A recent research study about selling into the B2B (business-to-business) space found the following…
My personal experience over the last 10 years proves this to be accurate. I’ve tried just about everything you can think of and have found a formula that works. With 70% of a B2B buyer’s sales journey occurring anonymously, how best do companies selling to other companies generate leads? This article describes 4 proven methods.
Online visibility – search engines
Like all of us, businesses are using the internet more than ever to find and evaluate suppliers. This “anonymous journey” usually starts in two ways; doing an internet search and coming across interesting online content. Research studies find that B2B firms generate high ROI through search engine optimization (SEO). Not every firm seeks suppliers through online search, but as people who grew up in the “internet age” become decision makers, online search behavior grows.
Your goal with SEO should be to rank on the first search page “above the fold” (on the screen without scrolling), which generally represents the 6th position or higher; and achieve that visibility for search phrases that are highly relevant and searched often. Click-through rates on search engine results page (SERPs) erode significantly as you go down the page, and that’s why showing “above the fold” is so important. After all, you don’t just want high rankings, you want visitors to your website.
Online visibility – interesting content
News feeds, social media sites and other online properties are full of all kinds of content, and B2B decision makersare consuming this content at record pace. Are you producing good, interesting content, and are you sharing it online? It amazes me how often I get a call from someone who has seen one of my articles on LinkedIn. We take the approach to share our “best stuff” online, and it seems some of it is good enough to get noticed. Your content should be original and consist of things like articles, white papers, case studies and industry reports. When you do content marketing the right way, you are to communicating your knowledge and experience to your target market, you are gaining a competitive advantage, and you are enhancing your credibility. Learn more about content marketing to generate leads.
Are you hanging around the same places your target market is hanging around? If not, you’re missing a key part of B2B lead generation. Networking with the right business groups, attending trade shows and networking with other well-networked people are critical tactics to generating leads in the B2B space. The key here is to stand out from the rest. I have found that it’s better to be highly visible in fewer offline venues than to just participate in several.
Broadcasting through seminars and speaking engagements
Just like you are sharing your “best stuff” when you do content marketing, you can make an even bigger, personal impact when you do seminars and speaking engagements. Getting in front of your target market isn’t easy but it’s an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and show people you are someone with which they’d enjoy working. Every time I or one of our people has presented to industry group, we’ve walked away with new business.
Cold calling used to be a way to get in front of targeted prospects. That doesn’t work as well anymore. But, if you can give those targeted prospects an opportunity to have lunch, and learn something valuable form an invitation-only seminar, that’s a sure-fire way to get in front of the right people and generate a strong connection.
Create Raving Fans
We can read all the studies we want, but one immutable law of marketing is positive “word of mouth” is the single most significant way to generate business. You gain positive “word of mouth” or “street cred” by making your current customers “raving fans”. At my firm, our mission is to create raving fans, and we talk about it all the time. In fact, we don’t want to take on a new client unless we are certain we can make that client a raving fan. Admittedly, we aren’t perfect, and occasionally we make mistakes. But when we do, we work very hard to recover our client’s trust in us – continuing on that journey to being a raving fan.
In B2B selling when the project values are relatively high, buyers are discriminating and they are doing a lot of their research anonymously online. If you can be found in the search engines and produce good, original content this is consumed by your target market, that anonymous journey your buyers are taking online will expose you. Combine your online visibility with offline visibility through networking, seminars and speeches. Finally, a positive reputation and good word of mouth gained by creating raving fans of your current clients, will put you well on your way to a continuous stream of qualified sales leads.