The below post is courtesy of Sheila Baker, Principle of Opine Consulting.

I’ve now had the experience of running email nurturing programs for over five years with multiple high tech companies. An effective nurturing program regularly touches leads with quality content. With the proper mix and tone in the emails, you can build your brand, be perceived as a market leader and educate so your solution is top-of-mind to potential customers.

The question with nurturing is, how do you know when a lead is ready? All of the major marketing automation products (Marketo, Eloqua, Vtrenz/Silverpop, eTrigue, etc.) include lead scoring as part of the process. In theory, it’s all automated so as the lead responds (or not) to your emails and hits your website, you can track what they do, allocate positive and negative increments to their score and then out the other end pops a fully qualified lead.

For complex technology sales, forwarding a lead directly to your sales team when that magic score is reached without some additional human touch may not be the best way to go. Finding out whether it really is the right time for sales to engage can be extremely important. And yes, there is certainly much that can be done through low-touch marketing programs, but having humans with intelligence to work an account before there’s an active sales cycle can make the difference in longer term success. You may be turning over fewer leads but they are the ones that sales will eagerly engage with.

The Vanella Group, Inc. uses a direct B2B telemarketing formula that reaches out and touches potential leads through cold calling and recycled lead follow-up. The result provides a multi-dimensional understanding of the account with greater depth and sales intelligence. Leads are only turned over to sales when they are in an active buy cycle. Doing both the outbound telemarketing to gain real intelligence and the automated nurturing to educate over a period of time provides for major efficiency in the processes and greater coverage of the market.

The bottom line? Use the greatness of nurturing and telemarketing together to deliver real opportunities to your sales team.