By Brian Hansford, account director and marketing automation practice lead for Heinz Marketing

Here’s a great way to involve sales in nurturing their leads. Yes, you’re reading that correctly – sales can help nurture leads! Not only will this move leads through the funnel, but it helps encourage sales and marketing alignment.

This type of campaign is perfect to run with a marketing automation platform that is integrated with CRM.

Here’s how it works. Marketing designs the program to utilize existing content that will be delivered with personalized emails from each sales rep. Automatically generated emails appear as personal emails from the sales reps. This enables sales to programmatically maintain contact with their prospects.

The campaign is best run over a period of a few months and lead behavior can be tracked and scored.

Follow these steps:

1. Use existing content
Blogs, case studies and webcasts are perfect for this type of lead nurturing campaign. This type of program is best for early stage prospects that need to learn the value of your solutions. If you need organizational support to develop more content, lead nurturing that actively involves sales is a great one.

2. Use your marketing automation platform the way it was intended
It’s time to push the comfort zone and use your marketing automation platform for something more than batch and blast email sends. Build a simple lead nurturing campaign program that sends scheduled emails every 2-3 weeks for 5 months.

3. Develop 5-7 simple emails with mail merges and dynamic content
These are emails sent on behalf of the designated sales reps. Keep the content simple and conversational. These emails should not be over engineered with HTML and marketing buzzwords! Find ways to use mail merges. If your marketing automation platform supports dynamic content, find ways to segment the emails based on roles or industry.

4. Test, measure and modify
Check the response rates. Are contacts engaging with the content and the web site? Are leads progressing at a suitable rate through the course of the program? Should more email touches be added or taken away? Are all sales reps utilizing this type of campaign?

5. Use lead scoring to triage leads and follow up
This is a perfect campaign to use lead scoring. Score the online behavior and content interaction. Was the email opened? How many times? Was the content read or viewed? How many times? How many pages did the lead visit on the web site within three days of the email? All of these types of behaviors can be weighted and scored to help prioritize leads for a different type of follow up.

The elegant power of this type of nurture program is the personalized manner in which content is delivered on behalf of individual sales reps. And for those who are new to marketing automation, this is a simple and effective program to design and implement.

A steady schedule of well-spaced contact keeps the communication consistent and relevant for the leads. And with lead scoring, leads can be prioritized and moved into other nurturing programs based on actions and behaviors. When these programs are optimized, I can guarantee sales will collaborate with you on new ideas. And that’s a great incremental step to support alignment!

Are you using a similar program for your organization? How well is it working for you? Let me know what type of extended lead nurturing you use what works best!