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So your marketing strategy has paid off big time, and now you’ve got a bunch of qualified leads. It’s time to send them along the sales funnel. However, there are red flags in the sales process you need to look out for before attempting to close a lead. If unnoticed, they might lead you to squander your time and resources on leads that simply aren’t going to convert.
Sales agents are eager to get to yes. But, in their enthusiasm to close a deal, they sometimes overlook warning signs that indicate whether the lead is ready to be sold to or not. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes that 80% of sales professionals make is taking these signs for granted.
Don’t let your marketing efforts go to waste! Identifying and anticipating potential warning signs will help your sales teams counter potential sales objections and focus their efforts on accounts with the highest likelihood of following through.
Prospects who are truly interested in what you have to offer will make time for you.
If your lead is suddenly hard to get on the phone, let them know that you are willing to meet with them at a convenient date and time. If they set a date with you, then that means that they’re really interested.
Asking for a scheduled meeting also gives them the opportunity to tell you upfront if they have decided to go another route. This way, you don’t waste any more time on trying to connect with them and focus on other more qualified leads.
When this happens, try to connect with the prospect one last time. Get feedback about why they keep canceling to try to remedy the situation. But, should they cancel again, maybe it’s time to move on. This isn’t the type of client you want to be working with.
There are four possibilities:
Since prospects tend to do their own research these days, they’ll be much more informed about their options and alternatives. The worst case scenario is that your price range doesn’t fit their allocated budget (there’s not much you can do about that apart from offering a discount).
You can approach this by empathizing with the prospect, asking them about their budget and expectations. With this information, you can craft a unique value proposition that appeals specifically to their circumstances, whereby the offer’s value clearly exceeds the cost.
Some buyers have a legitimate problem that can be addressed by your products or services. But, unless they see an urgency, they put off the purchase.
A lack of urgency may mean that your prospect doesn’t see an absolute need to get your product or service now. Ask open-ended questions to determine what they really want. Ask them what their objections are. You can also let them know the risks and repercussions of not making the purchase in the soonest possible time to foster a sense of urgency.
There are times when the leads you’ve nurtured suddenly decide to leave the company that you’re targeting. You’ve taken the time and effort to build a business relationship with that person, and now they’re gone. But don’t worry. Your efforts don’t have to go to waste.
Once again, empathize. Let them know that you understand their decision, and should they move to another company and still find the need for your product or service, that you’ll still be there.
You should also ask them to refer you to another contact person at their original company so you can continue with the lead nurturing and sales process. Worst case scenario, you lose the sale, but best case scenario, that one contact turns into two opportunities to sell.
In B2B purchases, you’re not just selling to one person. You’re selling to the whole company and stakeholders involved in the purchase decision. Thus, it’s important that all relevant stakeholders are involved so that you can get the ball rolling as soon as possible.
By the time you’ve been asked to make a formal pitch, stakeholders should already be involved. If not, then that’s an obvious red flag. This is common in larger organizations when preliminary research is being done.
To overcome this, you can ask your contact person questions that only the boss can answer. If you establish that the answers can’t be provided by them, then ask for a meeting with the stakeholders. This speeds up your sales process by getting an opportunity to pitch directly to the decision makers.
So, they’ve agreed to a meeting where you can impress them with your sales pitch. But in order to present a more customized pitch, you need more specific information from them, and they’re just not providing it to you. Or maybe you’ve asked them to try your product or service for free for a certain period, but they still haven’t done it.
Bottom line, the prospect just isn’t doing what’s required to progress the sale. This means that they’re either too busy or that they don’t care enough to make the effort. Determine what’s stopping them so you can either help them move forward or leave them to their own devices.
Looking out for these red flags can give you an idea of your buyer’s readiness to purchase. Furthermore, it can help you determine the best strategies and tactics to closing the sale.
These red flags don’t necessarily mean that you need to walk away from a sale and move on immediately. Then again, it helps to know if you’re just wasting your time on a prospect that doesn’t have an intention to buy or a potential customer who isn’t the right fit for your company culture.
At the end of the day, sales teams want to make the sale. So, look out for these red flags and implement the right tactics to counter these objections.
