By Jason Kulpa –
Successful B2B marketing is all about saying the right thing through the right channel at the right time. In fast-paced marketing, the right time usually means right away.
According to the Demand Gen Report’s 7th Annual B2B Buyer’s Survey, 97 percent of B2B buyers believe the timeliness of a vendor’s response to inquiries is an important aspect of the buying process. If timeliness is important to buyers, it should be important to sellers as well.
Despite this, many vendors still wait multiple days before responding to leads. Instant communication makes delaying a response inexcusable. If the industry standard is two business days to respond but one company cuts that average to two hours, that company will start every relationship first and close more deals than its slow-moving competition.
Timing is important for engaging leads, but it’s only the first step. To maximize engagement, B2B companies must understand what they stand to gain and the three components of successful communications.
The Benefits of Owning Engagement
By 2020, consumers will mainly engage with companies they already know and trust, according to a report by Walker Information. That means companies must establish relationships today or risk getting locked out in the long term.
Engaging today also allows vendors to control the messaging and cadence of their communications. When engagement is firmly established, companies don’t have to jostle with the crowd to have their voices heard. Instead, they can nurture campaigns and set expectations that make it easier to develop relationships on their time.
Finally, by proactively owning engagement today, companies can stretch their marketing dollars further. Only good leads matter: If marketing provides thousands of unqualified leads that go nowhere, money disappears and the sales department feels slighted. Failing to close good leads means companies are throwing away money that could be saved with stronger engagement.
Take Control of Engagement
B2B companies can boost engagement and close more deals by following these three simple steps:
1. Be fast.
The faster the response, the more likely the lead is to convert. InsideSales.com found that lead qualifications drop 400 percent when companies wait 10 minutes to respond as opposed to five minutes. When the windows are small and the competition is fierce, every second counts.
Our team once worked with a client who struggled with low contact rates from leads. They couldn’t identify the issue, but after some digging, we discovered a delay of three hours between receiving the lead and delivering the information to sales. Implementing real-time lead delivery dramatically increased that contact rate.
Use every tool in your arsenal to respond to leads as quickly as possible – leverage a customer relationship management system, host data on a community cloud, or add chatbots. And lean on analytics to predict when leads are most likely to come in.
2. Be honest.
Customers have too many resources available for vendors to get away with lying – Google knows everyone’s secrets. As the previously mentioned Demand Gen Report found, 75 percent of buyers use more sources to research their purchases.
When building a new relationship, each party needs to be able to rely on the other’s word. Without that trust, the bond breaks.
Inexperienced salespeople will promise customers anything to open a connection, then run into frustration when customers recognize the dishonest tactic. It’s fine not to be perfect; just be honest. Communicate delays and problems before customers feel the effects so they know what to expect. When customers want an unavailable service or product, don’t pretend to have it. Tell them, then highlight other available solutions.
3. Be amazing.
A fast, honest offering that helps no one will not get any attention. Follow marketer and author Seth Goden’s advice: Ditch the traditional five P’s of product, placement, promotion, pricing, and publicity. Instead, focus on one P: the purple cow.
Most cows are black and white. Purple ones are obvious and uncommon, making people actively seek them out. Build an offering, product, and message combination that is both unique and appealing so that people feel compelled to reach out.
Go above and beyond by sending handwritten notes, thanking prospects for the chance to talk. For current customers, send emails to thank them for their business on their contract anniversaries and major milestones. These tactics cost almost nothing and strengthen the relationship in a way no expensive campaign could.
Don’t leave your engagement up to chance and watch customers trickle away over time. Be fast, honest, and amazing to impress prospects and keep current clients happy.
Jason Kulpa is the CEO of Underground Elephant, a performance-based provider of online marketing technology and customer acquisition solutions. Servicing multiple industries, including auto insurance, post-secondary education, health insurance and home services, Underground Elephant provides cloud-based SaaS marketing technology and platforms that deliver qualified calls, clicks and inquiries.