Lead Nurturing: Breaking Down Your Sales Funnel & Building an Effective Lead Nurturing Strategy (with 7 Tips)

Imagine this: You’ve got a lot of plants. So, so many plants.

The vines are growing up your stairs, the orchids cascading from the mirrors, the succulents dotting your kitchen table—and your oxygen levels are legendary

But several weeks later, things are dying. Leaves are shriveling, and flowers are wilting. The vibrant jungle has succumbed to an arid desert vibe.

What happened? You forgot to water the plants.

But we’re in sales—not botany—so really, what happened?

You forgot to nurture them.

Maybe you’ve done a great job generating new leads, but they aren’t converting, or many are going dormant. They are dying on the vine, as it were.

And what you need to do is water—er, nurture—those leads back to life, and prune the ones that are dead-dead. So, pull on your gloves—let’s get to work. 🌱

What is Lead Nurturing? (And Why Should You Care?)

Lead nurturing is about delivering value—and relevant content—that aligns with a prospect’s position in your sales funnel. It cultivates leads that aren’t yet ready to buy, and ‘pushes’ them through the sales cycle.

The right lead nurturing approach builds trust and creates that ‘wow, this company knows their stuff!’ factor to keep them engaged. To do that, you’ll need cooperation and coordination between your sales and marketing teams. 

Both teams get involved with lead nurturing—in different ways—depending on timing and lead intent.

Marketing handles the low-intent leads—the ones who signed up for a newsletter—the cold-cold leads. These are the folks just entering the sales funnel—who may or may not be qualified—and display few signs of purchase intent, at least for the near future.

Why marketing? Marketing—especially email marketing—can scale. It can output generalized messaging that will pull leads down the funnel without draining time and resources. 

Then, when those leads start to engage (and/or get qualified)...

Sales focuses on high-intent, near-term-purchase leads. The folks that downloaded a resource on "how to implement a CRM"—and you are a CRM. Or who started your 14-day free trial? Or, have been opening your nurturing emails for months and appear ready for the sales side. 

Why sales? Sales doesn’t scale so well. You’ll need to get hyper-personalized and engage to get the quantity—and quality—of responses you want. So, leads should only reach sales nurturing when you think they’ll buy—and soon.

What happens if the lead doesn’t respond to sales? If it’s been several months, maybe they weren’t ready to buy. So? You send them back to marketing for some more TLC.

Pro tip: Make the marketing-to-sales-and-back handoff as seamless as possible, otherwise you’ll fumble the lead. A robust CRM (like Close) can help centralize data and keep your teams aligned.

In sum, which team nurtures which lead depends on intent and timeframe. Are they going to buy now (sales) or in the future (marketing)? 

Both are important—just at different spots in the buyer’s journey.

Why Lead Nurturing Could Be Great for Your Business

Why do you need lead nurturing, anyway? Many small and medium-sized businesses work very hard at lead generation. But without proper nurturing, those efforts are wasted on un-converted leads. 

Tell me, do you suffer from:

  • Sales cycles that keep … getting … longer? Today’s customers like to be informed—and that takes time. Lead nurturing helps you retain a lengthening sales cycle by providing relevant resources promptly and pushing leads toward the close. 
  • Generating many leads, but they’re going dormant? Successful lead nurturing builds strong potential customer relationships—increasing the odds they’ll do business with you. It also helps you target (and prioritize) the highest-quality leads.
  • Skyrocketing CAC? There are different ways to drive down customer acquisition costs—but at the core, you need to reduce churn and boost purchase values. How? Nurture with value and intentional follow-ups.
  • A lack of cross-selling opportunities, or referrals? Are your paying customers even happy, bro? The benefits of lead nurturing—and building strong customer relationships—extend beyond the purchase date. When executed well, upselling and referrals will follow.

Did you know that 80 percent of new leads never purchase anything or that nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads? Those are big numbers.

You want conversion rates to soar? Get serious about lead nurturing.

