Today’s post is by Jeff Kalter, CEO of 3D2B, a global business-to-business telemarketing company that bridges the divide between marketing and sales. He leads customer acquisition programs for Fortune 500 companies and is passionate about building strong business relationships through professional phone conversations.
Years ago, mass marketing was in vogue. While this technique took advantage of economies of scale by reaching out to an entire audience with one message, communications were often not on target.
Today, marketing is narrowing its focus. B2B marketers have recognized they can increase their marketing ROI by appealing to the needs of different segments – dividing their clientele and prospects by such criteria as geography, industry, and company size. As they do so, they are moving toward individualized messaging, the heart of engagement marketing.
Growing the Value of Each Customer
The interest in engagement marketing shows companies are taking the advice seriously that “The customer comes first.” That’s because a business’s most important assets are their customers. So, while marketers used to be focused squarely on generating and qualifying leads, they are now playing a greater role in enhancing the customer’s value to the business. This includes the following components:
- Maximizing annual sales to a customer
- Increasing the lifetime of a customer
- Leveraging the goodwill of that customer to spread the word about the organization to their peers and network
How to Increase Engagement
To create engagement with prospects and customers, companies must treat them as individuals, building a relationship and helping them meet their needs. To understand what this looks like, think of Amazon – an example from the consumer world. First, when you visit, the home page is customized to your interests. Then, when you select an item to review, you see customer reviews and products that other customers bought with that product. The information customers receive makes their shopping experience more engaging, relevant, and easier – bringing them back again and again.
You want to do the same in a B2B environment. After all, you’re still dealing with people. And, in a world where buyers receive messages non-stop – online, via email, and through other channels – you can gain a competitive edge with engagement marketing. By creating a two-way dialogue with your customers, you can build long-term trusting relationships.
It sounds good, but how do you make it happen?
Communicate personally by phone, email, or social media. Individualizing your conversations and messages requires an in-depth knowledge of the prospect’s or customer’s behavior. How have they interacted with your Website? What actions have they taken after receiving your emails? What purchases have they made? What have you learned about them through your phone calls? To be efficient and effective with engagement, your reps need easy access to the answers to these questions in a marketing-automation or marketing-engagement solution that’s integrated with your customer relationship management system.
So what do these personalized interactions look like? Let’s say a rep in an enterprise content management firm notices a prospect is reading articles on the company’s blog about managing digital content. The prospect is also asking questions on social media about how their peers have tackled the explosion of content. Finally, the rep notes that social media is one of the prospect’s preferred channels. Given this information, the salesperson reaches out via LinkedIn with a personal message like this:
I see from your comments on LinkedIn that you’ve been grappling with some issues surrounding enterprise content management. I thought you might like to attend an upcoming event we are offering in your area. Our CEO will be doing a short presentation on best practices for enterprise content management. (No sales…I promise). We’ll also be serving hors d’oeuvres and refreshments and providing plenty of time for networking.
Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll send you an invitation.
The outreach does not have to be for a physical meeting. It could instead be an offer of valuable information, such as a webinar or e-book.
If the prospect had also responded well on the phone in the past, it’s probably better to make a call. That’s because you can gain more information from a two-way dialogue of B2B phone calls. Thus, they provide more significant insights into how your organization can help the prospect and what it will take to move him or her through the buying cycle.
Work Your Goals
Each time you communicate with a prospect or customer, you should have a goal that goes beyond just building a relationship. In the beginning, your objective may be to develop a prospect’s trust, showing that leaders in your organization are knowledge experts who are willing to share information. In the initial stage, you can present solutions to a problem generically. At some point, once an individual is consuming the information you supply, you’ll know that they are ready to learn about your company’s specific solutions. Start sharing that information with the goal of a sales conversion.
Go beyond the Sale
In the old days, marketing’s job would be over once the deal was sealed – the baton had been handed off to sales. Not so with engagement marketing. You should remain involved in providing communications and content that enable customers to get the most out of their purchases and to learn about other products and solutions. You might, for instance, offer a series of articles or videos on tips and techniques for using your solution. Or, if you’ve had a customer for a while, you’ll want to keep them informed of new products or upgrades to existing ones.
Get Started on the Road to Engagement
So, if you’re interested in increasing sales conversions and the value of your customers, consider starting an engagement marketing program. With today’s technology, you can now efficiently communicate in a personalized way.