Marketing nurturing v sales sequencing – what is the difference and when should you use them?
When you have great content, the leads produce themselves, correct?
Not quite. Just as when forming your content marketing strategy you will map content to buyer personas, you must take the same approach with mapping content based on a buyer’s journey and use a fully comprehensive modern, digital sales approach where appropriate.
But how do you know when marketing should be nurturing and when sales should be sequencing their way to a closed deal?
Read on to discover the difference between marketing nurturing and sales sequencing, and why you should use them both in your lead and demand generation.
What is marketing nurture?
While the late 90s and 2000s were defined by the idea of push marketing and sales, whereby you have a product and service to sell, you buy data and then send emails or make phone calls and visits to generate business, the 2010s changed everything.
The 2010s was the advent of inbound sales and marketing.
Since then, the reliance on push sales and marketing has reduced significantly, but still has its place in a healthy balance of modern, digital sales activity.
The picture is now very much a mix of push and pull tactics.
A push tactic may be used to send out cold emails to targeted data to download a piece of content, but from there the pull tactics are employed.
Marketing nurture is that pull tactic. It is the means of sending targeted, relevant content to your database via email and social media.
That could be a monthly newsletter, or it could be to promote a webinar, event or new pillar page.
Whatever the focus, the idea is that you know your target audience by segmenting your data.
From here you send automated emails and social posts out to warm someone up from simply downloading a piece of content to actually converting.
That conversion point is typically a phone call, free trial, discount or consultation.
These nurturing workflows (or sequences) will typically see emails sent two weeks apart, with 10-12 emails sent in that period, using tactics such as 9-word question emails and promoting blogs and content to keep the audience engaged.
What are sales sequences?
Just as marketers have nurturing in their approach, so do sales and business development representatives who want to set out a standard path to nudge their sales qualified leads towards an opportunity.
You may have heard this referred to as a sales campaign, but the idea remains the same regardless of the name – dedicated touch points to keep in touch with leads. After all, out of sight, out of mind.
They are an incredibly powerful, less obtrusive way to generate business for those in a sales role.
It sees your sales and business development representatives using email, phone calls and both virtual and face-to-face meetings to push a lead down the pipe.
When do you nurture and when do you start your sequence?
Marketing nurturing does not replace sales sequencing. Sales sequencing does not replace marketing nurturing.
Think of it as two non-mutually exclusive activities. The one feeds the other.
For example, Jenny has downloaded the beginner’s guide to estate agency. She then receives automated marketing that provides her with emails covering:
- A post-download thank you and expectation setting of what’s coming up
- A blog on common challenges when selling your first property
- A checklist for completing a viewing
- A blog on choosing a building surveyor
- A template for assessing different building surveyors
- A webinar featuring thought leaders offering their tips on thriving in your first year
- A request to book a call to talk about a free building survey
From here, Jenny may engage with all of the content and be pushed over to a sales qualified lead through your lead scoring, but never request a free survey.
Your sales development representative, Mitchell, receives the lead with the mandate to sequence her towards a sale.
Jenny is put into this sequence roughly a month after not requesting a free survey. Mitchell then begins the sales sequence:
- Introductory offer to set expectations, typically asking how we can help
- Follow up email to reminder her of the new blog on tips for choosing a building surveyor
- A call to Jenny to talk about the new blog and ask her thoughts
- Follow up email, a 9 word email, asking what her biggest challenges are right now (identifying the blockers to moving the deal forward)
- Mitchell calls Jenny to ask if she would like a free consultation booked in, with his pitch tailored to the challenges she is facing in the step above – Mitchell asks Jenny if she would like to book now or visit a landing page to book herself directly into her diary
- Mitchell sends a confirmation email post call with either the link or the meeting’s calendar entry.
In the event Mitchell cannot convert Jenny into a free consultation he would then push Jenny back to the marketing nurture funnel for a low-frequency marketing nurture.
Likewise, if Danny the business development representative cold called Jenny before any of the two scenarios happened, he would push Jenny straight into a nurturing sequence if she has outright said she has no interest in buying right now.
From there Jenny would find herself potentially speaking to Mitchell.
Some tips for getting started
Whether it’s the marketing nurture or sales sequence, here are some tips for getting started.
1) Everything begins with knowing your audience
Buyer personas are at the heart of marketing and sales because businesses don’t exist without people buying their offering.
So, take the time to understand who the ideal buyer is, their pains, wants, where they go for information, what information they consume. That guides number 2.
2) Build content that resonates with your audience
Don’t be ignorant enough to think that the accounts team care about getting a free survey. Likewise, don’t talk to Jenny about marketing your estate agency to surveyors.
Know who you are talking to and then the content will flow from there, directly into your audience’s inbox.
3) The right people, the right content, the right time
Automation of marketing nurture and sales sequencing through tools such as HubSpot or Salesloft makes this a cake walk.
You can build out a workflow of emails, tasks and record calls all associated with the nurture or sequence.
You can analyse the performance of your efforts and then optimise, reaching the nirvana of right person, right content, right time.
Hit that sweet spot of when Jenny wants that blog on the challenges of finding a surveyor at the right time, she’s hooked.
Even if she doesn’t request a free survey and become a customer, the care you have shown her will pay off down the line, as we buy from company’s we trust and feel have our best intentions in mind.
4) Quality over quantity
Unlike cold email and calling, here you are very targeted in your efforts.
You’re sending the right messages to the right people above, so that means your quality will outweigh the quantity of effort.
That’s why marketing nurturing and sales sequencing are elements of a total modern, digital sales toolkit. But remember, cold calls, social selling and tactics such as ABM must fill out the rest of your efforts.
5) Think smart
If you generate business from your marketing nurturing and sales sequencing, be sure, where appropriate, to ask your newly won business the factors that helped them close.
Perhaps it was simply a latent need that was exposed from something as a random as a billboard outside Jenny’s bus stop. Or it could have been the eBook and the professionalism shown by Mitchell and Danny in keeping her engaged.
If you don’t ask, you can’t replicate your efforts or even improve them in the future.
To learn more about how Flamingo Marketing Strategies can help you build your digital marketing through marketing nurturing and sales sequencing, be sure to get in touch via 01926 423170