Early March, Brandee Barker wrote a piece about turning your company into a finely tuned b2b referral machine with every employee enthusiastically spreading the word that “you are always looking for a few new clients.” Today, I’d like to talk about some of the lessons we’ve learned in helping Dynamics partners execute this strikingly effective marketing program.
It became apparent a number of years ago that partners, on average, do great work in putting in complex business systems under very stressful circumstances and happy customers were more than willing to pass the word. Almost all of these b2b referrals (up to 50% of all new closed business) were generated without any additional effort from the partner. The downside was that many partners where exhibiting behaviors that were “anti-referral” and thus reduced the potential for attracting new business.
Here are the top 7 things we have found partners consistently do or believe that prevent a higher percentage of b2b referrals business from being generated by their loyal client base.
#1 – You Assume You Have Mindshare
Since you did great work at the client’s site, you assume the client will recommend you to their contacts or colleagues without any additional effort on your part. The trouble with this belief is that your clients are just as busy as you are and most will forget about your work in a very short period of time. It’s all about frequency of the reminder. Each of your employees should be asking throughout your client’s organization and throughout the year for referrals. Consider them human “fridge magnets” that keep your company top of mind.
#2 – It’s The Job of Sales
Most employees don’t think it is part of their job to market on behalf of the firm. There are a lot of reasons why this is believed, none of them are valid. It’s everyone’s job.
#3 – You Believe You Only Have to Ask Once
Asking can be hard and often comes with a fear of rejection. It is neither difficult nor is there much chance of being rejected. Remember that mindshare is important and the message needs to be delivered at a reasonable frequency to be effective.
#4 – We’re Too Busy Now
A lot of us put out the message, either consciously or not, that we are too busy. We are always in a hurry and the stress levels are high. As a result, most of our clients think we don’t need the work. Some clients will get protective of your services thinking that if you get a new client there will be less time for them! Stop acting so busy and let your clients know, there’s always room for one more great client like them.
#5 – It’s Not Part of Everyday Business
This reason is related to #2. Most of our employees haven’t been asked to do this type of work and have therefore not incorporated it into their daily activities. Now’s a good time to change that behavior!
#6 – But I Don’t Know How to Ask
Either the timing was wrong or I just don’t know what to say, are common phrases used by consultants that can’t seem to get the words out. Don’t sweat it. This is normal. Create your own words, find the right people to ask and the rest will happen. Practice with someone else and make it a habit.
#7 – It’s Scary
Most of us fear rejection. This is completely understandable. What is worth noting here is that when we ask for a referral, we shouldn’t be expecting an immediate answer. Great if it happens, but your primary job is to make the “ask” and pass the message that we are open for business. You are the human fridge magnet. Keep it as simple as that and the results will happen.
PARTNERWORKS has rolled out a program designed entirely for Partners to turn their businesses into a referral engine. Learn more about what the Referral Program can do for your business: http://www.partnerworks.co/store/sales-referral-program-kit/Read More
How many times have you heard (or said) these words over the course of your sales career?
With the exception of the past couple years, the ERP/CRM sector has been blessed with a long growth run that produced a predictable stream of engaging prospects looking to either implement or change their business systems. Then all of a sudden the quality leads stopped coming. So what happened? A lot happened; and it will get worse, not better, moving forward.Read More
Drive Referral Leads in B2B
It’s common for us to trust the advice of our friends and colleagues. Often if they mention a product or service at a time when we are looking for something similar, we explore their recommendation. It’s human nature to share experiences and help each other out when we can. That’s why referrals make sense. No matter what business you’re in.
In the B2B sector referral leads have been underutilized. There are countless excuses as to why referrals won’t work, but what about the reasons why they will? When someone comes to you on the recommendation of a colleague, they already have an expectation that you can help them. The sale becomes that much easier because your credibility has already been established. Who wouldn’t want this kind of lead in their pipeline?
