When we talk about B2b prospecting, we talk about market research and then sales strategy, (usually digital prospecting). In this article we will see:
- 🩺 How to do good market research yourself without going through an agency.
- 🌌How to find your positioning and competitive advantages.
- 🚀 How to prospect effectively with marketing automation.
- 💫 How to keep customers once you’ve converted them.
Prospecting will no longer have any secrets for you. 🧙
What is B2B business prospecting?
When we talk about the process of acquiring new customers in the field of business, what are we talking about? We are talking about B2b business prospecting. 💰 In fact B2b or Btob, it just means “Business to business” and therefore from one company to another.
You offer your goods and services for businesses. 🚀
There is a difference between Btob and Btoc prospecting, which is the acronym for business to customer ” from the company to the customer.
By customer, here, we mean a natural person and not the representative of a corporate identity. We don’t talk and sell the same way when our target is a company or a person. In this article, we will focus on the specific sales techniques for B2B. While reading you will learn the steps to launch a prospecting, but also the best techniques depending on your budget and needs. 🤓
How do you develop a B2B sales prospecting strategy?
This is clearly an unthinkable step in the development and sustainability of a business. In 2022, we live in the world of capitalism and consumerism to the max. The market is saturated with new companies and new products to sell. We are in a market that offers the possibility for companies to get rich and therefore to grow only if you sell value (products or services).
The consequences of this market are quite simple to analyze:
According to Oberlo, In 2021, the number of small businesses in the US reached 32.5 million, making up nearly all (99.9 percent) US businesses.
What does this mean? It means that it will not stop growing, even in a saturated market.
What else does it mean? It means that competition is exponential and therefore business growth is harder to achieve, especially when you’re new because you have to make room for yourself in an ocean full of sharks.
Imagine that all competitors are soap bubbles, but they all start from one huge bubble = the consumer need. With each new competitor, the bubble splits (unevenly), that’s the market share.
So, new competitors come and take market share and there are more and more bubbles.
That’s almost exactly true. There is also another factor to take into account, and that is that not everything breaks down, and that is that consumer demand is increasing.
In B2B, the more companies there are, the more competitors there are, but the more companies there are, the more potential customers.
there are too. And that’s something we mustn’t forget. The initial bubble therefore divides, but its circumference also increases, even if generally less quickly.
Is it absolutely necessary to prospect?
After, having explained all this, I think the answer appears clear as day. Yes. 💚
But. Of course, there are exceptions (and still), even big brands do marketing, but they will spend more time building customer loyalty and boosting the brand image, rather than doing direct prospecting.
Direct prospecting is not always mandatory, but marketing strategy is. So how about we start by making sure you’re clear on your marketing positioning strategy before we jump into customer acquisition? 🚀
Doing a competitive study
Doing a competitive study is honestly not rocket science, and you don’t need to pay $5,000 to have someone research the internet for you. You just need to understand a bit of business and marketing jargon and know where to find the info.
I’m not telling you anything new if I tell you that the internet is full of errors and false information.
To do your competitive research, you need to have reliable sites like societe.com on hand to verify the information you find online (like the size and economic health of the company). Then, in broad strokes, what you become aware of are these 3 points:
- The overall workings of the market you are in: Let’s say you offer a massage service for employees, what kind of outreach is going on, what kind of advertisements do you see on the net? Without getting into the heart of the matter, just get an idea of the message, the prices, the types of services and ranges offered…
- The direct competitors: We keep the same example, we will add the geographical area. Who offers massages for companies in Paris? What is their target, how do they differentiate themselves? Make a list.
- Indirect competitors: These are companies that meet the same demand but not in the same way. Basically, they have substitute products. For example, a spa that makes a pack for companies.
As you do your research, you’re going to realize that some of your competitors don’t have the same price, message, or/and types of approaches.
If this is the case, it’s because they often don’t have the same target. But then, how do you know if you have the right target?
Define your persona
The persona is a character that you invent. It’s a bit like the head of your ideal customer: what he does, how he behaves, what are his problems. You can have several personas. For example, if you sell massages for companies (for a change), You can have one main persona:
HR or happiness officers of Parisian start-ups.
