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Nurture 101: How to Establish Your Account and Lead Nurture Strategy

By Betsy Utley-Marin

According to research from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, at any given time, only 5% of the B2B accounts you’re targeting are in-market for your solution. The other 95% are either not yet in-market or are simply not ready to buy. 

As a result, your marketing campaigns may say the right things, but don’t achieve what you want because many of these target accounts are just not ready to engage with your sales team. 

More often, the readiness of a B2B buyer is dictated by certain factors like:

  • Budget: Do they have the funds available now, or is this a future purchase? 
  • Necessity: Is the need for a solution urgent to solve a problem? 
  • Lack of support: Does every key decision maker agree with the need to purchase a solution? 
  • Timeliness: Is now the right time to purchase based on internal and external factors? 

So, how do you as a marketer focus on the 5%, while still moving the needle for those 95% not in-market and not ready to buy? In this article, we’ll bring you up to speed with our definitive guide on nurturing.  

What is a Marketing Nurture Program?

A marketing nurture program is a strategy to stay top-of-mind with potential buyers and drive them through the buyer’s journey. This strategy results in higher awareness and education for an individual or “lead” across the entire buying committee within an account. 

There’s lead nurturing and account nurturing, but what’s the difference? 

  • Account nurturing focuses on educating and driving behavior change across the entire account, providing the most relevant information for each member of the buying committee.  
  • Lead nurturing focuses on educating and driving behavior change for a single individual, often the primary decision maker for a particular solution. 

A critical component of effective nurturing is understanding that B2B buyers in accounts comprise of more than one decision-maker-maker. 2021 Forrester Research found that 60% of B2B purchases had four or more people involved. Each member of the buying committee has pain points when considering investing in a solution for a problem. Since these pain points may not be the same, each member must defend 4 to 6 pieces of content they uncover in their buyer research to the rest of the committee to reach a purchase decision. If you execute successful lead and account nurturing, this buying committee will present content about or relating to your solution as the answer to their problems. 

A successful nurture program exercises both account and lead nurturing because the end goal is the same: drive the prospective account into a sales opportunity. 

Nurturing is not a one-and-done job. The most successful campaigns influence accounts at every stage of the buyer’s journey. When we think about the buyer’s journey in terms of the sales funnel, there are three common phases for top, middle, and bottom of the funnel activity: 

Your job as a marketer is to persuade potential buyers throughout the buyer’s journey that they have a problem and that your brand’s solution/service can: 

  1. Solve that problem 
  2. Convince prospects that is urgent that they solve that problem, and 
  3. Show buyers it is worth solving compared to doing nothing about the problem

Nurturing each member of the buying committee with relevant content and messaging for their buying stage drives consensus across multiple stakeholders. As a result, the committee can move to evaluate your solution and why your offering is best for their needs, and your campaigns drive high account engagement and faster conversion across the sales cycle. 

Nurturing in Action 

You’ve released an essential introductory webinar on the importance of AI in Accounting software. A key member of a buying committee watches the webinar; you capture their information as a lead and they have entered that first buying stage. At the end of the event, you ask if they would you like to speak to someone on your sales team and they answer, “Not at this time.”  

Why would they say no? This could be a couple of reasons: 

  • They need more information 
  • They can’t make that decision for the entire buying committee 
  • They’re part of that 95% that are not in-market right now 

With a nurturing system in place, instead of asking them to buy, you serve them the next relevant content asset after the webinar—like a whitepaper—that will move them into the consideration stage. This can be followed by other types of content designed to educate them about their problem and how to solve it. Each asset offers an opportunity to build brand trust and keep your solution top-of-mind as they go through the buyer’s journey at their own pace. Regardless of what content you share, the focus must be to help them understand the solutions that help them solve their problem; you’re not pushing them to buy right now.  

Benefits of Nurturing 

When we think about the benefits of nurturing, it’s essential to keep a few things in mind: 

  • Sales-ready opportunities: Your goal as a marketer is to convert accounts and leads to genuine pipeline opportunities. Nurturing helps you keep these accounts moving through the buying journey through valuable, informative content that is targeted to solve their problems.  
  • Buyers move faster through the funnel: By answering questions, educating the audience, and helping the buying committee form a consensus through relevant content and messaging, you can help increase deal sizes and accelerate the buyer’s journey because these educated buyers can see the upfront value in your solution before they reach a sales conversation.  
  • Brand trust: Every marketing campaign presents an opportunity to learn more about your audiences and what they want in content and messaging. Nurturing builds trust in your brand, and helps you learn more about what your accounts and leads need to move through the buyer’s journey.  
  • Measurement is critical: Nurturing provides opportunities to test different paths, design campaigns for different segments, and measure the results so you can use this information to optimize your campaigns, improve targeting, and deliver more relevant content.  

Think about your most important deals. They should all have three things in common: they were ready to buy with your sales team, understood the value of your solution, and they trust and have a relationship with your brand. Nurturing is about checking off these boxes before they speak to the sales team. 

Betsy Utley-Marin

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