Your prospects are shopping online for solutions, with or without you. Whether or not your prospects know they have a problem your company can solve or not is irrelevant--they don't want to talk to sales people.
Therefore, sales prospecting with content requires a more complex process than it did even five years ago, largely because the buyer has a lot more control and salespeople are no longer the sole gatekeepers to the information they need.
Because of the complexities of today’s buyer’s journey, and the ever-changing role of sales in this process, marketing must be involved more than ever before:
- More than branding and awareness
- More than demand generation
- More than just lead conversion
Because each sales process has become unique. In fact, the entire process must work in tandem with sales to turn suspects into qualified opportunities resulting in revenue.
Enter the lead nurturer.
This is a relatively new role designed to bridge the gap between sales and marketing, using content and sales skills to build ongoing relationships with prospects and move them toward qualified conversations over time.
Since each sales cycle has become unique, the goal of a lead nurturer is to apply the appropriate content to each sales situation to further a prospect down the buying path—“sales enablement” has become the term to describe this confluence of marketing and sales functions.
In smaller companies, this role may be filled by just one person, whereas larger companies may have teams in place that share out the duties. But regardless of size, the required skill sets of a lead nurturer are the same:
1. Messaging strategy and application.
On the marketing side, lead nurturers must understand the role of content marketing and how today’s buyer actually becomes engaged with brands. They may not actually generate content themselves, but they must be certain which content best generates necessary action at every stage of the sales cycle. And then they must have the experience to make the right recommendations to content developers about what they need moving forward.
2. Writing and editing skills.
Standard scripted emails, voicemails, and call scripts simply won’t cut it—today’s buyer can see right through those tactics. Today’s lead nurturer must be able to craft their own language that uniquely fits the situation at hand to get a prospect engaged with the brand.
3. Research and hunting skills.
Buying lead lists won’t cut it anymore, either. When engaging with a prospect, whether via email, phone, or in person, the buyer expects the person on the other end to have done some research. At a minimum, that includes a broad sense of what the company does and potential issues they have that you might be able to solve. A good lead nurturer knows how to find much of this information in their research and, by asking intelligent questions, they can create curiosity with the buyer.
4. Record keeping and CRM knowledge.
Much of today’s content has been automated and collected in CRMs such as Salesforce. This means a lead nurturer must be able to look at a lead record and make a determination as to how to proceed to get the prospect interested in having a conversation. Based on what the prospect has responded to in the past, a lead nurturer must use that knowledge to reach out and be a helpful resource for problem solving.
5. A head for analytics.
Lead nurturers need to make inferences from data and to test hypotheses. For example, what made people respond more to this article than that one? What questions can I ask that will generate curiosity and uncover potential pain points? What can we infer from someone who downloaded this infographic?
6. An understanding of the sales process.
Covered in most sales training courses, a lead nurturer must have an understanding of buying processes, objections, commitment levels, influencers, and so on to be able to use content to engage with potential leads and answer their questions.
Hiring the right lead nurturers will make a big difference between what your marketing department generates as a lead and what your sales team turns into an opportunity.