When I started in my sales career many years ago, I didn’t have the luxury of an established client base or a robust CRM package that reminded me who to call. I didn’t have a marketer funneling leads to me or setting up appointments on my behalf. No, each day I came into the office and started “pounding the phones”, making cold calls, and hoped to get a live person on the phone so I could talk to them about whatever I was selling. When I got a “no”, I wrote the opportunity off and went on to the next cold call. It didn’t take long to realize this was an exercise in futility because 80 percent of other sales people were calling these exact same people using the exact same tactic. So, I thought about the way I wanted to be treated and the kind of people I liked to buy from and changed the way I approached prospects.

Although I didn’t know the official concept at the time, I started formalizing a lead nurturing approach. I shifted my mindset so that every prospect that said ”No”, was looked at as a future “Yes”. I set up call reminders on my calendar and started calling these prospects consistently at mutually agreed upon intervals. Overtime, I established relationships with these prospects, and ultimately, I closed business with more than 60 percent of them! More importantly, more than 80 percent of these clients worked exclusively with me and stopped working with other vendors! All because I took the time to nurture the relationships, made a commitment to their success and put in the hard work to make it happen. Although the process was labor intensive, it got the job done. Had I only realized what I could have accomplished by implementing a similar process through marketing campaigns, my sales could have grown exponentially higher.

Fast forward to today’s electronically-connected, ultra-complex business climate and the ”relationship” element is even more rare and impactful than ever before. Although the sales person is still a critical component of the sales process, marketing campaigns have become a much more cost effective way of nurturing prospects and staying in touch with customers. Establishing a schedule of ongoing, targeted marketing activities is an impactful way to nurture leads and keep your company “top of mind” with your prospects. However, the concept of prospecting or lead nurturing through marketing is still not a focus for most companies or sales teams.  But the statistics speak for themselves on the impact that nurturing has on business. Here are some current statistics related to lead nurturing:

  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales at 33 percent lower cost (Forrester Research)
  • Nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (The Annuitas Group)
  • Companies with mature lead generation and management practices have a 9.3 percent higher sales quota achievement. (CSO Insights)
  • 35-50 percent of sales go to the vendor that responds first. (InsideSales)
  • The average sales cycle has increased 22 percent over the past 5 years due to more decision makers involved in the buying process. That means more intricate lead nurturing towards more stakeholders. (Sirius Decisions)

So here is a point for you to ponder: Are you nurturing your prospects or leads? Are you reaching out to your install base to maintain contact and foster those relationships? Or are you just moving on to the next company, never looking back after the sale or a “not right now” answer from a lead?  If you are in the latter group, consider implementing consistent marketing practices that will ensure you are top of mind when your customers and prospects have a need for your services. With the multitude of electronic and social media tools available today, companies don’t have to spend much money to establish ongoing targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with prospects and generate incremental business. And it’s critical to never take for granted that your customers will be waiting for you when it’s time for that next sale.  If you aren’t staying in touch with them, it’s guaranteed that someone else will, who wants to get his foot in the door just as badly as you once did.

Cisco has done the legwork and developed a variety of campaigns that partners can leverage to drive incremental revenue. Check out the large variety of marketing campaigns you can utilize available on Partner Marketing Central (PMC). You can drive awareness around all your architectural specialties or vertical focus with the options found there. For example, imagine driving a series of messages to your prospects related to the critical importance of security in the midst of the proliferation of mobile devices on today’s business networks. You educate prospects on possible new security threats and potential solutions while keeping these issues top of mind with your customers. Adding value in this way differentiates you from the competition and builds credibility, making it much more likely you get the knock on your door when the time is right. Cisco Partner Plus partners receive quarterly incentives for meeting their Partner Plus goals. These incentive funds can be used to purchase and execute on various marketing campaigns in PMC that will peak your prospects’ interests, nurture those relationships, open opportunities, and build loyalty.

So, don’t make the mistake of just looking at marketing as a reactive exercise when the going starts to get tough. Make ongoing marketing a regular part of your go-to-market strategy and see the results speak for themselves. You are never too small or successful to start proactively reaching out to prospects and customers. Take advantage of low cost social media tools and leverage existing campaigns made available to you through Cisco.  Make marketing a part of your everyday business and you’ll get to “Yes” more quickly and often. Let me know what you think!


Karin Surber

Sr. Global Business Development Manager

Global Partner Strategy and Planning