30% of sales professionals believe that having introduced lead nurturing has been the most significant benefit to their team, resulting in better responses to campaigns and easier segmentation.
Lead nurturing plays an essential role in high converting sales processes. It helps your leads deeply understand your product and guides them to make a purchase decision. Teams that are good at nurturing their leads generate 50% more sales-ready leads at ⅔ the cost.
In this article, we will cover what lead nurturing is and why it is essential. You will get to know the step-by-step process, surefire strategies, and templates to nurture your leads.
What is Lead Nurturing
Lead nurturing is the process of engaging sales qualified leads with relevant information and support needed for them to make a decision. It is a two-way process that involves receiving feedback and clarifying doubts that help build confidence and trust over a while.
Lead nurturing can be carried out using various existing communication channels like phone calls, social media, web ads, emails, direct mail, In-person meetings, etc. It works by delivering a targeted sequence of messages to your leads over one or multiple channels over some time. The goal of having a lead nurturing as a process is to educate your leads concerning their problems and needs progressively.
Why lead nurturing is important
Lead nurturing makes up for the core of the account-based selling process by engaging leads with targeted content. If qualified leads in the pipeline don’t get nurtured, they fall through the cracks and simply won’t convert. By engaging with leads in a planned and progressive manner, chances of closing them increase significantly.
The HubSpot research shows that 50% of leads who are qualified to buy are not ready to purchase immediately. This is where nurturing them with targeted content specific to their use case or problems helps by clearing their product-related objections. Removing these objections makes it easier for them to make a purchase decision, and hence close.
Clearly, sales teams cannot skip on lead nurturing.
Now that we have learned what is lead nurturing, let’s proceed to explore how to set up processes for nurturing your leads.
How To Nurture Your Leads Effectively
We have put together a comprehensive 7 step guide to help you set up lead nurturing systems from scratch to effectively close more deals.
1. Score and segment your leads
The first step in sales lead nurturing is to qualify, score and segment your leads based on your internal standards. It is supposed to be part of your lead qualification process. So if you already have that in place, you have covered this step.
Scoring and segmenting leads before enrolling them into lead nurturing sequences ensures you are nurturing leads with intent to buy. Similar to lead qualification, this saves time and resources while closing more leads per cycle.
Segmenting involves initially identifying what product feature or use case the lead might be interested in. Leads interested in similar features and use cases are grouped into segments that will have a unique outreach sequence. It will help you nurture these leads specific to their needs, further personalizing their experience and improving closure rates.
2. Create and test follow up sequences
Once you have segmented your leads, you need to prepare a unique sequence of follow up emails for each of these segments. Your email templates need to help leads understand your products value specific to their use case. Craft the templates to justify this value and generate interest and engagement from leads. Templates should also have space for personalization that you will add while enrolling each lead.
The lead nurturing templates should be tested for their content to avoid triggering spam filters, which will optimize them for delivery to the lead’s inbox. Once you make these templates live, keep an eye on each of these templates open and response rates. It will help you identify templates that need to be reworked and improved. You can track open and response rates using sales engagement platforms like SalesHandy.
3. Enroll leads into a sequence
Enrolling leads into a sequence is a detail-oriented and delicate task. You will need to add the leads to a pre-programmed email sequence for their segment. It will also involve adding personalization fields that feed the templates and setting up delivery times as per the lead’s timezone.
Personalization fields will be dependent on your templates. Enrich every lead with all the data needed for these fields beforehand, so enrolling them becomes smoother and quicker. You can use Mail Merge tools to enroll your leads into follow up sequences.
4. Timely re-engage
Once you have enrolled a lead into a follow-up sequence, you will need to track their engagement and plan the next steps. If a lead is opening your emails and not responding, they might still be interested in your product. It’s highly likely that they are busy and forgot about your emails. In such cases, make it a point to follow up with them.
Similarly, if you find new updates relevant to the lead and their organization, write in to inform them and ask how it impacts their business. It will help you gain their confidence and begin conversations around your product. While re-engaging, your goal should be to guide your leads to the next stages of the sales cycle as quickly and smoothly.
