Building a Contact Nurture and Lead Generation Model in 2023

by | Aug 8, 2023 | Lead Generation

In 2023, the sales business landscape has undergone significant changes post-COVID-19. Remote work, LinkedIn, and evolving culture amongst the youth, middle aged and older generations have contributed to a transformation in the way companies operate their sales models. The autocratic, overbearing, one-dimensional sales management style is no longer desirable, and ultimately, it won’t work. These changes will affect sales, lead generation, and overall business practices, in my opinion making things better for everyone. 

In this article, we will focus on Lead Generation and Contact Nurture in 2023, exploring how they have changed, how we need to adapt to those changes, and how to build a successful model for the future.

In my opinion, and in a lot of companies we have seen over the years,  lead generation is not nearly as organized as it should be. It tends to be chaotic at best, usually, with no one really wanting to take ownership of it. Marketing and sales teams aren’t communicating effectively, resulting in finger-pointing and blaming. Management is often unsure of what works as it’s seen as a black art and sends salespeople out to do cold calls or find leads without any proper structure or metrics in place, and any real coaching on how to drive leads. The result is a poor lead generation model and a struggling sales person.

The root cause of this issue is marketing:]  Note the smiley face, and SLOW DOWN all you marketing people and read on. Over the last 30 years, marketing has done such a fantastic job that sales have become complacent, lazy and preferring to rely on marketing to do the hard work for them. Most being content as order takers, failing to put in the effort required to generate leads and nurture relationships effectively. Even during sales meetings, the focus is more on qualification and transactional relationships [can I sell, no, then move on] rather than being client-centric and thinking of the long term. I won’t be discussing the sales process in this article, but it’s easy to see the validity of this, you just need to do an analysis of your pipeline quality, documentation, and the prevalence of pitching and demos happening far too early in the sales cycle.

The question is, why can’t we continue relying solely on inbound leads if they are so amazing? 

Inbound leads are expensive, and with more companies fighting over them, there are fewer leads to go around. This results in increased competition and a higher cost per acquisition of clients. Moving forward, this approach will, for most, will not be sustainable as the sole method of scaling. For smaller businesses it is already not a serious option. 

If we look at the following marketing axiom it helps us to understand what marketing is fighting over:

Traditional marketing axiom pyramid
  1. 3% are active buyers – Inbound
  2. 7% have a need but are not looking, Outbound and Inbound can target
  3. 30% have a need but are not aware they have an issue, only sales can target these
  4. 30% do not have a need
  5. 30% for various reasons will never buy from you

The 3% pie is getting smaller, marketing tries to tap into the 7% but it’s not easy on their own, without sales engagement, and the 30% that have a need but are not aware do not get touched by marketing, only through a conversation with a person do these unfold.

This presents an opportunity that we need to tap into, particularly given the pressure on inbound marketing. 

Questions that we need to address are:

  • How do we tap into this opportunity?
  • Who will be responsible for this effort?
  • How do we measure the success of this approach
  • Who will be tasked with carrying out this effort?
  • What will be the cost associated with this approach?

Let’s go back to the pre-1985 lead generation era, before the internet’s growth. If you can remember this time and look at how we found leads, it was very different. In the ’70s and early ’80s, when there were no mobile phones, no email, and no websites, we:

Historically what we did before marketing

In contrast, companies today mostly use the following methods:

  1. Social media
  2. Marketing
  3. Website inbound
  4. Cold calling
  5. Partnerships
  6. Existing clients

What’s the difference between then and now?

Marketing does a great job of social media, marketing, and website management now. Most sales management have a limited understanding of lead generation, and how to manage their teams with an effective model.

As lead generation has evolved over the last years, you can see marketing took the lead and became very good, adapting to new methods, feeding them to salespeople to qualify them. The challenge was that sales got accustomed to them and they got fussy, If contacts are not easy revenue, they discard them. They cherry-pick the leads they want, go straight to product demos, send proposals, negotiate prices, and close the deals.