If there are no red flags and you’ve determined that the sales prospect is worth pursuing, it’s time to learn how to Close Those Sales Leads Like a Boss!
The glory days of blind pitching are over—paving the way for a new way of doing things in sales and marketing departments everywhere. Much of the shift can be seen in how people are using online technologies to find information about brands, buy products and services, keep up with trends, and connect with people or communities. Customers are moving away from traditional sellers and are choosing to engage with companies that reach out to them in ways that are delightful and educational at the same time.
The 2015 State of Sales report, put together by Salesforce, offers useful insights in identifying key areas of concentration among global leaders when trying to close sales. The report found that sales companies are focusing on analytics, mobile platforms, customer interaction, team selling, and technology adoption. In brief, hard selling is out while incorporating technology into the sales process to enhance the customer experience is taking over far and wide.
Indeed, the nature and level of interaction you establish with customers can very well define the kind of response you will receive from them. The difference between these modes of communication will determine the tactics and strategies you should use when pitching:
Sales may be changing, but that doesn’t mean that the sale pitch doesn’t still have an important place in the sales funnel. Each stage leads to the other if done properly with the right channel, material, and approach. Find out what makes a compelling sales pitch and get to it, or risk forming a bottleneck in your sales funnel.
For more tips on sales pitching, be sure to check out our FREE whitepaper and soon you’ll be closing your sales leads like a boss!
What does it take to climb the ranks of high-profile B2B marketing experts? Opinions vary, but most marketers agree on one important element, and it has nothing to do with education or qualifications. B2B marketing experts earn their titles as influencers by sharing valuable insight with others within the industry.
So what exactly gives their insights credibility and makes them valuable?
The fact is, all of the most prominent B2B marketing influencers have a significant amount of experience to back up their opinions. Each one has managed their own projects and have had to test various concepts, analyze the results, implement best practices, and continually evolve their strategies to meet the needs of an ever-changing industry.
Where they set themselves apart from other marketers is through achieving success in their domain and sharing their experience with others. For top-tier B2B marketers, the insights that they share offer a unique value that you won’t find elsewhere, either because they’re pioneers of their trade or because they’re simply doing a better job at it than anyone else.
Another characteristic that distinguishes the best B2B marketers is that they never stop learning or sharing their insights with others. These guys are constantly testing existing concepts, developing new ideas, and sharing their discoveries. That is truly what keeps them relevant and cements their positions as the best that the industry has to offer.
If you want to learn the best ways to achieve success, you have to learn from the best. Unfortunately, most of the top B2B marketing experts are pretty busy with their own agendas and probably won’t have the time to share their knowledge individually. Following their online footprint is the closest you can get to actually meeting them face to face and picking their brains for advice.
Here are our picks for the top 10 marketing influencers worth paying attention to:
MarketingProfs.com is one of the best online resources to develop your marketing skills and learn from some of the best in the industry, and Ann Handley is Chief Content Officer for the website. She claims to wage a war against mediocre content and is a veteran at creating and managing digital material that helps build relationships for both businesses and individuals.
Her tweets on the @MarketingProfs Twitter account are full of wisdom about managing and creating engaging content, and her website is also filled with up-to-date marketing information from which B2B companies are sure to benefit.
Joe Pulizzi is the founder of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), a leading organization of educators in the content marketing industry. CMI offers step-by-step guides to building a team of expert B2B marketers from the ground up and is considered to be one of the best resources on the subject.
You’ll also find a wide assortment of other content marketing topics on CMI, from planning to implementation right through to measurement and ROI. He regularly tweets his insights about content marketing in general and other updates about B2B marketing.
Jay is the president of strategy consulting firm, Convince & Convert, and is a regular contributor to various marketing websites and platforms online. Convince & Convert is a digital marketing consulting firm that aims to improve tactical implementation through audits, strategic planning, and coaching.
Jay Baer is also a sought after keynote speaker and New York Times best-selling author whose expertise lies within marketing and sales. His insights about how to improve the ROI of quality content in B2B marketing are just one of the many reasons you should be following him on Twitter.
If you want to know the latest about SaaS marketing, Hiten Shah’s weekly newsletter is not to be missed. He is the co-founder of KISSmetrics and CrazyEgg, two award-winning analytics companies that rank among the best in the world.
