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A common misunderstanding among marketing professionals is that marketing for consumer sales and business sales are not one in the same. In fact, B2B (business to business) marketing tactics can differ in many ways from the more well-known B2C (business to consumer) strategies.
Businesses seeking sales from other businesses should incorporate strategic lead generation tactics into their marketing plans. Below, we’ve laid out six tips that we believe are crucial for lasting B2B relationships.
Set Measurable Goals
Setting goals is a somewhat easy yet often overlooked step in creating a plan or campaign. Take the time to establish strategic goals that you can measure against. This can include a monthly or quarterly lead generation number, account resell goals, campaign click-through numbers, website visitors, conversion downloads and more. Identifying benchmarks for your campaign will set expectations and provide a guide for improvement and optimization.
When starting a campaign and choosing goal metrics, don’t always look at them as pass/fail when it comes to reaching those goals. Use them as learning tools to adjust your campaign and expectations as your plan progresses. And remember, no battle plan survives contact with the enemy – or the prospect!
Embrace the Timeline
The B2B sales timeline tends to be longer than a B2C sales cycle. This is due, in large part, to cost of the decision and the number of decision makers involved. For example, when a consumer wants to buy a toothbrush, they go to the store and are immediately bombarded with all of the competition and different kinds of toothbrushes. Even though there is a lot of commotion, the buy is typically a quick decision because it is a small purchase.
With B2B, prospecting can take twice as long compared to a B2C lead generation process. It’s not because there is more competition, but there is a larger decision to consider. From product/service quality to customer service, a B2B customer has a lot of angles to consider. A B2B relationship could take 6 to 12 months to develop through proper marketing strategy. However, these relationships may lead to a long-term and mutually beneficial agreements for your firm.
Create the Content
Often, sheer promotional strategies are not enough to generate business sales leads, or SQL’s (sales qualified leads). In today’s digital age, content marketing is a fundamental element to building successful B2B leads. When developing content, consider an organization’s unique pipeline. What is your brand, service or product awareness within the industry you are pursuing? If prospects haven’t heard of you, or what you do, you need to tactfully introduce them through online content.
For example, instead of a print advertisement try a digital blog that provides value to sales prospects. An article that speaks to known industry pain-points and highlights your business’ solution could see solid results. Place a subtle CTA at the bottom of your article for the reader to contact you or download a how-to video so you can sort out qualified leads. Sending regular emails to prospects is also a great way to keep your brand and offerings in front of decision makers who have not made up their minds as to who they will do business with.
Build the Relationship
When creating B2B relationships, just sending materials and waiting for a response won’t cut it. The best way to build a relationship is to create a dialogue that allows you to assess the prospect client’s needs and see if they are a good fit for your offerings. Despite the temptation to close a sale quickly, premature pressure to finalize a deal can be off-putting to a prospect and cause you to lose their business.
When a prospect begins to interact with your business, they are likely in the top portion of the sales funnel: Awareness. Meaningful touchpoints and content distribution to these sales leads will help move them into the Consideration phase of the relationship. This phase can take months to move through and it is key to respect an organization’s internal process so that you don’t come across as pushy for a sale.
Understand the Key Players
Every organization has its own intricacies and key players to be taken into account when developing leads. Who are the decision-makers? Who are the gatekeepers to the decision-makers? Who blocks or can influence the decision? Once a lead is discovered, it is vital to understand who you are contacting within an organization. Sometimes a secretary will block you from talking with the person you need. Other times it can be important to identify who will benefit from your product or service and influence that group. They may become advocates for you to the decision-makers. Be sure to research your point of contact and understand their role as much as possible.
Make Strategic Decisions
There are many tactics to attract potential customers. If you are not seeing the number of leads you think is attainable, check who you are targeting. Often, B2B marketers will place ads or partner with groups who influence individuals who will enjoy the benefits of a product or service, rather than those businesses who purchase and use the product or service. Identify the proper target market and look for earned and paid media opportunities that reach them. Analytics on prior and current campaigns, as well as website user data, are great tools to help decide on the most likely customers for you to develop.
If interested in discussing more about B2B lead generation, contact us today and talk to one of our business advisors!