B-to-B: Customer Onboarding
You never know where you'll meet your next customer. You could be on a plane, in line for coffee or leaving a meeting with another prospect. It starts with a simple conversation. How you choose to begin the relationship with new contacts, and what you learn about them, will have a direct impact on how well you stay connected with them and, ultimately, whether or not you bring them onboard as customers.
The beauty of today's B-to-B marketing world is that the flight or coffee shop could just as easily be Twitter, Facebook or some other marketing channel. However, the problem is it's difficult to keep the conversation going. When and how should you reach out to new contacts, ask the next question, engage with their businesses or invite them to learn more about yours? Having complete and current contact and behavioral data streamlines the process of acquiring new customers.
Follow these steps to get that information, nurture those relationships and find customer onboarding success.
1. Take It Slow
If we have learned anything during the down economy, it's that it's a buyers' market.
Whether you sell cars or CRM systems, buyers are in control. The old method of pushing until they say yes is no longer effective—and for that matter, probably never was. To establish long-term customer relationships, you have to take things one step at a time.
For example, if you exchange business cards, swap emails or connect with someone on LinkedIn, the first thing you should do is add that contact information to your marketing database. Note where and how you met the person, and any other details about your conversation. At each future point of contact, you can learn a bit more about the company and the individual.
The next stage in your engagement process could be to invite those contacts to subscribe to your newsletter or blog. When they respond, it's a good time to ask for another nugget or two of information that helps you understand their needs and role within the organization. It's important to remember that if your sales cycle is typically 18 months, it's unrealistic to expect new online followers will buy in 60 days. It all depends on where they are in the buying cycle and the level of need they have that you can address. Successful relationships take time to build knowledge and trust, and customer relationships are no different.