Here’s how you do it.

How to Nurture Leads Through Your Sales Funnel

Timing is everything. Your lead nurturing strategy must revolve around delivering value that’s relevant to each specific stage in the sales funnel. There are six stages, which can be grouped into three general sections:

  • TOFU: The top of the funnel marks the beginning of the customer journey, where low-intent leads live.
  • MOFU: The middle of your funnel is where leads evaluate different solutions—with rising intent.
  • BOFU: The bottom is where high-intent leads make purchase decisions.

Every company’s funnel—and customers—will behave differently. But the same general rules, and even lead nurturing tactics, often apply. 

Pro tip: Always include a clear call to action (CTA) with each strategy, to pull leads through the funnel.
How to Nurture Leads Through Your Sales Funnel

How to Nurture Leads at the Top of the Funnel (TOFU)

At the top of your funnel, you have awareness and interest. Here, leads become aware of their needs—and demonstrate interest in your solution while searching for answers.

Your goal is to attract attention and provide valuable information to address their pain points and concerns. Also, get that contact information!

Lead nurturing strategies you can use at the TOFU:

  • Grow on social media: LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and more. Consider where your ideal customers are—then post, upload videos, and engage on those touchpoints.
  • Release free resources: Create eBooks, white papers, expert guides, blog posts, worksheets—whatever makes sense. These different types of content must hit lead pain points while building your credibility and industry authority.
  • Send newsletters and automated emails: From announcements to content roundups, email campaigns are (still) an effective lead-nurturing tactic. Double-check for solid subject lines—which will boost open rates.
  • Share testimonial/how-to/feature videos: Relevant videos? Those are worth more than a thousand words. Use them to deliver value in an engaging, easy-to-consume format.
  • Make discovery calls: Learn more about a lead’s needs and how you can help via outreach. Just keep the sales-y stuff at a minimum right now.

Lead Nurturing in the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)

In the middle, you’ve got consideration and intent. Prospects will now consider your solution more carefully and (hopefully) demonstrate intent via engagement. Lead scoring comes into play when you segment for more accurate targeting. 

This is where you really need to sell your value as they review alternatives. 

Lead nurturing strategies you can use at the MOFU:

  • Demo your product: How will your solution solve their pain points, exactly? An effective product demo will explain your unique value—and increase relevance.
  • Offer free trials: Free trials (like ours) allow potential customers to explore features and performance—without financial risk. Foot in the door, check! ✅
  • Make special offers: You can offer monthly payment plans or bundled packages. Just don’t outright ‘discount’ your pricing, as that diminishes your value.
  • Share case studies: Customer stories that relate to the lead or target audience help them identify with the pain points your solution solves.

I’ll say it again—make sure you are delivering value. That’s what will keep ‘em engaged.

Bottom of the Funnel Lead Nurturing Strategies (BOFU)

And at the bottom of your funnel, we have purchase and retention. By now, your prospects are well-informed and prepared to make a purchase decision. Retention is where you continue to provide exceptional service—securing their loyalty, as well as referrals. 

Lead nurturing strategies you can use at the BOFU:

  • Follow up consistently: Don’t drop leads who are about ready to purchase. Keep following up until you have a closed deal. You can also nurture the new customer relationship after purchase with frequent follow-ups to catch issues early on—and elevate the entire experience. (The right CRM can automate this for you!)
  • Maintain high-quality service: Once your leads have become paying customers, keep up the good work! Streamline onboarding and the sales-to-support handoff. 
  • Create retargeting campaigns: Maybe the sale fell through, but that doesn’t mean the lead is dead. Retarget with ads and/or marketing automation to pull them back into your sales funnel.
  • Upsell or cross-sell: Upselling and cross-selling are about increasing the value of your solution for the customer—while maximizing CLV.

Now you can see the lead nurturing process as applied throughout your sales funnel. 

