Many companies that I interact with have this twin challenge. The first is reaching the right prospect (potential customer) and the second is generating an enquiry or a lead from that potential customer.
Let us look at it one by one.
You need a systematic, process driven approach to reach your potential customers. Here are simple steps that you can take:
Clearly define your target market – this should be defined in as much detail as possible, considering industry segment/sub-segment, size of company (revenue/number of employees), location, decision makers/influencers, pain areas etc. The idea is to know about your potential customers’ business as well as the buyer persona.
Create a database in Excel or in a CRM system if you have one. This should capture all the details of the potential customers as mentioned above, including names, designations, contact details of the right persons to be contacted. You may need some research & networking to get this information. Ensure that this is as complete as possible.
The next step is to come up with an appropriate message with a strong value proposition. Value proposition is a tangible benefit that your product or service offers to the potential customers. You should talk about the results that they will get by using your products or services. Include metrics and refer to other customers’ successes, preferably at companies like those of your potential customers.
Once you have the above lined up, you must decide on how to reach the right people or what mode of communication would be most appropriate and professional. You may consider the following.
1. Email – this is an enormously powerful tool in the B2B context and for which having a good database is a must
2. Social Media – Identify the media where your potential customers spend time. Stay active by posting regularly & responding to others. My favorite is LinkedIn (most B2B decision makers have profiles here). It is recommended that you have a premium account to use tools like Sales Navigator. You may join relevant groups of which your target customers are members and post content that is useful to them. Do not SELL
3. Advertisements – this is a paid channel that you may evaluate considering ROI. There is Google AdWords, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora etc
4. Website – you should have a well-designed, search engine optimized website so that potential customers can find you easily when they search. Have analytics in place to track visitors. Build strong content using blogs, videos, and case studies to provide value to potential customers. Promote these on social media platforms to attract potential customers
5. Webinars – this is a relatively new tool that can help establish you as an expert in your field and customers will understand how you and your company can address their pain areas
6. Telemarketing – this is the old way of doing things and not much in vogue these days due to its interruptive nature. However, it is not dead yet and can get you results if used smartly and selectively.
7. B2B Portals – It may be worth registering on these and evaluating paid subscriptions to get a better response
Remember, that you may have to use a combination of the above to reach the entire target market, which includes those in the database as well as those who are not in your database.
Effective Market Reach (MR) = RIGHT (PEOPLE + MESSAGE + CHANNEL)
Once you have been able to establish a connection with the right people in your target market and if your value proposition is strong enough, you will get a positive response. This means the potential customers give you an enquiry stating they have a need for your product or service. It is an outcome of your efforts in the earlier stage of reaching the right customer, with right message and using the right channel.
RIGHT (PEOPLE + MESSAGE + CHANNEL) at the RIGHT TIME results into lead generation. Keep your marketing efforts always ON, since like the stock market, you cannot TIME the customer. There are trigger events like change in ownership, new technology, expansion, change in organization structure, increasing competition etc. over which you have no control. But this is the TIME when the customer may have a need for your product or service. You will be rewarded with an enquiry provided you have managed to stay on the top of their mind with your marketing efforts.
There are 2 approaches that you can use for generating leads – PUSH and PULL.
PUSH is the use of telemarketing, email, and visits to potential customers and may be classified as OUTBOUND. This approach was predominantly used by the marketers when the internet offered limited options to engage with people.
PULL approach is INBOUND and leverages the internet to its maximum. This involves using “Search” where people use search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to get answers to their queries, and “Social” channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc. to reach the potential customers. The content that one posts here can further be classified into “Organic”, which is free and “Paid”, which is advertisements or promotions.
With this basic understanding, let us look at some important sources through which leads are generated in a B2B context.
Sales Team – your sales team generates leads through their contacts and visits
Channel Partners – dealers, distributors, agents
Email campaigns carried out by marketing team
Service Team – your service team while interacting with customers
Referrals – you may get reference from existing customers or business associates
Website – potential customers who visit your website may send you enquiries This could be by way of organic search or in response to a paid advertisement
Social Media – Leads get generated through your interactions on social media either by way of your postings, participating in group discussions or in response to your advertisements
Online Portals – you may get leads from B2B portals like IndiaMart, IPF where your company is listed
Webinars – you may get leads from participants who have attended your webinars
Newsletters – If you regularly send out newsletters, it is possible that a few recipients may send you an enquiry
Publicity/PR – A reader may discover your products/services in an article published in the newspaper or magazine and send you an enquiry
Exhibitions/Networking events – though conventional, these are a great source of generating quality leads especially for industrial products and services
It is important that you track the sources of all the leads that you get. This is essential for fine tuning the marketing efforts. It is quite possible that you may get better results through some of the sources while others may not be so effective. Continue to strengthen the sources that work well and improve on the others to make them effective.
Finally, you should decide on your market reach and lead generation strategies, based on your business goals. Once the strategies are in place, you can work out the tactics.
Now that you have improved market reach and generated lot of leads. What next? Leads must be converted into paying customers. We will look at it may be in the next blog.
Best wishes for a grand MR and successful LG!