When 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.
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.
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.
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.