Here's the question: when do you stop marketing to your contact list? Should you ever retire contacts from your list if they've never done any business with you?
Unless your prospect has given you a clear indication they will not buy from you, or you’ve uncovered they are not the right target customer, you never stop marketing to them.
Because B2B sales cycles are long and can range from 3 months to 5 years depending on the industry.
If you stop communicating with a contact after 2 or 3 years because they haven't bought from you, you give up the opportunity for them to consider you when they have a need in 2 years.
Consider this example of an IT professional services business. Most of their prospects are on a 3-5 year schedule to upgrade their IT. If the IT company gives up on marketing to a prospect after year 2 or 3, they would be missing out on potential purchases down the road.
When it comes to B2B purchases, most prospects go through a process like this:
- Brand awareness and perception generated by the interactions they have with you BEFORE their purchase cycle starts. This is when you have a huge opportunity to create a positive impression and build trust.
- Selection of a number of brands for consideration, ranging from 2 to 4 depending on the industry.
- The prospect will add and subtract brands on an on-going basis as they are exposed to them, based on how they perceive the brand will fulfill their objectives.
- The brand is selected at moment of purchase need.
- Brand experience – ongoing exposures reinforce brand experience and keep the brand in the top selection.
- Brand is selected again based on brand exposure, experience and recurring contacts
Prospects may not need to buy you during the period you make those contacts so it is important you understand their buying cycle and follow up at times relevant to their purchasing needs. It is also important you maintain on-going brand exposures to enhance your brand’s perception so your brand is included in the roster of brands for consideration at the moment of purchase.