classifies leads as they advance through the sales funnel. Once a lead achieves a score that warrants a sales contact, an MA program can alert the appropriate sales team member.

Not only does a lead scoring system reduce the likelihood of a lead being improperly dropped from the sales funnel, it also increases the efficiency of your sales team by allowing it to focus on the hottest leads, which are indicated by the highest scores. Meanwhile, cold leads can be removed systematically. For example, leads can be eliminated from consideration when they drop below a lead scoring threshold.

CRM Integration

By blending your marketing software program with your customer relationship management software, your sales team becomes more effective at managing its sales funnel. If a lead enters the CRM because of a high lead score, but it’s discovered by a sales agent that circumstances have changed, such as a change in budget or timing, a sales member can return the lead to the marketing pipeline for further nurturing.

The B2B sales cycle is long, and sales engagements can be mistimed. Through a CRM integration with a marketing automation platform, the risk of losing a sales lead when it is reclassified as a marketing lead is reduced.

Lead Liaison’s Revenue Generation Software platform provides marketing automation, lead scoring and CRM integration among other capabilities as three corner stones of preventing  a leaky sales funnel.

Fostering Jovial B2B Lead Nurturing Connections

Fostering Jovial B2B Lead Nurturing ConnectionsWhen meeting clientele for the first time, businesses hope for optimistic outcomes which often stem from productive meetings, albeit over telephone or internet.  Much like anyone would nurture important personal relationships, fostering what new leads you’ve managed to harvest from B2B lead nurturing connections should adequately reverberate your intent to remain faithful, loyal and attentive to these new business’ needs. Before calling viable leads your nest egg, however, we’ll need several important steps to occur prior to even making initial contact.  Let’s examine these under-appreciated yet highly important phases of making sure lead processing campaigns are done correctly.

Test Sales Readiness

Confusion often begins with what construes B2B leads as ‘sales prepped’.  Responding to invigorating mails doesn’t constitute readiness, nor does answering phones when call centers call the business.  When speaking of ‘sales ready’, we’ll need to cross-reference every lead for:

  • Demographically correct information
  • Overall behavioral traits (i.e. willingness and history of B2B engagement, responsiveness to escalated sales emails)
  • Thoroughness of provided data

Instead of shooting them into the ‘ready to be nurtured’ tray too quickly, gauging their interactivity along with correctness should first render their ‘hot, cold or warm’ tags.  From there, further efforts could be applied based off given scenario.

Receiving ‘Permissible’ Signs

When leads have landed upon your desk, rookie mistakes such as calling them immediately for sales prospecting purposes will render nil results.  The process of still obtaining permission to contact them protects your B2B lead nurturing initiatives, provides that double assurance while giving CAN-SPAM the stiff arm before your emails are reported, should this have been your primary mode of contact.

Continually single-opting your leads places medium risk levels on future contact, considering contact forms could be filled by robots.  Receiving that ultimate secondary permission for further contact indemnifies your prospect as ‘interested’, further allowing commencement of discussion efforts.  We’re not asking businesses to tackle their B2B leads and append a writ of habeas corpus to their chest; simply acquiring that secondary level of permission will suffice both legally, and prudentially.

Inquire About Preferences

Finally, another layer of B2B customer indemnification simply involves asking specific preferences of what they’d prefer to receive.  When the opting process transpires, asking them what they’d like to receive, frequency by which they’d like to receive your emails along with special notices or alerts of changes would make your nurturing efforts more worthwhile when sales pitches are being purported against databases of fully vetted customers.

Time Is Money

Once you’ve established contacts plausibly called ‘leads’, preparing content which gets to the point will be mandatory since time-wasting never wins customers.  B2B lead nurturing means leading prospects down unknown paths towards their goals – and yours – of receiving fruitful relationships, usable products or services and long-term guaranteed repeat sales.  Writing content means having your title literally contain everything in bite-sized format, ready for business clientele to unpack and read.  Treat common errors as unspoken caveats, like:

  • Writing strictly with promotional connotations
  • Addressing content to general audiences
  • Leaving valuable information, like cost-value comparisons, out of emails

Time your B2B lead nurturing approach perfectly, receive double permissible purpose for establishing consistent contact with potentials contacts and never write your pitches amiss and you’ll begin your 2013 stronger, highly congruent with sales projections yet establish lifelong relationships instead of one-off sales.

