If you are working with B2B sales you have more than once in a quarter stumbled upon the question: Why do we get bad leads? Why do we get contacts from companies we cannot serve? The easy answer is: your targeting has failed. Most likely it’s also an incomplete answer and it is very difficult to actually get rid of the noise. Here the noise means contacts that take too much of a sales organisation’s time and efforts with little or no results. There will always be noise, but you can eliminate it by using smart filtering together with precise targeting.
Targeting process as we remember it from Kotler’s marketing is still valid.
Targeting process using a smart scoring system is the same, but we are just using new technological means to make the targeting more accurate and in more realtime.
1. Begin with facts: define your existing customer base
There is no magic bullet here, but this is still the most important part of the bigger blueprint. Every marketing campaign, lead generation activity and sales process begins by defining who your customers are. So the first is to define the facts about your existing customers.
Write down at minimum the following:
- Trigger/Motive to purchase: safety, efficiency, technology, legal, financial, etc...
- Main customer contact’s department
- Main customer contact’s title
- Main customer contact’s function
- Products they have purchased
- Gross margin per customer
- Gross profit per customer
2. Define your ideal customer and the buyer personas
The ideal customer is the segment of customers in your existing customer base that you want to focus on. Defining the ideal customer helps you focus your business towards your strategy and objectives. If all of our leads were ideal customers, we would never stop growing on a healthy and profitable curve. Ask your team the following questions:
- What are the traits your ideal customers have?
- What are the facts behind their business?
- How do they behave on your website?
- What drives their purchase decision?
- What are the buyer personas of your ideal customer
3. Match your ideal customers’ buyer personas with your digital experience
Once you have narrowed down the buyer persona, you begin to draft the path they go through during the purchase decision, from unknown to evangelist. Each buyer persona is provided with content that answers the specific questions handled in each stage of the journey. There are multiple use cases for creating the buyer journey depending on the motivation that drives the buyer. The most typical buyer journey is the new customer journey where the customer is encountering your company for the first time. The others are processes such as re-visit, subscription, on-boarding, re-purchase, complaints, etc.. The most important one to focus on when doing B2B sales is the new customer journey. There are several different ways to name the stages of a customer journey. We like to use the one from HubSpot. The three core stages of buyer journey are Awareness, Consideration and Decision as shown in figure 3. You could also split it into four stages like the REAN, Reach, Engage, Activate, Nurture, or the good old AIDAS. The point is not really which acronyms and namings you use, the point is to use one of them systematically and accompany the buyer journey with data you have defined during the customer definition stages.
Figure 3 . Snapshot of HubSpot’s Customer Journey Template.
4. Collect data from your prospects’ digital behaviour
Within each step of the buyer journey, you can collect different kinds of data of your prospects. How did they find you? Did they use keywords? Which campaigns are those keywords related to? Do those campaigns indicate the urgency or motivation to buy? Which pages have they visited, have they read through pages about awareness, or have they looked further into “how to buy”? Which stage are they in? Which actions did they take? Did they download a paper, subscribe to a podcast, or request a demo? All the above mentioned are powerful information during the sales process and in remarketing. In order to make this data into a toolset that you can use dynamically and automatically, you should score the prospects based on their activity. Each visit, source, view, action and even each “no-action” can help us segment the prospects into certain categories that we can use in marketing and sales.
5. Dynamic lists will help you combine the data and be smarter with sales and marketing
After you have collected information about your prospects and scored them, and collected data about prospects’ back office information, you have a very strong set of intelligence about your different types of prospects. Based on this information, you can now define which prospects will drop into the segment that you will put into the remarketing campaign, which prospects you will send to an external booking company and which prospects you want to focus on. The segment defines what kind of messaging and content you are using in each of those campaigns.
This is scratching the surface on customer scoring based sales in the B2B sector. The sales and marketing resources are always limited, so you would want the entire process to be carefully planned once and then automated as much as possible. Scoring could potentially include much more data sources as well such as credit rating information, market trends, political and legal information and so on. The one very important thing is to keep the score reasonable, so that you have a good and focused base of leads you can manage with your resources. Score-based sales is also a fine practise to do when you want to really see your marketing and sales become one unified function.