There’s a lot that B2B marketing and sales leaders can learn from gardeners, especially when it comes to lead nurturing. Anyone who’s tried to grow flowers or vegetables—even a houseplant—knows it’s not a “one and done” exercise.
Reaping a bountiful harvest or growing beautiful blooms means giving your plants regular attention: Proper sunlight. Frequent watering. Fertilized soil. Without it, even the best seedlings wither.
Don’t ignore your valuable B2B sales leads
The same goes for the prospects in your B2B or medtech sales pipeline. Unless your organization conducts regular outreach to nurture your valuable sales leads, there’s little chance they’ll blossom into closed sales.
Ignoring potential buyers rarely happens intentionally. Often, just like with gardens, it’s a case of benign neglect.
- Busy sales reps with many accounts focus only on the hottest opportunities.
- Marketing campaigns create awareness in the market, but offer few options to incent current leads to move forward.
- Companies wait for prospects to contact them, rather than reaching out proactively.
In the end, no one takes accountability for cooler leads that are early in the sales process.
Lead nurturing starts immediately after lead generation
Lead nurturing gives your entire sales pipeline the attention it deserves. It targets strategy and resources to each stage of the sales funnel, where you apply specific tactics depending on each prospect’s behaviors and readiness to buy.
Lead nurturing differs from lead generation:
- B2B lead generation is all about finding qualified prospects with a need for your product or service. Once you have the prospect in your system with a defined interest in your solution, lead nurturing takes over.
- B2B lead nurturing builds an ongoing relationship so you’re working side-by-side with the prospect until they’re ready to buy.
In our gardening analogy, the seed represents the qualified lead. Once planted in your CRM system or sales database, lead nurturing grows that account into closed deal.
Lead nurturing is particularly important with the lengthy and complex sales cycles found in B2B and medtech. If you’re selling medical devices, enterprise systems, automation technology and other common B2B solutions, it’s rare for buyers to commit to a deal right away.
Instead, it’s more likely you’ll encounter a prospect when they’re early in the sales cycle, perhaps doing research on your website or meeting vendors at a tradeshow. Medtech and B2B sales cycles routinely span six months or more. That’s where lead nurturing plays a critical role.
Four essentials for effective lead nurturing
At Volkart May, we engage in lead nurturing campaigns every day, acting as an extension of our clients’ internal sales and marketing teams. When we create lead nurturing campaigns, we make sure to work with our clients to accomplish these four items.
1. Define your buying process
There’s rarely a “one size fits all” approach to lead nurturing. That’s why it’s useful to document the steps your potential buyers take when they’re in the market for a new solution.
Notice we said buyer’s process. It’s easy to think about the stages of the sales cycle from the seller’s perspective. Instead, consider how your target audience goes about their research, education and product comparison exercises. Honing in on these steps will help you develop lead nurturing strategies that really resonate with your market.
2. Know your obstacles to sales
If sales were easy, every deal would close within a few days of lead generation. In reality, most buyers slow down at one point or another. Figuring out those sticking points shows where lead nurturing can streamline your efforts and get the sales process back on track.
- What are the questions you’re asked regularly about your product or service?
- What common objections do you hear in the market?
- Where and why do conversations with qualified leads become stalled?
A strong lead nurturing campaign can both uncover these obstacles and provide information to help qualified buyers move past them.
3. Create multiple offers
It can be tempting to reach out to all qualified leads in your system and try to set up sales appointments. Offering short-term price discounts is another common approach. While both can be worthwhile, only a handful of prospects will be ready to take these actions. That’s why having multiple offers is important.
Instead of reaching out with just one “daily special,” a menu of approach gives you more ways to connect. Cooler leads, in particular, will respond to educational tools and thought leadership, such as invitations to webinars, case studies or informational articles. A phone call or email is a great way to make prospects aware of these assets and keep tabs on where they are in their buying cycle.
4. Focus on the relationship
Lengthy sales cycles mean weeks and even months may pass before a qualified lead moves from one stage to the next in their buying process. That doesn’t mean they should be starting from scratch with each outreach—or, that they always need to make the first move.
Strong lead nurturing campaigns focus on two-way relationships. Don’t expect your buyer to call or email you every time. Instead, make a point of being proactive. Every few weeks, use a call or email to stay connected.
After all, there’s nothing more powerful than a personal, human interaction. Even if it only results in a voicemail, it’s another touchpoint that keeps your brand front and center and demonstrates your commitment to each and every potential customer.
Use outbound calling to nurture B2B leads
With a little effort, organizations of all sizes can harvest a plentiful garden of sales opportunities. Professional inside sales teams like Volkart May can provide the extra resources you need to generate new leads and nurture those already in the pipeline. Learn more about our services, then contact us to discuss your project.