lead generationIn a recent webinar, Ken Krogue, Founder and President of InsideSales, and Derek Grant, Director of Sales at Pardot, joined forced to discuss how marketing and sales can work together to tackle the lead nurturing process. Together, the two teams have the power to shift lead nurturing into overdrive and speed up the time it takes for a prospect to go from awareness to interest to need to close.

Lead nurturing, as explained by Krogue, is a marketing strategy that uses recurring interactions to educate prospects from interest to need. “Marketing’s job is to educate interest into need. Sales’ job is to validate need into closure,” said Krogue of the teamwork involved in the nurturing process.

The problem that many marketers encounter during this process is the fickle nature of “interest.” Many prospects that your sales and marketing teams come into contact with have plenty of interest, but they don’t have need. In fact, according to Krogue, interest is the counterfeit of need — it will waste more time than anything else because it masquerades as need, but isn’t.

To combat this problem, Krogue has developed a 3-stage nurturing model that breaks awareness, interest, and need into smaller steps — each with their own nurturing tactic. The first is called social nurturing, which addresses the question: “how do I know if I’m interested if I don’t know you exist?”

“There’s a whole new realm ahead of lead nurturing that we’re calling social nurturing, which uses social media and PR to generate awareness and interest,” Krogue explained during the webinar.  

Social nurturing is combined with lead nurturing (handled by the marketing team) and prospect nurturing (carried out by the sales team) to ensure that you’re nurturing your whole funnel, not just your leads. Let’s take a look at the 9 stages involved in this process in greater depth to see how marketing and sales can start working together to accelerate their pipeline.

Social Nurturing

1. Awareness

Question to address: “Who are you?”

This stage is about bringing your company to your buyers’ attention, specifically through the use of PR, social connections, media coverage, and content focused around the questions, “Did you know…?” and “Have you heard…?”

2. Curiosity

Question to address: “What do you do?”

Once buyers are aware of your company, they’ll want to know what you do. Present them with research, how-tos, reviews, and comparisons — and build intrigue with continued social messaging.

Lead Nurturing

3. Interest

Question to address: “Why is what you do important?”

At this point, you’ve hopefully piqued your buyers’ interest, leaving them wondering why your product is important to them. Start getting more topic and keyword-specific, and focus on key features, benefits, and broad case studies that your buyers will care about.

4. Understanding

Question to address: “How does it work?”

This stage of nurturing should focus on teaching your buyers how your product works. Cater your content and conversations to specific needs and target titles, and don’t be afraid to move away from social and PR messaging into targeted email content in order to explain why your product is the best solution for those needs.

5. Relevance

Question to address: “Does what you do matter to me?”

At this point, make conversations more personal and start tailoring specific offerings to your buyers’ needs. Use proof metrics and case studies to strengthen your pitches, and feel free to move from email to the phone to reach out. Be sure to ask about their growth and pain points, and start adjusting your messaging to the specific decision makers involved in the buying process.

Prospect Nurturing

6. Need

Question to address: “Would what you do work for us?”

Your sales team should be getting involved at this stage. Start talking more specifically about how your product could be a solution to their problems, ask questions and restate your features-benefits positioning, leverage industry-specific case studies to show commonalities, and start using your circle of influence to your advantage.

7. Validation

Question to address: “Can you prove that it will really work?”

The validation phase focuses on proving your credibility through endorsements, references, product demonstrations, and competitive evaluations. Remember, a positive testimonial can go a long way.

8. Urgency

Question to address: “When can we get it going?”

At the urgency stage, you’ll want to focus more on the operations side of things, with messaging targeted toward the Sales Engineer or CIO — whoever will be handling the implementation. Remember immediacy at this stage, and be sure to set milestones and deadlines to stay on track.

9. Closure

Question to address: “Moving ahead, what does this look like?”

Finally, you’ve reached the closure stage. Planning and goals from this point onward should be clear and straightforward, and conversations should revolve around strategy questions and the benefits of ownership. The important thing at this stage? Move along as if your buyers already own your product.

With the above nurturing process in place, handled simultaneously by sales and marketing, your sales team will never have to cold call again. Want more information? View the full presentation deck and recording here.