This past month, I was thinking about subcontracting our projects or giving out our leads to marketing partners - because we get more leads than we what we can currently support. We chose not to but it did get me thinking about how this is the one reason many of our clients hire us. Considering that in reality, starting a business isn't that hard - you may have found yourself launching a tech startup or a local company and now realizing that you have no clue as to how to generate leads and close deals.
You may be waking up with the sweats trying to make ends meet.
Not knowing how to generate leads or close sales...
At the end of the day, it's all about converting, right? I'll give you what I consider a basic guideline for building a pipeline of good reliable high-quality leads that are easier to convert. We use this methodology for our clients and for our own marketing agency.
Unthink is just a 4 full time people team with a few contractors helping us on certain projects but the structure that I have created for ourselves is what allows us to work with only certain clients we like and the ability to charge as low or high as we want. For context, we have clients that pay as low as $100 per month and some that several thousand and that is because we get a lot of client requests and proposals, etc. Let me start by saying that you are right and wrong at the same time. Many very large, publicly traded, tech companies rely heavily on cold-calling while mailing is still king for certain industries.
Here are 6 basic rules you should follow and keep top of mind with any customer facing effort.
Voted Best Personality
1. Don't forget that people, humans, work in these companies. If you are able to truly understand what you sell, the value, the critical pain points it solves (with no fluff or ego boosting mentality) you should be able to clearly identify who will get the most value out of what you offer in any company you plan to target, or industry for that matter. You should also be able to understand their needs and their goals. As you decide on campaigns, pitches, offers, products, pricing, and placement this insight will determine better decisions and better outcome. Present yourself in a way that they can relate to, in a context they appreciate and with a medium they enjoy.
Clarity On Your Prospect Clients
2. Have a stupidly clear positioning statement if you want your prospect commercial clients to pay attention, remember what you have to offer and give you the benefit of the doubt to prove yourself first. At the end of the day, when you get a contract with another company - you are simply given the opportunity to prove yourself and continue the relationship. By starting with a clear and simple positioning statement you give yourself the opportunity for questions, curiosity, and most importantly branding consistency - imagine that everywhere your prospect sees or hears about you, they are exposed to the exact same pitch or statement about what you do for companies like theirs... It's powerful!
* Position is the actual value service of what you sell, while the positioning statement is the pitch you use in every medium. Start with a good, potentially viable and scalable position with a niche industry or market and particular use and try to own that before you want to expand your position on a broader market (this is off the Blue Ocean Strategy approach, I follow).
Hit'em Where They Ain't
3. Segwaying from the last statement, having a good position and statement will only work if you know where to go pitch right? Again, it's all about reducing those lead costs while increasing conversion rate off the pipeline. For that, you need to be where others are not. Your competitors may not be as sophisticated as you are, maybe they have grown some unorthodox way or maybe they are as clever as you and maybe more. So try to win a battle without having to fight directly with your competitors for clients through pricing, innovation for innovation sake and find both losing the fight through loss profits, lack of attention and clarity and your clients getting all the rewards while you slave yourself to a sinking ship. Instead, spend time doing your homework on what different industries use your service or product for, what other companies might need what you offer, where would this companies' leaders congregate (their watering holes)? Go present yourself there, in the lesser known niche markets, the lesser known watering holes.
You could try to fight and bleed your company's profit for 1% of a large generic market pie, or you can go after a smaller less understood pie elsewhere and with a lot less long term effort you could own 100% of that small pie.
Find Your Ideal B2B Customer To Educate Them Not Pitch Them
4. At Unthink, we use Hubspot, a content driven lead generation tool, I mean an educational content creation tool. We handle other Hubspot client accounts too. When it comes to building a B2B pipeline you will heavily depend on content and education more so than any advertising budget used to consistently bombard and interrupt someone's feed on social media or Google Search. If you invest in creating education content that proves you are a market leader and product expert with the best interest of everyone at heart you will be more likely to be liked and trusted when someone needs your type of product or service. We Hubspot because it enables to produce great content and manage our pipeline, but don't be fooled - in itself it does not help generate the content nor drive leads simply provides tools to create and manage them... Whether you use a paid or free tool, create content and educate as much as you can. Once you know who your customer is, where they hang out and the pie you want to go after then you should know what type of content they want and you can create it for them.
Strategy Is Not King, At Least Not on How To Find The Ideal B2B Customer
5. This pains me to admit, after all I am an MBA Strategist and have been helping many startups as a stealth partner or advisor exactly on strategy - how to compete more efficiently. But it's actually my years of experience that force me to admit that the most brilliant of strategies can be outperformed by someone who can execute passionately. While I have also seen great strategies fail due to lack of execution, testing, or any other marginally expected effort.
A lot of B2B marketers/owners rely heavily on the idea that if they belittle others or make themselves look like experts or promote their years in business or experience that it's enough. And it's not. Client's could care less about your experience or expertise - again people like doing business with people. Show your scars, leverage failed projects as ice breakers on email campaigns or on social media, stop pretending your company is perfect and show your bad reviews too!
Strategy Is Queen
6. It may not be king, but it is definitely Queen and at least in my house, Queen rules. A strategy will dictate where your efforts go and how much of them. After all, why would you invest all into something if you have no clue as to how much potential it has or how difficult it is to sustain? There are various strategies for conversion such as the lesser logic (www.BetaBulls.com for example, starting to promote that their software code is good enough for fighter jets but amazing for corporate needs). Or the Recency Effect which might drive an accounting service like www.BluePearlTax.com to heavily look for startups who are being audited or need to pay back taxes so that they can help them reduce or eliminate their financial responsibility. Something that just happened and has a huge impact in our lives has an incredible potential for driving us towards buying or trying something we wouldn't otherwise. Leverage the recency effect if you can when you can and drive it with a no-brainer value proposition without assuming people will be smart enough to see the value - instead clearly state it for them.
Decide whether maybe your business would benefit from being the Good Enough option? If you take the good enough option, your prices should most typically be lower than the best alternate, wider known brand, but not as low as the one scraping and fighting on price - instead you position your company as a human, person led company that has its struggles, its potential and its dedication towards the end user and what you lack elsewhere you make up for in commitment and price driving up the value. Sometimes people look for good enough but many companies struggle to position themselves as the best or cheapest that they forget the middle grounds making the decision that much harder for these type of consumers which delays the pipeline build and the conversion into leads and then into customers. Maybe your pie (whatever niche in a market you chose) can be owned by being the good enough option?
I will give you an example using our team, Unthink is becoming widely known as the most helpful agency. Since we have clients worldwide we figured we would leverage this because being helpful translates into any language and culture. We also clearly state through our communications that we let our clients negotiate their monthly budget which allows us to bring big business tools and experts to small growing companies.
We seperate these branding statements because another thing to consider with anyone is that the more you say the less people hear. Especially when it's about yourself and not for them.
This messaging and our 6 rules which are more like guidelines on how to find the ideal b2b customer allows us to constantly get new client requests, the opportunity to prove our worth no matter the budget, and the transparency that companies (people) ask for when they are hoping to make a connection with a partner who is invested in their success as much as their own. This has an added perk of clients reaching out and talking to us when they aren't happy instead of publicly shaming or simply instantly cutting us off. Typically their unhappiness is a matter of a simply missed communication and our clients average at around 2 years with us until we have either built something sustainable or it's out of our scope of interest.
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