For decades, the lead generation and management process has been typified by a method you might call The Big Handoff. Once the Marketing function hands off qualified leads to Sales, there is often no end-to-end method for tracking a prospect through the decision journey to ensure that: 1) the prospect feels his/her needs are truly being met; and 2) the prospect is getting the most relevant information, at the right times, to inform and nurture the decision.
The solution is to build a buyer-centric nurture engine, based on deep strategic alignment between Marketing and Sales. As opposed to approaching lead management from the mindset of executing a series of loosely connected campaigns, the idea is to build an infrastructure for perpetual demand generation — ready to interact with an ongoing flow of prospects at varied stages in their decision journeys. Elements to consider in building a nurture engine include:
Mapping a digital path for specific personas.
The prospects in your marketing database represent a variety of personas. Each of them requires targeted content that speaks to that persona's specific pain points and needs. Work to anticipate a line of questioning/challenges that you can expect to encounter for each designated persona. Develop specific content to address those topics/issues at the appropriate times, while offering clear next-steps to keep prospects moving forward on their decision paths.
Meeting prospects where their mindsets are.
A sophisticated system for marketing analytics/automation is invaluable for tracking how visitors are interacting with your content, so you can ascertain where each visitor is in the decision process at that moment. For instance, someone who is mainly looking at thought leadership content is probably still in the early stages. As opposed to a visitor who fills out an inquiry form asking about his/her overall goals, pain points and needs for specific solutions.
Build an advanced capability for response readiness.
The biggest key to nurturing leads, and hopefully customer relationships, is the capability to unleash the most pertinent information at the most opportune moments. This calls for the ability to understand a visitor's needs and wants, based on how that prospect is interacting with your content, in order to provide a satisfying and fruitful discovery process.
Think perpetual cycle vs. pushing campaigns.
To transform your outreach effort into a nurture engine, Marketing and Sales will need to work together closely, coming from a buyer-centric mindset. This concerted effort then needs to continue through an ongoing process of analysis and optimization — to improve the process in ways that can greatly increase your conversion rate.