To get the most value from a prospect database, marketers have to be agile and skilled in managing leads at various stages. One of the most important things on a B2B marketer’s endless to-do list is to develop an on-going strategy for prospects who are not ready to buy. The old days of relying on the cream of the crop (sales-ready leads) to drive pipeline while ingoring the rest are over, as best-in-class companies reap the benefits of a lead nurturing and lead scoring strategy.
Eloqua’s Jesse Noyes has developed a wonderfully original way of looking at buying stages and nurturing folks from one to the next, and back:
Eloqua’s 8 Stages of Lead Nurturing
You lock eyes at a bar or the supermarket, and you think there’s something special. This is where you approach to see if there’s that initial spark. This stage involves a lot of small talk. You don’t know much about your prospect – he or she might have filled out a form or downloaded a white paper – so this is where asking the right questions is vital. It’s all about seeing if there’s any chemistry.
You’ve determined there’s some mutual interest. Now it’s time to see if that spark has lasting power. This is where you go out for a bite to eat and ask a lot of questions of each other. You have explicit criteria to investigate (how big is her or his company, what’s your prospect’s title, etc.) as you build a basic prospect profile. This is where you are both deciding whether it’s worth a second date. If you’re not already, you’ll want to employ a robust lead scoring program to keep track of your lead’s movements and makes sense of his or her behavior.
The first date went well. Next, you spend your time getting to know each other better. What is it your lead’s larger aspirations? How can you be part of accomplishing your lead’s ambitions? Likely your lead will want to take it slow and easy while you pursue him or her. At this point you know you have a qualified lead, but you want to get your lead more invested in buying specifically from you.
Dating is going pretty well. Your lead has shown a level of engagement with your content and brand. You know he or she is looking at a more serious relationship. You keep the nurture campaign going, providing high-value content, as you try to take your burgeoning relationship to the next level.
The Boyfriend’s Back
Doesn’t it always go this way? Once your lead starts getting serious about you is probably right about the time the competition will show up. This might be a pervious relationship your lead is having difficulty letting go of, or someone else just vying for his or her attention. You’ll want to differentiate yourself. This could be with price-point comparisons, demonstrating the level of ROI you bring to the table, etc. The idea is to appear as the better bet.
So your lead is sold. Now it’s time to meet his or her family, and vice versa. You want to make a good impression among the other stakeholders in the relationship. Be ready to show why you are the best match to the executives and other internal teams your lead reports to. Also, prep your company to be warm and welcoming.
This is a pretty obvious one. You’ve impressed your lead, his or her family, and everyone has come together for the wedding. The champagne may be flowing, but remember a successful marriage requires just as much, if not more, work than dating.
Remember the Anniversaries
Every healthy relationship requires work. To keep the marriage healthy you need to make sure your customer is getting stellar service. But you also want to ensure they are taking advantage of all you have to offer. You’ll want to gauge how they are using the product. Are they using several features or just one? Are they engaging with educational content you send their way? Be sure to check in early and often. Like any relationship, you want to keep the lines of communication open.
“If done well, successful nurturing can build a strong brand and solution preference long before a prospect is actively engaged in a buying process. Lead nurturing software allows for leads to be tracked and content delivery to be automated through various marketing channels.” - Eloqua
Are you feelin the love?