We’ve all been there. You’re trying to make a sale, but you can’t seem to connect with your clients on a deep enough level to close the deal. The truth is that you might not be doing enough to nurture the customer relationship and earn their trust. Let’s talk about how you can make that happen.
B2B lead nurturing is the process of building strong relationships with your current or potential customers. This can be accomplished in myriad ways, which include anticipating their needs, making things personal and tailoring your communications with individual customers to their distinct needs.
It’s a process much more in-depth than simply looking to generate new leads. When using a customer or lead nurturing strategy, you’ll want to focus on the long-haul by continuing to nurture the B2B relationship well past its development.
Now that we’ve addressed what customer or lead nurturing is, we’re ready to start building a plan.
Here are effective customer nurturing tips to help cement your bond with your customers to earn their trust and loyalty.
Fully Understand Your Target Customer
Before you can really get to a place where they want to buy from you, it is important to fully understand who your customers are and their overall needs. In fact, this is probably the most essential part of the sales process.
Fully understanding your target audience’s wants and needs is the most important part of any sales process.
Sit down and make a list of things that your target client wants and needs. Remember that they might not know what they want or need, so it’s up to you to be the problem solver and not just the order taker. Include your prospects’ potential problems and link them, if possible, to how your product or service solves those problems.
In a B2B environment, consider doing one for both the company you’re selling to as a whole and one for the average person who does the buying approvals, as individuals need to be nurtured as well, not just businesses.
Build prospect personas and organize the type of leads to help you organize your efforts at B2B lead generation.
If your potential customer reflects the customers you already have, you can build a profile of the potential customer from current, known specifics. For example, Jason Garner is a project manager who looks for opportunities to learn from his industry mentors. He wants to have a profitable and long-term relationship with his wholesaler, as he leans more toward valuing personal contact and doesn’t see it all as transactional. He manages full-service security solutions distribution for commercial property owners and values in-person quotation services. He contracts for large-scale commercial properties, such as hospitals, malls, schools and government buildings.
Building a persona like Jason helps you visualize where and when your prospect may want to interact and be open to your marketing and sales efforts. (For more on building B2B personas, see our blog post.)
Just from this profile, you can tell Jason is someone reliant on other, much larger, entities to make decisions first, so your lead-nurturing time expands automatically. If he values a long-term relationship, you know the tone and cadence your marketing efforts should take. Because he looks to learn from mentors, your thought leadership can bring value to your relationship through time.
It’s a form of segmentation that includes titles, roles, industry and decision-maker-status to help you nuance your messaging to ensure your messaging resonates with the recipients and reduces unsubscribes.
Personas are helpful, but don’t neglect categorizing your leads, too. Consider categorizing by where they are in the sales funnel, knowing that marketing is key to the top of the funnel and sales become more integral as customers work their way through the funnel.
Are they non-qualified leads? You may need to further gauge their interest. According to Forrester’s SiriusDecisions Research, not every prospect is ready to buy immediately. “Of nearly 20% of leads that sales reps follow up on, 70% are not qualified.” But don’t ignore those leads. After all, according to the research, 80% of prospects who don’t seem qualified today will go on to buy from someone within two years. Make that company yours.
Are they action qualified leads, which entails what action they took when they contacted or engaged with you? Did they visit your website, respond positively to a lead generation email or download a white paper or brochure? Think of them as having solicited information from you, which changes how you approach them for conversion.
If you have marketing qualified leads, you may just need to work out the details, as they’ve shown interest, but nothing specific enough to be a purchaser. Marketing qualified leads can often be encouraged by a personal, targeted exclusive offer that requires action within a limited time frame.
Your sales qualified leads or sales accepted leads are willing to directly engage with a sales representative or start a conversation about helping them meet their business goals. Don’t neglect the nurturing at this point, though, as sales accepted leads can be in a hand-holding stage that requires deep time commitments on your part. But they’re worth it.
