If someone were to ask you how your leads and prospects become customers, what would your answer be? Would you talk about how conversions occur, how leads become qualified prospects, and how those prospects are closed? Answering these questions is critical to defining the process your business-to-business (B2B) enterprise uses to convert leads and prospects into paying customers.
Outlining your platform comes down to defining how you generate leads, how leads are engaged, how a lead becomes a qualified prospect, and how that prospect is engaged by both marketing and sales before becoming a customer. When this process is outlined properly, all your digital marketing and sales efforts are aligned. They are geared toward moving your buyer personas through their journey. Here are some things to consider when moving leads and prospects along your marketing and sales process.
1. Defining How Leads Are Generated
Generating leads online does not mean the same thing for all businesses in all industries. There are some digital strategies that work better than others. Understanding which lead generation strategy works best for your company comes down to how well you know your market, the products and services you provide, and the type of clientele you service.
What portion of your market do you service? What portion of the supply chain or value chain do you fill? Knowing your market is not just about knowing your customers. It is ultimately about knowing where you fit in and the verticals addressed by your product and service offering. For instance, are your customers most often reached through mobile devices? If so, then perhaps a digital marketing strategy predicated on accentuating your mobile-optimized website and landing pages is a good strategy to follow.
Your Buyer Personas:
To whom do you sell and how do they go about making decisions? Defining your buyer personas means you know who your market’s major players are. You know how they make decisions and when they search online. You know what digital strategies work best and what advertising strategies to employ. You know the search terms used by these buyer personas, how they view your landing pages, and how they are converted once they arrive on your website. Do you make conversions easy with a simplified lead capture form or are you asking potential customers to fill out too much information?
Your Social Media Channel:
Not all social media is the same. A B2B customer base is often serviced by professional sites like LinkedIn. This platform empowers B2B enterprises by allowing them to create a company page for free, join specialized focus groups, and showcase their latest offering.
Do not limit your company to just LinkedIn. There are other social media channels and forums online that cater to a specific market, expertise, core competency, or professional background, and they are all worth pursuing if they are aligned with your buyer personas. Make sure your social media strategy is intrinsically connected to the type of information upon which your leads and prospects rely.
Your Content Marketing Strategy:
Your content must be geared toward your specific B2B audience and specific buyer personas. Itemize the most common concerns these individuals have. Put together a content marketing strategy that engages them every time they interact with your business online.
Your content strategy should be geared toward a continuous process in which leads and prospects are always informed and up-to-date on your latest offer. Success comes from marketing database software that continually feeds you with critical customer data and a marketing automation platform that delivers your best content to leads and prospects at each stage of their journey.
2. Itemizing Qualification Criteria for Prospects
Understanding how leads become prospects is a critical component of your overall conversion process. This involves itemizing the criteria your company deems essential for a lead to become a qualified prospect. Next, make sure you have a strategy that allows you to prioritize high-quality prospects over others. Lead nurturing and lead scoring is critical to making sure the best leads become the best prospects. Here are some things to consider.
Are purchase decisions typically made by one type of buyer persona in your market or by several? Define what you consider to be a top-level buyer persona or high-quality lead and that will help you narrow down what a qualified prospect is. For instance, an inquiry from a business owner or CEO may be more highly valued than one from someone in purchasing. That CEO perusing your landing page should be a higher priority for marketing and sales.
Are you selling everyday business consumables or customized engineered components? What is the typical order size for your products and services? This helps with lead scoring because you are able to define a top prospect based on typical expenditures as opposed to an everyday inquiry. Understanding how much a customer can spend is critical. Your lead capture form can provide that information if it is supported by a back-end CRM and marketing database software linked to your landing page.
This ties into your sales cycle times. How long does it take to convert a lead to a prospect and a prospect to a customer? Next, how long does it take for you to deliver an order? While not a hard and fast rule, it is common knowledge that high dollar value sales coincide with a longer sales cycle. More money spent typically means more time evaluating the offer. This means that CEO making an inquiry likely has large purse strings and should be valued higher than another buyer persona.
3. Closing Prospects
Again, your B2B enterprise may choose to engage buyer personas differently than your competitors do. How you move your qualified prospects along to a sale must be clearly defined. When does your digital marketing team hand off the lead to sales to be qualified? Does this even happen or do you rely upon collaborative efforts with a single opportunity funnel where both marketing and sales work in unison to convert prospects? Answering these questions is critical.
Decide when that all-important hand-off occurs or if it even occurs. Many of today’s B2B enterprises combine their marketing and sales efforts as one. Their digital marketing does not end with generating the lead and converting it. In fact, the best enterprises make sure their digital strategies continually engage leads and prospects through the entire buyer journey. That means engaging your buyer personas at every stage with content marketing, email marketing, digital advertising, and social media updates. The goal is to define what it takes to convert a lead to a prospect and a prospect to a customer.
Map out your entire process. Itemize the role that digital marketing plays at each stage of your customer’s journey. Define what it takes to generate a lead online, how you will optimize landing pages for increased conversions, and how you will score and grade the quality of leads and prospects. That will simplify your marketing automation platform and allow you to prioritize your best opportunities.