When you’re in the business-to-business (B2B) industry, getting sales outreach right is just as crucial as the process of closing a sale itself. Without both ends of an active sales funnel, your business becomes dormant – that is, if you don’t reach out to leads, you won’t be able to make any new sales. By contrast, an ever-increasing sales pipeline is a critical requirement for a business to grow and flourish.
To move through your sales funnel, you can implement various lead generation activities such as blogging, SEO, paid advertising, social media marketing, email or text blasts, and sales calls, to name a few. Regardless of the marketing strategy you choose, the end goal is the same: lead conversion.
The operative word here though is “how.” How do you find and acquire leads that can be handed off to your sales team for outreach and eventual closing?
Why You Need Outreach
Every B2B company needs to have an aggressive outreach strategy which enables them to gather more information about their prospects before the sales pitch. When done correctly, sales outreach via email or phone helps B2B companies to: produce new prospects, gain exposure, build relationships with their target audience, expand their market reach, and drive new sales.
The following statistics should add more context to the importance of sales outreach in B2B customer acquisition:
- 63% of prospects are “somewhat” or “not at all” knowledgeable about a company before a sales rep makes the first contact. Here is an opportunity for you to educate your leads about your brand, product, or service. The higher the buyer awareness your leads have, the more they’re likely to trust in the value of your offering. That trust is the first thing that needs to be established when building relationships with prospects.
- More than 50% of prospects want to see how a product works on the first call. One aspect of data-driven marketing is to know what your potential customer’s pain points are so that you can come up with the best solutions that fit their unique circumstances. Sometimes, your leads may fail to recognize or to acknowledge these needs until you make that sales call. Therefore, it’s important to be educational and not sales-y. Don’t assume your prospect already knows that a problem even exists.
- 19% of buyers want to connect with a salesperson during the awareness stage, 60% during the consideration stage, and 20% during the decision stage. These numbers are clear proof that facilitating sales outreach is crucial for every stage of the buying journey. Can you imagine if a customer was actively moving from one phase of the sales cycle to another, and you failed to connect with them along the way? Instead of missing out on these opportunities, you should be using your outreach campaigns to qualify and nurture your leads towards the next step in the sales cycle.
- 80% of sales require five or more follow-up calls after the initial meeting. Closing a sale immediately after the first call or meeting is worth trying, but it’s a long shot considering that your leads might have multiple reservations that you’ll have to help overcome. They might not have the budget, the timing might not be right, or something else along those lines. As you continue with your outreach, you’ll find that it gets more and more practical to tailor your pitch to each prospect, since you already have information on how they view your proposition.
- Sales reps who reached out to leads within an hour after they made online contact with the company are seven times likelier to qualify a lead than those who waited an hour after. Your company is investing money to generate leads, and timely outreach helps you maximize your resources and efforts. When you respond quickly to queries from your leads, you’re emphasizing their importance, which gives them a good reason to spare you some of their time while you try to engage them in a meaningful, productive sales conversation.
Initiating a Conversation
Initiating a conversation and keeping it going is a craft and a skill, meaning you only achieve mastery through constant practice. It’s already bad enough for your leads that you’re cold calling them, but it gets worse if you throw yourself into a conversation with them on a whim. It’s a surefire way to create a negative first impression with your prospects and have them press the end or delete button sooner than you would want.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when you conduct your first email outreach or sales call:
Selling vs. Connecting
Instead of focusing on your sales pitch, you could focus more on establishing a connection with your potential customers. This may be easier said than done, but if you can break the ice, getting them to listen becomes a whole lot easier.
Perhaps there’s a new industry trend that you think might pique your prospect’s interest. Use that as a conversation piece to show your expertise and build your relationship with your prospect without necessarily resorting to a hard sell. For example: “I’m seeing that Trend A is sweeping across your industry rather quickly, and sales teams are in a frenzy trying to make sense of it. How’s your team dealing with it?”
Mind (Not) Your Own Business
An ideal sales conversation is one where you get to discuss your prospect’s business 85% of the time. Take a moment to research your prospects as you want to make sure that you know enough about them to direct the conversation toward their business and your offering.
Small talk, like the example below, usually works because it shows your knowledge about what’s happening in their organization: “I just saw on Twitter that you’re celebrating five years in the business. Congratulations!”
Questioning as an Art
Not all your leads will be willing to divulge information to your sales team right away. The right question can help you get past a taciturn prospect and keep the sales conversation flowing.
Asking an open-ended question is a great way to find out what your prospect’s objectives, insights, and challenges are. You can then use that information to determine how your product or service fits into your prospects’ business model and needs.
Be sure to record insights in your CRM for easy reference. You can phrase your questions this way: “You mentioned that there’s been a recent reorganization in your sales force. What’s the feedback you’re getting about it from your managers? How are you handling their concerns?”
Share Your Vision
At this point, you’ve captured your lead’s attention. Now it’s time to launch into how you can help. Briefly talk about what you see in the marketplace and how these trends may drive the industry. Last, but not least, share your vision for your prospect’s business should they decide to partner with you.
The following spiel should leave your audience excited about the future you can drive toward together.
“Some of our clients have expressed frustration that their forecasts might be affected by new developments in the market, so we’re helping them prepare for those bumps ahead. I’m confident my company can do the same for you. I can arrange a meeting to discuss the full details of our plan when you’re ready.”
With these pointers in mind, here is a handy infographic that breaks down the “10 Steps for Effectively Reaching Out to B2B Leads”:
It’s Really About Building Relationships
Sales outreach is not a one-time marketing initiative. It’s a continuous process of finding leads who you can engage with and nurture to become valuable customers over time, hence the need to adopt a sense of urgency in moving your leads through the sales cycle and scoring a win for your company.
If you’re not quick enough to qualify and convert your leads, there’s always someone from your competition who will be willing and able to do it first. In the modern age where buyers have all the power, it won’t take long for a potential customer to move on to their next option.
If you can systematically follow these steps during your B2B outreach process, not only will you be able to find and convert quality leads at a higher rate, you’ll also be maximizing your customers’ lifetime value (LTV) through building strong, mutually beneficial customer relationships.
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