February 5, 2016
9 Lead Nurturing Tips for Peeps Without a Fully Baked Sales Process
For many B2B companies, the point of lead nurturing is to get people to buy, and to do that, you have to know when, where, and how to drop them into a salesperson’s lap. The question is, can you nurture leads or automate your marketing if your sales process isn’t fully baked yet? This situation often arises when companies grow rapidly based on online or inbound lead flow, then advance and start selling directly to increase deal sizes. At this point, it’s usually time to implement CRM, develop new content, and develop a sales and outbound approach through trial and error. It can be hard to nurture leads in this scenario. Sometimes it can result in sending out-of-context emails to valuable contacts – for instance, welcome emails from sales reps who have already spoken to a customer. It can also be hard to decide whether to assign leads to sales or to nurture them after someone signs up on your website. So in that vein, here are a few automation tricks that can help you nurture leads and pass them safely to sales, even if your process isn’t fully baked yet.
1. Automatically round-robin leads to sales reps
Whether you have a defined process for passing leads from marketing to sales, or you’re just getting started, assigning CRM leads to sale reps is an easy place to add efficiency. The simplest version of this is to create and assign new leads after someone signs up for a trial, requests a demo, or downloads an eBook download. Round robin assignment keeps things fair by assigning lead one to rep one, lead two to rep two, and so on. Add some collaborative sizzle by notifying reps in their Slack sales channel, along with an obligatory animated GIF.
2. Create swimming lanes to send the right leads to the right reps
Rather than round robining all leads across your sales team(s), establish swimming lanes – or specialized roles and processes to serve different customer types. This has the added perk of driving down customer acquisition costs. Many SaaS businesses have sole practitioners and enterprises alike sign up via the same web form. You can use swimming lanes to siphon qualifying criteria and send large deals to enterprise teams for personalized follow-ups, while inviting small leads to attend a group demo that they can self-schedule. What are these routing criteria? Common questions to include on web forms include:
Number of employees (organization size is a good proxy for sales complexity)
Team size (proxy for deal size in seat-based subscription pricing models)
Product interest (proxy for buyer’s level of sophistication and need)
Evaluation status (indicator of need – are they buying now? In 3 months? 6 months?)
Usage or volume metrics (proxy for deal size – number of contacts? volume of data?)
Below is a journey for assigning leads based on number of employees. Companies with 1 - 499 employees are sent to SMB specialist James, while larger ones go to the Enterprise rep. Learn how to do this Autopilot.
3. Automate follow-ups to “contact sales” and demo requests
You know those people who raise their hands and say they’re ready for a sales call or demo? First, how great are these people – the self-qualifiers? They make our jobs so much easier (except when your product is for, say, B2B SaaS companies who need to find more engineers, and the person is an Elvis impersonator from North Carolina). Anyway, you can take that ease a step further by automating follow ups. These inquirers are typically late-stage researchers who are ready to evaluate, and have a project or a budget in mind. And yet often they request a call, then go dark. Why? Many reasons – but rather than trying to continually call or email them directly, use a “sales nurture” checkbox in Salesforce to trigger an automated email drip that offers return-on-investment content, persona-specific case studies, or an offer to reconnect on a call. Try a casual, text-based welcome email from a sales rep first (using relevant executives as a sender is effective, too), and if the lead doesn’t engage, move them into a lifecycle nurture journey (see 4, below).
4. Move leads who are not yet ready to buy into lifecycle nurture
The advanced nurturing approach is to adjust the timing and content of your sends based on a reader’s readiness to buy. Start new leads on an early-stage track (sending them educational, non-branded content addressed from an exec at your company) and progress them to more action-oriented messages based on how they click or engage your content. If they don’t, relax your messaging and ease them backward. Grab the attention of early-stage leads by speaking to their needs and interests with best practices, industry trends, and non-branded content. Start by spacing these top-of-funnel emails ten days apart. Once they click on an email, move them to the next track. The mid-stage content provides more information related to the early-stage content they showed interest in. These messages are more frequent, typically spaced two to three days apart. Calls to action include links to customer stories, consumer reviews, videos, and partner or expert insights into your space. If they engage, accelerate them into the last track. The late-stage track pushes the most motivated researchers to engage. These messages are usually spaced two to three days apart and consist of promotional offers to make a purchase, sign up for a demo, or take your product for a trial run.
5. Automate sales outreach to newly qualified signups
Once your nurture journey motivates a researcher to sign up for a trial, then you want to stop the nurture (e.g. by unchecking the “sales-nurture” box above), and probably have a sales or success rep reach out to personally to welcome the new user. These late-stage buyers have indicated intent and communication should include clear calls to action, including a chance to schedule demo’s, review industry or pricing content, or purchase. Personalized, targeted communications, addressed from product experts and ideally tailored based on how they have used your product, will increase sales engagements 10% or more.
6. Increase webinar attendance with in-app invitations from your CEO
An in-app message is a great way to increase webinar attendance. We’ve seen this method ramp signups by 30% – and that grows as people perfect this flattering and educational tactic. Training webinars and group product demos save time for both you and your customer. It obviously saves you time because you’re consolidating the demo process, and it can be more convenient for a lead, who can join and drop off without feeling bad about it. Keep the demo brief but informative, giving enough information that the customer will want to follow up to learn more without feeling overwhelmed.
7. Quantify why your customer didn’t buy with a follow-up survey
If a prospect or trialist chooses not to buy, send a follow-up email linking them to a permanent survey where they can share their reasons. Typically only 2 - 3% or so will do this, but it becomes a gold mine for learning how to improve your product or customer experience. Here’s how Autopilot does it:
8. Identify marketable leads with an opt-in email
Sending an “if you don’t opt into this, we won’t email you again” email helps people self identify whether they’re nurturable – something that’ll remind them that your product exists and allow you to stop wasting time on leads who truly don’t care about you. And it’s helpful if your marketing database contains leads of dubious or non opt-in sources. So when you can’t verify the interest of leads, try this:
9. Identify stagnant leads through one-off reactivation emails
Most companies have people in their databases who haven’t interacted with their product or their communication much – but still want to receive it because they’re thinking about engaging in the future. Every once in awhile, it’s a good idea to try to nudge these sorts of leads toward interaction. The 9-word email is a fast and easy way to re-engage sales leads while also testing the quality of your contact database. It is a quick-and-dirty tactic to turn a dead list into a new list and gauge your audience’s interest in you. People go gangbusters for this email we learned from Dean Jackson of Ilovemarketing.com (just look at the comments section). It goes like this: Subject line: –first name– Body: Are you still looking at getting [insert your service/product]? Here are a few examples:
“Are you still looking at getting your kitchen renovated?”
“Are you still looking at building a new website?”
“Are you still looking at buying a new car?”
“Are you still looking at growing your blog traffic?”
We hope these tips help you massage leads through your funnel even if you don’t have a fully baked sales process. Have insights of your own? Share them in the comments section below.