The B2B lead nurture wars: How frontline marketers are infiltrating sales

Learn how to improve the B2B buyer journey for your customers with these simple steps. Turn your lead nurturing into closing sales.

Emily Fitzgerald
7 MIN|July 4, 2023
Dark background with 2 arrows, each inside a dodecahedron, pointing to each other with orange bars between them. Indicating opposing sides.

Looking for a better B2B lead nurture process? If you’re focused on improving the B2B buyer journey for your customers then you have stumbled onto the perfect article. I’m going to take you through everything you need to do to turn your lead nurturing into closing sales. I’m going to lay it all out here. Now, let’s fix your sales and marketing issues. Ps ... did someone say Project Zeus?!

Historically, the B2B lead nurture process has been a bit of a relay race. Marketing has carried the baton first, through unknown digital terrain, and – having drawn in some leads, and nurtured them – passes the baton onto sales. The handover is quick, to the point, and successive.

First marketing then sales

Once sales has their mitts on an MQL (marketing qualified lead) it becomes a SQL (sales qualified...) and – well – that's that. Game over for marketing.

Pixel retro arcade game style font that says "Game Over" and has letters and numbers below.

And so, the B2B lead nurture process has always been structured. Sequential. And siloed.

And that’s why it’s beginning to change. In a survey of hundreds of B2B companies, 82% of respondents revealed that they’re planning to put more B2B marketers on the frontlines, alongside sales. In this new model, B2B marketers work more closely on sales decks and other assets, use data-driven insights to create personalised content, and collaborate better using digital tools.

If you’re a B2B marketer, and you want to shift to a more effective B2B lead nurture process, I’m going to tell you exactly how, in an easy-to-understand step-by-step process. Seriously – put in place these steps and see for yourself.

First ... understand the B2B buyer journey

The B2B buyer journey has, up until now, operated on a very different plane to the consumer one. The sales cycle is typically longer (up to 12 months or more), the decision-making process more complex (involving more people), and the relationship between buyer and seller more personal. However, in recent years, B2B buyer behaviour has started to more closely resemble its B2C counterpart.


AspectOld B2B Buyer BehaviourNew B2B Buyer Behaviour
Sales CycleLonger sales cycle (up to 12 months or more).Shorter sales cycle due to increased digital access and information.
Decision-makingComplex process involving multiple stakeholders.Empowered buyers making faster decisions with digital research.
RelationshipPersonal relationship between buyer and seller.More focus on digital touchpoints and seamless customer experience.
ResearchReliance on sales representatives and product catalogues.Self-directed research through digital channels and online reviews.
Communication ChannelsTraditional methods such as phone calls, print ads, and trade shows.Digital channels like email, social media, and content marketing.
Customer ExpectationsLimited expectations for personalised experiences and rapid responses.Higher expectations for personalisation, speed, and responsiveness.

Whilst the consumer buyer journey is typically short and sweet – and more soulful (i.e. emotionally jampacked) – the B2B buyer journey takes place over several stages. These are:

  • Awareness: Potential buyers become aware of a problem or opportunity and discover your brand through touchpoints like blog articles, social media posts, webinars, and industry reports. This falls under the remit of marketing.
  • Consideration: B2B buyers research competitors and evaluate their options using assets like whitepapers, case studies, product demos, and comparison guides. This falls under the remit of marketing.

Baton passes from marketing to sales. MQLs become SQLs.

  • Decision: Buyers make a final decision on their preferred solution, influenced by assets like sales presentations, pricing proposals, customer testimonials, and personalised consultations with a sales team. This falls under the remit of sales.
  • Post-purchase: After their purchase, buyers evaluate the success of their decision and consider future opportunities like renewals, upsells, or referrals. This falls under the remit of customer success and account management teams.

Second ... align B2B marketing and sales

In many B2B businesses, there’s still a thick and impenetrable wall between marketing and sales. The teams are usually divided, and their many grains of wisdom kept separate, not useful to either side.