The thing is, not a lot of businesses in B2B are actively asking for referrals. The key to success in gaining these warm referral leads is to know how to get people talking about you, and this can be a steep hill to climb when you don’t know how and where to begin.
If you’re going after referrals it’s easy to make these top 3 mistakes:
- Asking Once
You ask for referrals once, and when nothing comes through you close the book on your attempts at generating referral leads. Asking for referrals isn’t a passive activity. Your request won’t stay top of mind forever.
Asking too many times and through improper methods. You don’t want to come off desperate and if you breach the idea of referrals when it isn’t warranted you will have missed out on an opportunity down the line.
- Poorly Communicating Your Business
When asking for referrals you give too little or too much information about what you do. If you’re asking contacts outside of your work environment for referrals you need to provide them with enough information about how you can help their network, or else they won’t tell anyone about you. Similarly, don’t overload them with minute details of your business that they’re unlikely to understand.
Don’t fall victim to these mistakes! Discover the step-by-step process of successfully attaining referrals.
PARTNERWORKS has developed a referral methodology specifically for the B2B environment that takes away all of the guesswork. Learn more about what the Referral Program can do for your business: http://www.partnerworks.co/store/sales-referral-program-kit/Read More
- Asking Once
Email Marketing is one of the most popular marketing tools used today. Quick and inexpensive, B2B email marketing has the potential for incredible control of your message, audience and branding. It gives organizations the opportunity to reach new and existing customers in a way not possible with classic marketing tools.
Many times, email marketing is the primary form of marketing aB2B organization pursues – but does it perform?
Email marketing takes about a quarter of a marketing department’s time, but the sad reality is that B2Bs have an open rate of roughly 24%, and a click through rate of only 2%.[i] So should you abandon email marketing? NO! But there are tips that can make your B2B email marketing campaigns more effective.
- Content is key. Be a thought leader with a compelling topic; if you write it, they will come…
- Sharing is caring! Not only will quality content increase your click through rate, it also has a better shot at being shared on social networks. Include buttons for easy sharing at the end of your email.
- Less is more. Keep copy short and to the point, and make sure your best stuff is near the top.
- Draw them in with a short, intriguing subject line. Convey your superior knowledge in 55 characters or less to have a better chance at enticing readers to open your email.
- Scrub that data! Clean up your database and segment your lists – this will allow you to target and personalize your messages.
- Timing is everything, so hit them where it counts. Avoid first thing Monday morning – no one’s had their coffee yet, and they’re still mourning the loss of the weekend. Tuesday between 10 am and 1 pm is best, but tracking metrics will be your best insight into finding out what times work for your business.
- Don’t overload your audience! We’ve already established the abundance of messaging out there, so pick ONE point and stick to it. Having half a dozen call to actions (CTAs) will not make your message more effective; if anything, it will kill any potential your campaign has.
- STAND OUT! Make sure your CTA is impossible to miss and above the fold. Who has time to scroll?
- Optimize your message for mobiles. With 79 million US consumers checking their email on a mobile device, if you’re ignoring this segment of the population you’re missing out.
- Test it! Try A/B testing to find out what kinds of layouts create conversions. Every business is different; best practices in one industry won’t always work in another, so always test.
Got all that? The biggest takeaway: people are completely overwhelmed in today’s content driven society. If you want to stand out keep it simple, compelling, and make your call to action so obvious that it would be seen from space. And if in doubt, test your options.
Now what are you waiting for? Scrub those lists and get your click through rate up!Read More
[i] B2B Marketing’s Email Benchmarking Report
Before you figure out how to re-purpose your B2B marketing content you need to define what exactly inbound marketing is.
- Search Engine Optimization
- White papers, webinars and podcasts
- Blogs & Social Media
In case you looked at that question and weren’t too sure what can be labeled inbound marketing, here’s my version of the definition:
Inbound marketing is creating incredible content so that when your customers find it they are so impressed that they share it across their social media networks.