Oracle Acquires Eloqua

Oracle Acquires EloquaLast week there was a tectonic shift in the marketing automation industry when Oracle acquired Eloqua. When Oracle acquires anyone it’s a big announcement just like it was when they bought Market2Lead and RightNow. Oracle is melding together what they call the Oracle Customer Experience (CX) that creates an end-to-end experience for customers covering service, sales and support. It also gives Oracle an on-premise solution (Oracle Siebel) and cloud solution (Oracle Cloud). We wanted a chance to sound off on this topic and explain what this means to the industry and to Lead Liaison.

Oracle’s acquisition of Eloqua validates the use of marketing automation technology for B2B, as well as B2C, companies. The marketing automation industry has been on fire lately. One thing is for certain, consolidation is the new buzz word. Here are just a few of the acquisitions in the marketing automation space over the past few years which lend credence to the high growth nature of this technology:

  • December 2010 – Teradata acquired Aprimo (B2C) for $525M. Aprimo did $100M (5X multiple)
  • August 2010 – IBM acquired Unica for $480M. Unica did $100M in revenue (5X multiple)
  • June 2010 – Oracle acquired Market2Lead for undisclosed amount
  • December 2011 – SDL Buys Marketing Automation Vendor Alterian for $107 Million
  • January 2012 – CallidusCloud buys LeadFormix Marketing Automation for $9 Million Cash
  • October 2012 – ExactTarget buys Pardot for $95.5 Million ($85.5 Million cash and $10M in equity, a 9X multiple)
  • December 2012 – Oracle acquires Eloqua for $871 Million while Eloqua’s revenue was $90 Million (close to 10X multiple)

Notice one trend. The multiples a few years ago were around 5X. Now they’ve doubled – that’s rapid growth. Revenues for business-to-business (B2B) marketing automation systems will grow 60% to reach $525 million in 2012. That’s astounding growth since revenues were $328M in 2011 and $200M in 2010. Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are taking notice and CMOs are taking charge, which continues to drive adoption of marketing automation technology.

Such software has become a common purchase among CMOs, who will spend more on IT than CIOs by 2017, according to Gartner analyst Laura McLellan. In 2012, IT budgets are expected to grow 4.7%, while high-tech marketing budgets are expected to increase 11%…CMOs purchase automated marketing tools without vetting the technologies with CIOs. – Clint Boulton, Wall Street Journal

There will be two key reverberations as Oracle acquires Eloqua. First, this will fuel more consolidation in the market place as Oracle’s key competitors such as, IBM and SAP look to beef up their portfolios with similar technology. Second, Eloqua’s existing customer base should expect change in a few ways. For example, is a deeply engrained within Eloqua (chatter integration, analytics, plug-ins). I don’t expect to cutoff support or integration; however, I do expect and Eloqua to not put integration efforts as the top priority on their list as Oracle looks to further separate themselves from Also, Oracle will look to blend Eloqua into their other software stacks that make up the Customer Experience Cloud including Content, Social, Commerce, Sales and Service. This could mean a de-emphasis on pure marketing automation features and an emphasis on integration into Oracle’s broader offering. Unfortunately for Oracle, some customers just want a dedicated solution and don’t want other integrated pieces which they’d consider “noise” especially if they’re of no value. Expect Oracle to aggressively try to up sell existing Eloqua customers. Bottom line – existing Eloqua customers, proceed with caution.

The acquisition is significant to Lead Liaison and adds fuel to our rapid growth.  The playing field has been simplified which opens up a new wave of opportunity in the marketplace. Businesses in the micro (<$5M), small ($5M – $20M) and mid-size ($20M – $500M) market tiers will shy away from getting sucked into a full-blown Oracle stack and express preference for an optimally focused revenue generation platform. Moreover, the marketing automation industry is expected to grow rapidly, even outpacing the CRM space, and there’s plenty of room for growth. On average, about 10% to 15% of all B2B organizations use marketing automation while the mid-size market has the biggest growth potential as less than 3% of B2B organizations use marketing automation technology – according to David Raab. Sirius Decisions predicts adoption of marketing automation technology to increase to 50% by 2015.  35% to 50% market growth is a considerable jump in just a few years given the CRM space grew by only 22% from 2003 to 2010. With a solid roadmap for 2013 that emphasizes ease of use, innovation, flexible business models, and a focus on helping companies achieve rapid revenue growth – Lead Liaison is solidly position to provide our customers with a world-class Revenue Generation Software platform that offers marketing automation technology and much more.