However, this approach is not ideal for anyone involved. It is not beneficial for the company, the client, marketing, or sales. The lack of professionalism in finding and nurturing leads, lack of discovery, and follow-up on leads is not sustainable in the long term. It is affecting so many areas of the business, from forcing discounting, missing opportunities that are not obvious or would come over time, a lack of accurate forecasting, an inability to scale lead generation and many other issues in this vein of thought. 

What should we be doing as we move forward?

The following is a model I would recommend that ensures professionalism throughout the complete sales process, drives the right leads, and builds a sustainable and profitable business:

  1. Understand our segmentation, product-market fit, differentiation, and ultimately, value proposition.
  2. Build your databases properly.
  3. Build out models for driving traffic into your databases, both inbound and outbound.
  4. Soft nurture all contacts in databases, based on the correct model for them and how you have categorized them.
  5. Through qualification, built around the right person, the right company, the right industry, and the right location, we should meet and build real relationships. Not, do they have a need, a budget that is how sales people have been taught. This should come later but in the initial qualification, you miss the 7% and the 30% with this model. 
  6. Nurture the remaining with strong campaigns of thought leadership, knowledge, interactions, meetings, events.
  7. Stay front-of-mind and coordinating meetings with the right person in your company at the right time.
  8. Step into introductory meetings with the right people when the opportunity arises.
  9. Conduct proper discoveries. 
  10. Step into a solid sales process post-discovery that is client-centric.

In practical terms, let’s focus on three of the above parts:

  1. Database
  2. Lead generation models
  3. Nurture

By implementing the above strategies, we can build a comprehensive and effective lead generation and nurturing process that adapts to the many changes happening in today’s business landscape. By moving away from the autocratic, one-dimensional sales management style and focusing on a more client-centric, agile and data driven approach, businesses can succeed in this new era of commerce.

Part One: Building Your Databases Properly

Having a well-structured and up-to-date database is crucial for any business to succeed in today’s market. Unfortunately, many companies struggle with getting their database in order, which can lead to missed opportunities and wasted resources. Most companies I meet, do not know how many live clients they have and how many clients they have had over the last 5 years, which seems crazy but is the reality. Here are five key areas where your data should be stored:

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System: This is where you store your customer and prospect data, including contact information, lead sources, and interactions with your sales and marketing teams.
  2. Marketing Automation Platform (MAP): Your MAP should hold data on how your prospects are engaging with your marketing campaigns, such as email opens and clicks, website visits, and content downloads.
  3. Sales Enablement Tools: These include tools such as sales intelligence platforms and prospecting tools, where you can gather insights on potential customers, track their activities, and access contact information.
  4. Social Media Management Tools: Social media platforms are valuable sources of customer data, and by using the right tools, you can collect and analyze this information to gain insights into customer behavior and preferences.
  5. Business Intelligence Tools: These tools allow you to analyze your data and gain insights into customer behavior, market trends, and business performance. By utilizing these insights, you can make data-driven decisions and improve your overall strategy.

By properly structuring and utilizing your data in these areas, you can gain a competitive edge and drive sustainable growth for your business. Each tool serves its own purpose, and mostly one tool does not fit all. 

Only by starting with the right tech and the right data can you achieve this.

Here are five questions to answer about your data:

  1. Is the data in your CRM clean and up-to-date?
  2. Do you know how effectively your clients are being managed, and do you have data to prove this?
  3. Do you know how many new meetings were conducted last week, where they came from, and how they went?
  4. Do you know how many leads you need to generate this year and from which source?
  5. Do you know which source of leads is most profitable and has the shortest sales cycle?

Bonus questions

  • Do you know how many A contacts you have in your database and how effectively they are being nurtured?
  • Do you know how many people you have worked with over the last 5 years within your client base. 

By addressing these questions and ensuring your databases are well-structured and up-to-date, you can create a strong foundation for a successful lead generation and nurturing process. Most do not have this right, it’s tough to do and does take a little time and focus to get right but is the start point of building any successful lead generation model. 

