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No offense, but most of your B2B leads most likely won’t convert into sales. Some might not be ready to buy, some you could lose to competition, while some might have needs that your solutions don’t exactly fit.
As B2B marketers, you need to assess which of your prospects have the attributes and behaviors that make them high-quality leads. You must also qualify leads based on their potential lifetime value (LTV) or the predicted net profit that a customer will contribute to doing business with your company.
Ideally, the costs you spend on your customers should be proportionate to the revenue that they bring in to your business. But how can you predict LTV and conversion potential before the sale? Well, it all comes down to effective lead qualification.
There are several ways to help you determine the best leads for your marketing team such as the so-called the BANT (budget, authority, need, and timing) and CHAMP (challenges, authority, money, and prioritization) frameworks.
BANT and CHAMP are traditional lead qualification methods that form a systematic criteria, which you can use to determine the “quality” of a sales lead.
However, digital marketing technologies have paved the way for more modern techniques in qualifying your leads. These days, you can tap various data from your customer relationship management (CRM) system to create a lead scoring system for potential customers on your list.
Modern lead scoring has you assign points to each new lead you receive based on their behavior or demographic information. You then use this total lead score as your guide in ranking your prospects and measuring their customer-fit or interest in your brand.
As you can see, scoring criteria these days involve a more dynamic group of attributes. However, that doesn’t make classic methods like BANT and CHAMP ineffective. In fact, you can take their most basic principles as a basis for establishing a lead scoring system that best suits your business model.
Aside from assigning points to your B2B lead based on the BANT or CHAMP frameworks, you can also design your scoring system to include other values or criteria such as a lead’s response to your sales activities or actions. This information will help paint a clearer picture of a lead’s intent.
Although the numerous data points involved in lead scoring make it quite a tedious task, what you get is a higher level of understanding about your prospects. It also becomes easier for you to qualify them as an ideal customer and scale up your marketing and sales efforts with them. It just doesn’t pay to not take advantage of data-driven lead management strategies in your campaigns.
For one, you may not be directing your efforts properly if you don’t prioritize your B2B leads. Estimates say that sales reps spend about 40% of their time looking for which lead to call. You want your team to focus on leads that have the highest potential for sales conversion and to cut down on time wasted by calling every single person on your list.
When you call every possible person on your list, there are two likely results. First, you find out at the end of the call that there was no selling opportunity at all with your lead. Second, it takes longer to make sure that your prospects meet the set criteria that qualifies them as a high-potential lead. Either way, you lose a considerable amount of time that you could have used to manage more efficiently.
Based on statistics, salespeople who used prioritized lists took 20% more actions per lead, meaning they were able to make more contact attempts and increase engagement time. Together, these actions show higher productivity for your team and more opportunities to engage your best prospects.
Furthermore, studies estimate that 83% of companies without a lead prioritization system registered below average conversion rates. So, if you want your brand to keep up with the competition, implementing a proper lead qualification system is a no-brainer.
In closing, a perfect sales situation is one where you convert every B2B lead you have on your list. But realistically speaking, that just doesn’t happen. Your potential customers will naturally be in different stages of the buying cycle and will always have unique circumstances that set them apart from the rest.
A custom lead scoring system can help you set proper parameters in determining which leads to prioritize and ultimately invest in so that you can convert them into high-value customers.
Social selling refers to the use of social media communities in your sales strategies. However, despite their similarities, social selling is not exactly like social media marketing.
Social media marketing is about delivering content to a particular community or segment, whereas social selling refers to the meaningful interaction between salespeople and individual prospects.
As a relatively new sales strategy, social selling involves leveraging technology and data for social lead generation. Once a lead is generated, the goal of social selling is to nurture that lead through one on one interactions and to drive the prospect towards a purchase decision.
Since the number of social users climbs every day, salespeople are finding it easier to create opportunities and reach their quotas through social selling. It’s a much more personal way to engage with sales prospects as opposed to the traditional cold call or email.
If you want to be successful with social selling, you need to share valuable information, respond to questions and engagement, and present solutions to your audience’s problems.
