Replace these B2B offers with something stronger, like:
Special Pricing – This offer works well with later-stage prospects who already know about your product or service. The special pricing offer could be a discount for prompt action or an urge to “buy now before the price goes up.”
Introductory Offer – An introductory offer is used to introduce new prospects to your company. It will have the greatest effect when the discount is significant. You have to be careful, however, not to offend existing customers who just purchased the same product for more money than you charge new buyers.
Multiple Product – With this offer, buyers get the second or subsequent products at no charge, or at a large discount.
Premium – Something extra is given away to spur the prospect to purchase now. Premiums range from advertising specialties such as desk calendars and pens, to expensive items such as trips and electronic equipment.
Free Information – Similar to the premium offer, but you give away information instead of a product. This is especially effective with a business audience, since people are always interested in ways to save money and perform their jobs better. Plus, this type of offer can often be fulfilled immediately via a computer download.
Trade-in or Trade-up Offer – The prospect trades in an old item and gets a discount on the new item. For example, a computer manufacturer can give businesses that trade in a competitor’s equipment a $500 credit toward the purchase of a new computer. This way you meet two objectives: sell a product and displace the competitor.
Free Trial – If you have confidence in your product, let potential customers try it out in their office for thirty days. This has been a strong offer for software companies, equipment manufacturers, and publishers.
Satisfaction Guarantee – While a guarantee should be part of every offer, an extra-strong guarantee can serve as its own offer. An example would be “double your money back if not completely satisfied.”
Cash Discount – A special price can be given to help force the purchase decision. This offer works well in combination with free trial offers. The prospect has the option to try the product and pay full price if he decides to keep it, or pay for the product now and receive a substantial discount.
Special Terms – This can work as well as a cash discount. For instance, “receive the item now and take up to six months to pay with no interest.” In some cases, purchasers will be more interested in the monthly payment terms than the total cash amount.
Demo/Trial Offer – A smaller, trial version of the product is sent (sometimes for a fee, sometimes for free). If the prospect likes the demo, he orders the full product. This offer works well for computer software products and publications.
Free Samples – Free samples are an effective way to highlight your product. For instance, an office product manufacturer can offer day planners or desk lamps as a bonus for purchasing a desk set.
Performance Guarantee – The customer gets to use the product for a period of time. If it does not live up to the specified criteria, she can return it for a full refund. This offer works well if your product is clearly superior to its competition.
Special Inducement – Something extra is given to the prospect if he acts immediately. The inducement could be extra product, better terms, free training, or extended maintenance.
The type of B2B offer you use should be based on the objectives of your program. If you are selling a high-ticket or complex product, or if you need to make a personal sales call to finalize a transaction, you should choose a marketing offer geared to generating leads. Conversely, if you are promoting a low-ticket, non-complex item via online, phone, or mail, you will use a different type of offer.
I hope you find that one or more of these B2B offer ideas helpful in achieving your marketing objectives.
In simple terms, an offer is what you propose to give to the prospect, and what you are asking for in return. The offer is the “What’s in it for me?” part of the marketing equation. The offer wraps the product or service in with the delivery method, terms and pricing. It may be a one-step offer, where the purpose is to directly sell the product or service; a two-step process, where the purpose is to connect the prospect with a sales rep; or a 3+ step process, where the purpose is to put the prospect on a drip marketing list for later conversion.
Offers can range from “soft” to “hard.” A soft B2B offer requires little from the prospect—for example, a free information download without requiring any contact information. By contrast, a hard B2B offer requires much more from the prospect, for example, a credit card payment for a direct sale or filling out a multi-question web form for a two-step lead generation campaign. Typically, soft offers will produce many more responses, but the average lead quality will be lower.
These are the criteria we look for in an effective B2B offer:
In my next blog post, I will share some B2B offers that consistently generate good results.
It follows that we should be aggressive and energetic in our B2B marketing outreach if we want to be competitive in the marketplace. But why do we fail to act? Let’s talk about some of the causes, as well as some of the ways to dislodge you from your B2B inertia.
Inertia can be fatal. At the least, it can create a limbo state in which otherwise promising people and organizations languish in a netherworld of promise that never quite becomes. If you are honest enough to examine whether your or your team has fallen prey to inertia, you’re already closer to seeing your way out.
