It’s back to school season, which means renewed energy and focus for the business world too. Q4 is just around the corner, and that means that your sales team is paying full attention to their numbers and how bonuses are looking.
Timing is perfect to use marketing to boost sales for your entire team. There’s enough time to identify the best marketing tactics, execute them and reap new deals before December 31st. But companies have to be smart – not all marketing initiatives will provide results within a quarter.
There’s one marketing program that is faster than any other at producing sales. It’s to focus on your existing customer and prospect base. Those are the people who already know your company and - hopefully – trust you enough to do business with you. In Business-to-Business (B2B), that trust is the critical first step in a business relationship. Trust-building is the reason the B2B sales cycle is usually long. If you can leap-frog that process, your sales team is much closer to closing deals.
If you already have a database of past customers and prospects, here are three ways to put it to use for fast lead generation:
1. Promote existing products to customers who haven’t bought them
Most B2B customers buy just one product or service from a vendor, even though that company likely produces multiple products and services. Over time, customers forget that their supplier offers a range of products and services.
The best way to get new business involves three prongs. Prong one is to raise awareness of your full range of products and services. Prong two is to give customers a reason to try out those offerings that they haven’t used in the past. Prong three is to give your sales team a reason to sell.
Here’s how to do this in practice:
Step One: run a marketing campaign to promote a particular product or service on a regular basis. This can be weekly, semi-monthly or monthly (depends on your existing email marketing tempo and customer base).
This step increases awareness among your customer base of the product or service.
This promotion should be focused on education. Silly or outlandish sales promotions don’t work in B2B. But if you put an intelligent option in front of a professional for how to better achieve their goals, they will listen.
Step Two: put a sales promotion in place. Offer a compelling price or payment terms that will catch the attention of prospects and give them a reason to seriously consider your offer. Chances are they currently don’t buy the service at all (they in-house it), or they use a competitor. Your pricing needs to get them over this consideration barrier.
Step Three: run a sales contest. Include commission bonuses or other incentives that will motivate your sales team to follow up on the marketing campaign directly with customers. Make sure there’s enough of a carrot that your sales team cares about securing these deals. The contest should be open for a certain window of time (tied to your marketing campaign) and have a deadline to get everyone focused. And don’t forget to announce the winner at the end of the contest period.
2. BUNDLE up
An alternative to the idea above is to bundle products and services. If you have customers who buy a consistent product or service, is there an ancillary or related product that goes along well with it? The best way to get them to try it is to offer a bundle at an appealing price.
The communications companies (phone, cable, internet) have become adept at this. Take a page from their book and try out a few bundle/price options.
The added benefit of bundling is that your business will not only get more sales from existing customers, but you’ll lock out the competition by removing that relationship and preventing them from locking up more deals with your customer.
3. get back in touch
Another great way to increase your search engine reach is by using the Google+ authorship and publisher markup feature.
Authorship allows your headshot and your Google+ profile stats to show up in search engine results when any content that you have authored ranks in the search results. Google+ business and personal pages can be connected with your website in order to make this possible. This feature is great for any blog posts and articles that you publish online.
While initially this feature seems great, make sure you understand the full impact before using this. The Publisher feature creates a sidebar that features your authorship. This sidebar will show up when anything associated with your brand is Googled. The sidebar will feature information from your personal Google+ page such as your published content, number of followers and images featured on your page.
Both of these features are most beneficial for people who have their own practices such as software developers, app developers, accountants etc.
What about Google Business?
One of the best ways to generate sales towards the end of the year is to get back in touch with former prospects and customers. Be careful to follow the CASL laws. Many past prospects may have not done business with you because they had other priorities or the timing simply wasn’t right. By getting back on their radar now, you show you’re interested in their business and that you’re organized enough to follow up. That can often mean the difference between no deal and a deal.
Existing contacts are often an untapped resource in B2B companies. Use these three methods to put them to work for your business.