With relevant CTAs, effective marketing-sales cooperation, and diligent iteration of your entire lead nurturing program—conversion rates will respond. Pretty nifty, right? 

Next, let’s cover seven tips and best practices to help you build that lead-nurturing machine. 

Build Your Lead Nurturing Strategy with These 7 Tips & Tactics

Every nurturing campaign—even the best—can get better. The right lead nurturing tactics and tips will get your strategies up and thriving. 

1. Identify Your Leads & Objectives

First things first: Know your leads. It’s obvious—we talk about it a lot—but it’s central to successful lead nurturing campaigns.

If you haven’t already, work out your ideal customer profile (ICP) or buyer persona. Do this with marketing, to get on the same page about who you are bringing into the funnel—and who you want to nurture.

Then, bucket those leads into segments. This allows you to deliver relevant content (next tip) and amplify lead scoring (tip four).

And once you know who you're nurturing, get serious about your objectives for nurturing. Via nurturing, do you want to:

  • Increase conversions by X percent,
  • Boost CLV by Y percent,
  • Shorten the sales cycle by Z,
  • Or something else?

Know your leads—and what you set out to do before you set out to do it. That way, you can track progress and adjust accordingly.

2. Capitalize on Targeted Content

Perfect lead 🤝, perfect content 🤝, perfect solution.

Once you know your leads, deliver relevant content to them—specifically. 

Imagine you sell cars. You don’t need to convince customers that they need a car. They know that already. You need to convince them why they (specifically) need your car (specifically).

Targeted content speaks to where a lead is at with their problem—and provides a solution. (That’s you.)

Of course, you’ll need more than one type of targeted content. Why? Your leads are at different stages, encounter different problems, and have different product interest areas. (This is where the lead buckets come in.)

But the more you target? The more you sell.

3. Use Multiple Touch Points on Multiple Channels

It takes an average of eight touches to make a sale. And the more channels? The better. 

Effective lead nurturing begins with gentle outreach, and increases in pressure as they move through your sales funnel. Multiple touch points, multiple channels. It may look like:

  1. Content marketing campaigns bring in new traffic,
  2. Social media connections and engagement,
  3. Newsletters and more emails,
  4. Phone calls—follow up, follow up,
  5. Follow up after the deal is closed,
  6. Follow up for cross-selling and upselling

Including multiple channels in your lead nurture campaigns is now critical, with research showing that B2B buyers regularly use an average of 10 or more channels to communicate with suppliers.

Want synchronized communication across multiple channels? Close has you covered. 

Workflows allow you to easily nurture leads—across a variety of channels. 

They contain a series of steps that can assign leads to your sales reps for specific outbound communication, send or organize outreach attempts (via email, call, or SMS), and create follow-up tasks. (It’s like a drip campaign—but better.)

Build Your Lead Nurturing Strategy With These 7 Tips - Use Multiple Touch Points with Close

The Workflow will run until each step is completed or until the lead responds.

Workflows (associated triggers and templates) can be customized to work for youyour sales process, and your sales team. 

Why does that matter? It’s important to be touch-heavy with high-quality, highly-scored leads that deserve extra attention. So, measure their revenue potential and engagement and respond according to intent.

With low-value leads? Be a little less "touchy." Or at least, don’t waste your time with hyper-personalized, time-intensive touchpoints. 

With Workflows, you can tailor multi-channel outreach to your needs—and leads’ needs—to maximize efficiency and get the timing right. It’s kind of the best. ✌️

Pro tip: Start your 14-day free trial of Close. Seriously, why wait?


4. Set Up Effective Lead Scoring

Lead scoring allows you to prioritize leads. It tells you where prospects are in your sales funnel, who’s ready for a more assertive approach, and who needs more time to convert.

It focuses your nurturing energy on the appropriate leads by ranking them against a scale of perceived value to your company. It also helps to keep marketing and sales aligned. 🤞

So, how do you score your leads?

