When sales reps reject a
marketing-qualified lead, or recycle a sales-accepted lead, the
decision marketing makes about how to handle them is important.

Research
has shown that 70% of qualified leads ignored by sales end up buying
within two years, so it's critical to keep nurturing, even if their
buying horizon has shifted farther out. Especially if you want them to
buy from your company.

If you don't, you're just wasting the
overall investment your company has made in both generating and
engaging that lead to date. This scenario reminds me of that commercial
where the kid keeps trying to throw out the recycled minutes in favor
of new ones, but the mom keeps saving them and telling her son why
those older minutes are still valuable.

In fact, the more I
think about it, the more I see the correlation to the general marketing
mindset that wants to keep generating new leads despite the ones
they've already spent time and money to attract. Kind of cavalier,
don't you think?

So, what choice do you make when reclaiming a lead into nurturing?

Quite often, that lead is tossed back into the beginning of the funnel. But that doesn't make any sense.

That's like sending your leads back to Kindergarten.

Unless,
of course, marketing tossed them to sales after one click to download a
white paper or because they registered for one webinar.
If this is the case, they weren't really nurtured, were they? Not when typical complex sales cycles are running 5 - 8 months.

Think about the message your company is promoting if you send reclaimed leads information they've already seen. Relevance is critical for every step of the nurturing process. If you insult their intelligence, how well do you think that bodes for a future relationship?

For
companies who have business-cycle nurturing in place it's imperative to
place leads into a nurturing program that progresses their knowledge
and education beyond where they left off.

Here are a few ideas about how to insert leads back into nurturing programs:

  • Re-assign the lead to the program at the point they transitioned out.

    This
    is dependent upon how much interaction they had with the sales team
    prior to being returned. It's also a big reason why marketing needs
    visibility into sales activities. Otherwise coordinating re-insertion
    to marketing is more difficult than it needs to be.

  • Establish several extension nurturing programs and enable
    the salesperson to select which one is most appropriate for the lead
    when they send them back.

  • Send a transitional email with several offerings that
    invites the lead to indicate through their behavior and selection how
    they'd like to be communicated with moving forward.


    Yes,
    I know. You're screaming - "Wait, what if they unsubscribe?" But, what
    makes you think they won't do so if your content is irrelevant to them
    anyway? Even if they just delete, delete, delete, wouldn't you rather
    eliminate those leads who are totally uninterested from your nurturing
    pool? Concentrating on those who want to hear from you raises your odds
    of success.

However you choose to reintegrate leads that salespeople aren't
actively working, you need to give your process some thought. And you
need to make sure you consider the lead's perspective when you do so.
The point is to continue to build a valuable relationship while the
lead deals with whatever got in the way of their buying process with
you.

Priorities shuffle. Then they shuffle again. Marketing
needs to take responsibility for the long-term and let sales focus on
selling in the shorter window. It's how you reclaim those leads that
will dictate the ROI on that investment you made in generating them in
the first place.

What other ideas do you have for how marketing can best reclaim leads?

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