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How to Use Lead Nurturing to Take Your Sales Career to the Next Level

Lead Nurturing: Salesperson with a watering can for a money tree
Lead nurturing helps you make authentic connections with your target customers, learn about the challenges they face, and deliver valuable information and resources. [Skyword]

Start by understanding your customers and your sales cycle, then create a plan that guides prospects toward a sale.

For years, my sales process felt very transactional — until I had an ah-ha moment. The digital marketing solutions that I was selling at the time helped companies build their brand and attract customers online, but I wasn’t applying the same principles to my own sales process.

Once I started building my own brand and providing prospects with valuable content, I boosted my credibility as a seller. Rather than a cold sales approach, I focused on nurturing authentic relationships, a process known as lead nurturing. My customers and prospects saw me as a resource with useful insights rather than a salesperson trying to close a deal. And they started coming to me for solutions.

Discovering the power of lead nurturing changed the game. It even empowered me to start my own company. Here’s how to apply a value-based approach to your sales process and build strong relationships with your customers.

What you’ll learn:

Engage and close prospects from everywhere

Pull up CRM data for prospects even when you’re engaging with them outside your CRM — whether on social or online. 

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is the process of providing valuable offers and resources that persuade prospects to advance through the sales funnel. Sales reps capture a lead’s attention and interest with useful information, then convert leads into customers by deepening the relationship and showing how their product or service can help address critical pain points.

Why is lead nurturing important?

Lead nurturing helps you make authentic connections with your target customers, learn about the challenges they face, deliver valuable information and resources, and earn the right to pitch your solution. It takes time, effort, and heart, but it’s worth it. Here are a few of the benefits:

  • Learn more about your target customers: Lead nurturing digs deep to uncover pain points, needs, and interests (all so you can deliver value). This makes it one of the best ways to understand your prospects.
  • Build relationships that last beyond the initial sale: Each day spent helping leads solve their problems builds trust, respect, and authentic relationships that last. And when we do, we leave the door open for future sales.
  • Uncover which of your prospects are most valuable — and most ready to buy: Not all leads are equal. When you pay attention to engagement levels, you can determine the most valuable prospects in your sales funnel and understand the likelihood that they’ll buy. Then, you can prioritize these prospects to improve your chances of hitting (or even exceeding) your sales targets.

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What do you need to begin lead nurturing?

To get a good foundation for your lead-nurturing efforts, you need to understand your customers and your sales cycle. Then, you must create helpful content and a plan or workflow that guides prospects toward a sale. Let’s look closer at each of these elements.

Buyer personas

A buyer persona is a characterization of your ideal customer based on what you know about them. Think about your most common customer types. Where do they work and what is their role? What motivates them and what challenges do they have? Identify these buyers and build a persona for each one. Note their demographic traits, interests, pain points, and communication preferences. With the right technology, you can even include their likelihood to buy. While you may find success connecting with a marketing leader on social media by sharing videos and blog posts, a technology leader might prefer to communicate with you over email via slide decks and white papers. The better you understand each of your buyer personas, the more tailored, and successful, your lead-nurturing strategy will be.

Sales cycle

Next, you need to understand your sales cycle. How long does it typically take for a lead to move through your sales funnel from first contact to closed deal? At my company, the majority of leads take between 12 and 24 months to convert. This means there are many touch-points across multiple channels before they become a paying customer. By tracking your average sale cycle, you can understand how long it typically takes before prospects are ready to buy — all while getting to know them better. You can then build out a lead-nurturing strategy based on this timeline and your prospects’ preferences. (Be sure to keep those buyer personas in mind when you do this.)

Content for lead-nurturing campaigns

Once you understand your sales cycle and the topics that resonate with your buyer personas, you can create an informed lead-nurturing campaign. Experiment with content formats and reaching out on different channels to see what works best. Incorporate SMS, video, email, social media, podcasts, and webinars into your strategy to find your sweet spots. Pay attention to which frequency and cadence works best for contacting leads.

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Lead-nurturing basics

Understanding these lead-nurturing basics, and putting them into practice, will help you improve your sales efforts, build stronger relationships, and close more deals.

Building your brand

You’ve probably heard that people buy from people, not companies. I’ve found that to be true. Be intentional about your personal brand. Start to position yourself as an expert — even a leader — in your space. Share helpful content on social media to demonstrate your experience and knowledge. As you build credibility, nurturing leads will get easier and easier.

