Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When was the last time you stole a customer?

By Prugh Roeser, Founder, The Devereux Group, Inc

The BtoB marketing fight is for prospects, not customers, and winning the fight for prospects has become as important as sending the right leads to sales. This article explores how prospect retention impacts every aspect of lead nurturing:

  • Prospect Experiences
  • Techniques for Lead Nurturing
  • Lead Nurturing Objectives
  • The Right Kind of Lead Nurturing for Your Organization
  • Where Do Lead Scoring Capabilities Fit in?

Prospect Experiences

According to the “Rule of 45,” 45% of inquiries buy within 12 months – from somebody. Another 30% still plan to buy at the end of that same 12 months. That’s 75% of inquiries– that you’ve already paid for – that can become sales for you and not someone else. When you hold onto more inquiries, you reduce opportunities for competitors and increase return on lead gen at the same time.

Maximizing prospect retention may seem new, but you already have tools for achieving it. Just like optimizing customer experiences, you can optimize prospect experiences so they stay interested, and don’t defect to a competitor. Lead nurturing’s role is to embody the experiences you want prospects to have.

Techniques for Lead Nurturing

Prospect experiences utilize one of several contact techniques, but they all roll up into 2 basic approaches to lead nurturing:

  • Reactive
  • Proactive

With the Reactive approach, each time a lead acts, nurturing is delivered according to what occurred, primarily using:

  • Auto-responders
  • Trigger-based marketing

With the Proactive approach, contacts follow preset intervals and pre-defined purchase processes. Lead behavior can change content and delivery schedules, but nurturing continues unless there’s an opt-out or request to stop. Primary techniques are:

  • Drip marketing
  • Keep-in-touch marketing (i.e., newsletters)
  • Proactive lead nurturing

Lead Nurturing Objectives

Reactive and Proactive techniques work best for lead nurturing objectives that leverage their respective strengths. When objectives are set, preparing leads for sales is usually number one; but that omits many ways organizations utilize lead nurturing:

  1. Improve scores and qualification levels of leads not ready for sales
  2. Promote the organization and its products to leads not ready for sales
  3. Gather contact information and sales intelligence
  4. Reduce prospect attrition
  5. Follow up with anyone showing interest
  6. Shorten sales cycles
  7. Minimize time wasted on poor leads
  8. Automate lead ranking
  9. Evaluate lead sources, content and offers

10. Reduce cost per lead

11. Improve marketing ROI

The major impact of each objective falls into 1 of these categories:

  • Sales-readiness
  • Prospect retention
  • Sales productivity
  • Marketing productivity

The Right Kind of Lead Nurturing for Your Organization

This matrix identifies the most productive techniques for each category of lead nurturing objectives:

Categories of Objectives

Reactive techniques

Proactive techniques




Prospect retention



Sales productivity



Marketing productivity



If sales-readiness is the primary focus, both reactive and proactive techniques work. Reactive nurturing techniques don’t work as well for the other categories, however, because they need to be triggered by lead activity.

Proactive lead nurturing techniques work better for prospect retention and productivity-oriented objectives because they don’t wait for leads to act. Leads aren’t ignored, and don’t have a chance to just slip away.

Where Do Lead Scoring Capabilities Fit in?

The value of lead scoring depends on lead nurturing objectives and where scoring occurs during the process. When Sales-readiness is the primary emphasis, scoring has a natural role assessing lead progress towards being qualified enough for Sales to contact.

Lead scoring is less important when the primary nurturing focus is not Sales-readiness. In a prospect retention or marketing productivity context, scoring quantifies and standardizes how you evaluate nurturing effectiveness, define lead segments, and measure the performance of lead sources, offers and content.

Determining which kind of lead nurturing is right isn’t as simple as comparing the products of competing solution providers. You need to establish the mission of lead nurturing in your organization. Our focus here has been to create a framework for deciding that mission by defining objectives and requirements.

Regardless of how an organization decides to put lead nurturing to work, this evaluation framework can bring objectivity to that decision-making process.

Prugh Roeser founded The Devereux Group in 1986 as a BtoB marketing company that delivers integrated Bottom-Line Marketing programs. Primary services include strategic marketing consulting, direct response, email marketing, and LeadMaker, a proprietary lead management, nurturing and qualification process that features multi-touch buyer-cycle contacts to turn raw leads into real opportunities. Prugh can be reached at roeser@devereuxgroup.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or 781-631-9213.

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