Hiten also regularly writes and shares his expertise in SaaS marketing, branding, and B2B marketing on various online platforms. Don’t miss out on his tweets; he’s always providing great insights into the world of entrepreneurship, strategic planning, and digital marketing.
A prolific content creator, Neil Patel is also a co-founder of KISSmetrics and CrazyEgg. His personal website is all about sharing content that teaches best practices for growing your business online. Neil has become somewhat of a household name in the digital marketing realm because of his ability to translate highly complex topics into a language that’s easily understood by all.
On his Twitter account, you’ll find a wide assortment of expert insights, both created and curated from around the web on topics surrounding content marketing and sales that are incredibly data-driven, actionable, and transparent.
Farnsworth is the co-founder of software company Bugwolf and a familiar figure among B2B marketers. He was named one of Forbes’ Top 50 Social Media Influencers, and his specialty lies in creating effective and efficient demand generation content for high-tech B2B companies.
On his blog, you’ll find useful strategies and tips written for marketing executives and other practitioners from B2B tech companies. He uses his Twitter account to share news, quotes, advice, and links to useful online resources to help generate brand awareness, establish thought-leadership, and build customer loyalty.
Brian Dean is the founder of Backlinko, a marketing website that specializes in SEO training and link building strategies. Here you’ll find SEO-related advice and practical strategies for B2B companies, entrepreneurs, and marketing professionals to leverage and optimize search engine traffic.
Brian is also a regular contributor to a number of high-profile digital marketing portals. He’s established a name for himself as the go-to guy for quality link building practices. Follow him on Twitter to get in touch with him and find links and other useful content about marketing.
As well as being an esteemed wine connoisseur, Vaynerchuk is a respected figure in the marketing industry and is widely quoted by both B2B and B2C marketers alike. His Twitter account is filled with actionable advice and opinions about current marketing practices and how to improve them.
Currently the CEO of VaynerMedia, he regularly shares insights on how marketers in operations can effectively apply data, and he is an integral part of HubSpot’s push to change the way businesses market and promote their products and services.
Kessler is Velocity Partners’ creative director and co-founder, a well-established digital marketing company that focuses on branding, demand generation, strategy, and content marketing. The company strongly believes in marketing technology and telling great stories through compelling content.
He is regular tweeter about how B2B marketers can effectively apply content marketing and social media principles in their organizations. He also happens to be refreshingly honest about topics relating to global issues and politics.
Allen Gannett, the youngest expert on our list, is the CEO and founder of TrackMaven, an analytics software company that empowers marketers with campaign and content insights across multiple channels. Their blog provides rich insights about content marketing and marketing data analytics.
He tweets about how to leverage data to improve content marketing and shares useful resources about content marketing best practices. What makes him different is his fresh, innovative approach to content and his uncanny ability to appeal to younger audiences with appropriate pop culture references.
These experts are a treasure trove of valuable information, which is why B2B marketers should be looking to them for tips, tricks, best practices, and inspiration. Whether you’re trying to establish your brand online or develop an effective lead generation campaign, these experts are excellent sources of inspiration who impart an abundance of awesome content online, so don’t miss out on what they have to say.
One thing that B2B marketing experts tend to do well is align their sales and marketing processes. Find out how YOUR business can grow with the power of sales and marketing alignment!
The Internet is chock-full of B2B lead generation resources crafted by marketing experts, business owners, and other specialists. A quick Google search can bring you to several tips, infographics, case studies and presentations that can help you improve your current B2B lead generation campaigns.
However, not all of your online searches will yield helpful results. Sorting out the great advice from the just plain bad can end up being a pretty daunting task. But never fear! We’ve got your back and have compiled some of the top online resources for you to check out.
If your company is planning to leverage content marketing to generate leads, Hubspot is the perfect “hub” for it. They also provide interesting statistics on lead generation, marketing, and even CRM software in easy-to-read nuggets of wisdom that are totally share-worthy. They’ve pretty much perfected and put into practice what content marketing should be. Check out their blog to see how the pros do it.
Hubspot also publishes articles on how to effectively generate leads across various platforms, especially on social media. Their 2015 post ‘13 Tried-and-True Lead Generation Ideas (And the Numbers Behind Them)’ is well-researched and a great read.