Adding value

Rather than solely trying to sell your product or service, focus on your customers first — their needs, challenges, and goals. Pay attention to your leads’ behavioral data in your CRM to see what engages them. Then, add value with relevant content and customize as much as you can. For example, when I used to pitch my sales training services to women, I thought their biggest pain point would be meeting their quotas. But they were actually more focused on how to make sure they were seen and acknowledged by leadership. This information helped me refocus my sales message to cater to my target audience.


Segment your customers into groups with similar characteristics. Doing so will help you personalize your communication efforts, including building and tailoring close plans. Rather than blasting out the same email to every lead in your database, organize customer segments that are likely to share the same pain points and interests. Your buyer personas are a great place to start, allowing you to create more personalized lead-nurturing campaigns that speak to your leads’ interests.

Nurturing your customers

Supporting your customers is just as important as nurturing your leads. Once someone buys from you, focus on your “wow” factor — that thing that immediately enhances your relationship and encourages referrals. Plan nurturing campaigns that remind people why they were excited to buy from you in the first place to drive long-term loyalty. Strategically embed “surprise and delight” moments — like purchase recommendations or birthday discounts — to keep them engaged. Doing this can encourage account expansion and renewals, improving your customer lifetime value (CLV). According to Gartner, the higher your CLV, the more valuable a buyer is to your business because they tend to generate more revenue and are more likely to be loyal.

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How to nurture leads

While nurturing leads, deliver value that’s relevant in the moment. You can even use marketing automation to set up nurturing campaigns. Use campaigns to share information about industry trends and provide insights on how to overcome common challenges. Close each interaction with a call to action that encourages movement to the next stage in the sales funnel. Here’s a simplified version, going from product awareness to consideration, evaluation, and purchase:


Before they enter the awareness stage, a lead is cold. They haven’t yet entered your funnel, so target them where they are. Reach out to help them learn something useful or actionable. Then show that you understand their pain points without going into the nitty-gritty details of your product. Conclude each interaction with a call to action that pulls them deeper into the sales funnel while building out their customer profile. For example, you might include a form that invites blog visitors to download a guide in return for sharing their email address.

Marketing and sales work together to pull leads into the awareness stage, using tactics like these:

  • Publishing blog posts and articles about relevant topics.
  • Running ads that lead to your content or website. These can include pay-per-click ads on search engines, physical ads like billboards, direct mailers, and display ads on websites.
  • Sending emails and newsletters with announcements and content roundups.

A lead will often require many different touchpoints in the awareness stage — clicking on ads, downloading gated assets like e-books, and having initial conversations with a sales rep — before they’re ready to consider your product as a solution for their problem.


When a lead shows initiative and starts taking proactive steps to learn more about your solution, they’ve advanced to the interest stage of your sales funnel. Start to share more about your point of view and offer more product- and company-specific content like downloadable guides and invites to company events. End each interaction with clear calls to action to learn more details about what you offer.

Here are examples of activities for this stage:

  • Send long-form, downloadable content like guides, reports, and workbooks.
  • Host events such as company conferences and dinners.
  • Lead a discovery call to learn about your lead’s challenges and motivations.


Once the lead has learned about offering and agrees that you might be able to help, they begin to consider your company as part of their solution. Walk them through the features of your product, showing how you can deliver results and relieve their pain points.

Here are examples of lead-nurturing activities in the consideration stage:

  • Send detailed product content like datasheets, demos, and product tours.
  • Give a personalized sales presentation that names your prospect’s challenges and shows how your product can solve them.


In this stage, your prospect has a serious interest in buying. Now you can get detailed about how your product stands out from the rest of the pack. Differentiate your product and your company from the competition and give your prospect the chance to try it. You may also try to create urgency to switch to your product rather than keeping with the status quo. Consider these offers:

  • Free trial
  • Free consultation
  • Customer reference calls, where prospects speak with current customers

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4 lead-nurturing strategies

Use these lead-nurturing strategies to help you prioritize your time, focus on leads most likely to close, and improve the results of your sales lead generation.

1. Use high-touch tactics on leads with the most promise

Invest your time on the leads that have both a high interest level and high revenue potential.

To identify leads with high interest, look at who’s completing enough activities in a given sales stage to become ready for the next one — especially those that do so faster than other leads. For example, a lead who has downloaded a guide and registered for an event may be ready for you to reach out for a discovery call or even to schedule a demo.

