What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is building connections with prospects across the buying process.

Some prospects you reach out to will immediately be on board with your offering. They’ll have pain and be ready for you to solve it. Within a message or two, they’ll agree to an intro call or demo. Off the back of that call, they’ll be ready to engage with the buying cycle and quickly generate sales.

The dream, right? 

Unfortunately, very few leads act this way. From the huge pool of prospects, those who have an immediate need and are also immediately looking to buy form just a tiny drop.

With outbound prospecting, finding these tiny dots is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Sure, you really need that needle, so it pays to keep looking. But it’s a big waste of time if you’re not also deciding what to do with the hay (spinning it into gold, perhaps?).

For every prospect you encounter who is ready to buy, you’ll have hundreds who don’t respond, don’t progress, or miss your initial meeting.

For every prospect that converts into a paying customer, you’ll have several more who drop out during discovery, after a demo, or just before signing.

Finding strategies to engage or re-engage these prospects is the key to successful lead generation.

Lead generation vs. lead nurturing

Lead generation is anything you do to create leads and generate sales. Activities like: 

  • Messaging or connecting with potential prospects on LinkedIn, 
  • Sending invites for webinars, 
  • Cold emails, 
  • Cold calling. 

(You can also generate leads based on inbound marketing activities via social media, gated content or retargeting campaigns).

Lead nurturing is how you build and maintain relationships with leads who aren’t ready to buy. It’s a type of social selling strategy. Activities could include:

  • Monthly check-ins for past prospects that dropped off, 
  • Newsletters and cold calling campaigns for past customers, 
  • Continuous ABM campaigns for good-fit companies where you need to land a stakeholder. 

In other words, lead generation is the first turn of the motor. Lead nurturing keeps that engine ticking over and gets the car where it needs to go. 

Nurturing starts with marketing via retargeting, adverts, email campaigns, and website content. However, it’s also the key to successful 2023 lead generation and high conversion rates. It’s vital to generating sales from your prospects rather than losing them at the beginning of the sales cycle.

How to move leads through the buyer’s journey

The buyer’s journey consists of 3 broad stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. 

Awareness is when a buyer first notices they have a problem. Before this, they might not have considered the problem’s impact or realized a solution could effectively solve it.

Consideration is when a buyer begins to weigh up options for solving the problem. They’ve not committed to problem-solving yet, but they are thinking about how they might take action. Generally, this is when they begin to semi-seriously explore one or more solutions or providers.

Decision is when the buyer fully commits to finding a solution. At this stage they’re well into the sales funnel and choosing between one or two serious options. Often, they’re discussing tangible details of a potential solution.

Lead nurturing attempts to move buyers through stages 1 and 2 and into the decision stage, using the relationship of trust built between the organization and the buyer. It helps shape the sales relationship and is vital for consultative social selling. Rather than meeting the buyer in stage 3, it can help sales reps influence decisions from the start.

Why b2b lead nurturing is important 

Most prospects aren’t ready to buy immediately. 75% of outbound leads require long-term, ongoing engagement to generate sales. Most people need to trust in a company before they buy a solution. Sometimes, they’re just not experiencing pain you can solve right away.

Focussing only on prospects that move quickly through the sales cycle limits your business to a small percentage of all buyers. This is great for short-term success, but think about it: that’s 90%+ of the market you’re ignoring because there’s no immediate possibility to generate sales.

Plus, prospects are now primed for social selling and expect to build relationships throughout the sales process. Buyers expect to interact with businesses and sales reps several times in the consideration and decision-making process, often across several months or longer. With 60% of customers saying no four times before an eventual sale, consistency of approach and multiple touchpoints are now the least of what’s expected.

Building relationships and becoming a trusted, familiar resource will give you a steady stream of prospects. As soon as these leads need a solution, they’ll know where to turn.

Lead nurturing ensures you’re not just relying on luck and chance to build a consistent pipeline of good-fit prospects. If you adopt it as part of your lead generation strategy, you’ll benefit from:

  • A more consultative sales process,
  • Increased conversion rates,
  • Shorter sales cycles, 
  • Greater revenue opportunities. 

How to use LinkedIn automation tools to warm up leads 

Let’s face it, manually keeping track of each lead would be a nightmare. Cross-reference each lead’s circumstances with where they are in the buying journey and you get an endless list of different messages that just can’t scale.

