Every market faces buyers with changed expectations, and IT services are no exception. The ‘one size fits all’ approach that worked for decades no longer resonates with a consumer base that is more informed than its predecessors.
The B2B buyer cycle is less linear and is more of a journey with different needs and influencers at each stage, so sales professionals now must personalize their approach when both exploring and advising prospective leads.
The Importance of Prospect Nurturing
To properly nurture prospects, IT sales teams must develop a relationship with them at every stage of both the buyer’s journey and the sales funnel. All communications involve listening to what each prospect needs and then delivering. This approach requires more time and dedication than the old linear method, but research indicates that the extra effort can pay off.
Businesses that nurture their prospects produce 50% more sales-ready leads at a lower cost of 33%, while research from the Annuitas Group suggests that leads that have been nurtured make purchases that are 47% larger than non-nurtured leads.
Targeted Email Marketing
Despite claims that email marketing is dead, it is still an excellent way to communicate with sales prospects, provided that the content of each email meets the prospect's needs. Merkle says emails with relevant content to the recipient drive 18 times more revenue than ‘general broadcast’ announcements.
To be effective, an email marketing strategy needs to include campaigns that are highly relevant to the target prospects, be conversational in scope to encourage recipient action and have a way of measuring ROI so the sales team can assess how they respond.
Send Personal Emails
The next step up in email communications is personalized messages. These emails are typically sent after a prospect has taken a particular action, such as inputting their email address to get a free download. The emails traditionally contain additional information about the downloadable topic. Successful salespeople also use personal messages to follow up on a recent sale and thank the buyer for their support.
With the buyer firmly in control of the sales process, sales professionals must be visible strategically along the buyer's journey. Social media is a fixture in modern society, so companies that want to remain competitive require a social media presence, especially on Twitter and LinkedIn, for B2B transactions. Sales prospects typically use these social connections when seeking information during the purchasing cycle, so company visibility can mean the difference between business success and failure.
Like email marketing, social media interactions must be meaningful to the prospect. Social media interactions could include posting on networks they use and listening to their conversations to produce effective content.
The Bottom Line
The most important thing to remember about exploring and advising sales prospects is to build a relationship and inspire a level of trust that makes them want to do business with a company. Without that, any marketing efforts will experience less-than ideal-results.
What does your IT sales team do to personalize the way it communicates with prospective clients? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments box below.