Build Better B2B Relationships with Lead Nurturing

Build Better B2B Relationships with Lead NurturingModern businesses need to focus more on building long-lasting B2B relationships than they ever have in the past. There are new businesses popping up daily and buyers are well aware of the plethora of options they have available. Global commerce has opened the doors to endless competition. Company’s need to stand out and prove themselves.

The most effective way to build better B2B relationships is establishing trust using a quality lead nurturing strategy. B2B lead nurturing is providing qualified leads with useful and relevant information typically at no charge.  This type of valuable material should be used to establish a business as an expert in their respective field. A buyer will learn to rely on the company for guidance, which will create a strong pre-sales relationship. It is not meant to be a closing tool with typical sales pitches.

B2B lead nurturing should be an attempt to make a real connection with a prospect. That means it should be as personalized as possible, sincere, and helpful. Focus on elements of the lead’s business that they would need to be educated on. For example, if you sell an online invoicing system, the article could be on new technology that improves a company’s efficiency. It could mention numerous examples of time saving technology like business apps and marketing automation, but then  include a paragraph in the middle on how online invoicing also saves time and money. The content shouldn’t mention buying the online invoicing system, only that having one is beneficial.

It will be tempting to overhype the product or service that is ultimately being sold, so be cautious not to sound too biased. B2B buyers will recognize if someone is trying to force their opinion on them and it will usually result in a loss of interest. Remember, the content is not meant to be a direct promotion for a product or solution. It needs to be part of a carefully executed marketing plan filled with subtle ad copy that highlights how something will improve a buyer’s business without ever using an obvious call-to-action.

It will take trial and error to develop the most effective B2B lead nurturing content. Just remember to keep it short and to the point and to always focus on the lead’s needs. Make sure it is relevant, educational, and only sent on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Too many lead nurturing attempts can easily overwhelm a potential buyer and turn them off completely.

Make sure to monitor the lead conversion results of every B2B lead nurturing campaign, and then tweak any that are not bringing in the expected conversions. No matter how well-written one article or blog might be, it is not going to land every new customer who reads it. It is crucial that a library of valuable lead nurturing content is created to develop the B2B relationships with leads over a period of time. B2B lead nurturing is highly effective at building relationships, when it is done right.

How to Create Effective Lead Scoring Criteria

How to Create Effective Lead Scoring CriteriaThe effectiveness of the entire marketing automation process relies on the ability to score and qualify leads based on their likelihood of conversion. The criteria developed to rank these leads must capture the demographic and behavioral characteristics of an ideal lead. Once a profile for an ideal lead is created, all leads are ranked based on how well they match the established profile, giving sales the ability to prioritize and personalize their efforts based on the unique potential for conversion of each specific lead.

These are the fundamental steps to create effective lead scoring criteria:

Step #1

Start by determining the criteria that will represent an ideal lead. Gather information from existing customer profiles and recent conversions. Look for indicates or triggers that nudged recent leads into sales.

Step #2

The next step is to define what constitutes a sales-ready lead. Often prospects will download a specific white paper, watch an instructional video, or click on relevant article prior to revisiting the site and committing to a sale. These triggers need to be identified and scored based on the likelihood of conversion. A company should be able to determine how likely they are to purchase, based on the frequency in which they visit the site and their number of clicks in a short period of time.

Step #3

Take the information gathered in step one and two, and create a list of scoring attributes using their demographics, purchasing history, and current interest in relevant products or services. This list of criteria should include the leads contact information, as well as their job title, company name, and location. It should also cover whether or not they have downloaded information from the site and the frequency of activity on the site. This should also include the source of the lead (Company website, Facebook, trade show etc.) and their engagement level.

Step #4

Divide the list of attributes into two groups: demographics and behavioral. Demographics should make up slightly more than the majority of the list.

Step #5

Rate each scoring attribute based on its relevancy and on the likelihood that the characteristic or behavior would result in a sale. For example, a customer who has attended trade show events or downloaded certain tutorials may be more likely to purchase and therefore should be ranked higher.

Step #6

Test the criteria by scoring existing customers or recent conversions. If your existing customers earn a high score, then it is a good chance others who receive the same score will have a greater potential for conversion.

Every company’s criteria will be ranked differently. The key is to review your existing customer profiles, develop lead scoring criteria that matches their buying process and demographics, rank each attribute based on relevancy or importance, and then test it to make sure it matches your ideal lead. If the criteria created through this process are accurate, then it will be a powerful tool to analysis and prioritize the leads that are being generated through various marketing efforts and social platforms.