  1. Identify key traits of your best customers: Examine analytics, chat with sales, and poll customers to determine what patterns—demographics, behavior, engagement, etc.—your highest quality leads exhibit.
  2. Weigh and assign values to those traits: Most lead-scoring models rank from 0 to 100 based on the importance assigned to each key attribute.
  3. Set a threshold for each stage in your pipeline: Minimum thresholds allow sales (and marketing) to identify MQLs or SQLs quickly—and nurture them according to your sales pipeline stages.
  4. Roll out your scoring criteria (in Close): Using “Bulk Edit” (or Custom Fields or Custom Activities), you can program Close to help streamline the lead scoring process. 

Stress test and refine that process until you have the best criteria and approach. It’ll pay off in conversion rates and rep productivity. Guaranteed.

5. Follow Up, Follow Up

Did you know that 80 percent of sales require five follow-ups, but 44 percent of sales reps give up after just one attempt? Yikes.

So, in lead nurturing, be tenacious and keep following up until you hear a flat "no." 

Whether via email, LinkedIn, or wherever you chat with prospects, maintain a regular follow-up schedule that’s easy to follow, designed to deliver more value, and that keeps you top of mind.

Automation (via a CRM, for example) helps alleviate the pressure on your team to track this outreach and leaves them prepared to close the deal—once that response comes in. 

And the right follow-up templates can make it easier, too.

6. Capture the Right Metrics

The right metrics will track your progress and build the foundation for iterating and optimizing your lead nurturing approach. 

To start easy, track the number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs)—however, that’s defined for your business. The goal here is for a smooth transition from MQL ➡️ SQL ➡️ customer.

And track net new leads. That is, how many brand-new leads have you contacted each month? 

That number should increase as you expand the new leads you connect with. (Then, take a step back and compare across months to ensure there’s a general upward trend throughout the year.)

Leads are great … but what about customers? New leads should bring in new customers. So, track that, too.

Finally, monitor conversion rates at each stage of your sales funnel. This can provide insight into what’s working and what’s not with your lead nurturing strategy. (A/B testing works great here.)

How to Nurture Leads - Capture Metrics with Close CRM

How do you track all this stuff? Close, of course. 

Or any other CRM that can visualize the data and generate reports. 

7. Iterate & Optimize Your Lead Nurturing Process

Practice makes progress, and if you want to build a successful lead nurturing strategy, you’ll want to experiment—and adjust.

Backed by the data, explore new outreach methods. Take big steps, like "publish X expert guides per month," or smaller ones, like "invest energy in click-worthy email subject lines."

Keep your original objectives in mind, and continue to evaluate your market and approach. 

Increased revenue will follow proper lead nurturing. Take it seriously to get results. 💪

Final Thoughts: Choose the Right Lead Nurturing Software & Tools to Accompany You on Your Journey

Lead nurturing is an undertaking. It has many aspects, many angles, and many potential pitfalls. 

But the right software can (and will) support you through the process—from lead scoring to content distribution—from lead management to get-the-damn-ducks-in-a-row marketing and sales alignment.

Now that you understand how to nurture your plants—er, leads—what tools will crank up the water pressure?

  • Close: Close is truly the all-in-one CRM designed to elevate outreach, enrich customer relationships, support lead scoring, and streamline reporting—with a special focus on SMBs and startups. 
  • AWeber: AWeber is an email automation platform that enables the creation, management—and automation—of your lead-nurturing email campaigns.
  • Hootsuite: Hootsuite helps create, publish, schedule, and track all your social media across platforms. 
  • Proof: Proof is a web personalization software that allows you to personalize website content for each visitor—based on browsing habits, location, and other data.

… and so many others.

We can’t offer free trials of all these awesome tools. But we can (and do) offer a 14-day free trial of Close—no credit card required. 

Why? Because we know we’re a strong candidate to help you in your lead nurture journey, but you’ll only see that power once you try it out for yourself.

So, what are you waiting for?

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