Lead Nurturing and the Inside Sales / Telesales Role


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We are working with several clients to help them improve their lead nurturing program to deliver a higher volume and quality of sales ready leads to the outside sales team.

We have found a tendency on the part of Inside Sales to conduct their work from what I would term a traditional mindset. In many cases they are actively prospecting for new leads from an unqualified list. They may be qualifying, using a BANT process, opportunities that have been created through marketing programs — something one of my partners refers to as “waterboarding to BANT.” Or, they are actively trying to set appointments for sales reps.

Telemarketing Study Results

This assessment was verified in a recent article about a study of the top objectives and budget areas for telemarketing organizations.

“The most popular objective for telemarketing, according to the research, is ‘generating new leads’, selected by 76 per cent of respondents, followed closely by ‘booking sales appointments’, selected by 72 per cent. ‘Lead qualification’ was third most popular, cited by 67 per cent. These findings confirm that the primary role of telemarketing is in the so-called demand generation arena.”

Maybe it’s assumed that nurturing is part of “lead qualification.” But I’ve found that clear language distinctions are critical in setting the right mindset and expectations for any operations role. We call this the “come from.”

The “come from” for lead qualification (and certainly appointment setting) is primarily a vendor perspective — when will you be ready to talk with a sales rep? I think the “come from” for lead nurturing is very different. It takes the buyer’s perspective, based upon what is interesting to them.

I posted this question in the Focus Sales website:

“What are the key elements for a lead nurturing function with an inside sales organization?”

I received an excellent, thoughtful response from Craig Rosenberg who makes several excellent observations, especially about the limitation of an automated only process for lead nurturing.

“There are a couple ways to think about Inside Sales in the lead nurturing process. The most important factor everyone must know is that you cannot downplay the critical function that inside sales plays in the lead management process. So when you ask for specific elements that inside sales provides in the lead nurturing process, the lead qualification function is the most important thing. It just is. The inside lead qualification function is the last mile of lead nurturing. They ensure that all your lead nurturing efforts are a fit for sales and queue them up so sales is more likely to follow up on them. Your lead management plan will not reach it’s full potential if the plan is to use automation to nurture, score leads, and then flip them to quota-carrying reps. Inside sales, the age-old lead qualification function, is still the bridge between marketing efforts and sales.”

He then goes on to suggest how important the phone is as a nurturing and cultivation channel, a way to score leads with greater accuracy and refinement, and a way to deliver more relevant content.

In our work with customers, we’re seeing generally weak nurturing due mainly to a poor “come from” and lack of a good supporting program. We are NOT a telesales operations or consulting company. We’re just trying to improve the handling of leads we help generate and nurture with automated methods. We also want inside sales to do a better job using the content we create, to nurture.

Telesales Nurturing Program

To correct this, we have recommended and implemented the following practices which we organize in the following categories:

  • Stage definitions
  • Objectives for each stage
  • Come from
  • Approach
  • Specific techniques
  • Next steps

We have documented our program far beyond what I have space and time for here. To receive the full program to support telesales nurturing click here (small registration required).

Stage Definitions

Three stages of the buyer and the relationship with the inside sales professional” — and primary objectives by stage

  • Engage to establish a trusted relationship
  • Educate and Nurture to create and accelerate opportunities
  • Learn, Qualify and Document the details of the opportunity pre-sales

Examples below are for Stage One — Engage

The “come from” is changed from a traditional, sales oriented “I’m calling to see where you are as a potential buyer and what I have to do to get you to speak with one of my sales reps” to a buyer relevant “I’m here to serve and help you personally and professionally by providing valuable information, saving time, sharing insights, to make you successful.”

Approach is the tact the professional takes that creates a visceral feeling on the part of the buyer relative to the intent. Something like, be curious to be helpful, think from the buyer’s perspective in your conversations with them and, ask “Buying Facilitation (R)” questions (nod to Sharon Drew Morgen).

Specific Techniques
Specific techniques for the Engage stage include:

  • Using tools we provide from our Content Frameworks that guide purpose and messaging in customer conversations
  • Ask open ended, thought-provoking questions
  • Ask “buying facilitation” questions
  • Listen for … (problem symptoms, triggger points, pain, confusion, possible opportunity,)
  • Use and share content

Next Steps
Next steps include:

  • Gain commitment
  • Send content
  • Setup next conversation

Effective lead nurturing won’t happen naturally. It requires a program that creates the right expectations, structure, tools, mindset, reviews, measures, training and support.

I completely agree with Craig, the effectiveness of the personal touch of a phone conversation goes far beyond automated lead nurturing. Without an effective lead nurturing function, along with lead generation and qualification, an organization risks missing key opportunities, handing over premature opportunities, or even being late in turning over important leads to sales.

What do you think, is lead nurturing an important distinction from lead qualifying that makes a difference, or does it happen automatically? What have been your experiences?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Burns
Jim Burns is founder and CEO of Avitage, which provides content marketing services in support of lead management and sales enablement programs.


  1. To continue with the “Lead Generation” theme: (Jim Nice blog spot here by the way)

    I don’t know if the rest of you agree but, the obvious difference between a B2B Lead Generation program and a B2B Appointment Setting campaign is that a B2B Lead Generation program stops one step short of setting a qualified appointment. Some clients, involved in a complex sale that requires a vast knowledge of the industry or strong knowledge capital, prefer us to qualify the lead and then hand it over to the client to have an in-depth business discussion and qualify the lead more thoroughly before they actually set a qualified appointment.

    What you have to do is Select Target Campaigns: Some of our clients (Tech Company Lead Generation) request that we focus our cold calling to set qualified appointments on a short list of select targets. The Select Target campaign involves calling multiple times collecting information and escalating the qualification process until we set a qualified appointment. For enterprise targets involving a complex sale we can contact multiple decision makers and influencers to schedule a qualified appointment with each executive. All B2B appointment setting campaigns are customized to meet your needs.

    The Bottom Line. Would sales increase if your salespeople and agents spent more time with qualified prospects and less time trying to find them? B2B Appointment Setting/ B2B Lead Generation isn’t just a necessity – it’s an essential resource to help capture market share, build your business and achieve your revenue goals.

    Honestly, every post that you see on the web describes the next BIG methodology when it comes to B2B Lead Generation. At my company Partner Source, which is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, we approach the B2B Lead Generation subject with science, as it is our business. We have taken over 20 years of B2B Lead Generation historical data and the proof is in the pudding, you can’t argue the results.

    Here is what we offer, what do you think about this position?

    * Decision Maker appointments
    * You receive every email and communication with prospects (audio recordings)
    * (No Shows for you = 0%)
    * We have lists of over 25,000 potential prospects in the U.S.
    * We can use your CRM list if requested
    * Unlike most Lead Gen firms, you can directly call our Bus. Dev. people anytime
    * Your account status is done DAILY by Phone not email like our competition
    * Fast turnaround of your project
    * Cost savings and revenue increase
    * Significant improvement in the quality and productivity of your business
    * B2B Lead Generation Companies

    Glenn Wright
    Partner Source (B2B Lead Generation)
    Minneapolis, Minnesota


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