Lead nurturing is a set of relationship-building activities in a series of sales funnel stages designed to turn cold prospects into customers. These activities include meetings, conversations, email exchanges, and social listening. Lead nurturing is great for businesses selling complex or pricey items requiring education and trust before prospects feel comfortable making a purchase.
One of the best ways to track and nurture a lead through a sales funnel is to rely on CRM software. Pipedrive, for example, is a CRM that makes lead nurturing easy with tools that automate sales tasks and help you remember important sales activities so they won’t fall through the cracks. Visit Pipedrive and get a free 14-day trial.
How Lead Nurturing Works
Lead nurturing works by creating meaningful interactions with prospects at each stage of the sales funnel so they feel that they know and trust you as they move towards the final stages of your pipeline. Businesses with highly complex products or services depend on lead nurturing because prospects may be confused or intimidated by financial or other risks associated with your offer. These prospects do not buy unless they are clear about the offer and trust you.
For example, suppose you own an IT company specializing in enterprise hardware and software upgrades. Your prospect’s jobs depend on selecting the right provider for component or system updates. Because they are risking their reputations and livelihoods, you will need to nurture cold prospects until they’re clear about the value you bring and move through your funnel as they begin to trust you enough to handle their upgrade.
Here are lead nurturing activities that might apply in each sales funnel stage using this example:
|Sales Funnel Stage||Lead Nurturing Activity|
Meaningful engagement that earns your prospects’ trust helps you breakdown fears and eliminates any confusion they may have over time. Strategies like sales funnels can help you plan engagement activities at each stage of the buying life cycle to ensure your lead nurturing activities are as effective as possible.
Who Lead Nurturing Is Right For
Lead nurturing is right for business owners, sales professionals, and marketers of expensive and complex products or services, and is especially important for business-to-business (B2B) businesses with longer sales cycles. They create lead nurturing strategies and carry out lead nurturing activities designed to build trust and stay top-of-mind with prospects. The benefit to these professionals is increased sales and loyalty once the prospect becomes a customer.
Below is a list of the types of businesses and products that lead nurturing is right for:
- Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses: Many SaaS businesses find themselves needing to explain their software and why customers should pay recurring fees for it. Lead nurturing can offer these explanations and reasons to buy and keep the product.
- Big ticket business-to-consumer (B2C) products and services: Companies like home remodelers, roofers, and car dealerships can use lead nurturing to educate consumers about their product or service and why it’s worth the money.
- B2B products and services with multiple decision-makers: B2B products often have more than one decision-maker. Personalized lead nurturing is right for multiple decision-makers because you can tailor engagement activities based on unique needs.
- High ticket corporate training: Companies are often hesitant to spend a lot of spend money on corporate training because they’re unsure they’ll see any real results. Lead nurturing with decision-makers and trainees can show benefits of training over time.
- Education or evidence-based products: Professionals in the medical or technology fields tend to make decisions based on evidence and trust. Lead nurturing allows you to share research and testimonials while building trust over time.
“Providing insightful information without the sales pitch creates a trusting relationship with leads. For example, on Tuesday, I emailed some prospects about a new homebuying program in Houston. I offered to walk them through the program with no obligation. Offering this information without selling builds my credibility as a go-to source for all things real estate-related.”
– Candice Williams, Realtor, Re/Max Space Center
Lead Nurturing Costs
The biggest costs associated with lead nurturing are for time and tools. Generating sales through lead nurturing takes more time and effort versus using single ads or direct response campaigns. It’s important to constantly seek ways to optimize your lead nurturing strategies, which include testing the duration of your campaigns and the tools you use.
Below are the costs associated with lead nurturing:
- Time: One of the biggest costs is time to nurture prospects. One way to quantify dollar value is by using tools to track time associated with lead nurturing activities. You should multiply hours spent by hourly compensation and then look at opportunity costs.
- Relationship-building tools: These include tools like CRMs, voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phone systems, and email services that help you nurture relationships. Costs can range from free to hundreds of dollars per month.
- Training: Training and education on lead nurturing strategies and tactics can range from free to thousands of dollars depending on the type of training you take. Usually, the more specialized, personalized, and hands-on training, the higher the costs.
Hard costs associated with lead nurturing can vary from free to thousands of dollars. Costs associated with time spent nurturing leads can be calculated and then evaluated by the opportunity cost of spending time nurturing leads versus other sales activities. As a business owner, you’ll need to balance both hard costs and time spent when creating a lead nurturing strategy.
Lead Nurturing Software Providers
In order to execute lead nurturing strategies, you must have lead nurturing tools and skills. There are hundreds of providers specializing in helping salespeople build relationships with prospects over time. For a more in-depth list of tools to assist with prospecting, see our article on the best sales prospecting tools for small businesses.
