Quick wins in marketing and sales won’t keep your company alive. Long-term and returning clients are the core of every company’s cashflow.
If you’re not sure it’s true – I just recently bought an iPhone to pair up with my Macbook. Ever since I started buying Apple products, I don’t want anything else. You can call it the “Apple effect” or whatever – it simply means they know how to retain customers, and everyone I know that bought Apple products experiences the same thing.
Is it possible for your B2B company to get such loyal customers? Of course it is!
Start by getting off your ass and getting a few new long-term, valuable clients this month – and still leave the office in time to catch a movie and good dinner.
Step 1 – go to (or create) a full list of your clients and find the single best customer group
Go to your list of clients. You have one, right? Well create it if you don’t!
Depending on how deep the data in your client stats, you’re trying to find those that:
- always pay on time
- pay your company the most
- understand your services clearly
- show no issues with communication
- don’t need convincing to know where the value of your solution comes from
Find about at least 5 of them – and I think 20 would be enough if you have a lot of data.
Step 2 – define your unique group of best clients
Time to do some research. Arm you fingers in patience and strength (got a potion for +10 to writing? Time to drink it), focus up and start looking for similarities between the clients you’ve picked as the best ones.
How do you do this research?
- approach them directly (email/private message first, call/meeting if necessary)
- ask about their company, the problems they have (that you can solve), get feedback on your current product/service
- analyse in-house data from cooperating with those clients (messages, provided information, results, feedback, etc)
- go to their social media profiles – Linkedin, FB, Twitter, but also AngelList (for startups) and industry-specific ones (GitHub for devs, Behance for creatives, etc.)
- go through their company websites and look for similarities
The goal of all this is to put a name and definition on the customer group that you should be pursuing.
So write down all similarities you can find (a simple spreadsheet will do, you don’t need a “validation template” or whatever bullshit). Narrow it down to a group like:
- CEO’s of smartwatch app startups
- Marketing Managers in digital agencies
Without this research, there’s no point in moving on to the next step, which is…
Step 3 – locate new potential clients that fit the definition and cold email them
Now to the fun part – start browsing online for potential customers that fit your definition. The hunt!
You can find your target customers (and their email addresses) online, without paying any cash. If you want to pay in your time and resources, here’s how you could get new contacts:
- sometimes a simple google search is enough – google a full name along with “@companydomain.com”, where the domain of the correct company should be typed in the quotation marks
- use plugins/web apps that search for emails either based on the name, or a website/linkedin crawl, etc., just google “email finder” or similar keywords and you should be able to find a tool that suits your needs
- look closely at Linkedin profiles – many people include their emails on Linkedin to make it easier to contact them
Or you could automate it and save some time:
- get in touch with a RightHello consultant
- get access to a B2B company database
- pick the customers you want to approach
- get their emails and get a personalised, professional cold email campaign going
Step 4 – cold email them and talk to them – A LOT
Direct connection means direct influence, and that’s the power that lies in cold emails. It’s possible to start a long-term deal and a highly valuable business relationship with cold emails.
Your research should be enough to create the first, short, simple version of your cold email chain. Which, in a basic form, should look like this:
- introduction – first, main message that’s supposed to introduce you and sell your main value
- follow-ups (usually up to 8) – additional messages that remind someone of you, and give you an opportunity to show multiple benefits of working with you (or using your product)
Remember – follow-up emails have the biggest reply rates. Always follow-up – via email, but also personal messages on social media and eventually you can also try over the phone. Everyone is super busy these days. You’re trying to hit the time window when they can see your email close to the top of their inbox.
Plus I’ve heard plenty of business founders and professionals say that they never reply unless someone follows-up at least X times. Because if someone is following-up a lot, the message must be important. And business people are essentialists – if something isn’t important, you just ignore it.
There’s a lot to work on if your cold emails aren’t working, don’t get discouraged, but just keep iterating these things (remembering that these emails should be interesting only for your customer, they don’t even have to look nice to you as long as your target customers respond to them):
- target customer pains that you mention in emails
- value propositions that show how you solve those pains
- email titles
- copywriting in emails – style, form, length
- CTAs (Call-to-action)
- time of sending
- length of emails
- number of follow-ups
Your target customers are worth a lot – don’t force them or be salesy at all. I’m serious. Approach them to start a conversation, and not to sell. You will see that it yields much better results – both in the quality of information people are willing to give you, and the effects that you achieve from doing this.
And a long-term deal isn’t won with hard-selling and manipulative sales techniques. It’s won with great communication, respect, and patience. Use these commandments to guide you:
- Be nice – not an all-loving, Ghandi-type person. Just be nice – find a good balance between politeness, humor, and professionalism
- Stay online – use that smartphone of yours. Mobile email notifications are a must, it’s best if you respond to emails within 20 minutes or less
- Always write back – take responsibility for being the first one to write. They don’t like that you wrote? Say „I’m sorry” and stop sending them emails, problem solved. Just don’t ignore someone that you started a conversation with
- Make a point of connecting closer – email is the start, it’s the best way to initiate a relationship and pre-qualify potential clients. Magic happens when you convert emails into calls or meetings
- Don’t send offers (pdf or other format) – you’re aiming for a human-to-human connection so ask yourself this: would you send someone a pdf about how awesome you are if you wanted to befriend them?
Only when you manage to build a good connection, you can start talking about prices, buying, selling, etc.
Never get discouraged if people respond negatively, because it’s still a response. They’re not buying – yet – because they don’t fully understand why they should.
But they will give you the arguments they need to be convinced:
- ask for feedback about your offer/pitch
- ask what else they might need
- validate new features/pricing
- learn how certain groups of customers talk
- adapt to their language – learn to speak it
Keep talking to acquire at least one long term deal by building a good relationship first
I think cold emailing is the best way to initiate a long term deals in this scenario. Just remember – it will work within a month if you do everything right. Targeting, writing, personalisation, sending, talking to your customers etc. If you don’t have experience doing this, it might take you longer.
Browse our blog for all the info you need about direct selling and cold emailing.
Marketing is about iterating, a/b testing and optimisation. You won’t know what your clients need until you’ve tried to market to the wrong ones for a while and finally found a good target group of paying customers.
If you need proof – those that don’t lose patience and take the time necessary to find the right customers win the most. Don’t take my word for it – check out a case study we did with Divante, and one we did with Mezzolab.