About the Author: Mary is the owner and CEO of NerdyMind, a friendly Fort Collins-based technical agency that focuses on digital lead generation, strategic website redesigns, and custom app development.
The B2B buying cycle can be long, especially for larger-ticket products and services. Here we talk about how to nurture your B2B digital marketing leads in a way that makes them want to “date” you.
It’s likely happened to you in the past. You were doing some research on the internet, and you stumbled across what looked like a very interesting eBook. You wanted to read it, but you were being asked to give up your email address in exchange for the content (which seemed very reasonable at the time). You entered your email address, and you gained access to a wonderful piece of content that matched your research and recharged you with fresh knowledge. At that point, you had a warm feeling about your experience.
The next day, you opened your email inbox – and it was littered with emails from the company that brought you the eBook. You immediately realized that you opened yourself up to an onslaught of SPAM. At that moment in time, while you were frantically looking for the UNSUBSCRIBE link, you got a horrible taste in your mouth. In sum, you went from having a warm feeling about the company to wanting nothing to do with them…all within 24 hours.
A B2B digital sales journey can be a lot like dating. Once you get those digits, you don’t want to come off too desperate – you have to play it cool.
So this person “gave you their digits”, and you assumed it was okay to start calling and messaging them about becoming a paying customer right away. It’s a very common mistake for people who are trained in traditional sales. These types of digital strategies are slower-burn, mainly because these potential customers would be classified as “researchers” (they are not ready to buy with you yet).
A B2B digital sales journey can be a lot like dating. Once you get those digits, you don’t want to come off too desperate – you have to play it cool. Here are some simple rules to follow when you are embarking on a B2B digital sales strategy for the first time:
- Don’t assume that someone wants to do business with you just because they downloaded a piece of content. Sure, you made the piece of content for the sole purpose of generating leads in your sales system. But you have to remember that these types of leads need to be handled in a different way. They aren’t buyers, they’re RESEARCHERS. They didn’t ask to hear from you – they asked for the download.
- Don’t just move this person into your general newsletter list. This person downloaded a piece of content that is about a specific subject. It’s okay to continue sending content to this lead, but it’s SO important to make sure that it is relevant to their interests. What do you know about them? Well, you know that they were interested in learning more about the subject-matter of your eBook. That’s all you know, but that’s powerful knowledge. From that one piece of content you should be able to decipher other subjects that this person might be interested in. Send them related content and stay away from giving them the run-of-the-mill general newsletter subject matter. Remember, you’re still building trust and authority with this potential customer. Don’t blow it by sending them irrelevant content that they don’t care about.
- Build a journey for these people, and document it (plan your first date out a bit). Taking some time to plan out this buyer’s journey is an amazing investment, and it allows you to take proper time to think through the different ways you want to encounter them. You can use Google.io flowcharts to illustrate the process, and that will drive the need for various artifacts that you will utilize to execute upon each step of the process (artifacts are basically pieces of content that you will need in order to bring your buyer’s journey to full fruition – an example would be email templates, premium content downloads, checklists, and more). You wouldn’t take someone out on a first date without doing a bit of planning, right? For instance, you know where you are taking them for dinner. You know that they are excited to see the movie that you picked out. You might even know that they are lactose intolerant. Use that information to give your potential partner a tailored experience. Don’t take someone with lactose intolerance out for ice cream.
- Once they have decided to purchase with you, don’t forget about them. You shouldn’t see these folks as a “one night stand.” Historically, someone who has made a purchase with you before is much more likely to make another purchase with you again in the future. Leave the possibility of a second date on the table! Make sure they are aware of your other offerings, ask them to be a part of your referral network, and upsell them on additional ideas that will help them reach their goals.
- Maybe they’re just not that into you. Sometimes, you never get this person to actually purchase with you. This is okay, and it’s important to move forward and focus on people who are picking up what you’re putting down. At this point, it might be a good time to ask the uninterested party if they would like to be a part of your newsletter list (giving them an opt-in). If they decide to stay a part of your newsletter, that’s great! If not, then your list is staying clean and properly filled with engaged, interested parties.
If you’ve been riding high on referrals since you started your business, you might consider opening up some new lead channels by trying digital marketing. However, if you decide to embark on this journey, remember to keep the principles of dating at the top of your mind. By being authentic and not taking such a traditional aggressive approach to sales, you’ll become much more attractive.