The sales of industrial products or services has its own peculiarities that shall be taken into account when building a sales funnel.
A full marketing model is applicable only if the solution can address an horizontal market need. Serving a vertical market need is often too close to a simple outsourcing model, with a single Client and a pure Account Management relationship.
In case your business model addresses a vertical need, most probably you can apply marketing only partially.
If your business model addresses an “horizontal need”, then you may find useful this approach, that aims at creating a sales funnel in 3 steps:
The Goal is two-fold:
Before to start, you should have done your homework:
The Lead Generation Funnel
As you can see from the figure on top of this page, there are 3 phases into the “Get” side of the lead generation and sales process:
In this 3 phases Sales and Marketing work overlapping and partnering, but building a Relationship and Building Trust is the role of Marketing.
Pamper the Client and make her feel special, maximizing the value for both parties, is the role of Sales.
The “Rational” behind the B2B Lead Generation funnel
As I have said in another post, B2B marketing is a different stuff compared to B2C - Consumer Marketing.
So in B2B nobody impulse-buys just because of your advertising. As Americans say, “business follows relationship”… Yes! but how do you build “relationship”? Well, I dug a bit, and so far the best answer I got is this:
“Business follows Relationship … and Relationship follows Surprise”
If you follow me in the next lines, I will try to explain what I mean with “Surprise”
I would like to start this section with a tale:
The New Boy in Town
If, like me, you have been moved a few dozens of times, changing city, or even State, you have for sure experienced the “daylight dream” effect of showing up the first time in the public square, corner, pub of your new community.
You are there, dozen of person are busy talking on the other side and it seems you are watching through a windows. You should be able to talk with many persons but nobody seems to notice you.
What is missed? The hundreds of previous contacts that these people had among them and you do not have done. Or better...you have done, but in your previous city.
What you can do to “move” the situation? Well you can join a local association, throw a party, buy a sporty car and park in front of the pub… and many other things… It takes time but generally you work it out.
After a while you can even propose a deal to your new friends and make business.
But what is the rational of so doing? What is that makes the people slowly start to interact with you?
Let’s end the tale now. And move on the “Relationship” step of the Lead Generation funnel. What the tale shows is that:
What is a PEER?
To reach your prospects you have to pass through a Peer, if you want to scale up fast your market entry.
A Peer is the channel, the medium through which you deliver yourself. It should be a Peer of your Prospect, not your Peer. Someone who is somehow already accredited by your prospect. It’s should be “disinterested” and even better: willing to actively introduce you.
Furthermore it should be “industry focused”. Your Clients do not want to waste their time with people that are not tuned, alerted , activated to their business.
The right Peer depends on the industry, but we can set at least a couple of categories:
What is a SURPRISE?
A surprise is an information that highlights a difference in the status quo.
The rational is that any Prospect wants to know how they stand compared to their industry peers: if they are lagging behind the pack, if they are going to be in a Status quo that will differ from the present one for any reason.
A Surprise is an “un-expected comparison”
A Surprise ( un-expected Comparison) is that aha! moment that associates You to a Customer’s problem.
It’s the moment when you create the Relationship in the Customer Brain.
I have always in mind the reaction of my 2 years old kid when he saw for the first time a balloon going up, instead than falling on the floor when I released it.
Now “balloons” are forever associated with “new” unexpected and fantastic surprise. The fact that I have introduced him to the fantastic world of “balloons”, it’s probably a bonus that I will leverage for some time.
This examples teaches also a further observations:
If the Surprise comes from an “industry expert, it’s even better. People value specialists the most, even if what you say has an horizontal applicability.
If you belong to the industry, you eat like the industry, you breath like the industry, then you can describe the “status quo” with the right key words, the ones that resonate with your Customer’s brain.
What is surprising your prospect?
There are at least 4 kinds of surprise that make your prospect feel a change in the status quo:
Any kind of issue or problem your prospect’s peers have suffered, are suffering or going to suffer and that most probably your prospect will have to deal with soon.
Un-anticipated market drivers’ changes
Here you can refer to classic Porter’s
Some big surprise comes from comparing the final results with the expected ones.
In general any discordance among imagined / planned / desired results and actual facts capture prospects attention.
A further source of surprise comes again from failing of considering a company as an evolutionary system, instead of a steady system.
A system may fail not because of a part crash, but because the supporting functions are given for granted:
A Surprise signals to your Prospect that “the World has changed”
A Surprise says to your Customer:
If you can play out with the consequences of inaction via a SWOT analysis, you may end inviting your prospect to re-think the alternatives, and fight the costs of inaction, and her resistances to Loss, making do-nothing : not an option
This post has summarized what elements are needed to build a Relationship with the Customer.
The next Post will focus on what is needed to build Trust.
Your comments and observations are much appreciated,
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(1) Note: I “borrowed” the concept of “the world has changed” on line, but using it for marketing purpose instead of sales, as in the original post.
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