5. Analyze results and optimize
Once your lead nurturing sequence is live, it is crucial to measure its impact on sales. It is an essential part of the process and helps you improve it to help close more leads.
Open rates, responses, closes, and sales cycle times measure the impact of your lead nurturing efforts. Also, track conversion rates at every stage of the sales cycle along with the bottom of the funnel conversions. The performance of your lead nurturing engagements are directly linked to these metrics and will help you pinpoint areas of improvement.
6. Multi-channel lead nurturing
As per the Demand Gen Report, email is the most preferred channel for nurturing leads — 90%. However, it’s down from 98% the previous year. Salespeople are now increasingly engaging leads on website chat and social media platforms.
As email begins to lose its attention over other platforms, our focus should shift to capture the attention they spend on these different platforms. It would include social media platforms, phone(or SMS), Web ads, personalized sales collateral, etc.
Delivering content via alternate channels like this provides you better chances at advancing conversations towards a potential close. You can implement this using your existing tool stack or the ones we have recommended towards the end of this article.
7. Align sales and marketing teams
Your sales and marketing teams must collaborate to make your lead nurturing process work. A report from LinkedIn suggests 58% of marketers and salespeople believe that Marketing and sales alignment improves customer retention and improves financial performance. On the flip side, non-collaborative marketing and sales teams see a 60% drop in financial performance and 13% negative customer retention.
Both functions should align towards the singular goal of generating positive engagements with qualified leads. Processes on both ends should prioritize this goal, which will help make the lead nurturing process more productive and successful.
Now that we have understood the workings of a lead nurturing process let’s explore lead nurturing best practices and strategies to help you nurture and convert more leads.
Top 10 Best Practices For Lead Nurturing
1. Nurture well-qualified leads
The more loosely qualified your leads are, the more time they will spend in the sales cycle. It is necessary to enforce standards on each lead introduced into a nurturing sequence. Loosely qualified leads are likely to lack purchasing intent, therefore making the nurturing process ineffective.
It might be possible to develop intent where it doesn’t exist, but this usually extends the buying cycle quite a bit. Spending time on leads that are qualified (i.e., likely to buy) is a much better use of your and your leads’ time.
2. Make personalization friendly templates
While creating templates for your lead nurturing campaign, consider adding elements of personalization on the lead level. These elements can be added to the email body when the lead enrolls in the nurturing sequence. Templated emails are easily recognized by email filters and recipients, negatively impacting the nurturing process.
Personalized email content, especially subject lines, are known to connect well with leads. A report from Experian reveals emails with personalized subject lines were 26% more likely to be opened. It helps you bypass spam filters and stand out in the pile of promotional emails, which help you get your message noticed and read.
While crafting templates, your focus should be on making every delivered email look like it is coming straight from a person, rather than a sales software. It is key to getting responses and opens to your nurture sequences.
3. Follow up regularly
Similar to re-engaging, make it a point to follow up with leads stuck at nurturing and not moving forward. 96% of sales happen after the 5th attempt at closing the deal, thanks to persistent follow-ups. Your leads might not address your lead nurturing emails with priority, so you have to nudge them repeatedly to help remind them about the deal. The quicker the deal goes through, the lighter the leads plate gets through solving their problems using your product. Follow-ups will mostly be responsible for your sales success and make for a crucial part of your lead nurturing strategy.
4. Re-engage and re-target based on email engagement
If your email sender allows you to track your emails, use this tracking data as a signal to re-engage your leads. Your leads might not be taking action despite your nurturing efforts, so break that chain and step in to communicate personally.
You can also use this engagement data to re-target your leads with relevant messages on other platforms, like Social Media and Web Advertisements. It will divert your lead’s attention back to the deal and enable you to move on to the next stage in the sales cycle.
5. Heavily optimize for email deliverability
Before you make your email nurturing sequences live, make sure to optimize your email content for being delivered to the Primary folder of the recipient’s inbox. Templated content can often trigger automated spam filtering and can get your emails delivered to other folders within the lead’s mailbox. As a result, your emails are less likely to be read as they haven’t been delivered to the intended mailbox folder.
