You may think that a prospect needs your solution. But if she doesn’t want it, you’re out of luck.
That means you have to first create demand along the buyer’s journey. There are three ways to do this:
- Cold calling and promotional campaign
- Trigger Events
- Educating prospects with useful information
A cold calling campaign may look like the most efficient way to reach your target market. They all need your solution. Right? Not so fast.
Bombarding prospects with cold calls and promotional emails is simply pitching. It annoys prospects, and it doesn’t work.
If prospects don’t think they have a problem you can solve or have never heard of you, they can easily ignore you. Caller ID and spam filters will consign you to oblivion.
Trigger events, such as an acquisition, a product launch, or a key hire, can create an immediate opportunity. But these instances are rare. You’ll probably starve if your prospecting strategy depends entirely on waiting for trigger events.
Educating prospects systematically about the problems you solve is both more effective and more efficient than the other two approaches. You’ll find more qualified prospects faster.
The Buyer’s Journey
B2B buyers follow a three-stage buyer’s journey below:
To move the buyers along, they need relevant information, particularly for the “Awareness” and “Consideration” stages.
Your marketing department should provide all the “tools” necessary to attract and engage prospects. These include:
- Website that attracts visitors and captures leads.
- Informative and compelling content (articles, white papers, case studies, etc.).
- Systems to automatically “nurture” leads via periodic emails and offers.
You, as a salesperson, must know how to use these tools effectively.
Don’t rely on your company website to produce all your leads. Many of these unsolicited inquiries may be from unqualified prospects who cannot use or afford your solution.
Be proactive. Develop a list of executives that meet your target customer profile (industry, company size, location etc.) and send periodic pieces of useful information and offers.
You may get some nibbles. The advantage here is that these are qualified prospects.
Also, you won’t be investing a huge amount of time in a cold calling effort. And your prospects won’t consider you a pest.
Your marketing department plays a key role here in driving traffic to the website, capturing names of prospects, and, in many cases, nurturing the leads with automated email sequences.
Prospects who show interest by, say, downloading a white paper or participating in a webinar along the buyer’s journey become marketing qualified leads. The leads are forwarded to the sales team for further nurturing.
Goal: Convince prospects they have a problem or opportunity.
Objective: Educate prospects about a problem or opportunity and its costs along with the benefits of solving it.
- Drive traffic to website
- Capture names and contact info
- Send Info and Offers
- Social Media Postings
- Website content
- Industry white papers
- Automated nurturing programs
This is where you, the salesperson takes over. Using the tools provided by marketing, you develop the leads and begin to interact with them extensively. You’re driving them toward a decision.
Goal: Convince prospects to evaluate your solution
Objective: Demonstrate how your solution can solve the prospect’s problem
Tactics: Show how your solution works and how it compares to the competition
- Customer case studies
- ROI Calculators
Your goal here is to convince the prospect to buy your solution. Presumably, she has all the information she needs.
Here is an example of a nurturing sequence along the buyer’s journey spanning the Awareness and Consideration phases. Note that the salesperson does not create her own content. She selects appropriate material from her company’s content library.
This saves time and ensures a consistent message.
- Day 1: Leave voicemail and send follow-up email.
- Day 28: Send e-newsletter with voicemail alert that it’s there.
- Day 42: E-mail recent customer success story, in related industry if possible.
- Day 60: Send personal invitation from selling professional to forthcoming seminar.
- Day 80: Mail case study and personalized letter of transmittal.
- Day 100: E-mail recent article of interest on Internet.
- Day 120: E-mail “touching base” note.
- Day 140: Mail follow-up letter with free report.
- Day 160: Prospect calls you: now a qualified lead!