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IN-DEPTH: 7 Steps to Nurturing Leads Through the Sales Funnel

Posted by IndustrySelect on Wednesday, February 14, 2024

7 Steps to Nurturing B2B Leads through the Sales Funnel

According to research from Forrester, marketers see an average 20% increase in sales from nurtured leads as opposed to unnurtured leads. Additionally, Forrester says that businesses who "excel" at nurturing leads can generate 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost! So what is lead nurturing? Let’s take a look:

Lead nurturing is the process of engaging and educating potential customers throughout their buying journey. It is a crucial component of any successful sales strategy, as it helps to build trust, loyalty, and conversions. However, lead nurturing is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires a high level of commitment from the seller to understand, support, and guide the lead through the sales funnel.

What, you ask, is the sales funnel? Let’s review:

In a nutshell, the sales funnel is a model that describes the stages that a lead goes through before making a purchase decision. The four main stages are:

Awareness: The lead becomes aware of a problem or a need and starts looking for solutions.

Interest: The lead expresses interest in a specific solution or product and seeks more information.

Consideration: The lead evaluates different options and compares features, benefits, and prices.

Decision: The lead decides to buy the best solution or product for their needs.

Commitment is the key factor that influences how leads move from one stage to another, encompassing the degree of engagement, trust, and loyalty that a lead has with a seller. A committed lead is more likely to respond positively to the seller's messages, offers, and calls to action--and is also more likely to become a loyal customer and a brand advocate.

The ultimate goal of lead nurturing is to establish and increase commitment throughout the sales funnel. Sounds nice, but how exactly do you accomplish this? Let's start with the seven main steps to attaining this objective: 

1. Establishing commitment
2. Personalization and segmentation
3. Consistent communication
4. Providing value at every stage
5. Building relationships
6. Tracking and measuring progress
7. Optimizing conversion points

Let’s dig into each of these phases in detail.

1. Establishing Commitment

Establishing commitment from the lead is key. This means demonstrating that the seller is genuinely interested in helping the lead solve their problem or fulfill their need. Establishing commitment is essential for building credibility, trust, and rapport with the lead. It also sets the foundation for further engagement and progression through the sales funnel.

This can be done by:

Showing empathy and understanding of the lead's pain points, goals, and motivations.
Providing relevant and helpful information that educates the lead about the problem and the solution.
Offering value propositions that highlight the benefits and advantages of the seller's solution or product. Creating a sense of urgency or scarcity that motivates the lead to take action.

2. Personalization and Segmentation

Personalized campaigns draw clients into your business closely by treating them as individuals, rather than just generic leads. Using personalized marketing material fosters customer loyalty by allowing your business to build a rapport with potential clients as soon as they're a prospect on your email list.

Despite their utility, only 39% of online retailers actually use personalized emails. In other words, personalization can also help your business stand out from competitors. Moving forward, personalization of marketing materials should be a priority focus when nurturing leads for your B2B company.

Here’s some ideas for tailoring messages and offers to suit your lead’s preferences, needs, and behavior:

Collecting and analyzing data about the lead's demographics, psychographics, interests, and activities.
Segmenting leads into groups based on similar characteristics, needs, or behaviors.
Creating personalized content that addresses the specific pain points, goals, and motivations of each segment.
Delivering personalized content through the most appropriate channels and formats for each segment.

Personalization and segmentation are important for increasing relevance, engagement, and satisfaction with the seller's messages and offers. They also help to differentiate the seller from competitors and create a unique value proposition for each segment.

3. Consistent Communication

The third step in lead nurturing is to maintain consistent communication with leads. This means following up regularly and meaningfully with leads across multiple channels. This can be done by:

Creating a communication plan that defines the frequency, timing, and content of messages for each stage of the sales funnel.
Using a variety of channels such as email, social media, phone calls, webinars, etc. to reach leads where they are most active and comfortable.
Using automation tools such as email marketing software, chatbots, etc. to streamline and optimize communication processes.
Testing and optimizing messages for effectiveness, response rates, and conversions.

Consistent communication is important for reinforcing commitment, building relationships, and driving action. It also helps to prevent leads from losing interest, forgetting about the seller, or switching to competitors.

