Delivering the right content to the right person at right time is a common marketing mantra these days. However, in B2B marketing, it’s critical to add “FROM the right person” to that statement, as well.
Relationships Are Back
It may sound clichéd, but the old saying is still true: People buy from people. To make the sale, the concept has to go both ways. In today’s automated, database-centric marketing world, it can be easy to forget that we’re SELLING to people, as well. We’re talking to living, breathing humans, here. (I know…radical, huh?)
In addition to living and breathing, the humans you are selling to are also savvy, busy, and wary of being put on email marketing lists. Today’s audiences are easier than ever to lose because they’re easier than ever to reach. They need to feel the connection.
Putting the focus back on relationships in your B2B marketing may sound daunting — but can actually come naturally with the right planning and processes. In fact, today’s CRM and Marketing Automation technologies (when used properly) allow us to move away from faceless, broadcast campaigns to individualized, personalized events. You can have conversations, nurture the relationship and sell – and continue to sell.
It’s All In the Delivery: Be A Smart Sender
Think of delivering an email as if you were delivering a birthday gift to someone’s door.
Let’s say you have a friend who loves to cook. You want to give her that set of gourmet kitchen knives she’s been hinting about for months. If the knife set arrives by mail from the trusted manufacturer with a card from you, she’ll love it and thank you. If you send a clown to her doorstep to deliver the knives? You’ll give her nightmares on her birthday. Right gift, right time – wrong sender. Nobody wants a relationship with a clown bearing knives.
What Happens When We Fail to Prioritize People in the Process?
Many sales and marketing teams get complacent with what works, and blow off new and better ways of handling leads within their organizations. When the same thing works, they do the same thing over and over, discounting newer, more nuanced and nurturing approaches.
The result? Sloppy contact management leads to sloppy relationship management – and sacrifices potential sales.
Consider the following examples:
Example 1: Improper Assignments
Think about it. You could send the right content TO the right person at the right time — but if it’s FROM the wrong person it’s not going to be received well.
This is especially brutal when it comes to nurture campaigns. If a prospect feels a connection with anyone in your company — you should treat that as gold. If they know Joe from a trade show, but suddenly get nurture emails from some guy named Brian (or a clown bearing knives) they’ll feel the instant disconnect that comes with rejection.
Solution: Prioritize a process for properly assigning prospects in your CRM system. This will help you set up campaigns in your Marketing Automation System that will enhance communications from your sales team, instead of creating confusion and disconnect.
Example 2: Cold Hand-Offs
Sometimes the need to reassign leads is inevitable. Let’s say your leadership team has been speaking at a myriad of events. Prospects feel a quick relationship — connecting your company with their charisma. When your team tries to hand them off to a sales or account team, the prospect may feel they are not being valued or given the best attention. Their feelings get a little hurt.
Solution: Develop a process for follow-up communication that addresses the event where the lead was generated, as well as the need for the hand-off. The more personal the message, the better. Otherwise, those warm leads from an event or presentation will go cold fast.
Example 3: Incomplete Connections on LinkedIn
The power of LinkedIn for B2Bs is undeniable.
Are there any existing relationships you can leverage? Who shares similar groups? Which connections make sense for your Director, VP or Executive Levels? Are introductions and connections to sales reps in order?
Once again, WHO reaches out from your organization is as important as the connection itself.
Solution: When looking at companies and individuals with who you want to connect, consider WHO in your organization would be the ideal person to reach out first. Use LinkedIn to develop everyone’s networks — not just a select few.
A note about the C-Suite on LinkedIn: If your executive team is building connections on LinkedIn with key accounts, do they know how to follow up? Would an introduction to a sales rep be a more reliable next step? Execs who only “dabble” in LinkedIn can short-circuit your connection strategy. Be sure they have support from an admin or a marketing team to close the loop.
Example 4: Limited Reach & Credibility
So, you’re distributing some fantastic content on LinkedIn. Unfortunately, all of that meaty content is shared by one person on your marketing team. That killer content never reaches the right audience — meaning it never sees the light of day.
Solution: Develop a plan for multiple people in your organization to share content. Help these people build their connections so the content they share is seen by the right people.
Because B2B Business Is Personal
While each example above is slightly different, they all show the importance of taking the relationship into account when making sure you are sending out the right content, to the right person, at the right time. This is true with B2C sales, but when it comes to B2B sales, it’s everything.
- When planning content, consider who is the best person to be the author
- When distributing content, consider who is the best person to share it
- When making connections, consider who is the best person to develop the relationship
- When thinking about how prospects or clients might respond, consider who will be the best person to follow up
Ready to Make a Return to Relationships?
Let us look at your organization, learn about your buyers and develop content and delivery strategies that put people first.
We’ll help determine:
- Who you should be building relationships with at your key accounts
- Who on your team should be building those relationships
- What content will “lock eyes” with those contacts to help nurture and support the relationship
- What behavior and responses to monitor to determine actionable versus cold leads
- How best to follow up, listen and further nurture your relationships over time