Ask the Expert: Justin Gray on Why Lead Nurturing is Like a Conversation

August 5, 2015

laughing conversation

Justin Gray is the CEO of LeadMD, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based agency that helps marketers optimize marketing automation for effective lead nurturing and revenue generation. He founded this company in 2009.

Prior to that Gray was a marketing executive at companies such as BillingTree and Computer Guidance Corporation. Back then he was in search of software that could help make his marketing team more effective and more efficient. Too often, however, he found that the software actually created more work.

But that was before he installed marketing automation software, which enabled his team to boost their results while cutting costs 30 percent. “I found Marketo – a brand of marketing automation software – and fell in love,” Gray recounts on the “CEO Vision” page of LeadMD’s website.

Gray is a true believer in marketing technology, which he says enables marketers to have conversations with their prospects – that is, based on a prospect’s online behavior, a marketer can deliver the right content and the right time to move the lead nurturing conversation forward.

Read on to garner more insight from Gray as he answers questions such as, When it comes to lead nurturing, how important is it to get sales and marketing on the same page? What should be the primary goal of a lead nurturing program?

Q&A with Justin Gray is the CEO of LeadMDJustin Gray

LinkedIn: How are changes in the buyer’s journey impacting the role of lead nurturing?

Justin: We know 70 percent of the buying process takes place online. So, ultimately information is really what has made lead nurturing become paramount. People expect—via your website, via your social profile, via anything that represents that business—to be able to get into those channels and find out what you’re about, what problems you solve, how you could help them. They don’t expect to call a representative or have a face-to-face conversation in order for that to happen.

LinkedIn: During the part of the buying process that takes place online, what should marketers be striving to do with their lead nurturing programs?

Justin: Lead nurturing for me is the way that the buyer builds trust. If someone really dislikes you, if you come into their office, they’re not going to like you any better if you just keep showing up. Same thing with sending someone email. You have to start by building that trust, define how you could help someone, build up that rapport and then keep that rapport. The other element that this evolution in technology has taught us is that people are more fickle than ever. It’s great that you can consume messaging online, but if you’re not keeping someone’s attention, they’ve got a million other stimuli that they can focus their gaze on. It really is that what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mentality, where you need to be putting out great content all the time.

LinkedIn: What are the first steps you take in helping your clients start a lead nurturing program?

Justin: Our first question is always, Who is your buyer? The next question will be, Have you ever built buyer personas? Have you ever built buyer journeys based on these personas? The answer’s always, Yes. The real answer is always, No. A buyer persona is not, “Yes, we sold to the CEO and the VP of IT.” It is literally, “Who is this person, how do they build trust, how do they form relationships, what’s important to them?”

LinkedIn: What metaphor best explains lead nurturing?

Justin: I think of lead nurturing as a conversation. At a party, when you first meet someone, you’re going to have a completely different conversation. Later on that evening or maybe the next time that you see them, when you’ve built that rapport, you’ll have a different conversation.

LinkedIn: When it comes to lead nurturing, how important is it to get sales and marketing on the same page?

Justin: That’s absolutely key. If I’m asked, if you had to give marketers one piece of advice they can do today, I say spend the day with sales. No one has a better exposure to what the customer needs than your sales team. They hear those objections every single day, and if they know that you’re taking those objections and actually creating content around it, that’s a huge alignment exercise right there.

For more thought leader interviews and tips on how to boost the effectiveness of your lead nurturing programs, download The Sophisticated Marketer’s Crash Course In Lead Nurturing.

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