B-to-C marketers often see swift cause and effect in their efforts—a sudden spike in online purchases, a record number of coupons being redeemed, etc. B-to-B marketers, however, can feel more removed from the outcome of their work, especially if sales are contingent upon an internal sales force or distribution channel.
What can B-to-B marketers do to have a more direct impact on the sales process? The answer is less about the promotion and more about what you do with the leads when they respond. Here are seven ways marketers can help make a sale:
Collect leads in a centralized place: Tradeshow leads in a spreadsheet, business cards in stacks, web leads on the server—when leads are organized (or not) in this way, there is no way marketing and sales can be aligned. Keeping leads in one centralized location is imperative for measuring the success of campaigns and having viable information to send to the sales team.
Score leads based on the information you get: Just asking for contact information gives the sales team little to go on. Influence a sale by getting the full picture of a prospect’s needs through their lead generation form answers, and score the leads based on how they responded. The more a lead’s responses match up to your ideal customer profile, the higher the lead gets scored.
Forward leads to the right people: Forward high scoring leads based on territory, industry or product directly to the sales team for follow-up. Keep lower scoring leads in marketing to “nurture” them with additional direct marketing.
Fulfill sample/literature requests immediately: It’s easy to streamline the process if marketing does fulfillment, but in many organizations, the sales team is responsible for fulfilling the request. In this case, it’s imperative that the sales team have ready access to a literature toolkit so quick response is possible.
Customize fulfillment materials for the prospect’s place in the buying cycle: Customers are increasingly dissatisfied with irrelevant and boiler plate information. They want information that is personal and applies directly to their businesses. This can be more expensive, but consider this: Research shows that improving the speed of response, personalizing information and ensuring customers get what they requested increases sales conversion by 10 percent to 25 percent.
Ask leads how you’re doing: It’s widely accepted that organizations should gauge the satisfaction of their current customers, but finding out how you’re doing from prospects also can have direct impact on a sale. Did they receive a follow-up from sales? Has their buying timeframe changed? What products are they evaluating? When the sales team can’t get the answers directly, a short, simple survey initiated by marketing or customer service can do the trick and get information that makes a real bottom-line impact.
Build relationships over time: Segment your lead database by industry, profession, size or budget and use direct marketing to “speak” to these individual’s needs. It will build credibility and a relationship, which is imperative in times when businesses are bombarded with marketing messages.