And a secondary persona:
HRDs of big companies that have very good works councils.
And there the message will be different. On the other hand, in terms of your digital communication, it will be complicated to talk to both at the same time, because they don’t have the same codes. So you will have to choose a main persona for your inbound marketing strategy. To do this, look at :
- The market least saturated by the competition.
- The most buoyant market (volume, evolution, trends).
Let’s say there are more startups in Paris who would be likely to buy your “Corporate Massage” package. Your persona will look like this:
A mistake that is often made is that companies always try to sell after other companies in B2b, except that you always forget, that you are selling to a person and that this person, although he/she decides for the whole company, can push your service more than a competitor‘s if he/she has affection for the product and/or the seller.
So when creating your persona, always remember that it will be an individual you are profiling, not a type of business 😉
Finding your competitive advantages
So, as a result, you’re not the only one who wants to sell Violet on your corporate massage treatments.
To sell, you’re going to have to stand out. The more you focus on a target audience, the better you can understand them and personalize the message. What are your competitive advantages?
- 💰 A cost advantage? You are cheaper than your competitors.
- 😎 A product differentiation advantage? Your product has more features, is of better quality, has a better design, has exclusive options…
- 🦅 A brand differentiation advantage? Your brand has a strong message that is different from others, social engagement, strong identity, represents a community…
Of course you can (and should) combine competitive advantages. However, it must make sense, if you have the cheapest messages in Paris but you sell “luxury sessions”, your prospect will be lost.
Be clear on the commercial message
And so, it’s totally time for me to introduce message clarity in your B2b sales strategy. Your commercial message is like your graphic charter, (except if you make a pivot), you must remain very clear on the message you want to convey to your commercial target.
- Who are you?
- What are your values?
- How do you respond to customer issues?
- What are the emotions you want to convey when the prospect sees, tries, buys your product?
This is how you will be remembered.
Having good sales people
It sounds silly, but it’s also the sinews of war. If you do direct marketing and your sales people don’t know how to sell, we won’t go far. Likewise if you don’t do direct marketing but rather emailing and your sales/marketers are not good at copywriting, you’re going to break your teeth. 🦷
If you need to hire, doing LinkedIn monitoring is a great practice, you go straight to hunting for the sales person, community manager, marketer, and you can see their prospecting methods in action on the network.
The best way to test, if you are good or if the person in front of you is good, is to create a scenario in which they sell your products. Of course, product expertise is acquired over time, but the fiber can easily be seen at first glance. 👀
Inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing
- Inbound marketing = Bringing the customer to you through an advanced communication strategy.
- Outbound marketing = Make direct sales, go to the customer, through mailing, phoning, events.
Inbound marketing to attract customers
As you may have noticed, we’ve been talking about direct sales and inbound marketing since the beginning. But we’ve been circling around the subject without defining it too much, so here’s a little more precision.
Inbound marketing = Bring the lead to you.
It’s a B2b prospecting technique, the only difference is that it’s not direct. We will use tools to attract the prospect, interact with him and make him loyal.
The first lever will be digital communication, to attract your prospects to your company or your products. How do you do this?
- Advertising and Ads online,
- Youtube page,
- Social networks,
The community management
The community manager is the person who will create a community, make people federate to the ideals and message of the company and interact with leads to create a link.
The common misconception is that he is just there to create visibility for the brand. But in fact it is an integral part of the acquisition tunnel.
It allows you to remove doubts and fears and to move the prospect to the purchase. It is part of the inbound marketing strategy and really participates in the acquisition of new customers and the increase of the ROI.
It will create content through :
- The publication on social networks,
- His activity on these same networks (respond to comments, interest in prospects).
- In the creation of Newsletters,
- During mailing campaigns,
- By doing marketing automation (we will come to that soon).
SEO in your B2b prospecting strategy
Prospecting for new customers isn’t just about making calls.
SEO is my favorite tool, so I might have a hard time being neutral on this part. 🥰
SEO = Search Engine Optimizer. Basically, how to get to the top pages of Google without paying for an ad.