Below are providers of lead nurturing tools and training programs:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
Customer relationship management (CRM) software helps businesses manage and optimize relationships with customers and prospects. It helps nurture leads with features that create sales stages, and manages and tracks relationship-building activities with tools like follow-up reminders and automated emails. Costs range from free to several hundred dollars per user, per month. To learn more, see our article on what a CRM is.
Some examples of this software include:
Pipedrive is a great lead nurturing CRM because of its visual pipelines where activities can be added and displayed at each pipeline stage. Because it lets you see lead nurturing actions needing to take place at each stage, it’s great for staying on top of the most important sales activities that will move deals through pipelines.
Pipedrive is great for B2B-focused businesses with long sales cycles because its features keep lead nurturing activities visible and on track. It’s affordably priced, starting at $12.50 per user, per month. It also comes with a free trial to find out if it’s right for your lead nurturing strategy.
Zoho CRM is the perfect lead nurturing tool for engaging prospects on Facebook and Twitter. Because you can share information, monitor conversations, and add leads from these channels from within this CRM, it’s great for identifying and engaging prospects in real-time on social platforms they’re already comfortable using.
Zoho CRM is the perfect lead nurturing tool for businesses using social selling as part of their lead generation and lead nurturing strategy. It’s affordably priced, starting at $12 per user, per month. It also comes with a free trial so you can see if it complements your social-based lead nurturing strategy.
Because Freshsales CRM has a built-in phone and email platform, it’s great for engaging prospects with both channels. Because you can record calls and track emails, you’re better able to have more informed and contextual conversations and email exchanges with your prospects. You’re also better able to personalize your communications using both of these channels.
Freshsales is great for businesses engaging in a multichannel phone and email-based lead nurturing and tracking program. It’s affordably priced for small businesses, starting at $12 per user, per month. They also offer a free trial so that you can see if it’s right for you.
Dedicated Communication & Outreach Software
There are several software tools outside of CRMs that help salespeople nurture leads. Some are email providers and others use different channels like video and telephony to help businesses connect with leads. Below are a few communication and outreach software providers you should consider adding to your arsenal of lead nurturing tools.
Examples of dedicated outreach tools include:
Hippo Video is a video-based marketing platform offering a variety of tools, including email campaigns, marketing, and sales tools as well as customer support and success features, that can be used in lead nurturing strategies. With Hippo Video, you can email prospects personalized videos or reduce cancellations with video-based customer support.
It’s great for businesses wanting to use videos to build relationships with both prospects and customers. Pricing starts at $29 per month. They also offer special add-ons like video personalization and testimonial video capture at additional costs. Free trials are also available to see if it’s right for your lead nurturing needs.
Mailshake is a cold email outreach platform that allows you to send mass marketing emails in a personalized way as well as set up and schedule your entire email sequence. When you’ve received replies to your emails, they are routed to Mailshake’s Lead Catcher, where you can take action on the responses. Mailshake also provides feedback on your email copy with electronic tools or by requesting a review by their staff.
Mailshake is best for salespeople sending cold outreach email sequences using Gmail or G Suite. The feedback you’re able to get on your emails, as well as being able to use their templates, can save a lot of time. Prices are affordable, starting at $22 per user, per month. They also offer a money back guarantee if you’re not happy when you sign up within the first 30 days.
RingCentral is a VoIP phone system that could be a great lead nurturing tool if your CRM doesn’t have a built-in phone. It offers a variety of communication tools that allow you to make phone calls, video and audio conferencing, and faxing. You can use these features to communicate with your prospects in a variety of ways.
RingCentral is best for businesses using calls, whether traditional or video-based, at the center of their lead nurturing strategy. It’s affordable for small businesses, starting at $19.99 per user, per month. They offer a 15-day free trial to see if these features will work for your lead nurturing strategy.
Lead Nurturing Training Programs
Training and development tools that focus on building relationships with leads and prospects are great tools for lead nurturing. These types of programs give you ideas and allow you to practice communicating with prospects so you are more confident and you nurture them more effectively. Costs can range from free to several hundred dollars.
A few available lead nurturing training programs include:
The Sales Pro
The Sales Pro emphasizes giving and adding value to leads and prospects as a way of nurturing them into becoming customers. They offer a variety of courses around their philosophy that include online courses you can take anywhere to live, in-person training that can take place at your location. Click here for more information on their Sales Essentials Program that starts at $49.95 by visiting their course website.
Smart Calling College
Smart Calling College is focused on the art of cold calling and telephone sales. It teaches you how to engage buyers in the first few seconds of the call, get past gatekeepers, overcome objections, add value at each buying stage, secure follow-up calls, and more. The format of the course is four live virtual sales classes and lifetime access to other live sessions and webinars after the course.
This course is great for sales teams with a focus on using calling to start and build relationships with prospects. Pricing is $895 per person and reduces to $795 per person for additional attendees.
