The business-to-business (B2B) buying cycle can last months or longer, particularly if the capital outlay is significant. While patience may be a virtue, it’s not an effective sales strategy on its own. To convert leads into customers, you’ll need a documented marketing communication (marcom) plan that includes tactics for nurturing your leads through the buying cycle.
The Importance of Nurturing the B2B Customer
Even if you’re fortunate enough to reach prospects early on, a lengthy buyer’s journey can give them plenty of time to forget about your brand and connect with your competitors.
An effective nurturing program lets you keep your organization top of mind throughout the process as you share your expertise, establish your brand as a trusted expert, educate prospects about ways to solve their problems, and promote your products or services.
Laying the Groundwork
At the awareness and consideration stages of the buyer’s journey, prospective buyers are just realizing they have a problem and starting to research potential solutions. They may not even be on your radar as leads. Be sure your website is search engine optimized so they’ll find you, and that it includes relevant content such as an informative blog, case studies, infographics, and how-to videos, in addition to sales-oriented messaging about product features and benefits. Offer premium content like white papers and ebooks in exchange for the visitor’s contact information to build your list of qualified prospects.
Nurturing is a Verb
You’ve captured leads at a trade show, through your website’s contact page, and in exchange for a content offer. Now it’s time to maximize touchpoints as your leads consider their options. Deploy your content through email blasts, social media, e-newsletters, and direct mail — in addition to personal emails, phone calls, and in-person sales calls — to build relationships.
Nurturing Never Ends
The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% (compared to 5-20% for a new prospect), according to the book Marketing Metrics. Nurture your existing customers as well as prospects by sending a regular e-newsletter promoting useful new content on your site, new products or services, company news, and more. This not only helps you retain and upsell your customers but also provides them with content to forward to other potential customers.
Make Nurturing Second-Nature
The successful B2B marketer is the one who nurtures relationships with prospects and customers. By connecting with prospects at multiple points during their buyer’s journey, you’ll build the kind of trust and mutually beneficial relationships that convert leads into customers.