Social selling has the same goal as traditional selling – to drive purchase decisions – using a new approach. That said, there are core principles you need to understand and apply to help you make the most of this sales strategy:
As people spend more time engaging on social media, it’s becoming the perfect platform to initiate a sales conversation using the information users provide on their social profiles.
To help you identify which people can become prospective customers, look for those who are searching for products or services that are similar to what you’re trying to sell. If you come across someone who has bought from a competitor but didn’t have a positive experience, that’s a great opportunity to come in and sweep them off their feet with your brilliant solution.
Don’t ignore the importance of researching your audience. The more you know, the better you’ll be at crafting effective social selling strategies in the future.
Every social network is different. To understand which platform is the most suitable for your business, you need to know where your audience spends the most time and, most importantly, where content engagement is highest.
For example, if you’re a B2B organization, you’ll probably want to take advantage of LinkedIn, since it’s the most effective platform for B2B lead generation. Meanwhile, Facebook works well for B2C because it lets you create a Business Page, which you can use to connect with prospects without giving them the impression that you’re flooding their personal space with business offers.
When it comes to choosing the right tools, it all depends on what platform(s) you choose to focus on. It’s highly recommended that you get a monitoring tool like Hootsuite or Mention. It pays to know what your audience is talking about, so you can tap into any trending topics to maximize your chances of engagement.
Social media is designed to facilitate social interaction, so don’t go overboard automating your social selling tools. You want your prospects to identify your brand as a real human being with a face and a name instead of a generic brand page. The key is to inject a little personality into your communications.
Employing automation for your marketing and customer service campaigns may be practical, but social selling needs to include more of a human touch.
One of the best ways to build trust and authority in the eyes of your target audience is to share content that educates, entertains, and inspires. The more you’re able to deliver value; the more loyal your audience will be when it comes to acting on your brand’s content.
Here are some pointers to help your brand provide real value on social:
The bottom line here is not to keep pushing your product or service to the point that it becomes annoying. Instead, you should take the time to establish yourself as an expert in the field by producing and sharing the types of content that your target audience loves to consume.
Social media was made for sharing, and people aren’t afraid to give their opinion. Your prospects and leads may be asking for recommendations or discussing their pain points on their social media accounts. You should always utilize these types of information to learn more about what they need and want.
From there, you can create opportunities for your company and present your product or service as a viable option to address the pain points of your prospective customers.
In a nutshell, social selling is about using social media channels and other relevant technologies to help you learn about who your audience is and how they behave.
By having a good understanding of what and who makes up your potential buyers, social selling lets you engage with your best prospects on a far more personal level than most other channels. When you’re able to personalize your approach, you’ll be maximizing your conversion rates and resource usage in no time!
For more insights on using customer data to optimize your sales process, check out our Complete Guide to Data-Driven Marketing today!
All marketing efforts are geared towards one goal—to delight consumers and customers throughout all stages of the buyer’s journey. When audiences are delighted, they become effective brand promoters who can help spread the word about how awesome your products and services are.
At the heart of all of this is demand marketing. There are numerous B2B marketing concepts that we’re all saturated with and engrossed in—from lead generation to lead nurturing to conversion acquisition and the actual sales process. However, most marketers fail to focus on the significance and impact of demand marketing.
Demand marketing is the process by which marketers get people excited about a new brand or product to generate demand. Driving awareness and generating interest are the key focal points of demand marketing. Demand captures the umbrella of marketing and sales programs that get people enthusiastic enough to make them eager to learn more about your product, and eventually, realize its significance in their lives.
Demand marketing involves multiple channels, platforms, and campaigns that are coupled with structured sales programs. Marketing efforts related to demand marketing include building awareness, positioning relevance, supporting validation, and mitigating customer evaluation.
Demand marketing has a holistic approach that ties marketing efforts together with sales processes, along with awareness building at its center. What makes demand marketing unique from other customer acquisition endeavors is its commitment to long-term business relationships to maintain brand interest and enthusiasm.
However, demand marketing is more than just branding. There are demand marketing concepts that most B2B marketers often use interchangeably such as lead generation, demand generation, and demand creation. Hence, it’s important to note the difference between the two.
Most marketing experts define demand generation as targeted marketing programs that drive awareness and interest in a company’s products and/or services. The demand is already there, but marketers want to generate more demand to increase sales and revenue by nurturing and maintaining relationships with prospects and customers.
