The Art of the Follow-Up with Business Buyers

There’s a fine balance between a strategic B2B sales marketing plan and simply pounding the phones. DemandGen released The 2012 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey which indicates that business buyers want to maintain contact with vendors, but don’t want to feel hounded. While sales teams and marketers need to consistently follow up in order to close a sale, they need to be cautious of becoming too aggressive in the eyes of the buyer. Following up with B2B buyers is an art and here’s how you can get started mastering the craft.

Time after Time
When it comes to following up with a B2B buyer, your sales and marketing teams need to make sure they are responding to leads quickly. 57% of the respondents from the DemanGen report ranked the timeliness of a vendor’s response to their question/inquiries as very important and InsideSales found that responding to a completed form within 5 minutes versus 10 minutes led to a 900% increase in contact rate.

When conducting research, buyers want the information they’re after without a wait. So, if a prospect has taken the steps to fill out a form, reach out quickly with your initial follow-up call.

  • Follow up with leads within 5 minutes or you could miss out on making contact. Send out a quick email and hop on the phone.
  • Do some quick research on the lead’s business and position. Be ready to provide relevant information for the buyer, no matter who they are or where they are in the buying cycle.

On Repeat
One phone call or an email isn’t enough. Marketers need to be prepared to send out multiple emails and your sales team needs to be prepared to make more than a couple of phone calls. 35% of respondents reported at least four contacts (via sales calls, emails or other methods) with the winning vendor and 31% said they had eight or more contacts (DemandGen). This doesn’t mean sending eight emails in a single week. It does indicate that as business buyers are conducting more research and comparing vendors, you need to be prepared to reconnect with your prospect on a basis that aligns with their buying process.

  • Use your CRM or sales software to collect data to develop an accurate timeline of your ideal and typical customer’s buying process.
  • With each follow up, tailor the information to your prospect’s industry, role in the company and phase of the buying cycle.

Relevance is King
Again, relevance to B2B buyers is important. While the phrase “Content is King” resonates with many B2B, it isn’t the only thing. Content needs to be relevant at every touch point. One study found that 66% of buyers indicate that “consistent and relevant communication provided by both sales and marketing organizations” is a key influence in choosing a solution provider. Be consistent and relevant with the information you provide each prospect.

  • After looking at your data and timeline, gear content to each stage in the buying cycle, such as whitepapers, case studies, live demos and free trials.
  • Ask your contact how and when they prefer to be reached. Whether email or phone– make sure you are reaching them how and when they want.

Following up and converting a lead isn’t always easy. More and more, business buyers are conducting research before making a purchase. As a sales and marketing team, your employees need to be quick to follow up and ready with relevant information. This means doing some background research and having relevant contact on hand when following up, whether it’s an email or a phone call.

How does your sales team manage follow-up calls and emails with leads?

3 Ways to Tap into the B2B Buyer’s Behavior

Businesses and marketers are constantly looking for more ways to generate leads and market their company more effectively. A 2012 DemandGen survey polled more than 170 B2B buyers involved in the purchase of a solution during the past year. The number of respondents who said they were dissatisfied with their B2B buying experience jumped by 50% over 2011. So how can your business increase the level of satisfaction that B2B buyers experience? Here are three ways to get started.

Provide the Research Content

Buyers aren’t wandering into purchases blindly. With the internet easily accessible and stacked with information, buyers are doing their research before making a purchase. DemandGen found that 55 percent of buyers said they spent more time researching B2B purchases, compared to 47 percent in 2011. Because buyers are taking longer to make decision, your business needs to be sure it’s prepared to support the buyer every step of the way. From providing research materials about different features of different solutions to a cost analysis calculator, there are different ways your business can provide buyers with the research content they are after.

  • As we’ve written about before, timing is everything. Make sure you are providing buyers with the right content at the right time, whether it’s in a blog post or email newsletter. Evaluate your sales funnel and segmentation, the types of content you’re sending it out and when you’re sending out to make sure your optimizing your efforts.

