B2B sales. The right way.
As all founders, you work late nights to make sure that new clients keep coming in. You invest in both inbound (content that encourages to buy) and outbound (collecting contacts and messaging directly) marketing strategies. But is all this really helping you achieve your goals?
I know how hard it is, but a lead is basically someone willing to discuss your offer with you – getting leads is just the beginning of your work!
Which potential clients should you spend your time talking to? Leads have to get qualified – so you know whether to continue convincing someone or say “bye”. Every lead that you don’t research, qualify, label and group means lost money.
Because you’re messaging people directly, you don’t know when you’ll catch them. They might not know your type of product or service yet, or may already be researching similar products/services. Best case scenario, you reach them when they’re ready to buy.
Cold emailing is our main source of leads, as well as our core service. Among it’s biggest pro’s is the predictability and stability it introduces to the sales department.
We send personalised email chains to researched target customers – so part of lead qualification happens during research. The positive replies these emails generate are leads that still need confirming.
Without a doubt, whoever responds to our cold emails will be contacted again. Unless they specifically tell us they’re not interested and don’t want more emails. Even negative responses might become sales-qualified leads when the timing’s better for them.
People that respond with positive interest are asked to schedule a call. Converting a cold email into a call is like increasing commitment in a relationship.
At the same time you want to confirm their commitment, and that’s lead qualification. Asking whether the budget, authority, need and timing are all right and in place.
Then it’s just following-up and negotiating until we sign a deal. We’ve learned the hard way that sales is a game of numbers, and it applies to time especially.
The most important lesson was that you can’t take leads for a long-distance cross-country hike after you acquire them. They will just drop out before the finish line.
Getting inbound leads is more tricky, as is moving the ones you acquire towards sales. The dynamic of communication is different because you know that the client is already interested – but that doesn’t make sales easy.
Your strategy can be to contact people that sign up on your site (leave contact data any other way). In that case – speed is crucial, and you want to collect at least names, emails AND phone numbers/Skype ID’s.
Asking for more data always seemed like an annoying move to me, and pointless in most cases. Asking for numbers/Skype ID’s increases commitment enough to stop the most indecisive leads from opting in.
Speed matters much more here than in case of cold email leads, and you have less control over this process. Inbound leads represent people who are, most probably, currently doing research.
And if you don’t call them back ASAP, another company will. To answer every lead of this type within the few sacred minutes recommended by all sales influencers – we would have to come out with a 24h sales/consulting team just to increase our chances of not missing out on qualified leads.
You can also play the long game – nurture and warm up leads with a newsletter. Here it doesn’t really matter how much data you collect – the more the better, but I believe it’s best to just collect email addresses.
We’ve been inviting newsletter subscribers for over a year now, and a few times a month some of them inquire about what we do – and how we can help them. It’s a really small number – but we also realise we’re not even using half of the potential that lies in this type of email marketing.
Plus they congratulate on our content, and say we were able to change their minds or improve their business somehow – which is extremely gratifying and motivating!
Obviously the long game shouldn’t be rushed too forcibly or you’ll scare off the same people you’ve worked so hard to reach. Take it slow – provide helpful content, help your newsletter subscribers solve their everyday problems, or plainly entertain them.
It’s very probable that these people will later on need what you’re offering – and when you excel at lead nurturing, they will know exactly where to go.
Founders burn money on marketing&sales. They generate leads, but let opportunities slip through their fingers because they don’t treat acquired leads properly.
Because the key to more sales isn’t just about where you get leads from. It’s in improving how well you can relate to, and communicate with your target customers.
You either hustle quickly or you play the long game and nurture – it all depends on the type of leads that you generate. So either generate better leads, or adjust your strategy to the type of lead you’re generating and you’re bound to see a lot of new quick wins in your sales department.