What to Do With Mid-Funnel Prospects?

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financial funnelOkay, your demand generation campaign delivered a lead, and the demographic data checks out: Good industry? Check. Right title? Check. Big budget? Check again. Now what? If you pass it to sales and it doesn’t close, it’s a “bad” lead. But 80% of “bad leads” go on to buy (from somebody) within 24 months. Want to make that somebody your organization? Read on:

Nurture those mid-funnel leads

Engage your sales team and find out how they take leads all the way through the funnel, especially the mid-funnel. Create your nurture campaigns in that rhythm, with those steps. Make the communications short and sweet, and offer value at each step. For most B2B companies, this means educational content.

Nurture with the lead’s specifics in mind

Don’t send the same campaign to every lead. Segment your leads by meaningful categories, while ensuring that there are enough leads in each segment to make them worth marketing to.

Track how they engage with you

Score activities along the way. If a lead suddenly heats up and looks at 20 pages on a specific product in 15 minutes, have a way to score that and alert the sales rep in real time. Depending on your typical buyer’s typical journey, you can build in any exit conditions that history shows are appropriate. If scores quit growing see if you can find out why. Is one step in your nurturing campaign actually a dead end?

Validate your company’s brand

You may have a powerhouse product, but if your company or people look flaky, leads will be scared off. Guard your brand, and be very proactive about using earned media to get your messaging out. Remember, if you don’t define yourself in the marketplace somebody else will – and it might be your competitor.

Leverage your advocates

Use your satisfied customers to help build your brand. Get case studies you can share. Have a user conference and shoot a video of your supporters saying nice things; make a social campaign out of it, and post it on your website. Use advocates in specific verticals to market to leads in those verticals. This is a place to get creative and have some fun.

Keep the social messages active and positive

Social is one big conversation. Keep yours responsive and positive. Respond to complaints immediately; they’re an opportunity to show how you solve problems for your customers, and your prospects are watching. Heck, the world is watching.

Keep them in the funnel as long as they need to be there

If a company (or its industry) is in flux, they may be conservative with spending this year. Did they just do a big acquisition? Did they just get acquired? Are there new government regulations they have to deal with first? Just like the rest of life, it’s often not about you. Remember the “24 months” part of “80% of bad leads go on to buy within 24 months.” Have patience and keep nurturing.

Deliver no lead before its time

Sales has to trust that marketing is doing a thorough, responsible job in vetting and qualifying leads. Whether a lead closes or not, make sure that every lead you send to sales goes there with a valid, identifiable reason, one the sales rep can understand and agree with.

The end justifies the means

Nurtured leads usually close in high-value deals. According to a recent report from Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads, at 33% lower cost per lead. So: Be patient, keep tending this crop of leads, and your reward should come.

Mid-funnel lead nurturingAround 75% of companies essentially drop leads that aren’t ready to purchase immediately. That’s a huge waste of a lot of leads, most of whom will buy from someone sooner or later. Don’t be one of those companies – get the five-and-ten of how to nurture leads in the Act-On white paper:

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  • bri44any

    “If you don’t define yourself in the marketplace somebody else will–and it might be your competitor.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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  • Thomas Craft

    Good article. I think lead scoring and patience get overlooked in this area. Our numbers show that the more interaction regardless of how long it takes always increases the chance for success.

  • Todd Holbrook

    Great points on engaging with the consumer. One of the best tips I’ve heard is to always deliver on what your brand promises, in every instance and in every communication. These are some solid tips on keeping to it.

  • Tim

    For industries with longer sales cycles or larger purchases its certainly not uncommon for people to start “shopping” long in advance of the purchase. Proper lead nurturing keeps you engaged with the prospect in a helpful and relevant way without being overbearing. The problem comes in when sales gets a lead too fast and is overly aggressive with a prospect when they are nowhere near ready to make a purchase. Nothing can be more off putting than assuming because I downloaded your whitepaper, I am therefore interested in buying from you today.