On the other hand, demand creation is the process by which marketers create demand where none exists. Demand creation is commonly utilized for new products and services, where the demand has not been proven or tested yet. In short, marketers want to create and study the demand for a certain product or service targeted towards specific consumers.
In demand creation, Presence to Market is the main goal. This is where initial efforts include media coverage, thought leadership, and subject matter expertise. Essentially, you’re pushing your brand and product into the market to generate new interest and demand with press releases, helpful articles, videos, reports, and various other types of content.
Afterward, you collect leads from the demand you’ve established through lead generation tactics such as content marketing, SEO, email marketing, and social media. With lead generation, the main goal is to collect the contact information of sales prospects (from the generated demand) that can eventually be used to nurture them into customers. Getting people to fill out your lead generation forms can be done through gated content such as eBooks, whitepapers, case studies, videos, and webinars.
Simply put, demand creation is about generating brand awareness and demand where none exists, while demand generation focuses on increasing the demand that already exists. Both demand creation and demand generation are marketing tactics. On the other hand, lead generation is sales oriented and has the goal of amassing leads that can be guided along the sales funnel, and eventually, handed off to the sales team to close the deal.
Both demand creation and demand generation focus on the awareness stage in the buyer journey, whereas lead generation efforts focus on the later stages in the buying journey such as the consideration and decision stages.
To develop an effective demand generation strategy, marketers first need to understand the key principles behind the concept:
Every good marketing strategy starts with knowing precisely who your target audience is. And this must extend beyond simple information such as their basic demographics. Creating a buyer persona can help you get to know your target market and understand their pain points, challenges, problems, and individual motivations.
Determine your ideal customer. Take the time to do your research by surveying or interviewing prospects and existing customers. By understanding where they’re coming from and how they want to receive information, you can craft better strategies that are tailored to address their needs. By knowing exactly who your target buyer is, you can deliver the right content to the right audience at the right time.
It’s not enough to simply produce content. You need to be actively engaging with your audience. Getting prospects to interact with your brand helps to build and nurture strong brand relationships.
Remember that by building awareness, you’re also generating demand for your offering. From the very beginning, you want to delight your prospects so they can eventually become brand ambassadors and promoters.
Demand generation is all about educating and building relationships with current customers, newly discovered markets, or newly defined target audiences (in the case of demand creation).
Building awareness and generating interest for your brand requires you to establish thought leadership and industry expertise. This can be done by creating content that informs and educates your target audience. Give them everything and anything they need to know to help them make an informed decision about your products and services.
While there might be a lot of content that’s already available, it’s important for demand generation strategies to cut through the noise and stand out with added value that sets your brand’s content apart.
Remember that this isn’t a traditional promotions effort. You’re NOT trying to sell your brand’s products. You’re trying to provide something uniquely valuable to your audience that sparks their interest and encourages them to remember and interact with your brand in the future.
When creating and generating buzz for your brand, it’s important to integrate your marketing strategies to deliver a consistent message across all channels. For instance, after you create valuable content and publish it to your website or blog, it’s important to integrate it with your SEO strategy to make it more search engine-friendly.
Then there’s integration with social media. You need to promote your content through various platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other channels that are relevant to your target audience. You can also integrate your new content with your email marketing strategy to build and nurture relationships with the audiences you have captured.
Marketing automation tools can help you integrate your marketing channels. They can also greatly increase your efficiency and productivity by helping you manage your marketing strategies and automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks such as sending multiple emails or posting content on different social media platforms.
Just like any marketing effort, it’s important to measure performance by examining and analyzing data. Metrics and KPIs such as engagement, click-through rates, and website traffic can help you determine whether you’re succeeding in generating interest and awareness with your demand generation strategies.
These are some of the more important questions you can answer with the help of data collection and analysis. Just like any other data analysis, the process should be as follows:
Understanding your target audience is a key principle in demand marketing. To further help you outline content and strategies that are specific to your audience, you should create multiple buyer personas.
Begin with a holistic buyer persona and perform a detailed character study for each type of buyer. Once you have your buyer personas in place, you can map out your strategies according to each persona, and understand your audience’s needs and wants beyond demographics and data.