The Art of Sales: Mastering the Selling Process
The Art of Sales: Mastering the Selling Process, a five-week course offered by Northwestern University through Coursera, provides new sales reps with a solid introduction to sales fundamentals. It covers prospecting, sales pitch, closing techniques, and creating an effective selling process.
The course is relevant to both B2B and B2C salespeople and includes lectures, reading, and real-world exercises. There is an audited version on Coursera that is free.
Lead Nurturing Strategies
There is a variety of lead nurturing strategies business owners can implement in their sales process to effectively build relationships and win deals. The type of strategy depends on the industry, length of the sales cycle, and how prospects best relate to business owners and salespeople trying to win their business.
Below are seven types of lead nurturing strategies to consider for your business:
- Education-based: These strategies use educational experiences in the form of webinars, videos, case studies, and whitepapers to engage customers. It’s best for prospects wanting to consume large amounts of information before making a purchase.
- Short and informative: This strategy is based on sharing short, informative content over time, offering relevant, quick insights in the form of one-page cheat sheets, infographics, tweets, or social media posts.
- Entertainment: Nurturing strategies that entertain use storytelling or evoke positive emotion like laughter to build relationships. Content can come in the form of videos, images, or memes. Taking prospects to dinners and shows also fall into this category.
- Personalized: This is great where there are multiple decision-makers with different concerns and points of view. Here, you can tailor messages based on unique needs. Emails and calls work well for this type of lead nurturing strategy.
- Segmentation: A segmentation-based lead nurturing strategy is when you group your prospects by elements they have in common, like geography, similar values, or owners of a product. You then share relevant content, such as how to care for a product they own.
- Multichannel: Here’s where you share relevant content with your prospects through multiple channels, such as email and social media, as opposed to just one of these channels.
- Peer-based or community-based: Sometimes, if prospects see their peers buying, using, or considering your product, they will engage with each other to make their first purchase or buy more. Leading groups and engaging prospects on social media works here.
Pros & Cons of Lead Nurturing
The pros of lead nurturing range from building solid relationships that set the foundation for more loyal customers to establishing expertise using multiple channels and types of content. The cons include the expenses and time associated with lead nurturing, not to mention that you will not always get the sale even though you’ve spent time and money nurturing leads.
Lead Nurturing Pros
Below is a list of pros associated with lead nurturing:
- Builds solid relationships: Taking time to nurture leads builds solid relationships. Not only does this increase the odds of making the sale at hand, but it also increases your chances of winning additional sales in the future.
- Can increase loyalty: Lead nurturing also sets the foundation for increasing loyalty.
- Can help establish expertise: Nurturing your leads gives you the ability to establish and demonstrate your expertise.
- Can increase the likelihood of getting referrals: Because lead nurturing sets the tone for customer loyalty, it also makes it easier for you to ask for testimonials and referrals.
Lead Nurturing Cons
Below is a list of cons associated with lead nurturing:
- Time-consuming: Lead nurturing can be a lot more time-consuming than one-time ads or making cold calls and expecting to close a sale on the same call.
- Can be expensive: The time and money it takes to effectively nurture leads can make lead nurturing strategies expensive. There is a time and money cost associated with these activities, which are more frequent than one-time ads or sales pitches.
- May not get the sale: All the time and money you’ve dedicated to your lead nurturing strategy does not guarantee a sale. It increases your odds when used in longer sales cycles with complex or expensive products, but there are no guarantees.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is a set of relationship-building activities in each sales funnel stage designed to turn cold prospects into loyal customers. It helps increase your odds of closing deals with longer sales cycles and more complex or expensive products.
Why is lead nurturing important?
Lead nurturing is important because it allows business owners and sales professionals in long and complex sales cycles to build relationships with their prospects and show their value over time. It’s also important because you get the opportunity to uncover and resolve objections, which increases the odds of closing your deal.
What lead nurturing tools should I use?
The specific tools you should use for lead nurturing depends on your strategy, which should be centered around how your prospects like to establish and build relationships. Three things we recommend you have is a CRM to keep you organized and to plan and execute your strategy; communication tools to help with relationship-building; and training to become good at turning leads into prospects.
If you’re a sales professional who needs to build relationships with prospects in order to close deals, lead nurturing should be a core sales strategy. Your strategy and the tools depend on your industry and audience. If you’re in a competitive environment, your ability to nurture leads could mean the difference between winning and losing a deal. This article should provide you with enough information to create and implement your own lead nurturing strategy.
No lead nurturing strategy is complete without a CRM. CRMs help you organize and carry out your lead nurturing activities. Pipedrive is a CRM that allows you to create visual pipelines that include lead nurturing activities you should carry out at each stage. Sign up for a free trial to see if it’s right for you.