MarketingProfs BtoB Forum Provides Tips On Engaging The Changing Buyer

Published: June 21, 2011

DemandGen Report: In your presentation you discussed progressive profiling and progressive forms, where leads enter more in-depth information over time. How does this tactic help marketers garner actionable information about prospects?

Bryan Brown: Fortunately, most people don’t shake your hand and ask for your entire personal history within the first 30 seconds of meeting you. Yet that’s the approach many companies take when they ask people to fill out lengthy forms requesting information that seemingly has nothing to do with the original offer. Asking all these questions before you’ve established a relationship can create distrust and lead to form abandonment. Using a progressive approach results in a welcome decrease in contacts abandoning forms and also allows marketers to gain a deeper understanding of customers and prospects, which ultimately leads to increased revenue.

DGR: To help accelerate the BANT model, you advised companies to consider tactics like ‘Creative Questioning,’ and ‘Knowing Disqualifiers.’ How do these concepts help push leads to disclose information that they would typically not provide?

Brown: Hard-hitting questions can be awkward and off-putting. By positioning questions in a more conversational tone, and in a way that makes prospects want to tell you more about themselves, you are more likely to get accurate and complete information. For example, asking someone how much money she makes might make her cringe. But, asking what type of car she drives can tell you a great deal about her current ability to spend money. Getting straight to the point can be helpful to both you as a marketer and to the prospect. If you want to know what CRM system someone uses, simply ask them. More open-ended questions such as “Is there a complimentary product that ads significant value?” may leave the prospect searching for the right answer or might result in an answer that is less than helpful to you as the marketer.

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DGR: You noted how companies can re-engage older leads by using alerts, date views and features like Salesforce’s Chatter. How does that help increase the likelihood of an old lead coming back to make a purchase?

Brown: While marketing and sales have done a good job focusing on getting new leads processed and routed appropriately to sales, most tend to fall down when it comes to determining when an old lead is coming back around in the buying cycle. CRM systems are designed around handling the new leads while the old leads get more lost from view, which is why it is important to have a marketing automation system that can cause the old leads to bubble back up and grab the attention of sales. Some ways to solve the problem include creating tasks or having a “re-engaged view.”

DGR: The majority of brands mentioned in your case study examples during your presentation were consumer examples. How can BtoB companies make their presence known in the social world and create strong campaigns to engage prospects?

Brown: While consumer-focused companies were, not unexpectedly, the first to embrace the importance of engaging with customers and prospective customers via social networks, BtoB marketers are increasingly following suit.  It is important that all marketers know how their customer base is using social media — where they are, who is influencing them and how likely they are to comment on your product or service and general experience with your company — either positively or negatively, and then start participating in those conversations. BtoB marketers, not unlike their consumer-focused counterparts, must be where their customers are, and today that means delivering content on multiple channels, multiple times per day.

DGR: The Google/TechTarget Behavioral Research Project you cited claims up to 85% of prospects on web sites are there to research and not ready to talk with a sales rep. You also noted that about 70% of them will eventually buy a product. Do you see this breakdown changing in the near future due to the new marketing landscape and its multitude of channels?

Brown: This trend will likely continue for some time. Today’s buyers are more empowered than ever.  They understand what marketing is and they don’t want to be influenced by it. Today’s successful marketers must be even better at educating a potential buyer (helping him come to a decision on his own) than they are at selling. As more channels become available to buyers, this will become easier for them and more difficult for the marketer. This is why the ability to automate programs that learn from buyer behavior will come crucial.

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