Conduct tests on tools like Litmus to ensure you have set up your emails best to deliver straight to your lead’s inbox. It’s an often overlooked aspect of lead nurturing outreach. So make sure delivery optimization is part of your lead nurturing strategy.
6. Shorten “time to value” through engagements
While re-engaging with leads, try and move the deal forward by delivering or demonstrating the product value before closing. It can include a free Proof of concept or Trial, Reference call with an Industry-leading organization, research and findings in the lead’s domain, etc. It will encourage the lead to move further towards closure by helping them realize your product’s value earlier in the sales cycle.
7. Optimize templates for opens and click
Once you have set up tracking for opens and clicks on your lead nurturing emails, test and improve your content based on their performance, start with your subject line. The goal of your subject line should be to convince the lead to open the email and read what’s inside. Similarly, your email body should inspire your lead to perform the Call to action (opening pitch decks, brochure, price sheets, or any external URLs.).
Modify your existing templates and track how many opens and clicks they get, compared to the last template. Increased open and click through rates enable you to start more conversations and eventually close more deals.
8. Nurture with social proof
Showcasing your existing customers’ delight, impact or influence augments your leads’ confidence in your product. It is called social proof. B2B and enterprise buyers are skeptical about new products and services, and social proof helps ease that bottleneck. According to G2, 92.4% of people are more likely to purchase after reading opinions and recommendations posted online.
Social proof can include referrals, reviews, testimonials, and case studies from existing clients. Another popular form of social proof is featuring popular organizations as your customers in email and website footers. It is a potent tool for B2B lead nurturing, as it helps to influence your lead’s decision and can often be the deciding factor for a deal’s closure.
9. Be quick to respond
Quick responses signify professionalism and respect for the other person. As per research, 51% of buyers want salespeople to respond quickly for a positive buying experience. Your leads might be looking for a product or solution urgently, and your response time will decide if you can close these leads. Responding quickly helps build trust, shrinks turnaround times for communications, and brings in early closes.
10. Handling no’s gracefully
Being in sales, you know how often you are to face leads and deals dropping off. How you handle such situations will significantly dictate the tone of your future engagements with these leads. The key here is to let go of the lead gracefully while making them feel comfortable saying ‘No’ in the absence of product fit.
You could do this by keeping the scope of your relationship open to future collaborations, with or without the product you are currently selling. Ending the engagement on a positive note is also part of the lead nurturing process – since you want them to buy from you in the future or refer potential leads to you.
Taking all these strategies and steps into consideration, let’s look at lead nurturing templates crafted by Sales Experts at SalesHandy. It will help us further understand the sentiment and approach to lead nurturing.
Lead Nurturing Examples and Templates
1. Introduction template
Subject line: Here’s how to better Sales productivity at <Company>
Glad to see you download our whitepaper on Sales productivity. Did you find the insights we put together in it helpful? Are you looking to improve Sales productivity at <Company>?
I’m writing in to help you with just that – let’s get on a 1-1 call<calendar> and discuss where we could make small changes and improve your productivity.
We’ve helped businesses like yours get over 70% more productive – serving more customers and closing more deals.
If you have any questions, feel free to let me know.
2. Social proof template
Subject Line: <Popular customer> boosted revenues by 2.5x, thanks to <product>
Do you know <reference> at <reference company>? She has worked with us, and the sales team at <reference company> has seen a >200% jump in sales over the past year, purely attributed to < product>.
I want to explore how we can replicate this for < lead’s company>. What sales targets is < lead’s company> looking to hit next quarter? Let’s discuss this over a quick 1-1 call<calendar link>.
I connected with <reference> over an email just like this, and now I’m excited to be talking to you!
If you have any questions or concerns, let me know.
3. Free POC template
Subject line: What’s better than a free trial?
I got to understand < lead’s company>’s business a little better and feel like you really need to check < product> out. If you are curious too, I wanted to know if you would be up for a free POC of < product> for < lead’s company>.
