When it comes to B2B marketing, think things through carefully before you act.

I recommend that B2B marketers pay special attention to what I call the Domino Effect, where one thing leads to another.

For example, if you make an offer on your website, do you have the requested information or materials ready to go? Or, if you invite someone to a webinar, what will your follow up activities be? (All the brand marketing in the world doesn’t matter if the experience the prospect has with your company is disappointing.)

 

Will that conference be worth it? Lead follow-up is the key

Just got back from a conference?

Keep up the momentum by following up with all those leads and business cards you collected. It’s the first step in turning those prospects into qualified sales-ready opportunities.

Plan ahead

When you set out for the conference, bring along pre-addressed overnight mailers. Send the leads back to the office each night for immediate data entry and response. Don’t let the opportunity wither away.

Data entry is tedious, but it’s got to be done.

I invested in a CardScan® business card scanner. It’s easier and more accurate than my manual data entry. The current version of its software lets you do drag-and-drop data entry from emails, Web pages and electronic documents too. Visit www.cardscan.com to see models that will put data directly into Outlook or your CRM system.

You can also call your local temp agency if everyone in your office is busy. Good agencies have specialists who can be at your office in an hour.

Email your prospects right away.

The email addresses you collected from business cards and booth visitors and are most likely up-to-date. So email each prospect with “Nice to meet you…” or “Thanks for dropping by.” Include links to relevant information on your website and attach marketing materials. You may be the first or only one to follow up so quickly, which makes a great second impression.

Start dialing.

Schedule calls to each the prospects you added to your CRM system, allowing a few days for prospects to catch up upon their return from the conference. Mid-morning is usually best for both you and your prospect. Also, make the calls in sets of ten, waiting to do other things until you have attempted to reach all ten, to keep the distractions at bay.

The good news is this isn’t cold-calling. Each one expressed interest when you met them or they visited your booth.

“But what should I say?”

To avoid sounding like just another salesperson and to put the prospect at ease, open each call by saying something like this:

“Hi (prospect’s name), this is (your first and last name) from (your company name). We met (or ‘You stopped by our booth’) at (conference name) in (city name) last week. I’m interested to hear your thoughts about the conference, but first, is this a good time to speak?”

This approach will set your call apart from the majority of the other calls your prospects receive, which usually start with a dumb question like “Did you get the information I sent you?” Why is this a dumb question? Because usually the answer is “No,” which is difficult to move past. Be sure to avoid the overused “How are you today?” (Want to have some fun? The next time a telemarketer asks, “How are you today?” answer “Terrible” and see what the reaction is.)

By saying “I’m interested to hear your thoughts about the conference,” you’ve established a reason for the call that feels comfortable for the prospect. Asking “Is this a good time to speak?” sets a warm and professional tone. Besides, if it isn’t a good time for the prospect, he or she won’t be receptive anyway. If the time isn’t convenient, ask what time would be better.

Next, continue the conversation by asking questions like “What are your thoughts about your time at (conference name)? Did you find it to be worthwhile?” or “Of all the booths you could have visited during the conference, why did you stop by ours?”

The objective is to learn if the prospects are sales ready. The answers will tell you more about the prospects’ business, situations, interests and needs.

Whether prospects are sales ready or not, tell them what you think the next step should be and ask them if they agree.

If you want a business marriage to happen, start dating.

Research shows 3 out of 4 sales come from leads who aren’t ready to buy right away. Only 1 in 4 buys within six months. Half can take a year or more. So you’ve got to find a way to “date” them until they are receptive to your business proposal.

Save money and have more time to invest with sales-ready prospects by starting with less costly one-to-many marketing techniques. Salespeople and telemarketing are costly, so they’re best for only the qualified prospects. You can invest about the same amount per lead to reach longer-term prospects twelve times a year with a postcard or letter, and staying within reach over a longer buying cycle.

Create a series of emails.

  • What are the three or four major reasons why someone would buy from your company?
  • What would cause them to need your products or services?
  • Why would they select your company instead of the competition?

Create a series of emails with each addressing one of these points. Set up a schedule, and your prospects will get to know your best qualities until they’re ready to set a date.

Be sure each email (or call, for that matter) includes a suite of offers or calls to action that are designed to encourage the prospects to take the next step. Educational offers– how-to guides, checklists, case studies, white papers, and Web or live seminars on the same subjects– usually work best.

The key to your success is reaching the right prospect, at the right time, with the right offer. Prospects’ needs don’t change that dramatically. Success comes not from saying something completely different every time you contact them, but from the ongoing follow-up.

 

Keep B-to-B marketing strategies and tactics tightly focused on driving leads

In my view, the primary objective of B-to-B marketing is to drive leads and sales.

In other words, branding is a secondary objective. Especially for marketers with limited budgets (and today that’s just about everybody).

Recommendation: Let your brand come along for the ride while you focus your marketing on convincing potential buyers to raise their hands and express interest in your products or services.

 

 

Effective ways to prove B2B marketing is paying off

Do you start to sweat when your boss wants to see proof that the amount your company invested in marketing is really paying off at the bottom line?

Take it easy. It is surprisingly simple to prove that B2B marketing is contributing to your company’s results. Here’s how.

Show the relationship between your marketing and revenue

Start by looking for sales and revenue that can be linked to marketing activities. Compare new customer lists or invoices to companies or people in your marketing database and look for matches. You don’t have to find every sale that resulted from your marketing activities; sometimes all it takes is one big sale to justify a campaign.

If sales haven’t closed yet, count the number of qualified leads and use estimated conversion rates and average sales sizes to quickly determine the sales potential of those leads. Or look at the forecasted sales in the company’s CRM system and compare them to the database of prospects, inquiries or qualified leads.

Show how much you saved the company

You’ll probably come up with a list of things you’ve done to save money or time if you give it a little thought. Did you cut marketing activities that weren’t panning out? Did you automate online processes such as collecting and routing prospect inquiries? If you took print documents to electronic distribution, there’s savings on printing, postage, and handling.

List all the marketing projects your team completed

Unfortunately, people quickly forget what happened last month or last quarter. Maybe they don’t have the knowledge of the effort it takes to create an effective mailing or to redesign a website. Showing works better than telling, so put a package together that illustrates what got done with the money the company invested in marketing.

Consider this example…

After reviewing the previous year, a marketer I know was able to report to her management:

  • awareness of their company and products among target prospects more than doubled,
  • the cost per qualified lead delivered to sales by marketing dropped by nearly 40 percent,
  • 58 percent of the opportunities in the sales pipeline were found first by marketing,
  • 48 percent of these sales closed, and
  • 62 percent of the revenue during the past 12 months came from marketing-generated leads.

What senior manager wouldn’t love a response like that? Now, your situation may be different, but senior management increased her budget, gave her a bonus, and they no longer doubt marketing’s contribution to the company’s success.

 
Need help with B2B lead generation, marketing and sales?
For more information, please call Mac McIntosh at +1-401-294-7730, send him email at or visit www.sales-lead-experts.com