Because buyers and prospects are always changing, you need to keep your data fresh. A prospect might not be interested in your offer today, but who knows what they might need tomorrow? With the help of updated data, your marketing efforts can be accurate and more importantly, timely.
So, you’ve created multiple buyer personas. With these in hand, you’ll know which content format to use, as well as the channel where you can best reach them. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to create a variety of content, you can simply recycle your old content in ways that help you reach each buyer persona more effectively.
For example, imagine that you’ve developed informative content for your solar energy business for three buyer personas: Jim the CEO of a telecommunications business, Barry the farm owner, and Edward the Operations Director of a manufacturing company.
Based on your study and research of each buyer persona, you discover that Jim appreciates whitepapers and eBooks better, Barry likes watching videos, and Edward likes reading short blog posts and infographics.
You can then recycle the same content into three formats. Essentially, they will contain the same information but will be presented in different ways to match the consumption habits of each buyer persona. Ensure that each format is shareable and can help spread the word about your brand.
Build relationships with industry rock stars. Send free products or free trials to industry influencers in exchange for social media posts or a blog mentions that link back to your website or landing page.
Your goal in demand generation is to generate awareness. What better way to get more people to learn about your brand or new product than to leverage the existing audiences of influencers who have already earned the trust of their followers?
To ensure that you’re reaching the right people, make certain that the influencer you choose has access to and influence with the specific audience that you want to target. The closer they match your buyer personas, the higher your chances of success.
Paid ads such as search ads and display remarketing can help you reach audiences that you would not otherwise be able to reach through organic traffic. Additionally, since you’re able to set a profile targeting criteria with paid ads, you can reach the right people faster and more accurately.
Display remarketing ads can also greatly contribute to generating website traffic and building awareness about your brand and its products.
If you’re already advertising on Facebook, then chances are you’ve already heard about Lookalike Audiences. This recent development in Facebook ads is a powerful tool to widen your reach by casting a larger net.
Facebook lets you use customize audiences with profiles that are similar to the users who have already clicked through your website or ads. This amplifies the number of users you can reach so you can build awareness faster and more efficiently. Essentially, you’re targeting additional users that “look like” your current customers, fans, or buyer personas.
Demand is the foundation of all marketing and sales processes and all businesses looking to grow need to implement effective demand generation strategies.
Demand creation plants the seed, and demand generation is the water and sunlight that helps it grow. Through demand generation, you can lay the fundamentals for your business and build awareness about your brand with the people that matter most, your ideal customers.
Lead generation is only possible through demand generation. If there’s no demand, generating leads will be difficult, if possible at all. By understanding what demand generation means for your business and its distinction from lead generation, you can better create and plan your marketing strategies and maximize the ROI from your sales and marketing efforts.
Want to know how demand marketing ties into the lead management process? Check out our comprehensive Lead Management 101 whitepaper today!
We all know that email marketing isn’t dead. But before sending a single email, businesses need to understand the importance of segmenting email contact lists. Yes, segmentation can be tedious but consider this, DMA says that 77% of email marketing ROI came from segmented, targeted, and triggered campaigns.
Furthermore, MailChimp reports that email opens and unique opens of segmented campaigns were 14.31% higher than non-segmented campaigns. Clicks from segmented campaigns were also more than 100% higher compared to non-segmented campaigns. Finally, when emails are segmented, there are 9.37% fewer un-subscribers.
Most businesses are already implementing some form of segmentation when it comes to marketing communication, but it’s usually only based on demographic information. The truth is, the more you’re able to personalize messages, the higher your chances of engagement and conversion.
Here are a few ways to effectively segment your contact list and make the most out of your email marketing campaigns:
The most basic way to start segmenting your contacts is to use demographic data such as location, age, industry, and job level. Demographics can tell a lot about what a prospect might want or need, so the more info you can get during a prospect’s signup, the more options you’ll have for segmentation. That being said, you should only be asking for as much detail as your sales team needs to qualify the lead. Anything more will overburden your audience and potentially send them packing.
Here are some common ways to segment by demographic:
Demographics are a solid starting point when it comes to segmentation, as they answer the ‘who’ and ‘what’ to guide your email marketing strategies. Behavioral segmentation, on the other, hand digs deeper, as it answers the ‘why’ and ‘how,’ allowing you to gain insights into buying intent.
