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Recognising When Your B2B Buyer becomes a Sales Lead

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Lead nurturing is essentially about handing leads over to sales at the right point - when the prospect is ready to buy.

Running a marketing campaign and pushing anyone you hear breathing over to sales is fraught with problems.  A successful sales person knows they should focus on qualified opportunities, so anything that's not at the ready to buy stage will inevitably be dropped.  That's not to say they would never be ready to buy, just that they aren't at this point in time.  Nonetheless, the result is that they may well never buy from your company.

Let's take a look at some of the stats...

  • Only 10% of leads are followed up correctly – 90% are not followed up in a timely way, or are not treated seriously or are even ignored.
  • 69% of all leads get no follow up at all – sales people are busy trying to close orders and quickly lose interest in large batches of new enquiries.
  • Only 13% of leads are time wasters – 87% of leads result in a sale for a one company or another, even if it takes up to two years. To put it another way, almost 9 out of 10 enquiries will eventually result in an order.
  • Only 20% of all leads turn into an order within 6 months – only a small proportion of leads will turn out to be short term ‘quick orders’.
  • A huge 67% of all leads take over 12 months to turn into an order – sales people simply don’t have time to take this into account, they are paid to work on the next short term order.
  • A very low 22% of all companies have a lead nurturing programme
  • Very few companies realise the importance of these statistics and the result is 67% of all opportunities are most neglected.

Source – Aberdeen Group, Gartner Group, B2B Magazine, Chilton, Reed Elsevier, and Cahners

So most savvy marketers want to keep hold of prospects and nurture them until they are in a position to need help from the sales team to make a purchase decision.

But, many people ask, how do you know when people are ready to buy?

You have to listen out for the clues.  Monitor which companies follow your social media feeds, look at interest shown via opens and clicks on emails.  Review what documents people choose to download.  Are they following in your general views on their marketplace?  They could be in the early stages.  Downloading product guides? Probably further into their buying cycle.  Clicking on case studies?   Call 'em now!

It's tricky, but with the right marketing tools and measures in place it can be done.

So what techniques could you try in order to identify those who are ready to buy and keep yourselves engaged when they aren't?


Plot a matrix of B2B buyer personas and buying stages, then map out a timeline of content in accordance with their needs.  Work out the channels that they use and deliver content in the ways that they are most likely to look for it..... for example, product guides on your website, engaging industry copy via social networks and email, customer recommendations via YouTube.  The list is endless....and the sequencing is crucial.  Aim to be inspiring, educational and the partner of choice in that order.  Now monitor each person's progress.  Score leads accordingly and pick up the phone to those with the highest scores.  Don't pester too early, or you may put them off.


Got a solution to an industry / legal deadline?  E.g. software or hardware that replaces a soon-to-become legacy technology?  Remind prospects at intervals how far they are from the deadline and what they need to do.  Call those showing the most interest in your articles.  For example, the Pension Reform which has compliance deadlines depending on company size provides an opportunity to create a highly personalised email to each company telling them exactly how far they are from the date by which they must comply.  Or software that's a direct replacement for a package that will no longer be supported is a great opportunity.  In these cases you can call a bit early in the process.  If you're the first one to point out the problem they will face, you have more chance of success.


OK, so you had a great drip feed campaign, you executed on it and now you need to create something else.  Just stop there.  Is there content that you can easily recycle - get the same message out in a different format, change the title, change the delivery method, make a video.........All that planning effort in matching content to buying personas and their buying stages needn't be reinvented!  Recycle it to the same or a bigger audience, and keep tracking and reacting to their responses.  Don't stop!


Qualify them carefully, and assess where they are in their buying cycle before entering them into a drip feed campaign.   And don't forget to find out how they found out about you to feed into your marketing ROI and future plans.  Work out what's working best and consider dropping channels that don't perform.


Not getting traction?  Got a compelling solution to show?  A specific, time-bound offer may be just what's needed to accelerate some people's buying process.  It's used a lot in the B2C world - limited time discounts, sales and promotions.  But it has its place in the B2B world too.  Examples include trial software, 2 for 1 on training, free initial consultation, regional face to face meetings.  Now whoever shows interest in this type of campaign but doesn't bite may be further down the funnel than you think.


Yes, customers can be prospects for other products too!  It's not appropriate for all businesses, but customer retention can be aided by marketing too!  Work out with your sales team an upsell/cross-sell campaign that doesn't impinge on anything else, and put appropriate customers through an upsell/cross-sell drip feed campaign (Disguised as a customer newsletter, if you like!). Follow them just like prospects, but give the information to their account manager to follow up at the earliest opportunity.

As a HubSpot partner, Intellegentia can help you define your lead nurturing strategy and run with it using this software - capturing leads and nurturing those opportunities over time, while using sophisticated testing and analytics to continuously improve your marketing performance.

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Topics: Sales Enablement B2B Lead Generation