You’ve generated several sales qualified leads that appear to be a cohesive fit your business, so – now what? What are the next steps to nurture those leads through the sales cycle?
Nurturing leads, especially those with a long sales cycle, is a complex art. You want to stay in front of your leads, but understanding the expansive gap between when a lead raises their hand in interest and when they will realistically close is complex.
Here’s what you need to know to nurture a lead through a long sales cycle.
The Buyer Persona
Marketers and companies alike don’t concentrate on the buyer persona enough, which causes issues with lead generation, sales and marketing alignment, and nurturing the sales cycle.
If you haven’t heard of buyer personas before, HubSpot defines them as semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. It’s easy to assume that concentrating on the buyer persona is no longer necessary after a lead is generated, but that couldn’t be further from the truth; paying attention to the buyer persona is important through the complete buying cycle and beyond.
If you don’t complete a full buyer persona for your ideal client, you’re never going to fully understand who you’re selling to, which is indispensable for nurturing a lead through a long buying cycle.
Your Sales Cycle
Marketing is not a quick fix to increase sales. There’s a ramp-up period with your marketing, and many marketing-related activities require patience, tedious background work, and time to realize the results.
That’s why it’s important to know your sales cycle – or how long, on average, it takes you to generate a lead and move that lead through the buyer’s journey to close. Traditionally, B2B leads have a much longer sales cycle than B2C sales cycles, so have realistic expectations about the immediate effect lead generation will have on your business in the short term.
Sales and Marketing Alignment
Sales and marketing alignment is a utopia that 99.9999% of companies struggle to achieve. Though mistakenly grouped together, sales and marketing have very different roles.
Many marketers and sales professionals track their metrics differently, which causes sales to complain that marketing isn’t generating enough leads and marketing to complain that sales isn’t working the leads they generate.
Open and honest conversations between the sales and marketing teams is crucial – expectations of objectives and results are agreed on, mutual goals, targeted activities, and benchmarks are set, and each team has an understanding of the role they play.
Let the Nurturing Begin!
Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. If you know your goals, are realistic about your sales cycle, encourage your sales and marketing team to stay aligned, and know who you’re communicating your lead nurturing to, you’re well on your way to creating the base of a successful lead nurturing marketing strategy.
Now that you’ve defined your buyer persona, you know how and where your ideal customer digests content, what their biggest challenges and pain points are, and what milestones you need to meet.
You know the average length of your sales cycle, so you know how long leads typically are in the pipeline. When business picks up, remember: this is the time to market harder to protect the long-term viability of your business.
Finally, because you understand your buyer persona so well, you understand how to market to your potential clients. You know the pitfalls and challenges they face, their questions, and how to communicate in their preferred medium.
If you’re having a problem balancing your marketing or are in a marketing rut, contact us – we specialize in marketing-related activities for companies with long sales cycles.