The prospecting your team does today often doesn’t result in closed business for several weeks or months. How do you keep a prospect engaged for an extended sales cycle?
How do you keep your qualified leads from going into a “black hole”?
Longer sales cycles and shortened attention spans are often deal-breakers, but lead nurturing gives you an advantage when it comes to converting prospects and building trust.
Keep reading for a more in-depth look at common problems that lead nurturing can solve for PEOs, the components of lead nurturing, and the ROI of successful long-term lead nurturing.
Common Lead Nurturing Mistakes
The process of nurturing leads involves purposefully engaging with leads by offering relevant information, supporting them in any way they need, and maintaining a sense of delight throughout every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Here are a few lead nurturing mistakes that will address common pain points of PEOs.
1. Focusing on Bottom-of-the-Funnel Leads
The most common mistake is having the mindset of only focusing on generating bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) leads and not giving top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) and middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) leads the attention they deserve.
This type of strategy lacks the major component of focusing on building relationships and establishing trust over time. Salespeople need to get off the lead generation “hamster wheel” and focus on building long-term relationships.
2. Sending “Just Checking In” Emails
Insufficient content leads to the “just checking in” email. Salespeople need to leverage content that educates, informs, addresses concerns, and positions themselves as thought leaders and subject matter experts.
Stop selling and start educating.
Stop being annoying and start being helpful.
Guide your prospect through their buying journey.
A good lead nurturing strategy involves touching base and responding to get updates and keeping movement flowing through the sales process. To do this effectively, you must add value to the sales process and the relationship you’re building. This is where content plays a huge role. There are many different types of content that can be leveraged – blog articles, eBooks, webinars, whitepapers, etc.
3. Lack of a Lead Nurturing Strategy
A good lead nurturing strategy simply means you’re adding value. You’re professionally persistent – sharing resources and establishing trust and credibility.
It’s not just sales’ responsibility, and it’s not just marketing’s responsibility. It’s essential to develop a plan and execute it with discipline. Arm your sales team with the tools and resources they need to improve their one-to-one communications with prospects (sales plays, email templates, content, etc.). Marketing should focus on one-to-many communication (blogs, email campaigns, etc.)
4. Not Leveraging Technology and Automation
How can you plan and implement a successful lead nurturing program?
You can segment your audience in many ways: segment based on original lead source, industry or vertical market, the title of decision makers, geography, size of the company, stage in the sales process, and much more.
Once segments, develop a strategy for ALL segments. The messaging, content, and calls-to-action should all be a little different depending on who and where your prospect is at.
Regardless of your focus or pain point, when you implement marketing automation, lead scoring, and automated workflows, you’ll have the potential to capitalize on numerous benefits.
ROI and Benefits of Lead Nurturing
A good lead nurturing strategy keeps communication lines open and provides information to your prospects throughout the sales funnel. They have numerous potential benefits, such as:
Faster sales cycles
Keeping momentum going in the buyer’s journey
Motivating leads to buy
Growing revenue by reactivating cold leads
Creating new sales opportunities
Raising awareness of your brand and product
Generating more qualified leads while lowering costs
Nurtured leads come in two forms – new leads and stale leads. Additionally, when it comes to PEO organizations, there could easily be hundreds of contact records of leads generated through networking, referrals, and other lead generation sources just sitting in a database.
Deploying a lead nurturing strategy to breathe new life into old, dead leads is where you will get the earliest traction. You’ll also experience better ROI if you remove friction from the sales process. This includes making your website user-friendly, making it easier for prospects to engage with you, and using email communication to educate and inform. Anticipating pain points will eliminate time and shrink the sales cycle – resulting in faster sales.
Why should your PEO team invest in long-term lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is widely recognized as a valuable technique that can help teams drive sales and shorten the sales cycle.
Statistics vary by industry but based on our experience, with constant lead nurturing, you can reasonably expect to convert at least 20% of inquiries into qualified leads within one year.
If your PEO or HR Outsourcing company wants to be effective with marketing and business development tactics, the secret is to base those tactics on a process. The process needs to be repeatable, scalable, and measurable.
Moving forward, PEOs need to review their lead list and determine how big the problem is and where the friction lies.
How many leads are dead?
How long is the sales cycle?
How many prospects are going dark?
How big of an issue is timing in the sales process?
After finding the friction, it’s time to conduct an audit. What tools do you have at your disposal? Do you have automation to help streamline the process and make it more efficient?
Do you have the right content, message strategy, and can you sustain a long-term lead nurturing program?
Lastly, you want to develop a strategy. Build out the plays for sales playbooks, build templates and sequences so that sales don’t have to recreate the wheel every time and they know which email templates and content to use in different sales scenarios.
Remember - this is not a one-person or function job; it’s a collaboration where sales and marketing come together and build a comprehensive strategy.
*This blog was originally published in PEO Insider in Spring 2022.
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