Betting on SEO is a medium / long term strategy, it’s offering quality content to internet users via a blog, in order to show them your expertise on a subject.
You answer the questions of consumers or prospects in the best way, you respect some SEO rules, and you build a “soft” acquisition strategy, where the consumer will come directly to you.
To launch this kind of strategy, you need at least one SEO writer, and some tools.
- SemRush, to understand the questions asked by Internet users.
- 1.fr to optimize articles and meet Google’s requirements.
- Seobserver to work on your Netlinking.
Of course, now it sounds like I’m talking Chinese, but the freelance or full-time SEO writer you hire absolutely must know and know how to use these tools.
💡 Did you know SEO is totally accessible for beginners. In fact, all you need to do is follow a few tutorials and online training to understand all the issues and benefits of this technique for B2b lead generation.
To help you out, we’ve created a free SEO Beginner‘s Guide. 🎁
The 3rd major pillar of inbound marketing is retaining a customer. Because it is on average 7 times cheaper to keep a customer and to make him reconsume than to go and find another one.
How do you retain a customer? You check in with them and offer them interesting and personalized content.
- Chatbot, real chat, phone number. (Make the communication between you and the customer simple and efficient).
- Youtube tutorials and/or articles. (Make it as easy as possible to use the tool).
- Marketing emails to announce news, promotions, events, new content available.
- Simplified user experience (online shopping cart, online appointment booking, intuitive website).
- Reminder emails or text messages.
Outbound marketing to transform leads
Outbound marketing = Going towards the customer.
We will associate to this strategy, the means of direct prospecting (direct contact between a salesman and a consumer) and the push marketing (push the product to the consumer). Therefore, outbound marketing includes :
- Ads and advertising.
- Cold Emailing,
- Telephone prospecting,
- Multi-channel sales campaigns,
- B2b events,
- Push notifications.
Advertising and Ads campaigns
First and foremost, the undeniable advantage of paid campaigns is the leverage you get.
You have the opportunity to place yourself on the first page of Google, LinkedIn, Instagram … ultra quickly.
In addition, you are very flexible on the Ad, you can change your ads while they are running and do different A/B tests with the same campaign. (Ideal to start, when you don’t know what works best).
What’s great is that you get results from the beginning of your campaign, but they don’t last over time. Let me explain, once you finish your marketing campaign, if you don’t put money back into the machine, the power of your growth doesn’t follow. 💢
The best practice is to combine paid advertising with SEO. 💕
💡Did you know? Paid advertising, whether on Google or on social networks, works with a bidding system. To win the bids, you need to understand several techniques. To help you out, we made a free guide to get started on LinkedIn Ads. 🎁
B2B phone prospecting
There are several ways to chop up your prospects’ phone data:
- You can search for the number of your prospects on social networks thanks to “scrapping” tools = They don’t know you yet.
- You have obtained their phone number at an event, thanks to an information form = they already know you a little.
- You have launched a prospecting campaign in which you directly propose a call to your lead = They know that you will contact them quickly.
Each strategy is different and therefore each approach will have to be thought out according to the elements you have. It is an ultra direct prospecting. Most of the time, they know little or nothing about you, and you have to convince them to listen to you.
💡 Did you know There are tools that allow you to find a prospect’s phone number just from their LinkedIn profile. Waalaxy can find an average of 35% of your prospects’ phone numbers automatically. 🎁
Cold emailing and retargeting
Cold emailing is not really the same as an emailling campaign. What really differentiates them is that in cold emailing, you are contacting prospects for the first time.
They don’t know who you are, they’ve never talked to you before, and you’ve usually obtained their data through a scrapping tool.
So you send them much more personalized and friendly emails. The goal is to create a link and get them to click to find out more about: you, your company, your services, a current offer, your blog…
In short, you have to interest them. Cold email codes are fundamentally different from other marketing strategies. 🤓
💡 Did you know Before you cold email, you need to set up a couple of things on your business email box. To help you out, we’ve put together a completely free A to Z tutorial so you can get started right away and get the best results. 🎁
Digital and automated prospecting
Multi-channel prospecting, this is one of the most powerful forms of B2b prospecting, not to mention the most powerful. It’s about adding a prospect to your CRM and getting him or her into an ultra-personalized process.
