Selling to businesses can be – well, a tricky business. Identifying good prospects, choosing media and motivating action can be more complex than selling to gardeners. Here are a few tips for mastering the process.
Identifying Buyers. Have you ever had a sale nixed by someone you didn’t know existed?
In most B-to-B sales, multiple buyers come into play. You may deal with one person who uses your product or service – or the buyer who purchases certain products for resale – but others are nearly always involved.
While Buyer A may make the final choice, Buyer B may exercise budget approval (or disapproval) and Buyer C (usually the President or CEO) may decide whether your product or service fits company objectives. Each buyer has different concerns, so be sure to consider and address them all.
Reaching Buyers. While media choices may be similar for B-to-B and B-to-C, their relative performance usually isn’t. What’s more, the best choice may vary depending on whether you’re selling a product or a service, expensive or inexpensive products, unique or highly competitive ones. My top picks tend to be:
Magazines. Trade publications work because they’re still prime sources of industry information. Ask for audit statements for details on precisely who each publication reaches.
Direct Mail, Post Cards and Catalogs. Mailings are expensive, but with higher average sales plus repeat business, direct mail can be a profitable option for most companies.
The right mailing lists are critical to B-to-B success. People change jobs frequently, so be sure to check list recency before renting.
Also, job titles and responsibilities differ from company to company. Determining who’s in charge of buying what you’re selling can be tricky. When in doubt, send to more than one job title.
Trade Shows. Despite the high cost of exhibiting at trade shows, they can be an efficient way to find prospects, nurture relationships and test new products. Companies often squander trade show opportunities by not having a plan to attract or follow up with prospects.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising. PPC advertising is often considered a strictly consumer medium, but that’s not so. Business buyers are just as likely to start with a web search as anyone else.
LinkedIn Groups. LinkedIn Groups serve as virtual water coolers, a great way to share up-to-date information about what’s going on in any industry.
Participating in targeted LinkedIn groups can heighten company visibility. Choose active groups and regularly post useful information instead of overt sales pitches.
Motivating Action. Most B-to-C sales messages are pretty straightforward: “Here’s why you should buy our product … and here’s why you should buy it from us.”
B-to-B sales messages must include that information, but – in the instances where a product is being purchased for resale — another layer must be added: “Here’s why your customer will buy our product from you.”
Which of these three arguments should take the forefront varies depending on the products, markets and companies in question.
Finally, as noted above, each of the many people involved in a B-to-B sale is likely to have a different focus. For one person, sales potential may be paramount. For another, low minimum orders. For a third, the fact that your product evens out seasonal dips.
Address the most important concerns of every buyer, whether you sell to them directly or not. Some companies go so far as to develop different marketing materials aimed at different buyers within the same company.
B-to-B marketing shares core principles with B-to-C, but their execution requires some fine-tuning for optimal results. For help with your B-to-B marketing, please give Val a call at 203-226-7338.