Also, for simplicity, consider the AIDA model, which is part of a class of models known as hierarchy of effects. It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action (Not an opera in this case.) The model started to help marketers figure out how consumers decide what brands and products they choose. AIDA described the steps most customers go through before they’re actually customers. The customer journey. AIDA describes where prospects are from the beginning until they decide.
For an in-depth look at the AIDA model, see what HubSpot has to say about it.
In essence, the AIDA model was introduced to help marketers understand how customers make up their mind about the final buying decision. Based on that, marketers would be able to tailor their communication efforts to the consumers’ current stage of the “customer journey.” It works in B2B lead generation because humans are human.
Also evaluate your past marketing campaigns and determine how they contributed to revenue. Look at the percentage of responses to campaigns and determine how many leads moved through all stages, and the messages and content offered at each stage. According to a recent study, 59% of B2B companies report creating relevant content is their biggest obstacle to lead nurturing success.
Know Your Sales Funnel Process
It is also important to nurture your clients by knowing your entire sales funnel process. Understand what causes a customer to approach your company in the first place and the various stops along the way before they make a purchase.
- What type of offer do they respond to and when—a small offer and then work up to a big order, or do they incrementally creep along with small orders?
- Are there multiple telephone calls, Zoom calls, and in-person meetings along the way?
Just as with the AIDA model, when you know your overall sales funnel process, you can determine what step an individual customer is in. This allows you to cater the process to their needs, which in turn nurtures a cold lead to a hot one by building more trust. For more suggestions on what to say at what point on the customer journey to nurture lead generation, see our Buyer’s Journey SEO Strategy post.
Don’t Rely Completely on Marketing Automation Software
An automated welcome campaign is a way to generate contact, including setting up automated communications to greet those who enter your database and start delivering educational information, but step away from the marketing automation software. Avoid using it all along the customer journey. While this sort of thing is good to have soft contact with clients, it can sometimes seem impersonal and cold, it’s exactly what you want to avoid when you’re working to nurture client relationships.
While automation is essential in today’s world, maintaining true interpersonal relationships with your customers is still one of the most important ways to manage your B2B sales process.
Instead, opt for making every few contact opportunities personal. Pick up the phone, drop by the office, or send a handwritten card. Taking the time to do things like this can mean a lot to a customer, which can ultimately cause you to land that big sale.
Provide Value Every Chance You Get
It’s also important to provide value to your customers through your content marketing efforts. In your customer nurturing campaigns, offer free resources, tools, promotional items, or anything else you can think of to try to make them feel valued. While this can be a little more difficult in a B2B setting, it is still important. Get creative and brainstorm the ways you can go above and beyond for your customers.
Make It Personal
Even in a B2B setting, people like buying from other people. To nurture a customer or lead, you must make the process personal. Remember the sales manager’s dog’s name or take note of a common interest you share. This might sound like a simple thing, but in the end, it will make a big difference when it comes time to close a deal.
Finally, remember to keep at it and continue to nurture the relationship until it finally becomes obvious that they will never purchase from you. This is key because you never know what little thing is going to cause them to make up their mind. It can be tempting to eliminate a specific customer from your nurturing sequence after a few weeks or months of not getting a sale. The truth is that it is still important to stay connected and get in touch later.
Being consistently connected with your customers is still one of the best ways to nurture your B2B leads.
The main point of these six tips? Keep in contact with your customers, show them how valued they are, and provide solutions to the challenges they face. By staying focused on nurturing and strengthening the relationships you have with your customers and leads, instead of solely focusing on sales figures and transactional interactions, you’ll start to see a rise in customer loyalty, as well as customer trust—which ultimately leads to accomplishing your goals while creating a solid reputation for your business.
Most importantly, plan your lead nurturing process, you’ll have greater success and it won’t seem haphazard and fragmentary.
Determine the outreach goal, message flow, content offers, communication channels, and message cadence based on previous interactions. Have in-place the action to take when your pre-determined email schedule and phone calls fail to bring a prospect on-board. Also, when someone completes a nurture program, have a plan for how to you keep that potential customer engaged, and determine who owns the relationship. Always have a plan.