Suitable Preparation of B2B Lead Nurturing and Sales Strategies

B2B Lead Nurturing Should be Part of Your Business PlanBusiness plan creation may be the driving force behind securing proper funding for your start-up, but the driving force behind the business plan is your B2B lead nurturing and sales strategies since investors will wonder how you intend to meet your 3-5 year sales projections.  To properly create B2B lead nurturing and sales strategies for your business to deploy, several components will be necessary to collect for placement within your individual stratagems, and we’ve covered some of the key pieces of intelligence indicative to a perfect B2B lead nurturing and sales plan.

Competitive Trends and Figures in B2B Lead Nurturing and Sales Strategies

To enhance the veracity of your business plan, you’ll need to include statistics from businesses as near to identical as yours and, in finding this information, you’ll have your work cut out. Checking with common areas such as libraries, Dun and Bradstreet and possibly Hoovers for this information would prove to be provident towards accuracy.  Google searches have been known to render useful information to add to your B2B lead nurturing and sales data collection as well.

Generating leads is an educational must in learning how to network market effectively. Just how many leads you need to generate depends on how much money you desire to make, or if this is going to be a long term vested interest. Without the existence of a lead – you’re getting no buyers, and in general have not a soul to talk to. Inevitably, this means nobody to sell a product or service to, and nobody to sponsor – game over. Lead generation, by far, is the most sought after piece of the puzzle in network B2B lead nurturing today.

The goal is to avoid being the ‘seeker’ while becoming easy ‘prey’ for your niche. There are many ways to achieve this, including email B2B lead nurturing, using the vast social network B2B lead nurturing world, and networking through professional websites like Linked In to rub elbows with other people directed towards your primary purpose.

Social Media Planning

Old school methods of B2B lead nurturing were relatively cut and dry as you had newspapers, billboards, pamphlets and mailers to collect and your telephone or snail mail to nurture them with. With internet users spending greater amount of time each year online, having social media and website B2B lead nurturing plans in place are imperative if your business is online-based and reliant on traffic as the main source of potential revenue.  You may entertain having comprehensive videos outlining your products or services so people can see your offerings in motion to better judge if your company would be best suited for them.

How Others Are Doing It

There is absolutely nothing wrong with following others’ examples to have a median expectation set for your B2B lead nurturing efforts.  Using other people’s unique B2B lead nurturing ideologies then adjusting your initiatives to better suit your business style may be what works best for you and should be noted when scripting your B2B lead nurturing and sales plan.  Sales will rely heavily on B2B lead nurturing strategies and targeted audience so make sure your B2B lead nurturing and sales plan has geographic-specific targeting even if you plan on eventually infiltrating the worldwide marketplace.


Known as the ‘icing on your business plan cake’, your B2B lead nurturing and sales strategies will be heavily applauded or scrutinized depending on what information and strategies you plan to deploy for creating sales opportunities.  If need be, follow the example of businesses closely related to your niche and adjust accordingly to fit B2B lead nurturing and sales goals you intend to achieve over a 3-5 year span.

Why Lead Nurturing Takes Time to Get Great Results

Why Lead Nurturing Takes Time to Get Great ResultsWhen a suspect enters your lead management system, how long will it take to move her into your CRM? That depends. Today’s B2B buyers are more reluctant to speak with a sales agent until preliminary research has been done, typically through the Internet. It can take weeks, months or years to elevate that contact to a sales-ready prospect. This is partly due to the risks that buyers take on when making a purchase decision. In summary, lead nurturing takes time to get great results.

Organizational Risk

The buyer must determine how a purchase will affect an enterprise. For example, the purchase of a capital asset, such as a conveyor system, may allow the production line to increase efficiency by 20%. But it if it adds another line position, that purchase can force the company to modify controls, safety procedures, and employee management practices. Bringing in a new purchase can increase performance expectations, alter internal relationships or require structural changes, so there is much more at stake than making a payment; by nurturing your leads you can build buyer confidence and help him evaluate post-purchase benefits to the organization.

Personal Risk

Each decision maker in a B2B purchase decision is faced with a certain amount of personal risk when selecting a product or service. In situations where the enterprise relies on a sole decision-maker to purchase assets, that person can take on personal risk of loss – specifically, job loss. If an executive voices a negative opinion about a vendor being considered for a purchase – even if it’s determined to be the most qualified vendor – the buyer may be reluctant to select that vendor, choosing to avoid job loss rather than selecting the best vendor for the company. On the other hand, a vendor that isn’t being considered which receives praise from an executive may become an attractive choice, so the buyer can continue employment. Although a buyer may not receive a reward for a good purchase decision; a bad choice may put her job at risk. This can place some emphasis on fear in making decisions; that is why a good lead nurturing program can be successful over time. It can be effective at reducing fears by educating your buyer and providing support material for choosing your company.

