How to Convert Your B2B Leads into Customers
Recognising the different stages in the b2b sales process can help you gain new leads and convert them into business….
1. B2B Prospects
A prospect is a company which could buy your product or service, but that you’ve never contacted before. This doesn’t mean every other business in the country is a prospect: just the ones which might actually have the need for your product or service, and the resources to pay for it. Prospects should be the target of your direct marketing and field sales activities. They can be identified and gathered in a number of ways, and are usually managed in a prospect list or database.
2. B2B Leads
A lead is often confused with a prospect, but is in fact a prospect that you have had some contact with: either by them contacting you, or you approaching them directly using field sales, telemarketing, or direct mail. Leads are often managed by the sales team, whose job it is to try and convert the lead into a customer as soon as possible.
3. B2B Customers
The most important conversion your sales process needs to achieve is from Lead to Customer. It may only be a small one off or sample order, but they are still a customer, and your relationship with them has changed forever. Now you can focus on building a relationship through your customer service team, and regular communication using direct marketing, service calls and newsletters. You also need to get the valuable second and third repeat orders which are the sign of growing customer loyalty.
4. B2B Clients
Clients are customers who buy your product exclusively from you, and not from anyone else. In other words you have become the sole supplier. For some businesses such as accountants and banks it’s normal for customers to become clients from the start. For others, converting a customer into a client can take much longer. But it can be worth the wait. Clients will usually buy more frequently and are also a great source of recommendations, referrals and testimonials.
Integrating Direct Mail into Your Marketing Campaigns
Carried out in isolation, marketing activities just don’t have the same impact with the target audience. Here are some examples of how you could use direct mail alongside, before or after other marketing communication activities to achieve a greater effect…
Before you exhibit at an event or exhibition, send out targeted invites to your stand to your own list of contacts and prospects, or rent a mailing list of previous visitors from the event organisers.
After you come back from the event, use direct mail to follow up on your new list of stand visitors, leads and prospects.
Push new traffic to your website by mailing a list of prospects, without having to worry about losing potential visitors to natural or paid search listings of your competitors. This strategy works equally well for gaining b2b leads online as it does for gaining b2c ecommerce sales.
Use direct mail to follow up on inbound telephone enquiries you may have received as a result of above the line promotional activities such as press advertising or public relations.
When you are running a sales promotion or incentive campaign, make sure you also promote it with a mailing to potential or previous customers as well.
Before you start a field marketing or telemarketing campaign, do a mailing first to soften up your prospects, open doors, and also give them a chance to decline receiving a sales call.
Likewise, after your telemarketing or direct selling campaign is over, follow up on lukewarm prospects with another mailing.
When Should You Use Direct Mail?
Are you sure when you should be using direct mail, or how to achieve the best results from it? Here’s some examples of when direct mail can really help drive business growth…
Use Direct Mail to Gain New Customers
New business development and customer acquisition all mean the same thing: gaining new customers for your business. And direct mail has an important role to play. Working from a profile based on your existing customers you can use direct mail to target more of the same. Or use direct mail to reach new types of customers in new areas, or launch new products or services.
Use Direct Mail to Sell More to Your Existing Customers
If you take into account the acquisition cost of gaining a new customer, it may be that you only start to turn a profit when the customer repeat orders for a second or third time. Therefore use direct mail to contact existing customers and sell them product replenishments, upsell to larger purchases, try new products, or get repeat purchases.
Use Direct Mail to Keep Your Customers for Longer
Direct mail doesn’t always have to generate a sale. It can also be used to speak with your existing customers more often and build a closer relationship with them. They’ll be less likely to defect to the competition, and more likely to become an advocate for your brand. Direct mail campaigns of this type often use newsletters, vouchers or third party offers to add value.
Use Direct Mail to Cut Out the Middle Man
If you are in a market where you’re reliant on a middleman or intermediary, then direct mail can often be used to target the end user directly. Because it is aimed at the individual, mailings can be sent straight to the people you want. And because direct mail is low profile, it’s less likely to be seen by your distributors or competitors.
To summarise, the best time to use direct mail for your business is whenever you need to achieve measurable results and you know exactly who it is you need to speak to. If you need help and advice in using your direct mail, call the team at Selectabase now on 01304 382211.
What is the Data Protection Act?
The Data Protection Act gives individuals in the UK the right to know what information is held about them, and sets out rules to make sure that this data is handled properly by organisations holding the information.If you hold any form of personal or marketing information about customers, prospects or staff: even just their name and address: then you could fall under the scope of the Data Protection Act, and should register as a Data Controller.
Data Controllers are then legally obliged to make sure the Personal Data they look after is:
- Fairly and lawfully processed
- Processed for limited purposes
- Adequate, relevant and not excessive
- Accurate and up to date
- Not kept for longer than is necessary
- Processed in line with an individuals rights
- Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection
If you are registered as a Data Controller and don’t meet your obligations, individuals are entitled to make a complaint about you to the Information Commissioners Office.
Should I Register under the Data Protection Act?
If an organisation holds Personal Data, it should register as a Data Controller. The definition of Personal Data includes information held electronically or in a traditional paper based filing system. Examples include:- Information which can identify a living individual: a list of orders placed by your customers, which does not include any identifying personal information, wouldn’t be personal data.
– Names are only personal data when they are held with other information which can identify a specific individual, such as such as an address or a telephone number.
– Information about an individual, even if doesn’t include their name, can still be Personal Data if you also hold other information which could be used to identify them such as a description, salary, age, or address.
– Personal information is Personal Data when it can be used to relate to, or is obviously about a specific individual, such as a medical history or itemised telephone bills.
– Information about an event or transaction which concentrates on an individual is Personal Data – for example the minutes of a tribunal hearing.