Most B2B companies sell a product or service and then deliver it. The customer makes a decision to buy something from the company, and then the company responds with whatever the customer has bought. Once the service or product is delivered, the customer can decide if they liked doing business with the company. Meanwhile, the company will do its best to keep that customer loyal by staying in touch with their needs and offering them more products and services.
But some B2B companies have the challenge of not just acquiring a new customer, but of then getting them to actually transact with the company. Think of signing up for a membership at a club. You join a business club and pay your dues. Great, the club has a new member. But now what? The club is happy to have your membership dues, but what they really need is for you to use their services. That generates incremental revenue and will lead to your being engaged with the club, hanging out there, telling your business colleagues about it and encouraging them to become members too. So getting you to sign up is the first part of the sale, but getting you to activate your membership is the second—and just as important—part.
If you’re a B2B business that has two parts to your sell, how can you encourage your customers to activate?
Here’s a good example from Dropbox. When you sign up for Dropbox, they recognize that having you signed up is just half the battle. What they really want is for you to use the service. They know that getting you to use the service probably represents a change in behaviour for you. So they need to make it EASY for you to change that behaviour, and they need to give you a REWARD for doing it. Dropbox does this by presenting seven easy steps to get acquainted with the service and gives you a reward if you complete five of them. The reward is 250MB of free storage—not bad.
If you face the double-sell—i.e., having to acquire customers and then activate them—how do you go about moving customers from acquisition to activation?
There are three parts to success:
1. Identify all the baby steps that customers can take to get comfortable with the service.What are the options—take a tour, make a first purchase, watch a demo video, receive a call from a customer service rep, share via social media that they’ve just joined the service. Write up a laundry list.
2. Present the options to customers (i.e., tell them what they should do!). You’d be amazed how few companies do this well. If there are some easy ways for customers to get accustomed to your service, let them know what they are. You might present the options all at once, or you might dole them out over the first 90 days. If a customer snaps up the very first option, you might not have to work too hard to get them to do the second and third. If you find a customer is resisting making change, you may need to work harder—which means giving them different options to consider.
3. Reward them for making the change! We all do things when we want something. If you offer a customer a reward that is appealing to them, they’re likely to engage. If you find that the rewards you offer don’t achieve the results you’re looking for, considering increasing the rewards.
If you put a good plan in place to address your acquisition to activation process, you’ll convert far more of your possible customers to engaged customers—and that means significantly better ROI on your marketing, and better profitability.