After identifying and qualifying a lead, your work has only just begun. An enormous part of the sales cycle involves nurturing leads to close, and this is true both when selling directly to customers and selling through partners.
While some strategies apply to both, it’s essential to customize your B2B lead nurture activities based on your end goal and the context of the sale. This article will explore how to create a comprehensive plan, along with best practices to keep in mind when nurturing leads of all types.
Lead Nurturing in Partnerships vs. Direct Sales – Key Differences
There are a few key things to consider when nurturing partner-sourced and direct sales leads; perhaps most important to keep in mind is who manages the relationship. With partner sales, you need to ensure that your partner team is enabled and skilled-up to represent your tool accurately. With direct sales, it’s your sales team that needs to be enabled.
Understanding the context of B2B sales conversations will help you craft beneficial resources that nurture leads to close in their respective scenarios.
For a more in-depth comparison of the two, check out Channel vs. Direct Sales.
General Strategies for Partner & Direct B2B Sales
Determining lead scoring criteria
When approaching partner-led and direct sales, a few concepts are applicable in both scenarios. First, and perhaps most important, is lead scoring. With lead scoring, you award prospects a set number of “points” for each quality they have or action they take. If your prospect works in the right industry and is a decision-maker, they should earn points. They should accumulate even more points as they engage with your sales team.
Setting a target number for points will help you to understand when your team is ready for outreach during each stage of the sales cycle. Similarly, if your prospect has qualities that don’t fit your target persona, you should subtract points, so your team isn’t wasting their time on bad-fit leads.
Keeping personas up-to-date
As you work to define the actions and qualities that deserve points, it’s worth refreshing your partner and customer personas. Evaluate the demographics you’re targeting, what qualities they embody, and how they behave. It’s a good idea to update your buyer and partner personas every few months to ensure they’re still accurate. Then, you should use that information to tailor your marketing message so it’s specific to the recipients’ motivations, pain points, and background. For additional inspiration for creating or revamping your personas, check out our SaaS Buyer Personas – CTO, IT Manager, CISO, & More.
Cementing a strategy to reengage leads
Finally, both teams should have strategic plans for reengaging leads who go dark and have access to targeted content marketing. Both of these are best enabled with automation tools that allow you to build lead nurturing workflows that can be triggered at any point in the sales process, such as downloading a resource or going no-contact for two weeks.
Dynamic retargeting plans – new content in new ways
Don’t make the mistake of bombarding leads with the same selling points over and over again. Instead, mix up messaging and mediums in ways that play off one another. When testing which materials receive the best engagement, don’t evaluate the data as if they were received in a vaccum. Instead, look into other factors that would influence performance. For example, if a particular email has a high “open” rate, consider previous touchpoints that may have contributed to recipients being more receptive to your brand.
Partner-specific Lead Nurture Strategies
Thorough partner training and channel-specific plans of action
When it comes to partner-led lead nurture strategies, the biggest difference is your main point of contact. In these situations, you need to create a sales enablement and lead nurturing plan that is specific to partners. Typically, this should include providing thorough partner training and onboarding when they first join the program.
Don’t make the mistake of passing along Direct Sales materials to partners without a second thought. While some Direct Sales lead nurturing strategies may be applicable, this won’t always be the case. For example, if your partners will target a different demographic, equip them with a step-by-step plan proven to resonate more with their target audiences.
Easy content access and co-branding capabilities
After that, you should have a library of content your partners can access for use in their sales efforts. For example, when a partner registers a lead within the PRM, targeted multi-step playbooks can recommend specific resources based on the type of customer and the current stage of the sales process. Similarly, it should be easy for your partners to co-brand sales materials on-demand so they can continue sales conversations uninterrupted.
Ongoing support for partners from your team
You also need to ensure there are the proper channels of communication for your partners to get support from your team when they need it. By using a PRM, you can ensure your partners have access to all of your resources 24/7 and a direct line to the members of your team who can help them, all essential components of a strong partner experience (PX).
Leverage partners’ marketing strategies, spending, and content for re-targeting and sales enablement
Don’t only regard marketing content as a tool for B2B lead generation. Make sure you invest in content intended for partner sales enablement and test its success rate; keep in mind, what worked five years ago may no longer have the same impact today.
Similarly, remember that marketing development funds (MDF) can also be leveraged for lead re-targeting through social and PPC.
Help partners create intimate, personalized experiences for leads
Data proves that personalization at all stages of B2B lead engagement and nurturing leads to greater success. As a baseline, arm partners with prospect pages in which they can customize messaging. Additionally, with the help of targeted playbooks, they can provide content that pertains to the lead’s specific pain points.
Additional Lead Nurturing Best Practices to Consider
When you look to analyze the results of your efforts and optimize the strategies you use, it’s important to separate your data by partner-led vs. direct sales. Many teams make the mistake of aggregating their data and are unable to get actionable insights as a result.
For both partner-led and direct sales efforts, there comes the point where a lead can’t be nurtured any further. It’s important to have a plan to disengage when it becomes clear that a lead won’t convert, otherwise you’re wasting valuable resources. This is where lead scoring comes in handy as well. If your leads aren’t hitting the proper milestones while moving through the sales funnel, they might not be a good fit after all.
Similarly, consider revisiting closed-lost leads. There are many reasons a prospect may ultimately say no. Oftentimes, that doesn’t mean the door is closed for good, so don’t cut ties completely. Instead, document why they said no, if possible, and make a plan to follow up in the future.
If, for example, the problem was budget, you may reach out in a few months to see if things have changed. Meanwhile, if they choose to go with a competitor, that’s a perfect opportunity to reach back out the next time you make a significant product improvement.
Improve Your Lead Nurture Strategies in 2022
In both direct and partner-led sales scenarios, lead nurturing is an essential part of the sales process. After getting introduced to a lead or working with a partner on a new opportunity, educational content and target outreach can be powerful tools for nudging your leads toward signing.
In 2022, Partner teams are touching more partners and prospects than ever before using powerful tools and automation. Allbound PRM users see 376% increased partner engagement and realize a 15x return on their investment. Achieve your 2022 goals for channel sales with Allbound. Give it a spin with a free demo.