Let’s take our example of Violet, the HR, to whom we sell massages in the company. The idea is to make her enter an automatic scenario thanks to which we will contact her on LinkedIn, automatically get her email, then follow up by email.
This is how it works:
💡 Did you know Waalaxy offers a free version through which you can launch your own marketing campaigns and you are coached throughout the process. Yes or, you read that right, it’s free. 🎁
Participate in physical or digital events
To finish, events are a great way to sell directly, it’s done a lot in B2b, like trade shows, French tech events…
It’s also the perfect time to make contacts and create partnerships. The downside is that they are long to organize and very expensive. Moreover, depending on what you sell, it may not always be useful.
There is a surge in books, webinars and Youtube events, which will allow you to reach a larger audience while spending much less time or money.
💡 Did you know LinkedIn offers a LinkedIn Live option, which is completely free. It allows you to create digital events that are visible on the network. You then benefit from the vastness of the LinkedIn database as an audience. We’ve made a handy LinkedIn Live guide to help you get started. 🎁
Faqs from the article on b2b prospecting
Outsource B2B sales prospecting
Should you outsource business prospecting? Advantages 🟢 Disadvantages 🔴.
🔴 You don’t have control over the quality of the sales pitch. You don’t really know if and how your products are promoted.
🟢 Some outsourcing is much cheaper. For example, I used to work in a company that outsourced the sales force to Morocco while the headquarters was in Paris, how can I tell you that the salaries were much cheaper.
🔴 Your products are not a priority for the sales person they are part of a panel of products to sell, but he/she will first try to sell what is the easiest or most profitable.
🟢 You have little or no management to do. Managing teams takes time, and a good sales manager is expensive. There, you don’t have to wonder anymore, outside sales people are usually experienced and autonomous.
🔴 You’ll have to do a lot of training. The transfer of information will generally not happen between outside sales people (who are all trying to outsell each other), so you’ll have to train all new people, and make sure that with each new feature, option, strategy..each sales person can get all the information they need.
🟢 You don’t pay employer charges on the salaries of the sales people, they are not on permanent contracts, so if they are not good and don’t sell, it doesn’t impact you too much. So you take less risk.
🔴 Commissions are usually much higher than for external sales people. It’s normal, if they are too low, they will prioritize selling other products or services that bring them more money.
🔴 There is no feeling of belonging to the company or creation of a strong bond, which can in the long run, demotivate the sales person.
🔴 A big part of your ROI, your growth, your sales strategies is outsourced. And that can be dangerous, especially if you’re just starting out. Still, it’s best to have a handle on it.
Freelancers and business launch: How to get new clients?
If you are starting a business and you want to get new customers quickly, I advise you to implement an outbound marketing strategy (to turn prospects into first customers) and an inbound marketing strategy.
🚨 Don’t make the basic mistake of telling yourself you’ll deal with inbound and content later.🚨
In reality, if you gain 10 customers in 1 month but lose 9 the next month because you didn’t take good care of them, you’re going to have an even harder time reaching the next 10 customers, and you’re going to find yourself in big trouble very quickly.
Follow the guide -> to get started in Freelance with marketing automation.
How much does it cost to set up a complete sales prospecting?
- Between 5000 € and 8000 € for a competitive study.
- Between 2,000 € and 4,500 € for the market positioning and the message.
- Between 32 000 € and 52 000 € gross excluding charges per year for a sales person. (outbound marketing)
- Approximately € 24,000 gross excluding charges for a community manager per year. (inbound marketing)
- Approximately 250 € per month of marketing tools (automation campaigns, CRM customer management, planning of posts).
- Ads campaign: you define the rate of your choice. It’s a bidding system.
- Participation in a physical event: Prices vary greatly depending on the event, but it’s still super expensive. 😅
Okay then, ready to win new customers with B2b prospecting?