How to Prevent B2B Leads From Rotting on the Vine

Rotting leads

According to research from Brian Carol the author of “Lead Generation for the Complex Sale”, 70% of the visitors to your website researching your product will eventually buy a product from you or your competitors. Yet salespeople do not fully pursue around 70% of leads generated by marketing.

Wow!

So how do you take advantage of this startling piece of information? One of the first steps is to set up a lead nurturing program to move prospects and leads through the sales funnel. This will directly and immediately addresses the follow up issue. What’s a lead nurturing program?

A lead nurturing program is series of targeted relevant emails or communications that build trust and report with a prospect. Typically these emails are structured as a series of messages that map to your product’s buying cycle. The communication starts immediately when a prospect fills out a website landing page form with an automated response.

The content, timing and type of communication should map to a set of criteria used to score each prospect/lead. The scoring criteria should be based on the BANT or demographic criteria your sales team uses to qualify prospects. Leads that receive a high score should be categorized as hot and should be responded to immediately within an hour. An example of a hot lead would be one asking for pricing information or a quote. Preferably, these leads should get an instantaneous automated response with and attempt to establish optimal time to call for sales.

Leads that receive a lower score that are not ready for sales are put into an email drip campaign specifically designed for their role or persona in the buying cycle. For example, if you sell into the enterprise software market you would have several buyer persona roles such as CTO, CMO, CFO. For each persona you would have different messages based on the criteria they use to evaluate your product or service.

Keep in mind, the focus of your communication should match the stage that they are in the buying cycle and should be highly relevant and focused on their needs and not blathering product propaganda. Save the basic blathering features and benefits propaganda for your website--prospects will read it there. In addition to tailoring your emails based on buyer roles, you will need to identify the different buying stages your prospects go through.

Once you have defined criteria for each of these discrete stages (Awareness, Consideration, Research, Purchase) you can make your emails more relevant and applying to your target audience. One thing to keep in mind about hot leads.

According to research published by INSIDESALES.COM /MIT LEAD RESPONSE MANAGEMENT STUDY in 2007, you have less than one hour to call web generated leads. The MIT research report also states that the odds of calling to contact a lead decrease by over ten times in the first hour. This can be a serious problem for companies that do businesses across several time zones. Unless you’re staffed for 24 by 7 sales operations, the only effective way to address this issue is to leverage a marketing automation solutions or a trigger in your CRM system to send out a response. After you have the basics of lead nurturing deployed you can begin to explore more advanced techniques where you use accelerator emails that are triggered by specific behavioral criteria such as viewing specific website content.