Jun 242010
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There are several ways lead nurturing can drive performance gains in your sales and marketing function. I’ll provide a few examples below as oversimplified and linear “cause -> effect” cases, with the obvious caveat that, in practice, there’s a fair amount of interplay between these causes and effects.

1) Improved service levels -> improved customer experience. Lead nurturing allows vendors to define a pre-determined program of follow up touches — which in most environments should include at least one phone call attempt — that guarantees each lead will receive the same baseline level of attention. These programs must be well-planned and executed. For example, the programs should factor in variables such as time zones, inside sales staffing levels, optimal email timing and deliverability, audience-appropriate copy treatment, relevant content and offers, 3rd party evidence, etc…. With these and other key factors addressed, vendors not only eliminate the rarely discussed but very real issue of leads “falling on the floor” but they also cost-effectively drive brand preference through a better customer experience than may be offered by their competition.

2) Improved pipeline intelligence -> better messaging and positioning. Most lead management platforms provide reporting and analytics capabilities that go beyond what is offered in pure play CRM platforms. These reporting tools especially reward those vendors who have enabled rich sets of lead profile data (e.g., lead source, campaign tracking codes, industry, annual revenue, employee counts, sales routing details, etc) to flow through their process. Not only do these enhanced data sets allow for more compelling lead scoring scenarios, they also bring valuable intelligence back to executives, sales, and marcom experts about the market segments are responding best to certain offers, promotions, content, or even individual sales people. Over time these diverse stakeholders can re-tool their approaches to mine the best segments for profitable pipeline and revenue growth.

3) Improved spend management -> better marketing ROI. As a result of points 1 and 2, lead nurturing allows marketers to more closely examine where they are (and aren’t) getting leverage in their marketing mix so they can confidently optimize performance. In many cases, the successful implementation of a lead management process allows vendors to either reduce marketing spend, or to re-deploy it “down-funnel” where it can drive specific outcomes that may be more valuable to your sales team than raw demand generation. One application of this is combine lead nurturing with appointment-setting from firms such as Green Leads or AG Salesworks. Another option for funds re-deployment is a 3rd-party-managed study of the “stuck in the funnel” lead population – those prospects who have yet to purchase a solution or opt out of nurturing communications, but who are not moving forward in the buying process. Many companies offering products with a high consideration factor lack a full understanding of their prospects’ buying process. A focused study of these latent, in-market prospects can deliver valuable insights that may not be revealed through a traditional win/loss analysis conducted “after the fact.”