Here are a few ways marketers can segment their emails by customer behavior:
(Image Source: HubSpot)
Lifecycle stage is about identifying which stage of the sales cycle your contacts are in. Interactions with contacts should vary according to what stage they are in; after all, you won’t want to send emails for a free 7-day trial offer to users who are already paying customers.
Here are the ways you can segment your email contacts list by customer lifecycle stage:
These ideas are just a few of the countless ways you can effectively segment your contact list. The key is to remember that this strategy isn’t reserved for businesses with advanced automation software, it’s for anyone who cares about customer relationship management. The most important factor to consider is how to make segmentation work for your unique business and marketing objectives.
Contacts all segmented? Ready to roll out your email marketing campaign? Be sure to cover all your bases with our FREE Email Marketing Checklist!
People are inundated with decisions. Understanding how they arrive with their choices and what they are trying to achieve will help you find your way in landing that sale. They need to feel assured that what they’re replacing their money with will give them all the benefits they want. Anticipate their concerns instead of fearing them and this will help you generate loyal and repeat customers.
We’re well into the New Year, and most companies are revamping their lead generation strategies to meet its demands. In the past, we’ve mentioned that there’s an information overload when it comes to finding the right strategy, and now this is truer than ever. There is also no single lead generation strategy that works for all businesses and industries, so it helps to know which ones are the best to implement.
Marketing is ever-evolving, and that means new tactics are always emerging, trends are always shifting, and the same goes for audience behavior. Keeping up-to-date with the latest insights and technology will help you optimize your funnel for generating and converting leads.
However, many B2B marketers spend a lot of time and resources on tactics that aren’t a good fit—resulting in high lead acquisition costs and poor ROI. You may have reached your targets last year, but it’s time to aim higher in 2017. Read on to learn how.
Improve your lead scoring tactics and analytics to determine where your leads are coming from, which channel is generating the most leads, and which leads are more likely to convert into sales.
Data analytics can also help you determine behavioral changes in your buyer personas so you can adjust your drip strategies accordingly. Analyze constantly! Metrics and numbers don’t lie. Identify significant trends and learn from them.
At a minimum, you should be collecting data using Google Analytics, but if you’ve got the resources, it’s worth investing in a CRM tool that fits your specific needs.
User behavior evolves just as quickly as innovations in technology. It’s important to study your target audience and create effective buyer personas to better understand users’ pain points, challenges, goals, and buying behavior.
If last year, you were able to provide their needs and wants, then maybe this year you can focus on another challenge they may be facing. Think about something you can address with an innovative product or content offer. Remember that your buyer persona will shape your marketing strategy and that this is where it all begins.
Your sales personnel are the ones who interact with your clients, so it’s important to get their qualitative feedback so you can combine it with your quantitative data.
You can also get a clearer picture of who your buyer persona is from your sales team. Sales and marketing have always worked hand in hand to achieve the best results. Proper sales and marketing alignment usually results in higher conversion rates, better performance from both departments, and a more functional working environment altogether.
Is your website on the first page of Google? More than 90% of users don’t go beyond the first page of SERPs. This is why the first page is a much-coveted spot. SEO today is all about relevance and authority, and that’s how you should address your brand’s online assets.
Also keep in mind that ranking well isn’t just about the traffic. Getting your business on that first page also says a lot about your company, as it establishes you as an authority in your niche.
Email marketing enables you to stay connected to your audience. It helps you build a relationship with them. Yes, most users regularly check their emails, but all users read their text messages. In fact, 98% of all text messages that get sent are read. Take advantage of the mobile era and integrate these channels.
According to Social Media Examiner, 66% of marketers notice lead generation benefits by spending as little as 6 hours a week on social media. As a channel, social media is rapidly becoming one of the top ways you can reach your audience.
Build a relationship with them by being visible and answering their questions and concerns. Even as simple as liking their posts or commenting on their photos is a great way for users to remember your brand. In the modern age of lead generation, it helps to be social.
Content is the currency of the web nowadays, so you should regularly publish content. This not only helps your credibility as an expert, but it also increases your reach and exposure. But don’t create content for content’s sake. You want your content to provide value to your audience, not just sit there and make your brand look pretty.
