It takes a different way of thinking to succeed in B2B. Trying to go viral, or tap into networks won’t help you now. Referral-incentive and shiny-dangling-object promos are irrelevant in B2B. You’re batting with the big kids now. On this playing field, it’s just you and your prospect, one on one…just you and your educated, sales-savvy, busy, no-BS, already-bored-with-your-pitch, C-suite prospect. Scalable tactics are for B2C, and low-end B2C at that. In big-league, high-dollar-stakes B2B marketing, a strategy of unscalable activities is the thing.
B2B Marketing—It’s Not for B2C Thinkers.
In fact, success in high-dollar B2B requires the opposite of low-dollar B2C marketing strategy. Forget the primitive tactics. You need one-to-one communication from the jump. Sounds time-consuming, exhausting…painful, right?
But, in smart B2B marketing…the cause of the pain is cured. And, it’s that kind that I want to cover.
To best understand where we are when we get there, First, consider this: Why do one-to-one, unscalable B2B marketing activities lead to more and faster sales conversions? Answers:
- Business leaders don’t succumb to impulse buying.
- They’ve already conducted numerous searches before they visit a brand’s website.
- Most of their purchasing decision process happens before you arrive.
- They’re otherwise very well informed.
- And, typically multiple approvals from various people are required for major purchases.
In other words, closing takes longer…it’s complex. And, it’s going to involve numerous conversations over weeks, or months, sometimes with numerous people.
You can scale some of this. You can even automate bits of it. But success here relies largely on a series of unscalable activities. Web conversion data indicates that average conversions through websites are in single digits, while prospect qualification rates are closer to 30%.
Why this wide gap? It’s because prospects become more qualified as the sales process goes along. Lead scoring can help a little. But, generally, you’re going to be emailing and phone calling, i.e., all the usual manual, time-intensive, unscalable sales tasks that constitute B2B selling.
At least, that’s the common course.
Unscalable B2B Marketing Activities
But, consider this. The average click-through rate for web ads, according to one recent report is around 3% for search ads and about 5% for display ads. Those are obviously weak results, by any industry standards of measure.
Online businesses accept this situation, and continue spending for online advertising, because its scalable. It frees marketers to focus on other tasks. Typically, the logic is that it’s worth putting up with dismal response rates, because the investment will pay off in the end…maybe.
Consider alternatives, for context.
- Researching individual prospects — A blogger took conversion from 2-3% results to 60%, and reply rates went up to 31% by taking the unscalable steps first. The blogger diligently researched each prospect and individualized every outreach attempt.
- Direct mail — A company reports receiving a 25% response rate from direct mail for introductions to medium-sized companies ($30k and up). And, one study reportedly shows that first-time customers are 60% more likely to visit a website after receiving a direct mail introduction to it.
- Cold calling — An entrepreneur reports that he walked into a company on a cold call one day, and is now working through two proposals with its decision-makers. Compare that result with the 3% response rate for online ads…which typically do not even become sound leads.
But, the situation with these kinds of high-performance activities is that they’re not scalable. At least, they don’t appear to be…at first look anyway.
Account-based marketing — When you do find a lead making its way into the top of your pipeline, instead of waiting to qualify it nearer to the end of the process, do it upfront. Cull out junk leads, so you can focus attention and resources on the fewer, but better prospects. This is a proven methodology. It’s reportedly the one that grew Salesforce by $100 million, and the one that the most successful SaaS sales teams are using today.
Making the Unscalable Scalable
There are ways to scale multiple unscalable marketing activities, by employing the right people, tools, and processes. Here are some methods that work. In broad terms, the approach is straightforward enough—accept that:
- It takes more than 500-word blog posts.
- It involves a process of mixed inbound and outbound contacts.
- The only way to sell high-dollar deals is to devote time, to pitch, and to keep pitching a dedicated account.
- You must do the hard work, and do it upfront.
After adopting this thinking, everything else is pretty simple:
- A) Start by clearly defining your ideal customer profile…precisely who do you want your prospect to be? Set your parameters. B) Employ the right tools. C) And then, just work a basic system—which is to say, follow a step-by-step process with every prospect.
A Few Good Tools for Scaling in B2B
After you’ve got a clear picture of who you really want your target customer to be, get some modern tools in place. Then you’ll be ready to start working your system. Getting more paying customers doesn’t really take a load of money, or hacking your marketing. It doesn’t even require more time. It requires a process.
Here are a few good tools to help you establish a process.
- LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator — This is an effective tool for scaling pre-qualification of prospects. Use search criteria such job titles, company size, etc., to compile a prospecting list.
Navigator provides an endless stream of updates when filled with accounts. You can see every action each prospect takes on the site. You can quickly master social selling this way. (IBM has reportedly increased sales by 400% through social marketing.)
You’ll have to do the work it takes to get noticed (not by spamming the prospects)…by reaching out to discuss their needs…by making efforts to build business relationships. TIP: Try running content promotions to your target LinkedIn accounts to passively promote brand awareness.
- Google Analytics — Let go of fixations on vanity metrics. Clicks and views are not really very relevant to Customer Lifetime Value metrics. Educate yourself on Google Analytics to reveal your best customers. Learn to use the Lifetime Value feature.
- LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences feature — You can target contacts who have visited your site, and you can upload lists of contacts who have opted in at some point.
Here, you can add scale. You can’t automate prospect meetings, but you can automate certain activities, like retargeting ads. And, you can build prospecting lists.
Soon, you’ll find yourself with hundreds of names /leads, for a nominal investment. This approach has reportedly yielded a 10% response rate from hundreds of prospects all worth more than $10k in sales over the following year for at least one marketer.
These are concrete approaches that attempts to “go viral” cannot match as a viable marketing activity.
And, Now—The Process…
What can you scale at your site? A prospect visits your site. He/she opts in. A lead has entered the funnel and is ready to pass through your sales pipeline. But, then what? You’ve received the lead. And…eventually you’ll take the time to vet it…maybe hours, days, or weeks later. That’s too late. By then, the prospect has found another provider. There is effectively a big “WE’RE NOT HERE TO HELP YOU!” sign blocking off your pipeline.
Some companies’ response time is in the ideal range of 0-5 minutes. But, many more firms are slow to respond, commonly taking 8-12 hours, more than 24 hours, or not replying at all. Your liklihood of qualifying a new prospect drops by 400% after the 5-minute threshold.
To scale here, live chat works. Some companies have reportedly grown leads by 20% per month using this method. But, you can’t afford to pay an employee for that. But, chatbots can now do much of this preliminary work, from qualifying sales prospects to scheduling sales calls.
You can program the bot’s chat sequence, and let the bot do a lot of time-consuming top-of-funnel work for you, without any live operators at this stage. The helper bot greets prospects, offers help, and leads your site visitor through a series of directives. Conversations go something like this:
Helpful Bot — Hi! Let me see if I can help you get started. I will ask you a few simple questions. What’s your role in the business? (Marketing Manager? General Manager? CEO?)
The prospect responds that he is with a marketing company, for example.
Helpful Bot — Great! We are entirely focused on helping B2B companies increase their marketing-qualified leads.
Since you want to deal directly with decision-makers, you can program different responses for other inquirers, to help everyone avoid wasting each other’s time. When a CEO is online with your bot, the conversation might continue on like this:
Helpful Bot — We enjoy working with senior marketing management! From that vantage, we have the opportunity to help your entire company. What is your approximate monthly budget for digital marketing? (Less than $5k, $5-10k, $10-25k, $25-50k, above $50k?)
Consider the benefits of this pipeline entry system:
- Automated preliminary qualification process — Your helper bot can go on to ask for basic budget information, to help your bot better qualify and segment incoming leads. For example, if the prospect’s budget is under $5k, your chatbot can kindly advise the visitor about your company’s policy on minimum project size.
- Automated lead-traffic directing — Your bot can even direct leads to various divisions within your company for various sizes and kinds of accounts, etc..
- Automated data gathering — You now have an abundance of valuable prospect data for use throughout the remainder of the sales process. Among other essential information, you now know:
- If the prospect’s company is essentially a viable prospect or not.
- If the visitor is the decision-maker.
- Contact information for the decision-maker.
- Precisely to which division, department, or representative in your firm the prospect should be referred.
- Automated scheduling — And, your site visitor isn’t forced to wait for a follow-up contact that’s likely going to take a frustratingly long time to receive. Your prospect can instead conveniently and immediately schedule a sales call. Your bot can display a message at this point that advises the prospect:
Helpful Bot — Great! We have had exceptional success working marketing budgets in your range. We look forward to learning more about your marketing goals. To move to the next step in the process, we would like to connect you with an expert for a 15 minute introduction phone call. (Just click here to schedule.)
More benefits of these directive chatbots:
- Software with built-in calendar features is available that integrates with most CRMs and digital calendars, allowing the chatbot to even schedule real-time conversations.
When a visitor succeeds in answering the initial series of qualifying questions, he/she is presented with a link, to immediately schedule a conversation.
- The lead conversion page is normally easy for users to navigate.
These functions typically offer handy scheduling features, with easy-to-use big buttons for week days and times of day that the prospect can select to set an appointment to speak with the CEO, etc..
- These features are upgrades from old systems that merely thanked the visitor after gathering information, and ended the contact with a promise to follow up.
This kind of systemic upgrade has reportedly increased conversions for at least one company from approximately 30% to above 61% just one month.
Viral marketing is a pipe-dream in B2B. Focusing on scalable marketing activities alone is self-defeating. Those tactics only work in low-end B2C markets. Selling high-end services B2B is a different world. The way to develop a productive business rapport and earn trust is by doing the necessary hard, time-consuming work to operate at the level of engagement with business leaders.
The key is to scale what is often misunderstood as unscalable. Use processes of auto-delegation, employing technology to overcome some of the top-funnel burden. This can allow you to still deliver one-on-one service at the top end—virtual, but efficient for your prospect and you—while freeing valuable time at the bottom end of the conversion process, where your prospect and you need real one-on-one time.
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For More Information
For more information about scaling seemingly unscalable B2B marketing activities, or to make an appointment to discuss your company’s other specific marketing needs, contact FizzPOP Media to speak to one of our experts.