Part Two: Building Models to Drive Traffic into Your Databases

Now, we need to develop effective lead generation models. Simply purchasing a database or acquiring a list isn’t enough. These contacts have no relationship with us and aren’t actively engaging with our brand and thus we have no relationship with them. This is one of the challenges we face in sales. When we want to talk to someone, if we do not know them, if we are not communicating with them, how can they buy from us. We need to find ways to draw in people and interact with them. We look for a significant engagement that allows us to have a conversation. Once we’ve had a significant interaction with the right person in the right company, industry, role, and location, they become a prospect. 

How do we achieve this? To effectively draw people in, we need to utilize multiple channels. Typically, one channel will perform better than others, but it’s best to have 3-4 channels working for us, with at least one performing exceptionally well. These channels should include both marketing-led and sales-led approaches. This requires a significant shift in our go-to-market strategy: sales and marketing must now integrate and work together. It’s no longer enough to simply create leads; we must create them from various sources, nurture them, and convert them into meetings.

Here are core methods of generating traffic, looking at marketing first, followed by sales-led approaches:


  1. Social media advertising: Utilize platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to run targeted ads to your ideal audience based on demographics, interests, and behaviors.
  2. Website optimization: Ensure your website is user-friendly, visually appealing, and has strong calls-to-action to drive conversions.
  3. LinkedIn marketing: Leverage LinkedIn as a platform to engage with and nurture professional relationships, share content, and promote thought leadership.
  4. Google search: Optimize your website and content to appear at the top of Google search results for relevant keywords and queries.
  5. Advertising: Utilize traditional advertising methods like print, TV, and radio to reach a wider audience.
  6. Brand building: Create a strong brand identity through consistent messaging, visual branding, and building a community around your brand.
  7. Email campaigns: Send targeted and personalized emails to your database to educate, engage, and nurture leads and clients.
  8. Webinars: Host educational webinars to provide value to your audience and generate leads.

Sales-led methods of generating traffic:

  1. LinkedIn outreach: Reach out to prospects through LinkedIn and build relationships with them through conversations and interactions.
  2. Networking: Attend events, conferences, and other gatherings to meet potential customers and partners.
  3. Partnership management: Manage relationships with partners, such as distributors or resellers, to generate leads and increase sales.
  4. Referrals: Generate referrals by asking existing customers or partners to refer new leads to your business.
  5. Existing clients: Upsell and cross-sell to existing clients to help generate new leads and increase revenue.
  6. Centers of influence: Build relationships with individuals or organizations that have significant influence over your target market to generate new leads.
  7. Events: Host or participate in events, such as seminars, workshops, or webinars, to generate leads and build brand awareness.

As you can see, both marketing and sales have their unique strengths, and both are important for the success of an organisation. Different channels may work better than others for different individuals. For example, networking and referrals are responsible for 90% of my revenue in Singapore, whilst for our team in Australia, LinkedIn is the most effective channel, and for the team in Scotland, partnerships seem to work best. Not one size fits all, even within the same company.

Once you decide on the mix of the methods mentioned above, it’s crucial to lay out your model clearly so that everyone understands their roles, builds a dataset in the various systems, and you have one person overseeing the process.

Now, let’s go through a case study of a client, examining how each part of their strategy works together, who is responsible for each aspect, and identify what’s not working and what they should be doing as they move forward.

Case study

This client is a software company that sells high-end software operating in the fintech space. They have a team of 60 people worldwide, including 5 salespeople, 1 sales director, 2 founders, and a senior marketing person. Their clients are bankers focusing on AI within their compliance, and they have a turnover of 1 million USD per annum with Series A funding obtained 9 months ago. Their burn rate is 3 million per annum. There are cash flow issues down the road, so getting on the path to revenue is critical for them at this juncture.

Currently, they do some marketing and website optimisation, but it’s not getting a significant amount of traction. The sales team has banking experience and is reaching out to their contacts, which are good but limited. They have a BD function with 2 juniors trying to get meetings, and a little networking and LinkedIn outreach. The sales director and founders are also reaching out to their contacts and investors, but it’s becoming obvious that it won’t scale up their growth to the desired level. They write 2 articles a year, have tried webinars with no success, and are exploring how to scale their lead generation. The salespeople and founders think that marketing should handle lead generation with junior sales support.