In practice, this looks like:

  • Poor lead prioritisation: Marketing doesn't score or rank leads. Sales spends time on low-quality leads rather than high-potential prospects.
  • Inconsistent messaging: Marketing and sales assets look different, causing confusion and mixed messages for buyers along the B2B buyer journey.
  • Misaligned lead handoff: The process of transferring leads isn't automated, which means that leads are mishandled or lost in the transition.
  • Lack of feedback loop: Marketing doesn’t receive feedback from sales on the quality of leads, content, or messaging, preventing them from making improvements.
  • Wasted resources: Both teams unknowingly duplicate content for buyers (e.g. marketing and sales one-pagers that look alike).
  • Uncoordinated campaigns: Marketing and sales launch campaigns without coordinating with each other, causing a disjointed experience for the buyer.
  • Insufficient lead nurturing: Marketing fails to nurture leads throughout the B2B lead nurture process, causing prospects to lose interest before they reach sales.
  • Lack of shared success metrics: Sales hasn’t understood what works for marketing (their data is siloed). Marketing hasn’t understood what works for sales. Data-driven improvements are never reached.


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Aligning marketing and sales along the B2B buyer journey is easier than is seems. The problems above are common, and solved with three key components:

  1. A consistent B2B value proposition and messaging
  2. Established processes and shared tools
  3. Closed-loop reporting and feedback

A consistent B2B value proposition and messaging

What buyers want most is consistency. Think about it. You’re in the process of making a purchase – a new cloud infrastructure for your business. You’re a CIO and want a solution which is i) secure and ii) cost-effective.

You do your research – come across some case studies and customer reviews from a particular vendor, which promises (and authenticates) the security and cost-savings that you want. It delivers on both counts. Nearly sold, you consult with this vendor’s sales team, only to discover a representative who appears to be selling a different solution. He emphasises scalability and flexibility. He delivers a different story, with a different set of values, which don’t align with yours.

The result? You're left feeling confused and uncertain about this vendor's offering. Unconvinced, you drop out of the buyer journey.

How does a value proposition help B2B marketing and sales? A consistent B2B value proposition and messaging is invaluable. It’s nails down, in clear and concise terms, the unique benefits of your product or service to the target audience.

It addresses specific needs, pain points, and ensures that both marketing and sales efforts are focused on delivering a unified message.

The result? A smooth buyer journey, increased trust, and a higher likelihood of conversion.

Established processes and shared tools

A lack of shared marketing-sales processes and tools leads to:

  • processes that are disjointed and happen in tandem, but not necessarily in union
  • information siloes, which create hidden data (missed opportunities) and inconsistent messaging

Imagine, as a CIO, you subscribe to a vendor’s email and follow the brand on LinkedIn. You begin to receive emails and social posts but realise – soon enough – that the messaging is inconsistent. Sometimes, it’s contradictory. Advertisements from the same company promote different features and benefits, leaving you confused.

Wanting to find out more, you attend a product demonstration – offered free of charge. The sales representative is charismatic but isn’t aware of the marketing materials (emails etc.) that you’ve already received. The demo repeats information and doesn’t drill down into details.

The rep also offers pricing that is different to that advertised throughout email campaigns.

The result? You drop out of the buyer journey and look for a more reliable provider.

Established processes streamline the B2B buyer journey, whilst shared tools provide data transparency.

A streamlined process should have a clear workflow to follow. Assets – whether they belong to marketing or sales – should be given to the buyer at agreed touchpoints. This ensures that the buyer receives relevant and timely information, creating a consistent experience.

Shared tools, on the other hand, facilitate data transparency between marketing and sales teams. Both teams can access essential information about the buyer, such as their needs, pain points, and engagement history. This data empowers both teams to create a more personalised experience.

Closed-loop reporting and feedback

Closed-loop reporting and feedback bridges the gap between analysis and action.

Data doesn’t get forgotten or left behind. And the decisions that are made, and actions taken, are built on a powerful tranche of data.

How does closed-loop reporting work?

  • Collect data: Gather data from sources such as customer feedback, sales numbers, marketing campaigns, and web analytics. A connected sales and marketing tool like Hubspot can help you achieve this.
  • Data analysis: Dive deep into the numbers and uncover trends, patterns, and opportunities. With Hubspot you can create custom reports and dashboards to visualise data and automatically identify trends.
  • Decision-making: Armed with the insights gleaned from data analysis, this step requires collaboration between departments and a clear understanding of the organisation's priorities.
  • Align teams: Armed with the insights gleaned from data analysis, this step requires collaboration between departments and a clear understanding of the organisation's priorities and values (we come back here to the value proposition).

The B2B marketing-sales alliance

The B2B lead nurture process is evolving as marketing and sales teams recognise the need for a more integrated approach. Marketing has ventured into sales’ territory, for the better.

Changing B2B buyer behaviour now more closely resembles consumer buying patterns. Technology and digital data are at play and give marketing-sales teams a competitive head-start.

Join 82% of B2B companies. Bring about more successful B2B buyer journey.

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