The Art of the Follow-Up with Business Buyers / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

While sales teams and marketers need to consistently follow up in order to close a sale, they need to be cautious of becoming too...

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?

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