1. Make sure there is complete alignment between the marketing and sales departments.
2. Concentrate your efforts on finding the companies and individuals that have a genuine need for what you offer.
3. Never lose a deal alone.
4. Keep things simple and focused on as few priorities as possible.
Let’s now cover the final four keys, beginning with treating sales leads with care and respect. It really offends me when sales departments mishandle the leads/inquiries given to them by the marketing department. I have seen sales reps ignore leads, denigrate leads, and follow them up in a half-hearted manner. Often this occurs because the VP of Sales speaks poorly about what marketing is doing, creating a culture where reps feel it is okay not to work the leads they are given.
This is a terrible waste of resources, and if your company is allowing this to happen, I encourage you to immediately stop the practice. Leads cost money, and few of us have extra money to flush down the toilet. If the lead quality is not where it needs to be, please review my post titled creating a service level agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales, and always practice this important key to effective sales: Treat sales leads with care and respect.
My next key to creating an unstoppable sales machine is: Be different, be unique, be provocative. Have you seen the bumper sticker that says “Why Be Normal?” (With “Normal” spelled upside down.) This is a good approach to take when it comes to selling. If you have the same pitch as everyone else in your industry, delivered in the same way, you are bound to get the same result: mediocrity. Geoffrey Moore, who taught a generation of marketers with his books Crossing the Chasm and Inside the Tornado, now teaches a methodology called Provocation-Based Selling. Instead of playing nice, you should poke where it hurts, challenge the prevailing view, and address the unacknowledged critical issues. This will get you past the typical limitations of budget, sales cycle, access to the decision-maker, and so forth.
Another important key is: Have a highly flexible sales process. While flexible process may sound like an oxymoron, sales is both an art and a science. If you over-engineer the process, you can end up with a group of sales reps that will do anything you tell them, except the most important thing—close business. Sales is a game of technique, but also one of instinct and intuition. Thinking and acting outside of the box is okay as long as it falls within reasonable limits.
Many sales managers are good at telling their people what to do, but not so good at supporting them. However, the more you try to direct someone’s actions, the more the ownership is retained by you, instead of by the rep, where it belongs. The key here is: Create a culture of accountability and support. The sales rep’s job is to produce his or her revenue targets. Your job is not to tell your staff how to make their numbers; it is to support them in every way in achieving their goals.
I hope you find these tips helpful in creating your own unstoppable sales machine.
The goal is to have a well-oiled, end-to-end marketing and sales machine that will accomplish corporate objectives. To do this, practice the first key to creating an unstoppable sales machine: Make sure there is complete alignment between the marketing and sales departments. A service level agreement (as discussed in other blog posts) will help keep the alignment on track.
Woody Allen once said, “There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman?” And even though I find the quote amusing, I don’t agree with it. In fact, one of my closest friends is an insurance salesman, and he never talks business at our parties. Nonetheless, the quote illustrates the negative context in which many view salespeople in general. The perception is that salespeople will do anything to sell you stuff you don’t really need.
This brings me to the second key in creating an unstoppable sales machine: Concentrate your efforts on finding the companies and individuals that have a genuine need for what you offer. Isn’t this a much easier and less stressful way of doing things—for both you and your prospects? Response rates will be higher, close rates will be higher, and you will not have to manipulate anyone.
The next key is one that truly separates the world-class sales organizations from the also-rans: Never lose a deal alone. Selling at its best is a team effort and it is a serious error to lose a possible deal because the sales rep neglected to bring in the rest of his or her teammates. You need to be very aggressive about letting your reps know about all the resources they have available to help them at every stage of the sales process. And one of the most important resources you can provide is a fresh perspective.
A good way to kill the productivity of a sales force is to throw too much at them. Too many products, too many offers, and too many messages equate to too many chances for the sales team to mess things up and lose sales. One of my clients had great technology, but had a very bad habit of changing its product offerings and value proposition every six months or so. The sales team was encouraged to spend their time on the newest offerings instead of what had worked for them in the past. This required extensive retraining of the team, and they never found their rhythm. To avoid this problem, my next important sales key is: Keep things simple and focused on as few priorities as possible.
I hope you find these keys useful in creating your own unstoppable B2B sales machine. Stay tuned next week for Part 2.
