Leads are the lifeblood of any B2B business, and many companies are good at generating them.
However, the problem with leads (and there is one), is that according to Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, up to 95% of qualified prospects on your Website are there to research and are not yet ready to talk with a sales rep, but as many as 70% will eventually buy from you or one of your competitors. Unfortunately, when many companies get a lead that is not ready to buy right away, the lead then tends to get ignored, lost, or later picked up by a competitor.
So as not to throw the sales lead baby out with the bath water, companies are increasingly investing in lead nurturing.
Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with qualified prospects regardless of when they will buy, with the goal of earning their business when they are ready.
The reasoning behind lead nurturing is that you can't force a prospect to buy, but you also can't afford to lose a lead because their willingness to buy doesn't coincide with your readiness to sell.
But is lead nurturing worth it?
According to Forrester, CSO Insights, Marketo and others, companies that excel at lead nurturing correctly:
In Marketo's eBook "The Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing" lead nurturing is described as "...building relationships and trust with your prospects in a way that is both consistent and relevant."
Marketo also outlines what lead nurturing is not:
Sending out an e-newsletter on a semi-regular basis
Randomly calling leads every six weeks to see if they are ready to buy
Blasting your entire database with a new case study
Offering content that promotes your company's products and services and does not take into account your prospects' interests or needs at their stage of buying
One of the best rules of thumb for determining if the lead nurturing information you are providing is to ask if what you are providing will be useful, even if the prospect never buys from you.
To learn more about lead nurturing best practices and how to establish or review your company's lead nurturing program, click here to download "The Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing" or view the SlideShare presentation below.