When you publish valuable content that informs, educates, and entertains your target audience, you earn their loyalty. It’s easier to convert leads once you’ve gained their trust.
In this day and age, bandwidth, processors, software, and hardware are becoming faster and more efficient. This is why smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices are becoming the main personal computers of most users.
This year, the questions you need to be asking yourself are:
It’s not enough to just be visible online. Your clients see you on the web, but do they physically see your brand anywhere else?
Attending offline events such as trade shows can help you generate leads from other areas of interest. Some businesses, especially the older and larger companies, do not rely on the web for networking with partners and customers. They like putting a face on the name, and they want someone they can trust.
Experiment with different strategies. Unify and integrate your tactics across multiple lead generation channels.
A single voice that resonates shows your audience a solid brand personality. This is imperative in B2B lead generation to show users and businesses that your company is reliable and that your brand is here to stay.
Lead generation tactics may vary between businesses and industries, but one thing is certain – be visible, and make an effort to stay on top. Data analytics is always changing, and you should keep up with the trends.
Find the best tool (or develop one) that works best for your business so you can stay updated with user behavior and continuously improve your lead generation strategies according to what works best for your target market.
Generating leads isn’t the be all and end all. Once you’re done prospecting, you need to drive your leads towards a sales conversion. Get a FREE copy of our B2B lead nurturing guide today!
Without data, content marketing can feel a bit like a high-stakes game of roulette. However, even though engagement rates are generally down, content marketers can take heart that prospects still appreciate useful and targeted content, including downloadables such as whitepapers, ebooks, checklists, guides, toolkits, SlideShare presentations, and the like.
Because of the large scope of information required to put together a whitepaper, or any report/guide that tries to break down a complex issue, not every company feels compelled to include these downloadables in their content lineup.
But, for people looking for facts, trends, figures, or industry insights, downloadable content is a goldmine of information. Now that you’ve created excellent, unique content that generates interest, it’s time to put your lead generation mechanisms into action. You can do this by gating your content. Gated content simply requires that your prospect offers up a few key details like their name, email address, and location, to name a few in exchange for access to your content. Once you’ve exchanged contact information with your prospect, you’re ready to start nudging that lead along your sales funnel with a nurture campaign.
Downloadable content comes in different forms and serves different purposes. You can find some of the most common examples below:
As previously mentioned, whitepapers offer in-depth reports and expert insights that typically present a problem and provide a solution. You can use this type of content to promote your brand’s products or services, and even your position on a particular subject. That being said, you should never come off as aggressively salesy. The objective of a well-written whitepaper is to inform, educate, and persuade based on facts and evidence, not to broadcast how great your product is and why they need to buy it now.
Whitepapers can be grouped into three types:
Because readers expect such a high degree of expertise backed by proper research, whitepapers help brands build trust and position themselves as an authority figure in the industry. What sets them apart from eBooks is that they’re far more serious in tone and less flashy.
EBooks are probably the most commonly used content downloadable. For the most part, they’re used to educate customers and to create an open dialogue between your brand and your prospective customers.
You can use eBooks to attract prospects who are searching for specific content. If you’re in the recruitment business, for example, you could create a job search handbook that helps job seekers make the most of their time. By focusing on a topic that represents your brand and is beneficial to your leads, you are in effect enhancing the credibility of your company.
One good thing about this content type is that it’s short and sweet. You can easily put together a spreadsheet with headings or subheadings along with brief copy to list important items or to-do tasks that can guide people in organizing a particular activity or process.
The idea here is to simplify a relatively complex activity and to provide step-by-step instructions to readers who might be relatively new to that particular field of knowledge. If you’re planning to create a checklist, make sure your steps are actionable and keep copy to a minimum.
You can be quite creative about how to craft your guide. Whether it’s in short or long form, be sure to include clear and easy-to-follow tutorials on your chosen subject. Since most guides are instructional in nature, users will expect to get practical value out of your content.
Unlike checklists, guides offer in-depth explanations as to why readers should follow a particular step, which requires far more copy than a simple bullet point in a checklist.