4. Providing Value at Every Stage

Now onto our fourth step: value. You will want to provide value to your lead at every stage of the sales funnel. This means delivering valuable and relevant content that educates, entertains, or inspires leads throughout their buying journey. While it might sound like a lot of work, providing value to your lead will pay off in the end. How would you do this exactly? Here are some ideas to get you started:

Creating a content strategy that defines the types, topics, formats, and goals of content for each stage of the sales funnel.
Using a variety of content types such as blogs, ebooks, videos, podcasts, infographics, case studies, testimonials, etc. to cater to different learning styles and preferences.
Aligning content with the buyer's journey and addressing the specific challenges, questions, and objections that leads face at each stage.
Providing clear and compelling calls to action that encourage leads to take the next step in their journey.

Providing value at every stage is important for building rapport, credibility, and trust with leads. It also helps to position the seller as an expert, a leader, and a trusted advisor in their field.

5. Building Relationships

Possibly among the most important aspect of lead nurturing is to build relationships with leads. This means creating authentic and meaningful connections that go beyond transactions and conversions. This can be done by:

Being transparent and honest about the seller's values, mission, and vision.
Showing empathy and compassion for the lead's situation, emotions, and aspirations.
Sharing stories and experiences that resonate with the lead's values, interests, and goals.
Asking for feedback and input from leads and incorporating them into the seller's products, services, or content.
Recognizing and rewarding leads for their loyalty, referrals, or advocacy.

Building relationships is important for fostering trust, loyalty, and advocacy with leads and goes a long way in helping to create a sense of belonging, community, and identity with the seller's brand.

6. Tracking and Measuring Progress

Ready to put your analytical hat on? Now onto tracking and measuring progress. You don’t want to go to the trouble of nurturing leads, but / A critical monitoring and evaluating of lead engagement, progression, and conversion rates can help you determine how well your process is working. Here are four ideas for keeping an eye on your lead-nurturing mission:

First: define. You will want to decide on your key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure the success of lead nurturing efforts.
Check out analytics tools such as Google Analytics, CRM software, email marketing software, etc. to collect and analyze data on lead behavior, actions, and outcomes.
Create dashboards and reports that visualize and communicate the results of lead nurturing efforts.
Conduct experiments and tests to identify the best practices, strategies, and tactics for lead nurturing.

7. Optimizing Conversion Points

Now onto our seventh and final step: optimizing conversion points. Sounds fancy, but this simply means that you will be identifying and enhancing the key moments within the sales funnel that influence lead progression and conversion. Optimizing conversion points is important for increasing lead progression and conversion rates. It also helps to reduce friction, hesitation, and drop-off within the sales funnel. Here’s your roadmap for this essential step.

Mapping out the buyer's journey and pinpointing the critical touchpoints that move leads from one stage to another.
Creating landing pages that capture leads' attention, interest, and information.
Designing forms that are easy to fill out, relevant to the offer, and compliant with privacy regulations.
Crafting emails that are personalized, engaging, and action-oriented.
Developing offers that are irresistible, valuable, and timely.

Focus on immediate follow-ups, but not too many. If you contact a prospect five minutes after they convert on your website, your odds of entering them into the sales funnel are 21 times greater than if you reach them after 30 or more minutes. Immediate follow-ups are vital if you want to nurture leads.

However, don't push it. Despite how most prospects receive an average of 10 touches, marketing firms don't suggest you reach out more than five times to a prospect. The takeaway here is simple: reach out immediately, but don't overreach if you'd like your leads to convert into sales

Summing Up

Lead nurturing is a vital process that can make or break a sales strategy. It requires a high level of commitment from the seller to understand, support, and guide the lead through the sales funnel. By following the steps outlined in this article, sellers can establish and increase commitment throughout the sales funnel. This will result in more engaged, loyal, and converted leads who will become long-term customers and brand advocates.

Now that you’re an expert in lead nurturing, let’s get you some quality leads to nurture! Trusted by more 49,000 sales, marketing and business development professionals and powered by firsthand data collected by MNI, IndustrySelect is the #1 most trusted source for industrial leads. IndustrySelect subscribers can gain up to 30 data points to help them identify and pre-qualify the best leads. Profiles include the names, titles and email addresses for hard-to-reach executive decision makers, helping you get in touch with the people who matter. Ready to get nurturing? Set up your free demo account today, loaded with 500 real company profiles, so you can test drive this powerful software!


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