Entries Tagged as 'Relationship marketing'

Get in your prospect’s comfort zone: The right offer at the right time

“Will you marry me?”

This offer will get you a chilly reception from someone you’ve just met. You’d sound half-crazy popping the question unless you nurture the relationship at the right pace and offer what the other person is looking for.

Same thing goes for B2B marketing. Sure, a salesperson can get lucky with an occasional prospect, but counting on the magic happening instantly isn’t the way to build a stream of sales-ready leads. Build trust by developing the relationship.

“Will you go out with me?”

Here’s the “first date” of the sales cycle. You’ve just identified a prospective customer and you need to provide background information and answer the questions that are important to that specific customer. Offer educational materials such as case studies, white papers, how-to articles and decision-maker kits until they’re ready to go to the next level.

“Here’s what we’re really like.”

In this “middle date” stage, the interest has been shown and you can move into more details. A self-assessment tool, technical white papers and webinars require more participation from potential customers, but they also target the solutions to each prospect’s situation. Show you’ll be there for them to help build a sales-winning relationship.

“So how about it?”

When the prospect gets comfortable with your company, start to make more serious advances: offers or calls-to-action. Although it’s not time to pop the question, smaller commitments move prospects toward choosing your company. For instance:

  • Invite them to all-day seminars delving into implementation details.
  • Offer demos or low-cost or free needs assessments.
  • Ask whether your salespeople can meet with their decision makers to present customized proposals or quotations.
  • Consider making “buy now” deals offering discounts or additional products or services bundled in for a lower cost.

What if you don’t know where prospects are in their buying cycles? In that case, make offers appropriate for every stage and let people find their own comfort zone.

How to propose

What makes a good offer or call-to-action?

  • They must be genuinely enticing.

  • They must move the buying process forward. Satisfy prospects’ key concerns.

  • They should be “self-qualifying.” Don’t offer something anyone would want. Provide what a qualified prospect is looking for.

How do you put them together?

  • Repackage or update the information you already have.
  • See if your suppliers have white papers, evaluation guides or other materials you may use.
  • Join forces with your suppliers to provide combination sales pieces or newsletters.

Prospects must clearly understand what they’ll gain from choosing your company and its products or services. They need to believe that what you’re marketing will help them achieve their goals, and they must trust your company to deliver on its promises.

Getting to that point requires making the right offers or calls-to-action for each stage of your prospect’s buying process, from awareness and inquiry to consideration to purchase. You’ll build strong, valuable relationships with your customers that will last for many years to come.

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Remind Your Customers You’re Around

Remind customersI had a client whose marketing was not delivering the same level of sales it had in the past. The company had no direct sales force and no distributors, so their prices were about half their competitors. It sounds like it would be easy to grow your customer base when you can quote such low prices. Even if your company has a sales team or distributors, what they learned can improve your marketing too.

The problem was that their marketing was narrow. They would send out a catalog to anyone who inquired as a response to ads in trade magazines. After years of advertising, you reach a saturation point. The conversion rate was flat, as you can imagine.

They started a new initiative to distribute products by other companies. But how to get their target customers, primarily small businesses, to notice? To improve their marketing, they didn’t want to add cost or layers of labor. They were focused on effiency to keep their costs lower than competitors, after all.

Boost existing customer orders

You can keep the direct-to-client approach simply by reminding customers that you’re there for them. For example, expand existing accounts, do alternative mailings and schedule reminders about new products. It meets a customer’s needs better than just sending a catalog every year as well. And if you don’t keep in touch, customers may go to someone else that does stay top-of-mind.

These tactics can jump-start product sales that would’ve otherwise had to wait for new catalogs to get promoted:

  • Track existing customers for their product preferences
  • Regularly remind them about new products that might interest them
  • Send quarterly communications/newsletters
  • How about periodic free samples of new products?

What’s in it for you?

  • Significantly increase your company’s conversion of prospects to customers
  • Increase sales from existing customers
  • Save money in many areas
  • Then re-invest in additional marketing, boosting results even further
 

Persona-Based Marketing: Getting Started

Persona-based marketing goes beyond simple demographic data

B2B marketing: Persona-based marketing: Powerful tools for connecting with prospects and customersPersona-based marketing describes who a prospect or customer is, by also answering questions about their behavior such as: what keeps this person awake at night? How does he spend his time? How does she like to be sold to?

This concept can help you, as a business-to-business marketer, by creating a vivid, tangible picture of your best prospects or customers, and then sculpting a marketing message that’s pertinent to their concerns, and move them to inquire and buy.

How to get started:

  1. Convene a group of employees who interact with your customers and prospects. Bring in lunch and a white board and ask them to help you build a persona for each of your target customers.
  2. Start by describing the customer’s role in their company: CEO, CIO, CFO, COO, sales manager, purchasing agent, user, and any other important influencers.
  3. Next describe the kind of company they work for. What industry is it in? How big is it? How up-to-date is it? Does it have a lot of competition?
  4. Then describe the person and their behavior: Give each persona a name, a title, an age, and describe how he or she looks. How does he dress? What kind of car does she drive? What does he do in his free time? What kind of educational background does she have?
  5. Flesh out as many attributes as you need to give a full, rounded picture of who this person is. Then, turn to your persona’s problems and goals.
  6. Think about what does this person’s daily calendar look like? What are his or her most pressing concerns? What product or service attributes would be most helpful in solving this person’s problems? Is he or she looking to roll up 20 databases into one, getting ready for an IPO, dealing with a new competitor who has just entered the market?
  7. Then, when formulating your marketing messages, think about what path this prospect or customer might pursue to solve this problem. Will he or she turn to white papers or articles in trade publications or Web sites? Would this customer or prospect seek input from a speaker at a networking group of their peers? Let the personas steer the route, which you can pave with information that can help your prospect and customers move forward in their consideration and buying process.

Read the full article at my website: Persona-based marketing: Powerful tools for connecting with prospects and customers

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