How would you feel if you went on a first date and they popped 'the question'?
Precisely. So why do some B2B marketers go straight from ‘Hi we are Company X’… to ‘buy our stuff, it's great!’?
Okay, so marriage is a slightly bigger decision than buying a product/service but the principle is just the same.
Unlike some B2C buyers, B2B buyers aren’t impulsive; they need TLC, encouragement and reassurance before they buy.
Impulse B2C buyers take a more relaxed attitude to their decision making, think more instant gratification than long term planning.
Whereas B2B buyers are a more sophisticated bunch, looking for long-term benefits, going through longer and more complicated decision-making processes. This is why it is so important for B2B marketers to take a deeply considered approach to their buyers processes, becoming a Casanova at nurturing leads!
Here is a step by step process to ensure you get as many sales (or marriage proposals) as you possibly can...
1. The Introduction
So, assuming you have already mastered traffic generation (if not read here)... the next crucial step in the dating/lead nurturing process is the introduction.
The first thing a prospect sees is your website content. So making sure your high heels are on and your lips are glossed (or stubble trimmed and aftershave splashed) is essential. The goal of the introduction is securing a first date, so remember two things: look gorgeous and be interesting.
A professional website which is easy to navigate, with visually and intellectually appealing content, will get results. So get your website to function well on a technical level, and then fill it with the many insights you have to share.
2. Can I Have Your Number?
Securing a first date is a doddle if your introduction was good and you were able to show your worth. I mean, who wouldn't want to give you their details? Capturing prospect data happens when a prospect first fills in a form on your site. You can think of this like asking for someone's phone number.
Now the number one rule here is not to be greedy, although you may be excited (you're already walking down the aisle in your mind) a phone number and name will suffice. How many kids you both want can wait until a later date. In the same way, long and nosey forms on a website are a turn off, and will cause your volume of leads to dwindle.
Dating, although filled with fun and excitement, is basically an ongoing assessment of compatibility. Putting your best foot forward, showing that you can be fun, loyal and caring, whilst looking for signals and waiting for the right moment to ask those unanswered questions like 'are we an item?'. Timing is everything.
In the realm of B2B marketing, dating rules can apply to your lead nurture campaign. Disseminating carefully crafted information that keeps the audience interested, whilst building a bigger (positive) picture of your company. The goal here is to get to know the prospect and allow the prospect to get to know you, warming them up until they are 'sales ready'.
Email nurturing is an art - a balancing act, and they can also make or break opportunities for future communications (think an inbound call from a hot lead prompted by one of your emails vs an unsubscribe from a lead who is thoroughly annoyed with your constant messages).
Common faux pas
- Doing nothing and hoping the prospect will make all the moves
- Going for the kill too early assuming the prospect is sales ready
Please note: A 'one size fits all' approach is also risky business. Play it safe and observe the behaviour of the other person - you have got this far, don't ruin it now! An excellent way to do this is by 'lead scoring', based on prospect demographics and behaviour on your site. Once a lead reaches a certain score, you can move them along in the sales funnel and adapt your communications accordingly.
5. The marriage proposal
If you have been listening properly (ahem...boys), and looking for signals, you will have a pretty good idea whether or not your partner is ready for your marriage proposal.
Marketers, if you have triggers set in place based on lead scoring, you can just sit back, let your excellently designed automated systems do the analysis, and pass it on to your amazing sales team to seal the deal.
6. The wedding
So, your sales team did their thing and now you are getting married. Congratulations. It is important to remember that just because you have sealed the deal, you don't begin to slack. Divorce is common. Similarly with marketing, the conversation doesn't end with their business card details.
Build positive relationships that encourage loyalty, build a good reputation through word of mouth and up-sell when the time is right. Keep in touch with your customers so that they don't feel neglected over time - make them feel special (lest they leave you for a competitor).
So now you can go and secure the man/woman of your dreams and make lots of sales too!
If you would like to learn more about lead nurturing you can download our free whitepaper:
photo credit: Auzigog via photopin