Kits offer related pieces of content in a cohesive package. If you’re trying to come up with a kit for your inbound marketing campaign, you may want to include an interactive presentation, a data and research report, and glossary of important terms—all of which are valuable information pieces for your marketing leads.
These content types are arguably the hardest to produce because they require original research, which can take a significant amount of time to collect and analyze. However, this also makes them all the more appealing to your audience because the same information simply cannot be found anywhere else.
If your team has the capacity to collect and analyze original data, developing a research report is a fantastic way to generate leads and build a name for your brand as an industry expert. A great example of a brand using research reports for content marketing is HubSpot with their State of Inbound Report.
There’s so much potential for value in downloadable content both for you and your prospects. It keeps information flowing, and if your content borders on the exceptional, your social media shares will shoot up too.
If you’ve been wondering whether or not to use downloadable content to help generate leads and build brand trust, you can put that question to rest now. The answer, of course, is a resounding yes.
Maxmize the performance of your downloadable content by implementing landing page optimization best practices. Check out our FREE landing page checklist today!
So, you’ve developed a solid marketing plan, and you’re feeling good about your strategy. Now you’re ready to see how your prospects react to your game plan. You then meet two types of sales leads: the qualified and the non-qualified.
The next step is pretty simple when it comes to marketing qualified leads, you either nurture them or try to close them. But, what about unqualified leads? To be perfectly blunt, if pursuing a non-qualified lead means ending up risking more than what you can gain, then it’s probably a wise decision to walk away from that particular prospect.
Some leads simply don’t have the appropriate resources to take advantage of your product or service while others are mum about budget information, afraid that revealing it too early might preempt your best offer. So, how can you tell the difference?
Generally, you can tell if a client is serious by the amount of work they’re putting into the process. Do they show up for meetings? Are they involving other stakeholders? Can they articulate their need for your service or product? If none of these things are true, they may simply be on a fishing expedition and don’t actually have the intention or the means to purchase. In situations such as these, it’s usually best to walk away as amicably as possible.
Unless you have identified the person who calls the shots, you might be expending unnecessary time, effort, and resources trying to make your sales pitch to someone who can’t actually buy it. There’s no point trying to sell to any other person from the organization other than the decision makers, or at least, the influencers. At the end of the day, it’s only their input that really matters. Speak to the right people or keep asking for an introduction.
When you see that there’s a disconnect between what the customer needs and what you can offer, resist the temptation to submit a bid. Otherwise, the odds are great that the customer won’t be interested in your offer. Effective targeting is key to optimizing your lead generation process.
Ideally, businesses should be able to reduce cost per acquisition. Whether you like it or not, some leads are harder to win and require too much effort to maintain. If you’re a small enterprise, you might be better off focusing your attention on making profitable relationships with less demanding customers than clients who require high maintenance.
Timelines vary widely by industry, so it’s important that you know the general time-to-purchase framework of your prospects. Getting your lead to commit to a specific timeline may be a challenge, but you’ll need that information to help you decide if your lead needs nurturing or if it’s time for you to move on to your next prospect.
One cannot overemphasize how hard it is to say no to someone, much less a prospective customer. But remember, trying to force a sale that isn’t a good fit to begin with almost always yields negative results sooner or later.
Here are some tips to politely dismiss a non-qualified lead when you encounter one:
Your customers will be more appreciative knowing that you’re trying to make room for their request instead of shutting them out entirely. Customers expect to be treated fairly and to be heard out, but once you’ve determined whether or not they’re a good fit, don’t lead them on endlessly. Simply outline why this may not make sense at the moment and emphasize that if things change, you’d love to speak with them down the road.
Focus on the solutions you can provide rather than on the prospect’s particular problem. Show them how you might be able to help, but don’t make any promises that are beyond your current ability. This shows your sincere intention to be of service while outlining your capabilities.
If you have to decline a customer’s request, be as tactful as possible and do it with all sincerity. If you’re not the right person or business to go to, perhaps you could offer some recommendations, alternatives, or other helpful insights to guide the prospect onward. You never know when an act of generosity will bring a prospect back into your fold even years later.
Simply because you’re not the right fit at the moment, doesn’t mean you should give the prospect the cold shoulder. Apologize that you can’t be of service and thank the prospect sincerely for their interest.
