In 2012, Twinkie fans taught us an important lesson about marketing: When it comes to company valuation, customer loyalty is king.
Get the Secret Sauce to Help Your B2B Company Generate More Leads
Every B2B organization needs new customers. And this means leads – a lot of them. Without an ongoing stream of leads, your business starts gasping for air. And as a leader of your company, you probably start to lose some sleep worrying about cash flow and making payroll. We don’t want this to happen to you.
But how does a B2B business go about getting an ongoing stream of people who are interested in your services and products? And what are the best ways convert them to customers? Unfortunately, it isn’t easy. It necessitates ongoing, multi-faceted marketing efforts to attract qualified leads and a well-defined sales process to close them.
To guide you in your need for new customers, here are 7 marketing tips to help you generate more leads:
Lead generation marketing tip #1:
Talk to your current and past customers on a regular basis.
You already have a network of people who know your brand and appreciate what you do. Call your current and past customers and ask them about their needs. Tell them about new service and product offerings you have added. Contact past customers on a regular basis to nurture those relationships. In the B2B space, this one effort alone brought one of our clients a new $600,000 contract.
Lead generation marketing tip #2:
Talk to at least 3 people a day.
You cannot operate in a bubble. If you sit behind your computer every day and hope that oodles of people will magically find you, you will be very disappointed. Instead, get out of your office and connect! Pressing flesh with your network of people is the shortest path to new work through meeting new people and getting referrals. (If you must stay behind the computer, at least make contact with 3 people via the phone, email, or LinkedIn).
Invite clients to lunch or coffee. Attend networking events. Grow a local business network and get together with these friends over a beer. If you commit to talking with 3 people about your business every day, you’ll be amazed at how much new business it will bring in.
Lead generation marketing tip #3:
Develop an entire company of salespeople.
Some of your people are great networkers. These individuals are your frontline – allocate a portion of their time each week to getting out in your community and evangelizing your company. The CEO or even the sales team do NOT have to be the only ones communicating your value. Get your connectors out there to events.
And even if your other employees are not the consummate networkers, they can still be brand ambassadors. After all, they are regularly interacting with people on the phone, at meetings, on their computer, and after they leave your facility. Make sure you train all of your people how to talk about your company so that they spread the word and get others excited about what you do.
Lead generation marketing tip #4:
Follow up with your inbound leads.
Studies show that about 40-50% of all inbound sales leads are never followed up on. That’s shocking, isn’t it? To develop an effective lead follow-up process, it’s essential to follow up and fast. Of the ones who do follow up, many firms are slow to respond.
According to the Harvard Business Review, companies that follow up with potential customers within an hour of receiving an inquiry are nearly 7 times as likely to have meaningful conversations with key decision makers. And meaningful conversations result in conversions.
Conversely, every minute you delay gives your competitors (aka the hungry vultures) ample time to swoop in and get the sale. Because your prospect is doing an active search, she wants to buy. If all you do as a result of reading this article is to implement a fast follow up with inbound leads, you can significantly increase your conversion rates.
Lead generation marketing tip #5:
Nurture your leads.
Beyond the initial conversation, there’s the ongoing follow-up. You may have great conversations with a person at another company but they aren’t ready to buy – or they have significant hurdles to overcome within their organization in order to pave the way for bringing your company in. Make sure you use a customer relationship management software (or just set reminders in Outlook or your smart phone) to call and email these individuals back.
Lead generation marketing tip #6:
Ask for referrals.
I’ve already written in-depth articles about referrals here and here so I won’t go too deeply into this topic. However, the main point I want to emphasize is to develop a systematized approach of asking for referrals. For most companies, it’s an ad hoc, when-we-remember kind of effort. And if you are asking for referrals in that manner, you aren’t fully digging into your gold mine. Asking for referrals costs next to nothing, and the resulting names you get are typically easy to close and a great fit for your company.
Lead generation marketing tip #7:
Educate your leads.
Most of your potential buyers are doing extensive research on your website long before they ever contact you. Almost three quarters (72%) of B2B buyers planning to purchase a business product begin their research online according to recent research by IDG Connect, NetLine, and Salesforce.com’s Pardot. What’s more, after an initial search, 70% of buyers then return online 2-3 times to do additional research, and 12% return online more than three times. Content is extremely important in the B2B buyer’s decision-making journey.
So to help your buyer make their decision, equip them with tools to learn about your company’s differentiation, value, and full gamut of offerings. Provide White Papers, articles, blog posts, guides, webinars, and other content on your website that your sales team can email to prospects to help them make their decision. In a typical B2B cycle, the actual sale takes months to close and you want to be able to have multiple tools to not only nurture the relationship, but to arm your buyer with information to internally “pitch” your services to peers and leaders within their company.
Consistent acquisition of new customers is crucial to the success of any business, and the importance of proactive lead generation efforts cannot be overstated. Don’t let your company fall into the trap of waiting for sales opportunities to land on your desk. Following these tips will help you shift your marketing focus from passive to proactive – and the result will be a steady stream of qualified leads, continued growth for your company, and much fewer sleepless nights.