It's like happily arriving at the door with a plate of peanut butter fudge—when the person you've been dating has already mentioned eating nuts could kill him. Or, in a monetary sense, it's how a bad record can cost a company $100, "like an ink spot that never comes out," says Mary Miller, global director of marketing at Oak Brook, Ill.-based mardevdm2, a global B-to-B marketing and data services division of Reed Business Information.
Doing it right—bringing nut-free brownies instead, or starting out with good data in B-to-B relationships that costs $1 for a clean record—is just the start of engaging with prospects, she says. During her presentation at DMA2011, "B-to-B Symposium: 4 Steps to Better Obtain and Nurture New B-to-B Relationships," Miller got into how marketers can onboard customers.
First, they should "take it slow," use data wisely—such as segmenting customers instead of bringing them all peanut butter fudge, "contact people on their terms" and know when to go after the sale, she says.
A big challenge for marketers, and one that's become a must in the age of algorithms, is how to engage with customers. Miller provides these tips on how to communicate with customers on their terms:
1. Do not initiate contact without a clear objective;
2. Start with the customer, not with your product or service. "They don't care about us," she says. Customers want to solve their problems. "Always make [messaging] about the customer problem and not your product.";
3. Pick up where the interaction left off. For instance, in the "tracking and scoring" stage of the conversation, use a webinar to answer questions rather than to push products;
4. Don't ask the prospect for the same thing more than once;
5. Make the interaction personal and personalized;
6. Deliver the information that reflects what you've already learned about them; and
7. Learn about the customers/prospects in bits … not all at once. "Start with what you know and add as you go," Miller says. "Add insight and not just data." For instance, if a customer doesn't like phone calls, take note of that.