Be Industry Relevant

While broad topics may be a way to draw in buyers initially, broad generalizations aren’t going to cut it. Relevance is important as buyers are looking for specifics about your product/service and their industry or type of business. 53 of respondents said that the relevance of the information a company provided was very important. According to this study, buyers were most likely to cite both the breadth of relevant product information and the educational value of that information as the most compelling elements of their chosen vendor’s web site. Again, your business needs to make sure it’s providing the right content. Broad content can be a great way to get initial exposure, but industry relevant information, such as case studies, can help you move towards a close.

  • Make your industry, and more specific, content easily available. 73 percent said they aren’t interested in using social sign-in tools to access content. Buyers are hesitant to request information when it is gated, so be careful when choosing to do so.

Stay Up-to-Date with Expectations

There’s a gap between the buyer’s expectations the provider performance that needs to be filled. 56 percent of all buyers surveyed rated their experience with a less-satisfied rating. Businesses and B2B marketers need to focus on the customer experience just as much as they focus on the sale. This survey found that 57 percent of the respondents ranked the timeliness of a vendor’s response to their questions/inquiries as very important. By responding in a timely manner with the right information your buyer is after, you’ll be able to improve their satisfaction with the entire experience.

  • Evaluate the training your sales team is working with. Make sure your keeping pace with the buyer’s expectations. Your sales and marketing methods need to change as the expectations of customer’s do.

B2B buyers are looking for more when considering their options. They’re looking for a relevant resource and a business that exceeds their expectations. Businesses trying to reach new customers need to make sure they’re reaching out and staying connected to buyers, no matter where that buyer is in their decision-making process. In next week’s post, we’ll discuss the impact of following up multiple times and maintaining contact.

What was your business’s experience with B2B buyers in 2012? Media, Inc. Appoints Tony Uphoff as Chief Executive Officer CEOWe’re happy to welcome a new leader to the executive team here at Media, Inc.. Today, we announced the appointment of Tony Uphoff as Chief Executive Officer and Director, effective immediately.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the leadership team,” said Mr. Tony Uphoff , CEO. “The company’s unique connection with active buyers creates a powerful, natural environment for marketers to reach, engage with and sell to active business purchasers. With a new site launching next month and several key additions to the leadership team, the company is positioned for continued success in delivering the highest possible ROI for our advertisers and vendors and continuing our track record of growth.”

Read the press release.

About Tony

Tony comes to us from UBM TechWeb, a digital media, live event and marketing services provider, where he served as CEO.  He was the Publisher of InformationWeek in the mid-90′s, growing revenues from $15M to over $150M and into the largest brand in the history of B2B media. With an extensive background in the B2B world, Tony was named “Folio Forty C-Level Visionary” by Folio Magazine, a Top 100 business media exec by B2B Magazine and a “Top Media Innovator” by Mins B2B in 2009.

Uphoff is acknowledged as an industry expert on media, marketing and technology and serves as a regular speaker at industry conferences and leading business schools. You can find his blog at Uphoff on Media.

“We are excited to welcome someone with Tony’s capabilities and experience to lead,” said Peter Arrowsmith , General Partner at JMI Equity and a member of Media, Inc. board of directors. “Tony brings a deep understanding of the needs of our B2B marketer customers as well as our purchaser audience. We look forward to working closely with Tony and the team to continue executing against our growth strategy.”

Welcome to the team, Tony!

