How to Get Internal Buy-in for Lead Nurturing

February 3rd, 2011 by Sean Dwyer

So we are now up to the third Q&A from Implementing Lead Nurturing – A Practitioner’s Perspective with Andy Ellicott, a B2B marketing expert for several early-stage B2B software companies including Vertica, VoltDB, and Nexaweb.  Getting internal buy-in for lead nurturing can sometimes be tricky so we asked Andy:

How did you get buy-in to initiate lead nurturing?

Ellicott:  “I think it’s most important to get buy-in from sales. Lead nurturing is used to emulate what sales people do and many of the nurturing emails go out under a sales person’s name.

In startups, marketing usually precedes the hiring of sales people, so there’s not much buy-in required, you just put nurturing in place to handle in-bound leads in the absence of sales. Plus, in my markets (DBMS, BI, et al.), creating an automated sales and marketing machine is expected, and you’ll hire sales people that are receptive to the lead nurturing concept. Just make sure you tune it to their liking once a sales team is in place.

Lead nurturing (especially of new leads) can be a tougher sell within established companies. I recently got lead nurturing off the ground at a pair of 10-year old companies with direct sales forces. They weren’t too open to it initially—they didn’t think it would do anything they weren’t doing already or couldn’t do themselves (sound familiar?).  In this situation, you can either throw a bunch of lead nurturing benefit stats at them and start a political debate, or you can just whip up a small nurturing campaign to wow the sales people. I took the latter path and wowed the sales teams by getting leads to complete an on-line survey that collects new information about their situation, plans and needs.

One of the companies sells to IT organizations that need help migrating old software to the web – here’s the survey I created: When sales started to see the data this survey collected from leads, they hopped on board the nurturing train and eagerly began brainstorming new ways to help them interact with leads via nurturing.

All I needed to set this up was access to some leads (I grabbed a couple of hundred cold leads and permission from the sales rep to email them) and a free account to create the survey, and a free Loopfuse FreeView account to email survey invites to my list and track email response rates. It only took a few responses to convince sales that every new and existing lead should be invited to take this survey to help them find qualified leads with active web migration projects or plans. Be sure and position the survey as a “help us improve our service” or an “annual industry research study” to make it more inviting to prospects (and even offering a reward to survey takers like randomly selecting one every few weeks to win a free gift).

Today, 9% of all new leads opt in to the survey and 50% of survey takers claim to have an urgent web migration need. I’ve had similar results at other companies—surveys are a good thing.

To sum up—you need to sell sales on nurturing, first and foremost. If you meet resistance, pick a pilot project; on-line prospect surveys are a great choice. If you’re within a small or medium sized business, you probably have access to everything you need to do a pilot: leads and mass-emailing/marketing automation software. And for those concerned about cost…setting up the pilot survey flow took 1 day and the software I used to execute it was all free.”

For the complete interview with Andy Ellicott, download Lead Nurturing Best Practices for Small to Medium sized Businesses (SMBs)

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