B2B Nurture and Follow-up Strategies: an interview with Steve Wagner, Lead Gen Manager, SPI, and Lead Lizard, a demand generation agency…
Steve Wagner is a demand generation leader with a proven success record for driving revenue. As the Demand Generation Manager at Sales Performance International, he’s demonstrated his ability to cultivate and manage new departments by driving team collaboration, adaptability, and responsiveness. Demand generation captured his interest with its ability to uncover buyer insights and the levers that make them act. Keep reading to learn Steve’s best practices for nurture programs and follow-up strategies.
Connect with Steve Wagner directly: www.linkedin.com/in/stevewagner/
Lead Lizard: What is your experience with demand generation, in terms of best practices strategy and program execution?
Steve: I’d say the single best practice that I use is to tier our CTA. For example, when you send an email campaign to a targeted list, you must have a way to identify the responders quickly and act in a responsive way. Too many businesses think that sending an email out will get prospects to discuss further, but you have to have a responder and a responsive follow up mechanism to the responders.
To those who opened an email and clicked on a link, have a plan of action to how you’re going to respond to those hand raisers. There are many different ways for folks to show interest now a days. Email openers and link clickers can get some soft demand generation as well. You’d be surprised by how often that turns into new business.
Lead Lizard: What’s your definition of sales nurturing?
Steve: To me, sales nurturing means providing timely, relevant, and value-adding content to prospects until they are “sales ready.” Sales nurturing builds thought leadership in your given space—it positions your company as a relevant expert in your field instead of a commodity or vendor services.
Lead Lizard: Does sales nurturing support your follow up strategies? If so, how?
Steve: Yes, it does. We use nurturing to identify what we call latent prospects—those who do not raise their hands but demonstrate interest through page visits, a document review, or whatever our campaign happens to be. Once we identify those latent prospects, we give them the opportunity to have a discovery call with our demand generation team.
This enables our team to learn more about the prospect’s business needs and initiative. Buyers are more aware of the marketing than ever before. They know that if they take actions on the site, they’re probably going to be marketed to.
We market in a non-confrontational way. We offer an olive branch to soft activity. We give them the opportunity to learn more, show them how to do it, and offer a direct line to call. If the prospect is not interested, we’ll share email information that enables them to reach out when the time is right. The softer approach is great for those who have not solely raised their hands.
Lead Lizard: How do you set up and use nurturing programs?
Steve: Sales Performance International (SPI) has several different lines of business that we offer. We use content that we’ve created on our own or collaborated with other thought leaders in the industry for our lead nurturing content for various lines of business. If you look at SPI on one line of business, you’re going to continue to receive more information on that line of business. We use Pardot to create the content, execute the nurture program, and track its results.
Lead Lizard: Do you integrate Salesforce to further track lead nurturing results?
Steve: Our Pardot instance is integrated with Salesforce. We have it set up so that our nurtures are driven in Pardot, but we qualify at the demand gen level and ensure that they fit before we deliver to a sales rep.
This allows a rep to hit the ground running rather than do a rediscovery. You don’t want prospects to have to retread everything they’ve already learned from the marketing activities. Our process shortens the sales cycle in order to get a faster decision. Prospects get on the ground several stages ahead of where they otherwise would have been.
Lead Lizard: How does demand generation assist follow-up calling strategies?
Steve: We own the entire process at SPI. We qualify and ensure that all prospects are a good fit for our sales consultants prior to handing them over.
Lead Lizard: What’s the biggest benefit of nurture programs and follow up strategies?
Steve: I’d say that the biggest benefit is that we’re staying top of mind with our prospects (and our entire prospect base) at every stage of their relationship with us. In the lead world, there are window shoppers that are not ready to take that next step but enjoy the content that we’re providing. The biggest nurturing benefit to me is that we’re giving our prospects relevant content to the nature of their relationship with us. We have a better sense of how close a prospect is to doing business with us. We have more control over who we want in our sales funnel. That leads to better prospects, opportunities, and customer quality.
Lead Lizard: How do you use nurturing to drive opportunities through the sales funnel?
Steve: Keeping a warm engagement through a nurturing program allows our sales consultants to get a decision more quickly. Nothing hurts an overall pipeline more than having stale opportunities. Nurturing assists this by lowering the average length of opportunity and helps keep the sales personnel focused on the right deals in their pipeline.
Let’s say a sales person is working on 25 opportunities per quarter—not everyone is going to respond to that consultant with the same frequency. What we can do is keep them engaged with nurturing programs while are sales reps are working with those who are raising their hands and wanting to move the process forward. At the end of the day, we’re not leaving anyone behind, so nurturing really helps at the opportunity level and builds street cred.
Lead Lizard: Which analytics do you use to measure nurture program success?
Steve: We track pretty much everything. Open rates, CTR, unique opens, clicks, lead generation, and the percentage of those leads that converted to an opportunity are all items that we track. We don’t look at these all at the same time, obviously. We review these to make sure that our drip campaign is effective on the front end and is it leading to new business on the back end.
Lead Lizard: Are you able to share any nurturing victories from programs that you’ve run?
Steve: Something unique that I set up for my nurturing programs is the ability to get automatic notifications when prospects review some strategic content on our landing pages. Pardot does a great job of activity notifications. When I receive those notifications, I use a big data approach in order to better qualify prospects. With this approach, I identify prospects and reach out to them personally to invite them to learn more about the company through a brief phone call.
For example, if someone lands on a page and looks at one part of the website and then 10 minutes later, he looks at another part then I’ll take those actions into account. With this, you can see that he’s looking for solution “xyz,” and that SPI can help him with problems “abc.” It’s an identification of habit through their activity.
If I can call a prospects and invite them to a conversation without them raising their hand and saying they have the pain, they feel like I know their business more than the next guy.
Using this approach, I’ve identified and connected with a prospect who ended up being one of the largest new business wins in the company’s history. This all started from viewing his soft activity and inviting him to talk. If we had not taken this approach, that person probably would have just read a white paper or video review and walked away.
Lead Lizard: Any final nurture or follow-up strategy recommendations?
Steve: I’d say always make sure there is responsibility and a plan of action for someone in your organization to regularly identify nurture responders. The goal is to be viewed as a thought leader and trusted advisor in the space. Since today’s buyers are more than half way through their purchase process before your first conversation, it’s important to have someone responsible for viewing this and reacting on a day-to-day basis.
To view the full interview - visit Lead Lizard: http://www.leadlizard.com/b2b-nurture-follow-strategies/