The result? Overlooked and ignored prospects who just needed a little love to make it through the acquisition process.

Luckily, there are plenty of marketing automation tools to track and implement lead nurturing processes. Salesflow has all the LinkedIn automation tools needed for an effective LinkedIn outreach strategy. You can use Salesflow to add the right prospects to the right outreach campaigns, segment audiences, and load and store messaging templates to generate more leads.

Below, we’ll walk you through how to create a scalable nurturing process to generate sales.

How to nurture b2b leads

  1. Decide on a strategy. 

Look at where in the buying journey you currently lose the most leads. Depending on your tech stack, you could incorporate strategies such as lead scoring for a snapshot view of engagement levels and the likelihood of buying. Generally, lead scoring is set up in the CRM. Tools like Salesflow’s native CRM integrations allow you to log LinkedIn activity in Hubspot, Salesforce and Pipedrive. That means you can begin incorporating LinkedIn lead generation activities into these scores. 

This stage is when you should work with marketing to create or understand different buyer personas. You can also use LinkedIn data here to hone and refine your personas. See the Salesflow guide to ICPs and go-to-market strategies to create a robust 2023 lead generation plan.

To nurture prospects earlier in the funnel, you might work with marketing and re-target leads with advertisements using LinkedIn marketing. However, you don’t need a big budget to get started.

  1. Segment by audience and engagement level  

Next, segment your audience by buyer persona and engagement level. The aim is to create different nurture streams: messages and calls to action that appeal to the right audience at the right buying stage.

Using segmentation, you can create messages that speak directly and personally to each prospect and adopt social selling at scale. 

However, research is needed to get the best results. For each area, you need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • Buyer personas
    • Who are your different personas
    • What are they responsible for? 
    • What do they care about? 
    • How do they move through the sales process? 
    • What LinkedIn outreach strategy do they require?

You will want different nurture campaigns for each buyer persona, and the answers to these questions will determine your LinkedIn lead generation strategy. You could survey existing customers if you don’t have these answers.

  • Engagement level
    • Where are your prospects in the buyer’s journey? (Your strategy will be different for leads that are only aware of your product vs. those approaching a decision) 
    • What resources have they engaged with?
    • How much interest have they shown? 
    • Are they in the discovery process? If so, how far along? 
  1. Create and load messaging templates 

Each of your segments will require different messaging and different CTAs. Luckily, LinkedIn automation tools make segmenting messages easy with a small amount of upfront preparation, boosting the reach of your LinkedIn lead generation activities. 

Using Salesflow, you can create different LinkedIn automation campaigns based on the status of your leads to generate sales. Campaigns could include templates for prospects at the following stages: 

  • Accepted a connection request but didn’t respond to follow-ups
  • Responded but never booked a meeting
  • Booked a meeting but didn’t convert 
  • Expressed interest but didn’t take action

Or for the following objections:

  • Not the right time
  • Follow up in a few weeks or months
  • No need (right now) 
  • No budget (right now)
  • Not convinced by the solution
  • Weighing up several solutions

You can make your approach as detailed or simple as you want. There’s no need to get overwhelmed: starting with just 3-4 different streams can be a great addition to your LinkedIn outreach strategy. 

Remember, the ultimate goal of these campaigns is to build trust by showing helpfulness and usefulness to your prospects – ultimately moving them down the funnel to generate sales.

  1. Track results and iterate as needed. 

Once you have a workflow in place, you can use analytics tools to track response rates, connection acceptances, and the percentage of positive and negative replies to hone your lead generation strategy. 

Salesflow allows you to filter by campaign and track which segments get the best response rates to build a LinkedIn outreach strategy that improves conversion.

Integrating your LinkedIn data with your CRM can also help with marketing efforts like lead scoring. Greater lead-scoring sophistication will improve social selling efforts, lower the cost of acquisition and help maintain a healthy pipeline of good-fit prospects. Over time, you’ll learn what signals suggest buying intent and streamline sales and marketing efforts to generate more leads on LinkedIn.

Build a winning lead nurturing strategy with Salesflow

The key to effective lead nurturing is a system that scales. See the difference Salesflow’s LinkedIn automation makes to your results with a 7-day free trial: