You know that in B2B Sales, people matter. People buy from People. Trust and relationships are really important.
The good news is that with Social Selling these still matter, but it is now much more visible. If people know, like and trust you it can be so much more visible, through your online connections. At the early stages or a sale trust can be developed more quickly and at arms length, as buyers do their research. There are new techniques to develop market presence. However this can take a huge amount of time if it’s not focused.
B2B Sales needs to focus on potential buyers
This may seem obvious, but it’s worthwhile restating the value of having a clear definition of your ideal customer, and therefore your ideal ‘buyer’. They may be defined by a combination of the market or sector they work in, by their function and level in the organisation, and then by their goals on a broad level. This is a rough cut way to define a niche.
As an example, Founders or Directors in Technology Companies who want to grow sales and profits is a broad definition of one group of potential buyers of Wurlwind services. As a cross-check, look closely at your existing and recent customers as potential buyers of the future, and see how well they match the profile.
Check also that marketing and sales both agree on this definition.
Focus on access to those potential buyers
The second stage is to look at how to reach potential buyers. This is becoming a challenge as traditional access is more difficult due to the noise in the market, the multiple barriers erected by buyers, and the buyers may no longer be in clear groups or clusters but are becoming scattered.
Traditional access may have been through exhibiting at trade-shows, advertising and PR in trade publications, direct mail to bought-in lists, referrals, tele-marketing and cold-calling. These are still options for the marketing mix but may not be as effective as previously.
Many new channels have been created with the development of the Internet. Search is a major one, and in response the growth of search marketing and content marketing. Social media is another, where ones ‘black book’ of contacts is now much more public, and those who have the right tools can exploit this. Online advertising is a third, either on search term (via Google etc) or to specific profiles (via LinkedIn, Facebook and so on).
Consider where your potential buyers may gather or cluster online. Is it on online networks like LinkedIn, maybe it’s online conferences, online forums, membership sites online or other places relevant to their interests. In reality it’s probably a mix of the above online, plus the more traditional bricks and mortar places.
Focus on issues the buyer is facing
A fundamental switch in approach lies at the heart of success online in B2B marketing and lead generation. Since search and relationship is a big part of success that needs to be approached from the stand-point of the buyer. Content and messages about you, your solutions, your offers and so on are far less effective online. Engaging with the aspiration and goals of your target audience, or with the pain and issues that your ‘ideal’ prospect may be experiencing, and educating them is much more effective.
The stage that buyers are at in their buying cycle does have an effect on this. In brief, at the early stages buyers are researching potential solutions using keywords about their goals or pain. As they approach the decision their search phrases may become more specific about the solution or products they are looking to purchase.
Focus on referrals and social proof
While the primary focus in sales is on prospects there are other significant and influential groups to include in the plan.
Existing customers, channel partners, suppliers, industry thought-leaders and staff are just some of the groups or circles to take into consideration. You can develop relationships with them to gain social proof and als0 valuable referrals.
Encouraging others to spread the word about you into their network of contacts increases your exposure and is a good return on your efforts.
For an independent assessment of your approach to develop your network of contacts and social prospecting techniques, especially using LinkedIn for Sales, get in touch with Wurlwind.