How Your B2B Business Can Turn Leads into Customers

by THOM HOLLAND

business outsourcing

Building business relationships with potential customers is easy at first. However, as your business grows it will get harder to handle everything and you will be tempted to cut corners.

Don’t do it.

Instead, use marketing automation to help manage the process.

In an ideal world, with plenty of money to spend, your b2b business would purchase and utilize some type of marketing automation software to help increase ROI of your marketing programs. In an even better world, you would pay Beckon to help you maximize those efforts. :-)

Of course, if you’re just getting started, it’s likely that you won’t be able to afford any of that yet.

So what should you do? Close up shop?

While eventually you’re going to want to upgrade your marketing and sales process, the setup I’m about to show you should act as a good starting point for you to get your feet under you.

Your marketing and sales process

Before we dig into how small businesses can qualify b2b leads, let’s take a moment to quickly recap the marketing and sales process.

marketing and sales process

Overall, you’ll need to create a marketing and sales process that looks similar to the one above. Of course, yours will vary depending on your business’s specific circumstances, however, it should follow something similar to this. The above diagram indicates what your marketing and sales process would look like if you utilized marketing automation software.

The general idea for your marketing and sales system will be to accomplish something similar to the following:

  1. Generate traffic - first you have to some how generate traffic to your website.
  2. Capture leads - next you’ll need to capture those leads. In most cases, you’ll want visitors to sign up to receive email communications.
  3. Qualify leads - once you’ve captured leads, you’ll then need a way to systematically determine which leads are ready to buy your product. Likewise, for leads who are not ready to buy your product, you’ll need a systematic way to get them ready to buy your product.
  4. Close deals - once you have a lead who is ready to buy, you then need a way make that transaction happy. This is where your sales process comes in.

Alright. Now that we’ve refreshed ourselves on the general idea of a marketing and sales process, let’s start digging into the details a bit more for this guide.

This guide is geared towards “qualifying leads”; essentially the bottom portion of the marketing and sales diagram that we saw above.

lead scoring

Once we’ve convinced a website visitor to sign up for marketing communications, we then need a systematic way to determine how likely they are to buy your product; this is done through a technique called “lead scoring“.

The main idea here is to be able to systematically score and then track the progress of your lead through your marketing and sales system. You’ll do this by calculating your lead’s score; a number that is calculated by combining your lead’s “explicit profile score” and their “implicit profile score“.

lead scoring

To break this down into really simple terms, “Implicit” typically refers to a person’s online behaviors where as “Explicit” typically refers to information that person willingly gives you (for example – via a web form).

With that being said, let’s look at a step by step approach for qualifying b2b leads.

Step 1: Identify your ideal target

Before you can start qualifying leads, you need to have at least a basic understanding of your “ideal” target market.

If you already have a solid grip on your target market, that’s great. For the purpose of this guide I’m going to assume that you have at least a few clients but haven’t really dug into who exactly your target market is.

If you don’t have much data to fall back on, you’ll have to start with a very basic profile of your ideal lead; otherwise you’re just guessing. Once you start collecting more data, you can start to build a more complete profile.

Here are a few simple ways to gain some insight into your ideal customer.

Current Customers 

customer spreadsheet

The first source you should consider is your current customers.

  1. List out all of your customers in a spreadsheet
  2. Across the top, list out characteristics such as title, role, authority, etc
  3. Note any similarities
  4. Repeat the process for their companies as a whole

Your Competition

business competition

Probably one of the easiest ways to gain insight into your ideal customer is to simply look at an established competitor. If your competitor is a larger company and advertises on their website, try looking up information on their audience with Google Ad Planner.

  1. Compare this insight to the insight you discovered in the previous step.
  2. Do you see any similarities between your competitor’s visitors and your clients?
  3. Are there any stats that stick out as interesting or different than what you expected?
  4. What other sites are visitors using?

Website Analytics

business analytics

If you have a website up and running (and have Google Analytics installed) you should be able to gain some useful insight from your data. You’ll want to look for patterns in traffic that eventually led to a sale. For example, if a lot of your sales are coming from a certain geographic area, you’ll want to make a note of that.

Consider the above as an example. As you can see, individuals from two cities in particular are viewing this particular page longer and are much more likely to look at different pages.

  1. Why is this happening?
  2. Are individuals in these cities more likely to buy your product or service or have you just advertised more in those regions?
  3. Does this information make sense when compared to the insight I’ve already discovered?

implicit customer attributes

Once you have an idea of your ideal lead’s explicit characteristics, you’ll then need to make a list of a few implicit characteristics to measure.

While there are certainly a lot more than what I’ve listed above, these are the few that we tend to use often. Here are a few things to consider.

  1. What information do I have already that I can use?
  2. Are there any pages on my website that suggest someone is more likely to purchase (For example – if someone views your price page, are they closer to the buying stage?)
  3. If I don’t have any of these marketing assets already, how can I get them?

Step 2: Determine your lead methodology

Once you have a list of your ideal lead’s implicit and explicit characteristics, you then need to come up with a way to systematically measure a lead’s progress.

explicit attributes

  1. List out your explicit attributes that you identified in a spreadsheet
  2. Split them up into three categories (critical, important, influencing)
  3. Assign them points depending upon their importance

implicit attributes

  1. List out your implicit attributes
  2. Split them up into three categories (critical, important, influencing)
  3. Assign them points depending upon their importance

Step 3: Determine the lead threshold

Next you’ll need to categorize your leads into three categories (cold, warm, and hot).

customer analaysis

Start with something like this and evolve as you collect more data:

  • Cold Lead: (Implicit + Explicit) < 75
  • Warm Lead: (Implicit + Explicit) < 50
  • Hot Lead: (Implicit + Explicit) < 25

Step 4: Put all this information in motion

Now that you know how you are going to measure your lead’s score, you actually need to do it.

Without marketing automation software, this is the part that’s going to be a bit tricky. Since you have a b2b business, I would suggest using a software like Aweber or MailChimp to implement an email marketing campaign.

This is, essentially, about building relationships with potential customers and helping them grow.

A few things you’ll need to figure out before you launch your email campaign:

  1. What exactly can I measure with these softwares?
  2. What can I automate and what will I have to do manually?
  3. What exactly do I want to accomplish?
  4. How can I help those receiving my emails?

Conclusion

As with most things, you could certainly get much more complicated with marketing automation. However, as I mentioned before, for those of you who are just starting out, this is a great starting point.

You won’t be able to run a very complicated campaign with the softwares I mentioned. However, once you get the ball rolling you can always upgrade to become more complicated.

For those of you who have done something like this before, what are some other tricks and techniques you’ve used?