If you’re new to the lead generation game and want to test the waters before going for a swim, you can check out this SlideShare presentation about five lead generation experiments you can try right now.
LinkedIn is like the cream of the crop when it comes to online networking. It’s the digital equivalent of rubbing elbows with CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and every other company member that you wouldn’t typically find on Facebook. If social media is made up of a series of parties, this is the party you want to be at.
In this SlideShare presentation, serial entrepreneur, Abhishek Shah, shows how they use LinkedIn to generate leads for your business in 13 easy steps. It’s not rocket science. Some of the steps are so simple you can pretty much try them all out during your lunch break.
The team behind Mashable ‘is the go-to source for tech, digital culture and entertainment.’ You can count on these guys (and gals) to compile great ideas and statistics into something easy to understand. Their content is great for helping companies generate leads, as well as be more competitive in their respective fields.
In the article entitled ‘The Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtag‘, Mashable gives tips about how to not mess up your social media initiatives by using hashtags the wrong way. The article is a useful resource for business owners and marketing teams alike. For those who are new to the #hashtag business, apparently there’s science behind it.
Another excellent resource is the article entitled ‘Brands <3 Emoji.’ We all know that emojis are hot right now, and Mashable teaches you how to use these cute, trendy little digital icons to attract customers online.
Lead Genius’ SlideShare presentation on the best practices for lead generation walks you through the outbound and inbound sales funnel. Although it may be a bit heavy on stats for a 54-slide presentation, it’s still a great resource for those who want to understand the sales funnel journey.
In a 2015 blog post entitled ‘Mobile Dominance In The B2B Buyers’ World,’ Lead Genius discusses the role of mobile in B2B. This is a very informative and timely piece that’s worth checking out especially since apparently, Mobile 2.0 is happening later this year.
A Cisco study found that by 2019, 80 percent of all consumer Internet traffic will be from Internet video traffic. Kissmetrics leveraged this stat in their blog article titled ‘Using Video Metrics to Collect Better Data for Lead Generation.’ If your company is big on video content, this resource is definitely a gold mine.
We’re not just talking about professionally made videos. If your company has blogger brand ambassadors, those quick Instagram videos can also be converted into lead generation initiatives.
Speaking of Instagram, here’s a quick infographic from Kissmetrics about the science behind brands on Instagram. In fact, when it comes to lead generation infographics, Kissmetrics has a whole lot. Visit this page to check out Kissmetrics’ infographics library.
When it comes to lead generation, the motto, “If you build it, they will come” is not always true. As you might have experienced, just because you have a website in place, that doesn’t always guarantee traffic and a successful sales conversion rate.
That’s where this SlideShare presentation from Formstack comes in handy. The presentation shows how three preferential customer behaviors come into play on every page of your site.
If your company has a blog that runs on WordPress, a blog article entitled ‘3 Must-Have WordPress Plugins for Lead Generation’ will provide you with sources for apps to optimize your business blog for lead generation purposes.
If you feel like you’ve tried every lead generation tactic in the book, this SlideShare presentation from Demand Wave offers five more untapped areas for lead generation you might want to give a crack.
On their company blog, Demand Wave also has a great article about 2016’s tops trends in B2B digital marketing and SEO. This post is definitely worth a read if you want to get updated on what’s going on in the digital world.
In recent years, there has been a boom in the startup industry. Many of these startups have become quite popular through digital marketing.
In this blog article from WordStream, startup entrepreneurs share their top lead generation strategies. Whether you’re just starting off, or you’re a veteran entrepreneur, you can learn a thing or two from these newly minted business owners.
MarketingProfs has quite a collection of available lead generation materials for business owners. In one article, marketing blogger, Matt Banner, talks about ways to optimize your social media conversation and enhance activities with lead generation tactics that will drive users through the sales funnel.
In this podcast, Adam Bluemner from Find Accounting Software talks about the most effective follow-up strategies for web-based B2B lead generation from an analysis of 63,256 calls.
Based on the study, if a sales representative waits a day before calling, the contact rate goes down. Bluemner also wrote a case study on follow-up calls on the company website, which is another excellent resource for B2B companies trying to improve their sales strategies.