One of the great benefits of creating an efficient lead engine is that it will allow you to precisely measure your cost of new customer acquisition. When you know what it costs to bring in a new customer, you can then focus on lowering this cost while simultaneously increasing the average sale amount. By manipulating these two levers, you can vastly increase your company’s success.
Whatever your product or service, never underestimate the importance of a well-tuned lead generating engine. This is an area that can separate market leaders from the also-rans. Since three out of every four business-to-business marketing communications are for lead generation purposes, you should put focused and professional attention in an area that is so vital to your success.
By the way, we have a great e-book on how to generate qualified B2B leads. Feel free to download a complimentary copy.
You put a lot of time and effort into positioning your company as a leader in the industry and keeping your personal reputation clean. Don’t lose your momentum by incorrectly utilizing social media and don’t waste precious time generating trivial, mundane, or superfluous material. When in doubt, keep it clean and keep it relevant.
I talk often about the importance of creating a “marketing machine”. By marketing machine, I mean a systematized process for creating awareness, generating B2B leads, qualifying prospects, and converting them into sales opportunities. There is both an art and science to creating an effective B2B marketing machine. The art comes in devising powerful brand messaging and creative campaign themes. But the game is executed and won based on how you practice the marketing fundamentals.
Legendary football coach (and namesake for the Super Bowl trophy) Vince Lombardi stated, “Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist; but football is only two things - blocking and tackling.” So what is the marketing version of blocking and tackling?
When creating a B2B marketing machine, it helps to be smart and creative. You can supercharge your results when you practice the critical marketing fundamentals mentioned above with consistency and persistence.
To refresh your memory, BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timing. For some time, these factors were considered the four criteria that best demonstrated that a specific individual or company was a qualified lead, and not just a raw inquirer or possible future prospect. In a push marketing environment, BANT is a very useful tool for ensuring that sales reps are working with qualified leads and not wasting their time on those that are not in a position to buy in the near future. Inquirers who are currently unqualified can be put back into the drip marketing pool.
BANT has another virtue in that it gives the marketing and sales departments a good way to measure their B2B lead generation success. Since sales departments shouldn’t be dealing with (or even seeing) raw inquiries, the amount and cost of qualified leads is usually a more important lead metric.
However, one of the primary reasons to drop the BANT formula is because it assumes that you have a telephone conversation with the prospect. In the age of online marketing, this is not always a valid assumption.
For example, you may collect many of your lead responses on a form that contains only the name, company and email address. You don’t collect the phone number and qualification data because you know that every additional piece of data you require will depress response. In this case, you may not have a phone number and likely won’t be able to capture the details necessary to establish whether the prospect has a budget or immediate need for your offer.
So how do you handle lead qualification in a in a world where BANT no longer fits? For some companies, this can be a fairly minor change; others may require a complete overhaul. Here are some ideas on how to make the transition:
These B2B lead qualification principles are valid whether or not you choose to switch from the BANT model.
Likewise, I have lots of data to show the impact of fast versus slow lead response. Earlier in my career, I had a sales development team that was qualifying 4,000 inbound inquiries per quarter and generating over 380 sales-ready leads. My standard was that every inquiry was answered via telephone within 8 business hours or 24 calendar hours. Fortunately, the sales development group was able to accomplish this and consistently met their lead response metrics.
The following chart, courtesy of Jeff Hoogendam, co-founder of 360 Partners, illustrates the huge impact of following up inbound responses quickly, and the price you pay if you delay your follow up. Note the tremendous drop off of the contact rate and close rate you get when you delay your follow up calls to 30 minutes instead of calls within five minutes.
If these statistics aren’t sobering enough, consider the following:
Here’s the really bad news – if these lead response data points are similar to what you are doing, you are definitely losing business. But there is some really good news. First, the steps you take to contact and process your B2B leads in a more expedient manner will reap large rewards. Second, if your competitors fail to follow up their leads quickly and you are a lead response speed demon, you will gain serious competitive advantage.
I often talk about how improvements in singular lead metrics (conversion ratios) can have a large impact on bottom line results. If you can restructure your sales development process to achieve a much faster lead response time, you will find much greater value in your B2B leads. For more about this subject, read my blog post titled Sales Lead Management: Are You a Victim of FTFU (Failure to Follow-Up).