Financial Risk

Often the greatest risk that a B2B buyer must contemplate is financial risk. Not only is there a risk a product will not perform as promised but the purchase may require additional costs. For example, adding a new asset like the conveyor system incurs expenses that accompany headcount increases, including salary, benefits, training, and insurance costs. It can take time to convince a lead that your product is the right solution financially. For high-cost assets, you may need eight or nine contacts to simply convince a buyer to consider your solution. Addressing financial considerations should be a significant part of your lead nurturing strategy – expect multiple engagements to yield results. All these risks cause a B2B buyer to contemplate, research, and prioritize purchase options. You must be present throughout that process. Use your lead nurturing program to educate, inform, and convince your leads, and have patience – it takes time.

How to Write Quality Lead Nurturing Content

 How to Write Quality Lead Nurturing Content Quality content is everything when it comes to an effective lead nurturing campaign. The key is creating informative content that is both relevant and interesting to potential leads. All content needs to be sent on a consistent basis (weekly, monthly etc.) and establish the company or individual as an expert in their industry while placing a focus on educating, not selling. The better the content, the better the response. Here are three essential steps to creating content that will build relationships and write quality lead nurturing content.

Give the Content a Personality

There has been some debate whether it is better to publish content under the company name or under the name of individual authors. There are legitimate arguments for either side, but in most cases, people want to connect with authors, not companies. The more personality shown within the content, the more people are drawn into reading it.

People instinctively look to make connections with other people. Readers will have a stronger response to the content if they know there is a human being they can relate to or learn from at the other end of the message. They will be more likely to reach out to the individual, leave more insightful comments, and be more excited about future content if they can connect a person with what they are reading. Forming relationships, starting conversations, giving advice, and generating interest are all qualities of an industry expert, which is the main goal of lead nurturing campaigns in the first place.

Articles must be Informative

Most people are busy with their regular lives and they do not have time to read meaningless content. Anything that is being shared through lead nurturing has to inform or explain something that would not be commonly known by potential leads. Not everyone knows about the latest research report, technological breakthrough, or industrial mergers in their industry. As a result, lead nurturing is an opportunity to educate prospects, customers or partners.

The content has to address an exciting news-flash, solution, breakthrough, or something that will be compelling to the reader within the first two sentences. It needs to give the reader immediate value so they are willing to invest the time to read further.

Demonstrate Expertise

All of the knowledge and name recognition in the world will be ignored if the writing itself does not demonstrate expertise. Writing with confidence makes a huge difference in how it is interpreted. It engages the readers, holds their interest, and gives the content the credibility it deserves.

If the content demonstrates expertise and professionalism that is exactly how readers will perceive it. Avoid using the passive voice wherever possible and use strong action words when offering advice. Include personal experiences to strengthen the connection, since most people will have a greater appreciation for the insights if they can relate to the author on a more personal level.

Lead nurturing is essential for sales conversion, but it has to be done properly. The content needs to be personable, informative, and clearly demonstrate expertise to inspire a lead to read it thoroughly. The higher quality of lead nurturing content, the more effective it will be at converting sales, and generating revenue.

Why Lead Nurturing is Necessary to Convert Leads into Sales

Why Lead Nurturing is Necessary to Convert Leads into SalesThe majority of marketing leads, regardless of their quality, are lost before being converted into a sale. In today’s competitive global marketplace every company needs a system for improving their conversion rate and capturing more leads. B2B marketing and lead generation experts have determined that a lack of effective lead nurturing is the primary cause for many missed opportunities. In this article we’ll discuss why lead nurturing is necessary to convert leads into sales, what lead nurturing can do for you and how to nurture leads.

Why is lead nurturing necessary?

Lead nurturing is necessary to build relationships with future consumers. The majority of site visitors and leads gained from landing pages are not ready to buy right away. Instead, buyers are using online resources to research products and services before they are ready to make a purchase. They are comparison shopping for budget approval and the actual decision may not be made for weeks or even months.

Handing over semi-qualified leads to sales people before they are ready wastes time and resources. After first contact is made and it does not appear there will be an immediate sale, the sales person assumes the lead is cold. This could result in the lead being discarded, lost or ignored by a lack of follow-up or attention. That is why these leads need to be nurtured first.

What can lead nurturing do?

