“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Let’s invert the old saying a bit and suggest that you can lead a customer by creating demand for your company’s services with effective B2B marketing efforts that market to the lead and listen to your customers. Without their desire to interact, you can’t make them sales ready.
Two articles from Business2Community.com complement each other with these messages.
Dave Hubbard recommends conserving sales resources by fully qualifying marketing leads first…but how? If you listen to potential customers and let them better define their needs before trying to close their business you will be able to gain better insights to close a deal. Unlike erratic consumer customer journeys, B2B customers can be more predictable. They are looking for specific solutions and are spending more money, while having more stakeholders involved. Their buying process consists of gathering a lot of information and narrowing it down to whether it addresses their problem appropriately and fits their budget, before they even think of engaging sales. According to Hubbard, “B2B buyers can complete 50%- 70% of their purchasing process by self-educating online.”
Marketing can respond by attracting, engaging, nurturing, and then “influencing the buyer journey” to create a truly marketing qualified lead (MQL). And the best part is that self-educating customers do most of the work themselves and soon become self-qualifying customers. The caveat: B2B marketers have to provide their customers with the content and choices along the way, specific to their decision stage. Each time the customer makes a selection, it moves them along the sales funnel because it defines their interests, needs, and level of readiness. Hubbard gives an example of a tightly defined email campaign as a way to elicit customer info without burdening or pestering. When marketers listen to how their customers are interacting with their content, they enable them to self-qualify, saving sales resources and efforts.
From an interview with Howard Sewell, president of Spear Marketing Group, a B2B demand generation agency and one of the “Top 50 Influential People in Sales Lead Management,” we gathered some more insight.
- “Demand generation and content marketing are nearly synonymous.” Good content informs, nurtures, and converts. B2B marketers should use a content map to serve customers at different points in their journey and create key personas.
- New demand generation channels, such as predictive analytics, which includes lead scoring, predictive modeling and prospecting, are making things easier.
- Programmatic display advertising will become more important because it enables more specific, targeted criteria that will yield better ROI than it has previously.
- Good data is still important for measuring marketing programs, tailoring messages, segmenting, and delivering what customers want.
B2B marketers benefit when they help the self-educating consumer self-qualify. Marketing to the lead, with respect to their journey and needs, using the content and choices they make, will always provide better customer relationships, which affects better business overall.
image via ky_olsen