Take it from the marketing leaders in the B2B industry. In this podcast, 25 business leaders talk about the future of B2B marketing, best strategies in content marketing, success stories, failures, and emerging trends.
This podcast is not just for business owners but also for B2B marketing professionals who want to advance their careers. Speakers include Heinz Marketing founder, Matt Heinz, Cognizant’s Head of Social & Global Content, Gerry Moran, and LinkedIn’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Jason Miller.
Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience’s chief neuroscientist, Dr. Carl Marci, shares insights into the customer’s decision-making process. The podcast can help you understand how your audience responds to a particular ad while they’re still watching it, or if a particular way that a product is packaged turns people away rather than inviting them in.
The biggest lesson here is that a customer’s emotions play a large role in deciding whether content is relevant or not. The secondary lesson is that B2B marketers are now capable of analyzing the effect of their marketing campaigns through a real-time collection of consumer reactions without disrupting the content consumption experience.
BMC Software’s social media manager, Eric Tung, shares how brands can be rock stars on social media. Social media can become an efficient lead tool for brands, but it requires planning. It’s not just about posting when or what you want to.
A great piece of advice from this podcast is to empower a company’s employees to become social media ambassadors by rolling out policies within the enterprise. Getting senior executives to be active on social media, especially LinkedIn, is also a good way to generate brand awareness.
Millennials are experts in tuning out marketing in conventional media, which is a big problem for brands. Marketing expert, Matt Britton, is the CEO of social media agency, MRY.
In this podcast, Britton shares tips to catch the attention of elusive but powerful Millennials. If Millennials account for a significant chunk of your target market, then this is the podcast for you.
As you can see from the listed podcasts, Marketingprofs has an incredible amount of quality audio content for lead generation professionals to learn from.
This case study is about Xeikon, an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) who used to focus on an annual trade show. The company decided to run a multi-month and multi-channel campaign to generate leads and create awareness.
The targeted marketing effort was able to achieve a 300 percent ROI and resulted in 140 qualified leads. That might not seem like much but for an OEM, that was an astonishing amount of new business.
This case study is about ServiceMaster Solutions, a commercial janitorial and cleaning services franchise based in Portland, Oregon. It’s one of the five biggest commercial franchises of its kind in the United States.
When the CEO realized they had exhausted their relationship-building initiatives, they decided to leverage an online direct response ‘marketing machine.’ The campaign resulted in a 9 percent conversion rate and a 150% surge in generated leads.
Who would have thought that a shipping company could generate so many leads using social media? Danish shipping company, Maersk, turned to social media not just to increase its brand awareness but also to enhance employee satisfaction, gain market insight, and forge relationships with its customers.
They started sharing ‘inside stories’ that happen in their business such as where their staff comes from and how they are helping increase the sale of avocados from Kenya.
Since then, the shipping company has significantly increased brand awareness and grown a large social following all because of targeted content and social media marketing.
B2B marketing for software and hardware are harder than B2C. Conventional lead generation methods include email and telemarketing, but IBM decided to go a different route by launching the ‘intelligent listening’ program internally.
They ‘listened’ and investigated conversations about cloud computing on social media from users. Their sales people were given access to an RSS feed to find related content that they could then post on social media and to their internal IBM site profile pages. These efforts generated a boom in their B2B customers, showing how important it is to listen to your audience.
Inspired Marketing is a B2B company that sells online training programs and digital materials about social networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
In 2010, the company released over 300 web seminars or webinars called GoToWebinars. The campaign resulted in more than $2.5 million in sales for 2011. In January alone, seven webinars resulted in sales of $250,000.
All of these online resources provide expert insights on lead generation. Success stories (case studies) can help show you particular tactics and strategies other companies have used successfully. This can direct your future efforts in a more strategic manner.
If you think you’ve exhausted your current relationship building capabilities, take a cue from some of the experts on the podcasts or leverage the cold, hard statistics available to help you craft a more effective lead generation campaign.
Better yet, your research and brainstorming might just lead you to discover your own innovative way to generate leads. It may just be successful enough to land your business in a case study of its own!
Want more awesome marketing/sales resources? Have a look at our wide selection of industry whitepapers!