Sales Nurturing Campaigns Exposed

Over the past few years, I’ve covered just about every topic in marketing automation. I’ve covered the flaws in the way we currently report using the Attribution model, the most advanced lead nurturing techniques, and more – but I have yet to give a lot of attention to the sales side of a business. This is because up until this point, most businesses have only seen marketing automation as a marketing tool, not a sales tool.

The problem likely lies with the term “marketing automation.” Most people only see marketing as the first half of the lead life cycle; they don’t consider sales activities as marketing, and therefore assume that marketing automation does not affect sales success. This could not be further from the truth. With sales nurturing campaigns, you can give your sales team the ability to stay top of mind, obtain more high-quality leads, and ultimately drive more revenue with the same headcount and budget.

Here are the things you must know to be successful at creating and utilizing sales nurturing campaigns.

Marketing vs. Sales Nurturing Programs
Marketing and sales are on the same team – just at different ends of the customer’s journey. The use of lead nurturing benefits both departments equally. The main difference between the two use cases lies in how the two departments engage with their leads, and their goals for doing so.

The concept of nurturing is to stay in front of a lead over a longer period of time, digitally building rapport. Marketing usually tends to use mass communication tools to build this rapport, where sales is all about building a direct relationship. So when marketing is using lead nurturing, they are trying to generate interest without personal engagement, where sales is using lead nurturing to cover more ground, but also clue them in on when personal engagement is possible.

Essentially, marketing has one goal for lead nurturing: create more leads, faster. Sales has two goals: stay in front of more leads with less effort, and identify which leads to call today.

Sales Nurturing Campaign Theory
The goal of a sales nurturing campaign is very simple; all you need to do is give sales an excuse to reach out. It’s important to keep this goal in mind throughout the entire process, as it will determine the specific techniques used to build and deploy sales nurturing programs.

See figure 1.1, a table of the most common nurturing programs for marketing and sales. It also has the specific techniques used for each program. Notice marketing programs have terms such as “3-2-1” or “stage specific,” where sales nurturing programs are all “straight line” programs. Sales nurturing programs are much less technical in construction because our goals are different.

Where marketing campaigns goals are built to help move someone through a life cycle without human interaction, sales nurturing campaigns are trying to clue us in on when personal interaction is possible. The “straight line” drip program is a straight line of emails broken out by time, with no branching or fancy automation. They are very simple in construction, and highly optimized for two very specific purposes: stay in front of leads over a long period of time, and clue sales in to when a personal interaction is warranted. Let’s break down some of the specific elements of a typical sales nurturing campaign.

Figure 1.1

Problem/Goal Type of Drip Program
Cold Database 3-2-1
Automate Lead Nurturing Stage-Specific Drip
Event Pre and Post Follow-Ups Event-Specific Drip
Cold Marketing Lead Drip 3-2-1
Cold Sales Lead Drip Straight Drip
Competitive Drip Straight Drip
Lost Deal Drip Straight Drip

Sales Drip Nurturing Subject Lines: Subject lines in a sales lead nurturing campaign should be focused on rapport building. This means your subject lines are not talking about you, but are instead focused on helping your lead be better at their job. Consider looking at the emails your best sales person sends to get some ideas. Here are some other great ideas for subject lines for sales nurturing campaigns:

  • Did you get a chance to see this?
  • Wanted to drop this by you
  • Thought you’d enjoy this one

Nurturing Email Layout: The layout of the nurturing email is very important. The good news is that the lack of HTML or CSS makes the term “layout” really non-existent. Since a salesperson is not expected to write code for HTML or CSS, it does you no good to use these tools in your emails for sales nurturing campaigns; you’re much better off just using rich text emails. Here are a few other tips to ensure your sales nurturing emails get engaged with:

  • Remove links in your signature: Links in the signature of your email are the least clicked-on links you own, and can actually hurt your email sending. Because spam filters use a ratio of text to links to evaluate the likelihood of spam in incoming emails, consider eliminating unneeded links to ensure better deliverability.
  • Keep them short: Keep your emails to three to four sentences. Have them written as a person would write a note to a friend.
  • Remove any formal salutations: Remove “Hi” or “Dear” – just get right to the point with their name.

Email Sender: When sending email from sales, make sure they always come from sales. This is an often-overlooked aspect of the sales lead nurturing program. Since you’re trying to make each email appear to be a direct interaction from a salesperson, you need the sender of the email be the salesperson assigned to the lead. This is a very basic feature of just about every marketing automation tool, and shouldn’t be a big issue.

Timelines: Your sales nurturing campaigns should mimic sales’ natural follow-up process. Since the leads will not be placed on one of these campaigns until they are in the salesperson’s hands, the campaigns should mimic the salesperson to appear as genuine as possible.

The best way to go about this is to go talk to your favorite salesperson. Ask them what their follow-up process is with leads. Ask how long they usually wait between phone calls and emails. When I was working in sales, my personal follow-up process used to be to place a phone call and send an email, wait two days, email again, wait seven days, and repeat the process. I’d then extend my seven-day follow up to more days as time went on if the lead did not want to engage. So, if you were to use my process to build a nurturing campaign your campaign would look something like the figure 1.2.

Figure 1.2


Call to Action: The call to action (CTA) in your email is a very important part of your nurturing campaign. If you get the person to open an email and read it, you should also be able to get them to take the action you desire. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating CTAs for sales nurturing campaigns:

  • Always make it a hyperlink: Make sure you are linking to a URL so you can track when the lead engages with it, and notify your salesperson.
  • Use third-party content: Using other people’s content in a sales nurturing campaign can save you a lot of time, while still providing a helpful resource.
  • Put the CTA up high in the copy: Increase your odds of engagement by placing it as high as you can in the email copy. This will increase the odds of engagement.

The concepts behind lead nurturing emails for marketing and sales are not totally different, but there are enough differences to require an adjustment in technique. Make sure you fully understand the goals of your sales nurturing campaigns and follow the tips above to help ensure you’re giving your sales team the best possible chance to close more business. These are techniques I’ve used and taught for years; are there any that I’ve forgotten, or techniques that you’ve seen used successfully? Please feel free to share on this thread as well, so we can all learn together.

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

Related reading

Website landing page vector graphic