Few doubts remain: Digital marketing is central to reaching and qualifying potential B2B customers. But to do digital well, companies can’t just “phone it in” when it comes to the sales conversation.
The numbers don’t lie. When digital marketing and well-integrated sales outreach are aligned, companies are nearly 70 percent better at closing deals, which translates to 208 percent more revenue from marketing.
The B2B sector is booming. Having topped $8 trillion at the end of 2015, it’s now expected to surpass $9 trillion by 2020. Want to tap into this growth? Building the right mix of online content, social prospecting and strategic one-on-one conversations is key.
After your social media and blog posts reel prospects in, make sure to set up sales reps for the close. As the founder of the company, you have the role of ensuring that sales and marketing are properly aligned to truly set your team up for success.
1. Include a form to weed out bad prospects.
Having a strong process in place for nurturing leads has become table stakes, and optimizing sales reps’ time is the most obvious reason why. Nobody wants salespeople wasting their time talking to prospects who have zero chance of becoming customers. Ensure that your salespeople ask questions about the prospect’s business model, values and customers to create a productive, two-way conversation. When we included these types of discovery questions in our calls, we saw sales jump by 15 percent.
Early on, our company learned the value of asking carefully crafted questions online to help us decide whether a lead is a good fit, before we ever move to a sales call. This type of digital prospecting is valued by salespeople, with nearly half saying they need an assist in figuring out which call to make first.
However, qualifying is about more than prioritizing. The intel gathered through what’s essentially an online application process results in prospects who have emotional skin in the game. Someone who has jumped through a few hoops and provided information along the way is naturally more inclined to move forward when the phone rings.
2. Create an agenda.
Nothing is worse than a call that drifts off in a direction no one expected. That rarely results in a sale. Setting an agenda and reaching an agreement on it from the prospect ahead of time lays the groundwork for a productive conversation.
Most B2B buyers are overscheduled. Heading into a meeting with a clearly stated purpose shows that you value the prospect’s time. Meeting agendas don’t go unappreciated; in fact, 73 percent of professionals say they’re very important.
The secret to firming up an agenda, when leading off a sales call, is to start with a simple “Does that sound good to you?” Getting buy-in from the prospect sets the right tone and essentially makes the agenda a shared responsibility.
Creating a good impression is critical. Even when prospects don’t turn into customers, they can become advocates. Ninety-one percent of B2B buyers cite word of mouth as an influence when they’re making purchase decisions.
3. Create a ‘drip’ campaign.
When it’s time to talk, it’s important that your prospect feel ready, as well. Setting the stage through carefully curated content, such as case studies and drip campaigns, provides prospects with good information about your solution.
Again, the numbers back this up. Today’s buyers expect to engage online first, with eight in 10 saying they viewed at least five pieces of content from the vendor they ended up selecting. Plus, when salespeople use social media as part of the sales process upfront, 73 percent outperform their peers and exceed quotas 23 percent more often.
For LinkedSelling, we find webinars to be the most effective qualifying tool, as 20 to 40 percent of attendees convert into qualified leads for our sales force. Via webinars, we have an opportunity to explain the basics of who we are and what we do, which means we can dive straight into any specific customer’s situation when we get together for a sales call.
Every day, entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses are discovering new and better ways to meet B2B prospects and build relationships online. But the companies that put equal focus on turning digitally qualified leads into one-to-one conversations at the right times are sealing more deals.
by JOSH TURNER