As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, companies across the nation are reporting a huge surge in customer service calls. For companies to weather this storm and maintain customer loyalty, they need to provide extra support for their customer service reps.
Many marketers will tell you that B2B marketing can be much more challenging than B2C marketing. This is because B2B transactions often require more time, involve of a greater number of decision makers and require a proven return on investment. B2B marketing also is challenging because this market segment is focused on streamlining the buying process in order to save time and money.
One common mistake B2B marketers make is to spend most of their time selling based on the proposition that their product or service is better than their competitors’ products or services. While this certainly must be part of the equation, it is important to understand that the majority of B2B sales are made when you are able to solve a problem. In other words, many times a B2B marketer must accentuate the negative aspects of a prospect’s current vendor in order to make a sale.
One of the most important things you can focus on when approaching a B2B prospect is how they feel about their current vendor and the level of service that vendor provides. The fact is, most businesses you want to sell to already need what you are selling, they are just buying it from someone else. In those cases, you need to find out how you can do what their current vendor is doing—only better. This involves asking prospects if they are happy with their current vendor. You also need to ask questions like, does your vendor pay enough attention to your needs? Do they make things easier on your business? If you find out the answer is no to any of these questions, you have the perfect opportunity to explain why your company is a better fit.
Another huge issue that many B2B companies have is that they are overwhelmed with managing multiple vendors and would be much happier having one point of contact. If you are able to provide this single point of contact, you need to emphasize it. You can start by asking if they would like to spend less time managing vendors. If the answer to this question is yes, you have your opening. This is especially true when it comes to IT solutions. Show a prospect a software system or solution that is easier to manage and you might find yourself with a new customer.
In the end, B2B marketing involves solving problems. Therefore, to successfully sell in this arena, you must always pay attention to what your prospect has to say about what is wrong with their current situation and vendor and then tell him or her how you are different.
Why Follow-Up Calls are the Most Important Calls of All
There is nothing better than finally getting an important prospect or high-level decision maker on the phone for the first time. Chances are you have rehearsed exactly what you will say in order to establish a strong rapport with this individual.
While the first conversation with a sales lead is always rewarding, in almost all cases, the most important call is yet to come. The follow-up call. Research shows that 80 percent of sales will require five or more follow-up calls before any deal is closed. Unfortunately, almost half of salespeople will give up long before this, leaving a lot of closed sales on the table.
In order to remain focused on follow-up calls long after the thrill of the first connection is gone, it is important to remember why these calls are so important.
1. Follow-up calls establish connections. Follow-up calls help a salesperson establish a rapport with a prospect that simply cannot be established after just one conversation. These types of calls show that a salesperson is committed to a prospect, not just out to make a quick buck.
2. Follow-up calls build trust. During your initial call with a prospect, you likely outlined why your product or service is the right choice. By reiterating and reinforcing these reasons over subsequent calls, a prospect comes to trust that your sales pitch is legitimate.
3. Follow-up calls help prevent problems down the road. When a prospect can tell you his or her reservations during follow-up calls, it reduces the chances of a snag coming up when the deal is ready to close. With the details worked out over time, the final sale will be much smoother.
4. Follow-up calls result in more sales down the road. Let’s face it, people prefer to work with individuals that they trust. When you have built a relationship through follow-up calls, prospects are relieved to have someone they can buy from without wondering if this person will fail to deliver on their promises or, worse yet, disappear when they need him or her.
5. Follow-up calls lead to more referrals. When a prospect becomes a customer, the relationship you have established will be the type that makes a customer feel comfortable referring others to you.
While the initial call is always important because it gets your foot in the door, follow-up calls are just as—if not more—important. After all, these are the calls that allow you to come inside and stay there!
What is the Role of a Business Development Professional?
If you are considering hiring a business development professional for your company, or if you have recently been put in charge of business development, it can be difficult to know exactly what that job entails. If you aren’t sure what the role and responsibilities of a business development professional are, it will be impossible to hire the right person for the job or get the job done yourself.
As with any position, a complete and detailed job description is essential. Coming up with a list of requirements that a business development professional must fill is the best way to ensure that the job gets done right.
Business development involves increasing the exposure of a company while enhancing that company’s public image so that it attracts more business. In order to do this, there are five general areas that a business development professional must concentrate on:
1. Market Research. If you don’t know where your company currently stands and/or where it is headed, you need to—quickly. The first step is finding out exactly what the company’s target audience looks like. This involves gathering specific information about the company’s geographic market, as well as the specific industry and market trends in that area.
2. Competitive Analysis. In order to achieve your desired market position and share, you need to know your competitors. What do they offer clients that you can offer? How can you bring more value to your target audience so that they will chose you over the competition?
Current Client Assessments. Before you can secure new clients, you need to know how you are viewed by current customers. This involves things like warm calling or sending out customer surveys to gage satisfaction with your product and services.
3. Prospective Client Assessments. To assess where you stand with prospective clients, approach these prospects through things like email marketing and cold calls. Further, keep in mind that it may take more than one touch to get the information you require so follow-up is crucial.
4. Networking. New business development involves a lot of networking. Exhibitions, seminars, conferences and tradeshows are great places to show off your company, connect with current customers and meet new ones. If you find yourself spending a majority of your time in the office, you probably aren’t getting the job done.
Business development is a challenging role but its rewards are great. The most successful business development professionals are willing to get out there, get their company noticed and bring in the number and type of clients necessary for success.