What’s also great, there’s no prep work needed from your side. The POC will give you a full ride on < product>, no limitations whatsoever for the next two months.
If you want to know about the specifics around the POC, let me know? I’ll get back to you, and we can have a 1-1 over the details.
4. Follow up template
Subject Line: Checking in – How is it going?
How are things going at < lead’s company>? I just wanted to let you know; the POC offer is still standing. We’ve added a few upgrades over the last few weeks, and I think you’ll love them.
Let’s catch up whenever you find the time – just book my calendar over here<calendar link>
5. Linkedin connection template
Subject Line: Sales research + insights on my Linkedin
How are things? I just stumbled across your LinkedIn profile and saw you are an active user. I post my research and findings on sales productivity over there. Think of the productivity whitepaper you downloaded along with 50+ other topics annually.
My feed’s for connections only – so I sent over an invite. Just clicking on ‘Accept’ gets you to access priceless sales insights and research.
If you’re facing any problems, just let me know, and I’ll resend the invite.
6. Rejection template
Subject Line: Future projects and collaboration with < product>
I was thrilled to see <Product> POC in action at < lead’s company>.
Little bummed to know that you’re not into the deal as of now, and I can understand. We all have our priorities at < product> and fully support yours. It was great to learn about < lead’s company>’s business and operations.
As we evolve, I’m confident we’ll be able to collaborate with you in one way or another. Looking forward to that, I’d like to wish you all the best on behalf of everyone here at < product>.
If you feel we might be of help at any point, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Ready to build out your lead nurturing process?
Let’s look at some of the best-rated lead nurturing tools to help you get started.
Top 5 Lead Nurturing Tools
SalesHandy is a sales engagement platform that works as a lead nurturing tool. The Campaign feature on SalesHandy allows you to craft and customize your lead nurturing campaign, using Mail Merge and auto follow-ups up to 9 follow-up stages. You can seamlessly create and schedule campaigns on SalesHandy and automatically send them in your lead’s timezone.
You can also use templates on SalesHandy to speed up your re-engagement activities over email. Two-key shortcuts allow you to instantly load a saved template into your email editor, ready for drafting and sending. As we discussed, quick responses are a crucial part of the lead nurturing process, and SalesHandy supercharges your response times using templates.
Tracking notifications and campaign analytics on SalesHandy enables you to track your nurturing sequences. You get time-stamped records of email opens and click and bounce tracking for your lead nurturing sequences.
Drips is an automated customer engagement platform. Its’ focus is on automating nurturing conversations at scale, primarily aimed at large enterprises and consumer businesses. It takes over customer engagement and nurturing and automates responses and escalations for organizations with large volumes of incoming messages. Drips integrate with leading analytics and CRM services like Hubspot, Google Ads, Adobe Marketo, Salesforce, Infusionsoft, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.
Close is a sales engagement platform with built-in CRM, calling, and SMS features. It helps set up multiple emails and send using those emails from one account. You can send personalized lead nurturing emails using mail merge. The combination of these features on Close make for a significant lead nurturing platform helping sales teams close more and shrink their sales cycle.
Hubspot is a free Sales CRM for Small Businesses with features to help you nurture leads. You can track your emails, manage contacts, deals, and pipelines. Hubspot is a great CRM for small and medium-sized sales teams getting started with their Sales cycles and processes. It has a version that is free forever to use. It has native integrations with services like Postalytics, Gmail, Facebook, Zapier, Outlook, and more.
Nurture is an automated lead nurturing and engagement tool for businesses of all sizes. It can segment your customers, automated chats for website visitors, Surveys, A/B testing, and reports. Nurture integrates to work with your existing CRMs like Zoho, Salesforce, SugarCRM, Highrise, and CapsuleCRM.
We saw how important lead nurturing is for sales teams to be successful. However, it seems like many teams(56%) don’t have a formal process in place.
What parts of this lead nurturing process have you never implemented as part of your sales process? Which of our lead nurturing best practices have you followed? Let us know in the comments below.