The Changing B2B Marketing Environment
According to MarketingSherpa's 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Survey, organizations that nurture their leads achieve a 45% increase in their ROI from lead generation versus those who let the not-ready-yet leads leak out of their sales pipeline. They conclude that it's not enough for marketing to generate leads then hand them off to sales. They must nurture leads until they are ready for sales.
It has long been our contention too that to wring the most value out of your leads, you must nurture them. However, managers sometimes find it difficult to prove the value of lead nurturing to upper management. So I'm breaking down the analysis into simple bite-sized pieces.
Lead nurturing involves deepening your relationship with a prospect and keeping their awareness of your company high by sharing informative content and helping them to solve problems. When you nurture your leads, you'll impact your business in several measurable areas.
You'll discover that the number of leads who are ready for a face-to-face meeting with a sales rep increases. Because these leads are well educated on your solutions' benefits before they meet with a sales person, they are more likely to convert and do so quicker. Also, they are prone to buy higher-value solutions.
Given the high return on lead nurturing, let's talk about how to convince management that it works for your company.
How to Prove the Value of Lead Nurturing
- How Much Does it Cost to Add Nurturing to the Mix?
Your first step is to calculate the additional costs of nurturing leads. You may need more people on the phone to talk with your leads and understand exactly where they are in the buying cycle and what questions they have. Then you can develop a nurturing plan. It likely includes additional content you'll need to create such as email newsletters, blog posts, white papers, webinars, lead nurturing software, and more.
- How Much Does Nurturing Reduce Costs?
It may be surprising that nurturing can actually reduce costs too. If a nurtured lead takes less time to convert, it consumes less of your field sales rep's time. Subtract this from the additional nurturing costs.
- How Much Does Lead Nurturing Increase Sales?
Now look at the increased number of not-ready-yet leads you're able to move into the ready-to-meet-with-a-rep stage of the buying cycle. Also, factor in the likely higher conversion rate and sale value on the nurtured leads and you'll see a substantial increase in sales. When you compare the profit on nurtured versus non-nurtured leads, you'll be able to determine the additional value nurturing can bring to your sales cycle.
- What's the Lead Nurturing ROI?
Take the incremental profits from nurturing and divide them by the incremental costs to determine the ROI. You're likely to discover it's the golden opportunity you've been looking for.
- The Final Equation
Increased Sales from Nurturing minus Increased Cost of Nurturing = Incremental Profits
Incremental Profits divided by Increased Cost of Nurturing = ROI from Nurturing
One way to gain confidence in adding lead nurturing to your sales process is to look at how much you'd need to increase sales to pay for the cost of nurturing. See how much you'd need to increase the percent of qualified leads, conversion rates, and sales values to pay these additional costs. If you feel comfortable that that you could achieve these increases, move ahead with a small lead nurturing test, and prove the value of the program.
Disclosure: Jeff Kalter is CEO of 3D2B, a global business-to-business telemarketing company that bridges the divide between marketing and sales. He leads customer acquisition programs for Fortune 500 companies, and is passionate about building strong business relationships through professional phone conversations.