Fishing for B-to-B Fortune
The key question is what to do with that second group: qualified prospects who have nibbled on the bait but not yet taken it.
Seven Steps for Success
Priming these potential customers for eventual conversion to a sale requires building a relationship. The sales team is likely to continue making periodic follow-up calls, but marketing—especially direct marketing—also plays a pivotal role.
The marketing process should be systematic, tailored to the prospect’s needs and driven by data. Here are seven key steps for success:
1. Capture contact data to facilitate a dialogue. During lead qualification, it’s critical to ask the right questions to determine the prospect’s budget, authority, need and readiness to buy.
But it’s just as important—during lead qualification or at the point of initial response—to capture the contact data needed for an ongoing sales dialogue. It’s especially critical to obtain business prospects’ e-mail addresses and permission to receive e-mails from you.
One way to get this data is to require it for fulfillment of your original mail offer, such as a product sample, free trial of your product or service, or premium.
2. Automate feedback from the sales force. An enduring issue in B-to-B sales and marketing is the challenge of getting feedback from the sales team about leads. Sales representatives may resist participating in lead tracking and reporting because it takes them away from what they do best: talking to prospective customers.
Yet the only way marketing can support sales by establishing an ongoing dialogue with prospects who aren’t ready to buy is to find out about those prospects: who they are, what they’re interested in, and their reasons for putting off a purchasing decision.
One solution is to automate the process with a sales and customer relationship management (CRM) software system that requires the sales team to report on the outcome of each prospect encounter. Many of today’s most popular systems, like Salesforce.com, Goldmine and Onyx, offer this capability for lead and campaign management. It makes it relatively painless and easy.