Lead nurturing is the process of cultivating prospects that are not yet ready to buy. Research has shown that lead nurturing does produce measurable results compared to traditional methods. Considering 79% of all leads generated by marketing are not followed up by sales and out of the remaining 21%, approximately 70% are discarded by sales as not being qualified, that means less than 10% of all leads are actually followed up, if there is not a lead nurturing strategy in place.

Lead nurturing is necessary since it reduces the number of marketing-generated leads ignored by sales to as low as 25%. Instead of 90% going unanswered, only 25% will be ignored. That difference alone justifies the need for lead nurturing.

Lead nurturing also improves the conversion rate by up to 7%, due to the trust that is built between the lead and the business prior to the sale. Lead nurturing is designed to build brand awareness by developing a mutually beneficial relationship with the potential customer without forcing them into a situation where they feel compelled to make a purchase.

How do you nurture leads?

Content is what drives the lead nurturing engine. It is not just about posting random white papers, case studies, articles, online demos and webinars and hoping that someone will download and read them. Neither is it sending out a mass drip email campaign to every possible lead.

Lead nurturing should be about providing the right content at the right time that addresses a problem that a prospect is focused on resolving. 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 as well as the timing of the delivery. Quality content at the right time is essential for success.

To get the most out of leads and save valuable time, it is necessary to implement a carefully planned lead nurturing strategy as part of a complete marketing automation program. Significantly less leads will be ignored, an increase in trust will be established, and as a result more leads will be converted simply by using lead nurturing.

If you’re interested in understand how the most innovative, easy-to-use marketing automation and revenue generation software helps their customers nurture leads then contact Lead Liaison using the short form above.

Five Reasons Why Lead Nurturing is Essential to Success

Five Reasons Why Lead Nurturing is Essential to SuccessDo you think lead nurturing isn’t important to sales generation? Think again. There are five factors critical to the success of your sales organization that can only be addressed through a solid lead nurturing program. This article covers five reasons why lead nurturing is essential to success.

B2B Buyers are Not Impulsive

Research studies have shown that the average sales cycle for business-related purchases has lengthened 22% since 2007. Many times a business purchase can involve three or more decision makers, with research provided by at least one subordinate to each decision maker. Therefore, it is often critical to establish a presence and develop a relationship with multiple parties in order to gain a customer.

Your product is often competing for the attention of B2B buyers during their research process, so if there is interest shown it becomes important to take the opportunity to provide assistance. Send relevant articles or news stories that can help shape their decision.

B2B buyers usually must fit a purchase into a budget, and highly accountable decision-makers will tend to be cautious before committing money. This is why it’s important to gain credibility, establish trust, and provide value during the decision-making process. 70% of the leads you generate through marketing should be considered “longer term opportunities worth nurturing”, which aligns with recent surveys of top executives.

Discarded Leads Produce Sales

According to SiriusDecisions, 80% of discarded leads eventually make a purchase within 24 months of expressing initial interest in your product. Eighty percent! That means money is being left on the table by declining to nurture those leads. By ignoring those prospects, you are handing them off to competitors.

That’s why lead scoring is an important component to lead management. You should have a system that evaluates leads not from one contact point but through a series of contacts that take place over the course of several weeks. Scoring should be used to evaluate the respondent, the timing of a purchase, and the depth of the need to be fulfilled.

Poor Lead Management is an ROI Killer

In today’s competitive environment, B2B sales teams must capitalize on even the weakest of leads. That means, even if a new lead does not optimally fit the BANT profile, it should still be pursued and nurtured. Maintaining an existing lead costs less than seeking new leads, and nurturing keeps those leads alive, increasing the likelihood of a sale – and boosting ROI.

Nurtured Leads are More Profitable

According to an Aberdeen Group 2011 report, companies found 50% improvement in bid/award ratios following a lead nurturing process when compared to peers that don’t use a lead nurturing program. In addition, nurtured leads resulted in 47% higher order values than non-nurtured leads. The connection that develops through lead nurturing can generate significantly better results.

Consistent Communication Closes Deals

B2B sales generally take an average of seven contacts just to turn a suspect into a genuine prospect; some industries require 9-11 touches prior to closing a deal. Often these touches involve buyer education and positioning yourself as an ally. Because B2B sales take time, it’s critical to avoid gaps in communication that can give competitors an opportunity to step in. Stage messages every 5-7 days to maintain adequate contact. Remember: without consistent lead nurturing, you run the risk of missing issues or concerns that buyers may have prior to making a purchase.