This case study illustrates the challenges faced by Client XXXXX and highlights the need for a well-structured and collaborative sales and marketing approach. The sales team is limited by their network, and the BD function is struggling to get meetings. Meanwhile, the marketing efforts are not generating significant traction. They are in trouble as their sales cycle is 9 months and without the meetings now, the pipeline will not be sustainable for them to survive without funding. 

To help drive traffic and generate leads, the software company could utilise a mix of traditional outbound lead generation methods. They could start by optimizing their LinkedIn database and reaching out to potential new connections within the banking industry, aiming for 200 new connections per week for the founder, sales director, sales team, and BD team.

In addition to LinkedIn outreach, they could also list their target accounts in LinkedIn Navigator and target personas within those accounts to build connections and engage with potential leads in a more focussed target account model.

Other networking opportunities such as attending relevant events, joining groups where their contacts are, and partnering with others in the same marketplace for events could also help them build their base of people to connect with.

Webinars and public presentations would also be effective in generating leads and building their brand presence. By utilising these methods, the company could decrease their over-reliance on marketing and build an authentic base of people on a scalable level that they have a direct connection with. While these methods may seem straightforward and common sense, the real challenge lies in systematically coordinating teams to execute them consistently and effectively. It requires a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities, a cohesive strategy that aligns sales and marketing efforts, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of results to optimise and refine the approach over time.

However, with a well-planned and coordinated approach, this company can increase leads, which along side the marketing generated ones will start to fill the pipeline. Often then what happens is as you get more traffic, other sources of lead generation come along and you start to get a critical mass. 

Part three: Nurture the remaining with strong campaigns of thought leadership, knowledge, interactions, meetings, events

We go to all the trouble of engaging with people, we meet them, we build partnerships, we engage with contacts on webinars and events, yet if they don’t want to buy now, we park them in the email funnel and forget them. Only touching base sporadically and in a not so genuine fashion. It’s such a waste of contacts that we statistically know 37% will have a need in the coming months and years. There are several reasons that cause companies to struggle with this aspect of sales:

  1. Transactional mindset: Many salespeople tend to focus solely on closing the deal, rather than building a relationship with the prospect. This means that once it becomes clear that the prospect is not ready to buy, they are often forgotten and left behind.
  2. Lack of strategy: Without a clear strategy for managing and engaging with contacts, it’s easy to become disorganized and lose track of important leads. It’s essential to have a process in place for assessing which contacts are most valuable and what actions need to be taken to keep them engaged.
  3. Underutilization of technology: Technology can be a powerful tool for automating and streamlining the nurturing process. However, many companies don’t use it effectively or don’t use it at all.
  4. Laziness: Unfortunately, some salespeople simply don’t put in the effort to stay in touch with their contacts. Nurturing requires consistent effort and follow-up, which can be challenging for those who aren’t fully committed.
  5. Lack of ownership from marketing: Once a lead is handed off from marketing to sales, it can be difficult to determine who is responsible for nurturing that contact moving forward. This lack of ownership often leads to contacts being neglected and forgotten.
  6. Quarterly targets: Many companies are driven by quarterly sales targets, which can create a short-term focus and neglect the importance of long-term relationship building. This can lead to contacts being forgotten once it becomes clear that they won’t contribute to meeting the quarterly targets.

The answer is simple. We need to value contacts at a company level. We need to nurture them and treasure the fact that we have gotten over the hardest hurdle – the initial meeting. Remember the 3%/7%/30% rule. Even if they don’t buy now, over the next few years, 40% of your conversations have the potential to become buyers. If you get ahead of the buying cycle, you will have a much stronger chance of becoming the incumbent or preferred vendor.

Three core areas of lead generation and nurture, graph

How do we implement this model?

