Fishing for B-to-B Fortune
Your B-to-B direct marketing campaign is in the mail. You’ve reached the inboxes of the decision-makers you targeted, despite the best efforts of the gatekeepers who guard them. Your phones are ringing, Web traffic is up, and leads are coming in. Your campaign is a hit!
You already can visualize the higher numbers on next month’s sales reports, the kudos from your boss and the vice president of sales—maybe even that raise you’ve been hoping for.
This happy scenario is the outcome B-to-B marketers dream about when they use direct mail to generate sales leads. Depending on the target audience and the product or service being promoted, B-to-B campaigns can and do produce positive, immediate sales results.
But more often than not, the complexity of the business buying decision—involving multiple decision-makers, the specific requirements of end-users and the role of influencers—creates a lengthy, complicated sales process. This is especially true for business purchases that require a substantial investment.
A fast, easy sale isn’t necessarily a likely outcome. Odds are that a significant number of the leads you’ve generated with your B-to-B direct mail will need to be nurtured over time before they’re willing to buy.
So how can you keep those mail-generated leads interested until the answer is “yes”? Here are some ideas.
Nibbling the Bait, But Not Yet Taking It
The goal of an outbound B-to-B lead generation direct mail campaign is to get potential prospects to raise their hands and indicate their interest in a product or service.
Asking questions on the mailing’s response form, the Web reply form, or during a call with the prospect, B-to-B direct marketers filter respondents by sales potential and readiness to buy, in order to gauge the value of each lead.
The hottest prospects typically are sent to the most effective closers: the sales force. As sales representatives begin following up, prospects tend to fall into three groups:
• Converted to a sale: The prospect becomes a customer.
• Qualified, but not ready to buy: The prospect has the potential to become a customer (need, budget and purchasing authority), but doesn’t want to make a purchase, yet.
• Not interested/not qualified: A future sale is unlikely; the prospect doesn’t have the budget, need or authority to say “yes.”