Before you start thinking of how best to stretch your existing resources across inbound marketing channels, let me remind you that with the plethora of information currently available online, magnetic content is key. I’m now going to assume that you’ve accumulated some captivating B2B marketing content that reflects exactly what your buyers are searching for.
How do you go about re-purposing B2B marketing content?
Let me count the ways!
- Chances are you have a variety of white papers at your disposal. Find one section, rewrite it if you need to and create a blog post with the call to action being the white paper download.
- Turn case studies from one industry into a white paper highlighting the main successes of each company.
- Put an except up on your blog from your eBook, encouraging readers to download the full copy.
- Take the notes from a slide deck and write a blog post or white paper.
- If you have a very active Q&A session, publish it in a blog post and promote it through your social media channels.
- Post the slides from your webinar on SlideShare, then sync that SlideShare content to your LinkedIn account through the integrated app.
- Get a transcript of the podcast and depending on the length, create a blog post or white paper.
- Easiest blog post possible: list (and link to!) blog posts for the previous month.
- Take 5-10 blog posts that are relevant to each other and repurpose it into an eBook.
- Always add links to your content on your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.
- Expand your content’s reach by joining industry related groups on LinkedIn. Include a link to your content when replying to posts.
- Take a poll on your social media sites (both LinkedIn and Facebook have polling features) and publish the results in a blog post as industry insight.
- Give active twitter users a hashtag during a webinar or event. The do a search and turn the tweets into a blog post.
Other Creative Ways
- Training new employees by doing a step-by-step demonstration? Capture it! Put it up on YouTube and add it to your resources page. You can also transcribe the training session so you have written instructions – turn them into a series of blog posts about ‘tips & tricks’.
- Create a ‘kit’ of information. You’ve got blog posts, videos, and whitepapers that all pertain to one vertical (e.g. manufacturing). Bundle it up, put it behind a form. Your customer will be thankful that they don’t have to search your site for all of the relevant information.
- Is your CEO doing a speech that includes industry or company news? Record it! You can turn it into a podcast, a gated article or even a blog post.
- Ask your sales team to keep track of frequently asked questions; make a blog post or put it up on your site in the FAQ section.
- Take pictures from your company outings and humanize your business. Give your organization a personality by sharing this event on your social media channels.
- Did you make notes at a conference you attended? Is it industry news? Turn it into a blog post.
Brainstorm! Use these and other ideas then map it out to create an editorial calendar. That way you know you’ll have enough spacing between similar B2B marketing content to hold your readers attention. Also, don’t forget to track it all with analytics and set Key Performance Indicators (KPI) so you can see which content performs best and what to focus on in the next quarter.
We’re always here to help, so contact PartnerWorks at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss optimizing your inbound marketing efforts.Read More
The Many Faces of Fear
Do you feel stressed? Are you worried about the sluggish economy is impacting your business? Are you anxious about your results this quarter? Feeling tense about your burn rate? Concerned about how little time you spend with the family? We use words like stressed, anxious, worried and concerned daily to express how we are feeling, but what are we really saying? Most of the time, they are simply clever, disguised words for describing one thing…FEAR. Fear of failure, fear of poverty (yes, really, think about it), fear of rejection, fear of loss etc. We are scared half to death, and too scared to admit it to anyone, least of all ourselves!
Fight or FlightRead More
(Okay so “death” might be a bit strong but you have to lead with a snappy title or you are in trouble from the start)
It is March. So why am I still writing about trends for 2012? I have a blog to write that’s why. And there is nothing people like more than reading about trends – even if other people have written about the very same trend before. In fact, that is what makes it a trend. If only one person wrote about it there is really no trend.
So let’s step back for a moment. You have something to sell. You need to market this thing. How do you do it? …Read More
The question we asked was:
- What is the biggest concern / issue you face in 2012?
We received hundreds of responses and more than 48% of these responses were related to a lack of sales leads. The people have spoken and they want to know, how exactly can you generate B2B leads.Read More