Blog/Lead nurturing basics in B2B Sales

You can’t force a busy professional to buy anything, and that’s not the point of sales. But you can do your best to get someone interested, and b2b lead nurturing can give you a long-term boost in the amount of qualified opportunities you bring in.

Lead nurturing simply means caring. In B2B sales your aim is to set up a mutually benefitial business relationship. And thanks to email, social media and constant networking, the nature of those relationships is more personal nowadays.

Good Guy Salesguy

Being helpful and adding more value than a good product/service is what gives you the edge in B2B today. (click to tweet)

And it makes Sales all the better – because you’ve got plenty of room to confirm that your company is the right one for the job, and there’s less social acceptance for salesy tricks and dishonesty in business than ever (just look at Volkswagen’s recent problems in the US).

With lead nurturing, you’re aiming to (as Sander Zaydman described in his awesome post):

“[…] nurture leads to a sale by using your company’s expertise to educate and provide value from the first point of contact through every step of the customer journey.”

Which leads should you nurture?

Lead nurturing begins with picking the right leads, meaning people that:

  • didn’t respond to your sales emails/calls (but fit into your target group)
  • responded, but the conversation died out
  • requested contact / a demo (plus those that request contact and stop showing interest for some reason)
  • left an email to get your newsletter
  • don’t have money / time to buy
  • are in your CRM

A few ideas to get visitors interested in your content would be to use:

  • call-to-action pop-ups on your website
  • optimised landing pages
  • social media “like” buttons and calls-to-action on social media
  • “subscribe” buttons in the footer of your sales emails

If you need an example, look no further than the guru of Content Marketing – Neil Patel. Below are a few different calls-to-action from his site:

  • There are plenty of boxes near the post. They’re non-invasive and look naturally. There are three different incentives from left to right – “analyse SEO on your website”, “get a great piece of content” and “explore a great success story”.

how a website should look
  • This is a whole-page pop-up with only a Facebook “like” button. It’s just begging for a click, even if you’re not interested you’ll probably do it to continue to the website.

a bold pop-up tactic that works

Don’t get lost in B2B lead nurturing

It’s good practice to start segmenting leads, I’d say when your nurturing list is more than 500.

How else are you going to know which content to send to which leads?

The first time they get interested in your services is just the beginning – you decide how many steps will follow and what content you will use, because it very much depends on your target audience. For instance, you could group leads into those that:

  • Visited your website once (they noticed you) – an optimized site leads visitors to helpful articles with your expertise, you don’t take action
  • Came back and signed up for your newsletter (getting to know you) – addtional calls-to-action pop-up, inviting to check out case studies, or demo/videos of your product
  • Emailed you / requested contact or a demo – (interested in buying, not fully ready) – answer their questions / run the demo, start asking for a meeting / call to discuss their needs and how you could satisfy them
  • You ran a demo call with, but they lost interest (lack of time/money/forgot)

Remember, the whole point of lead nurturing is to take it slow.

You’re just a company that is delegating their employees’ time to actually helping people.

You’re targeting people that  aren’t ready, don’t have quick decision-making skills, or are extremely sceptical  when introduced to new solutions. They’re highly sensitive to any aggressive/manipulative tactics, you can’t force them in any way.

But you can demonstrate your expertise and be helpful.

Giving content as lead nurturing

When you’re creating content, I’d say max 25% of it can be promotional – and it should be mostly reserved for people that are already very interested in your solution.

The rest of your content should be all about sharing your expertise, connecting with your audience and answering their questions.

A good start is an article (or podcast/video/infographic) every week. In B2B you really don’t want to swamp your leads with content – remember that you’re addressing busy people. So even if you publish more than 1 article a week, I don’t recommend sending more than one email a week (unless you add options to subscribe to an email with each article, or a regular cummulative weekly newsletter).

You don’t want to move in with a sales pitch the moment someone wrote a comment on your blog. Just like HubSpot’s Hadar Duek wrote:

“Just because someone became a lead by downloading an ebook doesn’t mean they are ready to buy something immediately. On the other hand, they may very well be a great fit for your company down the line.”

They should take a few more steps before you confirm that they’re interested enough to offer your solution, like:

  • downloaded something from your website
  • requested a trial
  • filled out a contact form

Types of lead nurturing content

Plenty of possibilities here:

  • whitepapers (in-depth reports about specific issues, with a provided solution)
  • case studies
  • articles (on your blog, as PDFs)
  • questionnaires
  • presentations
  • e-book
  • videos
  • podcasts<
  • interviews
  • free trials

Examples? Well, the article you’re reading is part of our b2b lead nurturing strategy. 🙂

Some more awesome nurturing content examples:

lead nurturing tactic newsletter from Sidekick

 

b2b lead nurturing newsletter from Kissmetrics
  • Steli from Close.io usually creates a video AND a post regarding the same subject. It’s a great example of re-using content that also enables visitors from two channels at once – YouTube and his blog.

lead nurturing strategy blog posts
  • Matt Heinzhas a lot of helpful whitepapers to download – a detailed whitepaper is high quality content, so it makes sense that you have to fill out a contact form to download it.

whitepapers at Heinz Marketing

All of these are aligned with what the target group is interested in.

Any methods to direct more people to your website won’t help you sustain a customer base in the long term, but truly informative content that reflects your personality will do that for you.

Nurture the hell out of your leads

To generate more opportunity. Even small markets are really competitive now, if you’re not doing it – another company is. And if the quality of your services is similar, I am 100% sure that they are closing more deals.

Start small, because it’ll be better to find one type of content that best resonates with your target group, then create a ton of different types to realise that people only like listening to your podcasts.

We started by creating a blog and opening the main social media channels – Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook. Now we’re finding out that we can help a lot on a different channel – Quora. (I write about Marketing, and Bartosz covers sales

If your content adds value (and you’re a 100% sure of it), your audience will tell you if you’re using the right channel – either by responding to it, or ignoring it.

Let the need to answer one question empower you to try it out and improve:

How can we better help our customers?