It can also be helpful to measure each lead’s revenue potential. Look at specific sales metrics such as the dollar amount of the product you plan to sell to them, the dollar amounts of upsell opportunities, and the amount of time you expect to retain them as a customer — a quality that becomes particularly valuable in a subscription model.

When a lead shows both interest and high potential revenue, that lead calls for high-touch engagement. So, deliver more frequent, personalized interactions and resources. For example, research their company and craft a personalized email with unique insight on how you can help. You may also consider creating ROI calculations that show how your product will deliver value long-term, both for the company as a whole and for individual teams and departments.

2. Nurture the rest of your leads with low-touch offerings

Continue to nurture your less engaged leads without being too intrusive. For example, pre-schedule a monthly newsletter with timely updates about your company, or weekly blog posts about topics that are relevant to common buyer pain points.

There will also be leads who fall in the middle — those who have low interest but are great fits for your product with high revenue potential, and those who show interest but have lower revenue potential. You won’t have enough time to give these leads the same level of personalization that you give to the high-touch leads in the section above, but you can find a middle ground.

Create targeted lead-nurturing campaigns that involve light research and personalization, but can also be sent out at scale. Try a batch of InMail messages sent over Linkedin that deliver a relevant and timely message. Remember that a low-touch lead can become a high-touch lead in an instant, so keep an eye on engagement and prioritize any lead who raises their hand.

3. Make every interaction stand out

There’s no such thing as a bad lead. So while it makes sense to focus on the hottest leads, don’t neglect the rest. Someone who isn’t a great fit for your product may refer you to your next great customer. Another lead might currently work for a company that can’t afford you, but what you don’t know is that in six months they’ll switch to a company that can.

Build and deepen relationships across the board, even if there isn’t a clear reason for it yet. Every great sales rep can tell a story about a time when focusing on the relationship, without an ulterior motive in mind, turned into a big sale. Veteran seller and trainer Sunita Gill spent a discovery call bonding instead of talking about the product. John Dao, a leading account executive at Grubhub, found his big break by chatting with a stranger at his grandma’s barbershop.

4. Experiment with different tactics and measure the results

Try new lead-nurturing tactics for each funnel stage and track success metrics. You might find a new tactic that blows your previous strategy out of the water. Every week, review the analytics for your nurturing activities. Look at email open rates, event registrations, and free trial sign-ups. If an activity isn’t performing as well as you’d expected, make changes until it succeeds or retire the activity altogether. And when an activity performs well, continue to invest in it.

You can also try A/B testing. Let’s say you’re hosting an event. Create two different promotion videos for it, each with different scripts and messages. Send each one to different (but similar) groups and measure which video has a higher conversion rate. Then send the higher-performing video to the rest of your network. Now that you know it’s a winner, you may even put some promotional spend behind it too.

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How to choose lead-nurturing software: top features

Enhancing your lead-nurturing efforts is simple to do with a CRM. With easy-to-access data and visibility into your sales pipeline, you can track every lead as it advances to the next stage. You should also look for tools that help you work faster and smarter. The right automation tools can handle your routine tasks, and AI can guide you toward better decisions based on data. Look for at CRM that includes the following features and capabilities:

  • Automated lead scoring: Use software that automatically scores inbound leads with a numerical value to indicate their interest. By assigning points to the most valuable actions, like visiting a pricing page or requesting a demo, you can see which of your leads are most ready to buy. Lead scores help you prioritize your most interested leads and guide them toward action.
  • Automated prospecting tool: Make stronger connections with AI prospecting. Look for AI tools that can qualify and pass leads to sales reps from your website, giving them the option to connect with a rep instantly or schedule a meeting.
  • AI-powered lead intelligence: Predictive AI analyzes the health and behavior signals of your leads and sends you recommendations for the next (best) steps. This tool helps you prioritize the most critical leads based on revenue potential and relevant sales activities.
  • Sales engagement: Advance your pipeline faster by connecting with your leads wherever they are — by email, phone, or the web. Sales engagement software helps you interact with your buyers across their preferred channels, all from a single location.

Every company needs different features or capabilities depending on its goals, size, and strategy. Start with the end in mind. Let your strategy drive the technology you choose. Consider what you need your CRM to do and look for a platform that has the right tools and a track record of meeting those needs.

Ready for lead nurturing that flows and grows?

Lead nurturing is the beating heart of sales. Give your lead something that helps them right now, and offer them your hand to guide them to the next step. A connection can be built in a moment, but the deepest relationships take time and authenticity to build. Take it one step at a time.

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