Top 8 Posts of the B2B Marketing Blog in 2012

Top Blog Posts of 2012We’ve had a great year and hope you have too. As you reflect on what your business has done well over the past twelve months, we want to share some of our most popular posts. From content marketing to social media and lead generation, we’ve covered a lot of ground and it seems your marketing team has too. With the New Year off and running, here’s a recap of some of 2012’s best B2B marketing posts from

  1. Keywords Key When Creating B2B Marketing Content – Get your keywords right the first time. If you’ve been ranking lower, try out these tips for better results in the New Year.
  2. Why You Should Follow Up With Leads for Maximum Conversions – Did you know 6 calls to a lead creates up to a 90% chance of contacting a lead, but only 10% of reps even make 3 calls? Check out this article for more stats about following up for more success.
  3. 4 Quick Tips for Improving Conversion Rates – Do testing and segmentation really make a difference? Increase sales and conversion rates with a structured testing approach.
  4. Does Your Marketing Plan Fully Utilize Social Media? – This is one bandwagon you shouldn’t wait to hop on. Make sure your B2B business is making the most of social media.
  5. Landing Pages That Stick for Conversions That Soar – To maximize conversions, landing pages should be geared to the reason the person has clicked-through. Here are the three key elements of a successful landing page.
  6. Accurate Timing Affects Email Marketing Success – US marketers indicated that being able to ensure emails arrived during a specific time window increased engagement. This post shares the effects of email timing and how you can be successful.
  7. The Best Social Media Platforms for B2B Marketers – Now that you know your business should be on social media, understand what the best platforms for your business are an how to use it. Read this article for some of the best practices.
  8. Recapture Leads with Retargeting – Recapture the attention of leads that weren’t ready to make a purchase the first time or two they visit your site and boost your conversion rates. See how here.

Thank you for reading and sharing our content in 2012. Here’s to 2013 and a New Year of great B2B marketing blog posts! Are there any topics you’d like us to cover?

Brands Doing Societal Good Drive More Purchases

Think an engaging site and great customer service are the only factors customers take into consideration when making a purchase? Think again. Brands who contribute to their community and society drive more purchases than those who don’t. Edelman, a public relations company, found that in 2012, buyers considerably redoubled their focus on buying from brands engaged with society. 62 percent say giving back makes their companies more successful in the long run, according to a 2012 study by the National Federation of Independent Business. Here’s customer insight and a few ways to promote your good deeds to get you started on the right foot in 2013.

Buyer Insight

While encouraging employees to volunteer and hosting fundraising events are great places to start, consumers want to see businesses really give back. They also found that donating profits or services came in neck-and-neck as the favored methods. Less direct initiatives like encouraging employees to volunteer and collaborating with other companies ranked lower on the totem pole. Three-quarters of respondents worldwide said they would recommend a product from a company that supported a good cause, and the same number would share a positive opinion of that company.

  • Nearly half of those who bought from cause-supporting brands in 2012 said they did so monthly.
  • 53 percent of internet users said that when quality and price were the same, brands that had a social purpose were more likely to trigger a purchase.

Marketing Your Efforts

Just because you’re giving back doesn’t mean your audience is taking notice. While your business may be able to market its efforts through an email newsletter campaign or an article in a paper, there are other ways you can make prospects and customers aware. Marketing your community outreach and efforts means making the most of what you have and getting customers or clients involved.

  • Use social media. Offer to make donations based on the activity of others on your social media post. Whether it’s for each new “Like”, follow or repin, let your audience know you’ll donate up to a certain amount. You’ll gain more brand awareness, give back and be more appealing to prospects.
  • Have a widget on your website. Subtly promote your efforts with a widget. One example is Sweet Tooth. When their widget was clicked, a customer could choose to share charitable actions on Twitter in exchange for an additional donation to the charity.
  • Allocate resources. If you’re on a tight budget, don’t send holiday gifts. Send donations to a foundation or organization your business supports. Then, let clients know where you’re donating and why. You may find a better response than anticipated.

Give back to your community and watch your business benefit. Get customers involved to see the best ways your charitable efforts can help your business flourish. Make sure to market what you are doing effectively so you can determine the balance of time and financial investment against the results. Find a way to give back that aligns with your business, customers and can be easily and effectively marketed. Here’s to giving back in 2013!


(Image source: eMarketer)