In this blog post, we aim to show you the major trends to be aware of in 2017 for generating B2B leads and we do this by showcasing you those influencers, bloggers and professionals whom we think do a great service to business decision makers with their take on a given sales sub-topic. We, at Leadberry are only a tiny part of this ever more complex sales and lead generation universe, but we believe that understanding how selling things in 2017 is evolving is already half the success. So with no further delay, let’s cut to the chase!
1. We assume that you already have a product or service that customers actually need. If not, work on your value proposition design and business model that Alex Osterwalder has worked out and made a hit among business books (“Value Proposition Design” and “Business Model Generation” as a book; or facilitated as a workshop locally with a trained consultant on the topic). While this might sound trivial, many entrepreneurs and organizations simply don’t ‘get’ what customers are actually looking for and make offers that nobody really wants to buy. The other common issue is a once-great offer has become obsolete due to advances in technology and/or having a more cost-effective/eco-friendly solution or a new kind of competitor entering your market (taxis vs. Uber; mobile text messages vs. internet based Viber; the desktop computer ‘generation’ vs. the tablet ‘generation’ to name a few).
- To Do: Identify with research and concept validation what is the task the customer is trying to get done that you could offer as a product or service? What are her pains and gains? Are you still offering your customers what they consider worthy of buying/investing in?
2. Have a website that serves your customers instead of your business only. Most websites are built up around the great idea of showcasing the owner’s/senior management’s ego and/or thoughts about what they can produce instead of the customer’s needs. Sad, but true fact. When you review your website, do take a look from such a perspective. "Am I showcasing myself only or holding a mirror to my customers from which it is easy to identify with their own problems (and hence my solution is a no-brainer for them to purchase)?" Everyone brags about being able to build up a business website in no time for you, but an important thing to point out is IT people still don’t tend to have a marketer’s mindset. John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing and Nathan Elly of Digital Next – a Melbourne, Australia based digital agency, recently wrote a great post on 6 Tactics for Turning Your Website into a Lead Generating Machine.
Their six points in a nutshell include:
- Pitch your product or service to your niche market.
- Make sure your site has web pages that convert.
- Make sure the web pages get to communicate your exact intentions.
- Focus on getting people to register on your database network.
- Use pop-ups to get more engagement.
- Implement retargeting tags and publish testimonials and reviews.
- To Do: Make sure you employ a combination of people that not only know how to code a function or automate something on your website, but also think with the mind of your customer. Is copy attractive for your customers? Is your website optimized for search engines to easily show your website on page 1 of the organic hits (e.g. the ‘O’ of SEO)? Is there a natural and easy to follow path for the visitor to go from own-problem-recognition to purchasing the solution through your offer? Become a User Experience (UX) person yourself temporarily, but regularly. It isn’t rocket science, only common sense!
3. OK, with that out of the way, let’s assume you have a solid offering, have a decent website, and want to go after leads with your sales team. Cold email prospecting is the name of the new game in Sales City. We also wrote a blog post on this topic earlier. Jill Konrath is an expert on the topic (and on various other selling strategies) and has a great free eBook, called ‘The Ultimate Guide to Email Prospecting”. She says:
“Despite being tough to reach, your prospects really do need your help. They're too busy to effectively deal with everything that needs to get done. They're expected to do more this year than last, but with fewer resources and in shorter time frames. If you have ideas, insights and information that can help them reach their objectives, they'll want to meet with you.”
Over 90% of the people you reach out to contact via email are not looking to make a change. But over70% of them aren't happy with their current system, provider or product. That's where the opportunity is! These unhappy people could be tempted to change IF they were approached in the right way. What does ittake? Strong value propositions jolt your prospects out of complacency with the status quo and move them into action.”
- To Do: Develop a sound cold email prospecting strategy and make a plan to execute daily, weekly, monthly outreach to prospects!
4. Content marketing might not seem to be related to sales, but it very much is. You see, people don’t care about you or your offer in and of itself. They care about their own problems mostly and often do a lot of research to find out what others think, say, advise, recommend or use in their own lives. In other words, there is a universe of things around their problems, tasks and things they long for (or want to avoid).
If you cater to this ‘universe’, they will come and visit your site. If you offer them valuable information (no sales yet), they will consider your site worthy to visit and recommend it to others as well. So if you are into wanting to communicate better with your daughter and I offer you tips and tricks on this topic on my website, you will enjoy reading about it. No sales has happened yet, however you, as a potential customer are already aware of my website as one which you found credible and valuable (yet free) information on. This is content marketing at its very basics. Sales happens only at a later stage, but without you providing this ‘universe’ to your potential customers, people will not want to visit your website, because they are usually not looking for ‘products’ in the early phases of research; later, very much so.
“It’s the human element that’s important, first and foremost. At the foundation of what we do as digital marketers is influencing human psychology, telling creative stories, and delivering value that leads to a unifying sense of connection. Add marketing technology to that, and then you’re hitting it out of the park."
That means you need a content strategy that marries the motivations of your prospects with your business objectives before anything else. And yet, the latest research from Content Marketing Institute shows that just 37% of B2B marketers and 40% of B2C marketers have a written content marketing plan.”
- To Do: develop your own content marketing strategy and have a look at your website from such a perspective!
5. There will always be a need for leads, thus coming up with new approaches on how to further improve a company’s lead generation methods is crucial in staying ahead of the competition. The adoption of social media by B2B companies has been relatively slower than in the B2C sector, but today, more and more B2B organizations integrate social media into their marketing and sales strategy. Adam Jankovits, the CEO of Leadberry highlighted:
“On average, only 1.5% of first-time visitors will convert on your website, thus 98.5% of your online marketing spend can be easily a waste of money, if you are in the B2B sector and looking for clients to come to your door. Cold calling, cold e-mailing has been a long-time element of the digital salesmen’s toolbox, but today cold social media outreach can also be a highly effective channel to generate serious B2B business. Treating anonymous B2B visitors as prospects and reaching out to them via social media is rapidly growing trend in the B2B sector. Leadberry is in line with this trend and can add value when building your prospect list to whom you can reach out to.”
In the next 10 years Millennials will be filling in vacancies, serious marketing and sales roles will have leaders with a completely new mindset. Millennials grew up with technology and tend to do most of their research online; social media is part of their everyday lives.
- To Do: Try a B2B visitor identification tool – like Leadberry – and once you have some leads on the hook, don’t wait for them to contact you, go after them via social media, or any other channel you are comfortable with.