Assert your expert opinion without being patronizing when clients make unreasonable demands or decisions that you know are bound to be problematic. Stay calm and within your own abilities. Don’t let yourself be dragged off course by an overly demanding client. Be patient and excuse yourself with as much grace as possible if your expert opinions are not heeded.
Knowing when to pursue a lead and when to let it go is a craft that all sales teams should master. Watch out for telltale signs that indicate if a customer is actively seeking to do business with you. But, at the same time, don’t simply ignore customers who do not seem to be potentially good for your current sales and marketing efforts.
At the end of the day, burning bridges is never a good idea. You never know when an old prospect will turn back up in a new role or under different circumstances. Make sure that they remember your earlier interaction positively, and you never know how things will turn out.
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Knowing which of your sales leads have the highest potential to buy is key to effectively allocating your resources and optimizing your sales & marketing spend. We’ve touched on the idea of how to approach lead scoring, but this post will elaborate on defining a lead scoring criteria that fits your business’ needs, and more importantly, your target audience.
Essentially, lead scoring can help you determine the quality of your leads by ranking them according to their sales potential. The leads who show more interest in your product/service offering and those who fit your ideal buyer persona will end up getting the highest scores.
Businesses that have implemented lead scoring attest to it driving higher rates for the following:
To develop a good lead scoring campaign, you first need to determine the criteria for assigning values that will gauge the quality of your leads. The criteria you set will ultimately guide you in tracking and following up on your prospects, helping you filter out those that are more or less likely to convert.
You can use the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline) model as your set of criteria for ranking your leads. Under this model, you’ll need to assess your prospects in terms of:
The budget may pertain to the actual spending allotment that companies set. However, there’s a lot more to it than that. Your criteria should cover the measurable gains for individuals or organizations as they stand to benefit from your products or services, whether it be in the form of decreased costs or increased efficiency in their processes.
The same principle applies to identifying which prospects in a company qualify when it comes to having the authority to make purchasing decisions. You should not only be targeting those with defined purchasing powers but also those who are capable of promoting your brand to their peers (influencers) and those who act as “information gatekeepers” to the rest of the organization.
The idea here is that you’re offering something valuable that customers can use to solve their problems. You don’t want to target audiences that aren’t relevant. For example, if your business sells office supplies, you’ll probably want to avoid targeting home-businesses, as they’re unlikely to make large office supply purchases on a regular basis.
Here, you must factor in the entire buying cycle of your customers. Some customers have a predetermined timeline for making purchases, but be careful not to disregard those who might not necessarily be in-market to buy. Use that window of opportunity to educate your prospects about your products and services until they define their need and are ready to place an order with you.
Notice, though, that in the BANT methodology, marketers almost always have to contend with both direct and indirect factors when defining the criteria in each category. This has prompted a number of marketing professionals and experts to recommend qualifying sales leads according to:
Your buyer personas should be your main reference point in qualifying your prospects, assuming that you have identified who or what they are based on market research and customer data. This may be the most reliable way to qualify a lead as a well-conceived buyer persona represents the perfect fit for your brand.
These two terms are essentially the same: they are data points that reveal the attributes of individuals and firms that marketers use to define their target market. B2B marketers should be looking at all basic data such as the nature of business, the number of employees, and profit, as well as IAO (interests, attitudes, and opinions) variables.
Customers’ online and offline activities are great indicators of their interest in your brand and their readiness to buy. Things that you can look at include behavior on your website, email engagement, eBooks downloaded, and forms submitted. You can talk to your customers and your sales teams to determine which of these metrics matter most.
Your sales and customer service departments are your company’s front lines. By having direct interactions and communication with customers, they can become a valuable source of insights into what your customers think of or expect from your brand, helping you to develop more effective strategies in the future.
Lead scoring for B2B marketers doesn’t have to be a complicated process. For best results, follow these simple steps as you establish your lead scoring criteria:
In summary, knowing your prospects is the first B2B rule you should live by. Once you have all of your criteria figured out, you can determine the best scoring system and point distribution for your company.
Once you’ve identified your best prospects, it’s time to nurture them towards a conversion goal. Nurture leads the right way with help from our FREE lead nurturing guide!