Knowing Which Leads To Nurture

February 9th, 2011 by Sean Dwyer

Working up to the fourth 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.  Knowing which leads to nurture is a question on the minds of SMB Marketers, so we asked Andy:

Who do you nurture?

Ellicott:  “Everyone!

I’ve seen some companies exclude certain lead segments from nurturing, typically groups of people with zero potential to become a customer…students/academics, people outside of sales territories, etc. What a missed opportunity for PR and market development! Don’t overlook the fact that un-sellable leads can still blog, tweet and talk about your solution. Use lead nurturing to provide them with useful content and a good user experience to increase the chances of them returning the favor with word of mouth advertising for you.

At the highest level, I organize leads into 3 major categories, which are described in more detail below, along with the percent of the leads typically falling into each category at any point in time and why/how they’re nurtured:

Category Description % of leads in Category Why nurture them
Out-of-Profile leads People from companies that are unable to purchase our product. Usually includes independent consultants, students, competitors, job seekers, or people from geographies in which we have no sales/distribution support.

We filter these leads via questions on our lead capture forms, like: Industry? and Country?

50% Even though they cannot buy, they sometimes influence those who can via word of mouth, blog, and Tweet. So we try and do our best to supply them with content to support their work activity and that they’ll hopefully relay to others.
In-Profile Leads (IPLs) People from companies that marketing has qualified as having the ability to eventually own our product. 45% (I’ve seen this range between 35% to 55% of all leads.) To help reveal BANT  leads (people with Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe for buying) to sales, facilitate their buying process, and stimulate inbound sales inquiries.

To make sure they maintain awareness of us if and when a budgeted need for our product arises.

Qualified Sales Leads (QSLs) In-profile leads that meet BANT criteria and that the sales team (not marketing) has qualified and added to their sales pipeline forecast. 5% (assume 10% of in-profile leads will be accepted as QSLs by sales. I measured this for a year and reality matched the assumption…10% of in-profile leads)

At any point in time, 5% of your leads database is likely shopping for a product like yours, even if they weren’t when you captured the lead in the past. Use lead nurturing to uncover these opportunities in your marketing database.

Sales takes over the nurturing of QSLs.

It becomes important to exclude these from certain (but not all) nurturing campaigns.

NOTE: Some organizations have a business development team that is interested in the subset of out-of-profile leads that hold value as potential technology, referral or distribution partners. It’s useful to segment those out to make it easy for business development follow up, and, for some companies, it may be worth nurturing partnership leads to help with partner recruitment, partner selling, etc.”

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

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