If the person is the right person, in the right company, in the right region, and in the right industry, and they could potentially buy from you, they need to be a nurtured with a strategy.

Consider the following:

  1. Categorise the contact as A for high value or high potential, B for mid value or mid potential, and C for low value or low potential.
  2. Build an A, B, and C nurturing model.
  3. Tag them in the CRM and set reminders.
  4. Marketing needs to manage content and outbound outreach, as well as touch-points.
  5. Sales needs to manage the human touch-points.
  6. The CRM must manage the process.
  7. Sales management has to train, develop, coach, and manage the teams.

From here, you can stay in touch, build genuine human relationships, and interact using white papers, emails, webinars, events, coffee mornings, lunches, face-to-face meetings, and technical conversations. This approach will help keep you at the forefront of their minds.

Once your database is large enough and filled with the right quality of people, consistent engagement will result in a steady flow of leads from marketing and short-term outbound lead generation. This will enable you to scale effectively. It becomes a lead lake, which will feed your business for many years to come. 

Sales funnel with a reverse nurture funnel

Sales funnel plus a reverse nurture funnel

This new approach is more cost-effective than traditional advertising and prioritizes knowledge sharing and relationship-building. By putting the client first, revenue becomes a byproduct of the process rather than following the usual transactional model.

To successfully implement this strategy, the following elements must come together:

  1. Marketing takes ownership of the process
  2. Sales commits to the approach.
  3. Appropriate technology is set up to manage the data and process
  4. Relevant and engaging content must be created.
  5. Consistent nurturing of leads should occur.
  6. Team members need to be trained on how to execute the strategy effectively.
  7. The entire process should be data-driven. Without data, it’s impossible to evaluate the return on investment (ROI) in terms of resources and money spent.

By ensuring that all these elements are in place, supported by senior management, managed properly, the ability to scale revenue will be limitless. 

Case study:

Client A is a company with an annual turnover of 2.5 billion for the past 3 or 4 years. They have an addressable market of approximately 300 potential clients in Asia. To increase revenue over the next few years, Client A implements the following model:

  1. They create a map identifying key personnel within each of the 300 target companies.
  2. Utilizing CRM, they track engagement, interactions, and frequency between their 3,000 staff members, 25 of whom are assigned to focus on this process, including sales and operations staff.
  3. The company employs traditional touch-points, such as meeting for coffee, collaborating, sharing new ideas, and maintaining regular contact.
  4. All interactions are monitored and recorded in the CRM.
  5. As a result of their consistent and genuine nurturing efforts, Client A becomes the go-to choice for many more deals.
  6. Over a period of 4 years, Client A’s revenue surges from 2.5 billion to 7 billion.

This case study demonstrates the effectiveness of the nurturing model and its actions in driving significant growth for a company that actively nurtures genuine connections with key contacts in their target market. 

In summary we are returning to a more traditional model of lead generation, where marketing and content creation work hand-in-hand with sales to engage the marketplace strategically. By properly implementing this approach, you can not only discover new contacts but also deepen the trust and relationships with existing contacts. As a result, when a client has a need, you’ll have established a solid foundation, a more trusted relationship, and are the incumbent. 

Personally I believe within your databases now and scaling up as you tap into all future contacts, there is a minimum of 30% increase in revenue for most companies, for some though it will be a lot more, sometimes in the region of 200% to 300% over time.

The importance of nurturing contacts, building trust, and providing genuine guidance to clients cannot be underestimated. Getting this right will lead to long-term success and a better understanding of your clients’ needs, deeper trust with your base, resulting in stronger relationships and growth on a scale you had not thought was possible. 

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Elevating businesses globally, 1000Steps offers expert sales and marketing consultancy services, empowering clients to reach further success. Our markets include Singapore, the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, Switzerland and Dubai.

What We Offer

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About the author

Fraser Morrison

As the CEO and co-founder of 1000Steps, I apply my 33+ years of sales experience to help professionals excel. Specializing in sales process optimization, I'm committed to driving client success and achieving outstanding outcomes.