There are four ways to grow B2B sales.
New Clients from Inbound Marketing
A lot of people think that businesses that don’t embrace inbound marketing in this age of social media will be left behind. That’s certainly true in most B2C but I think it’s happening in B2B as well.
I see a lot of B2Bs that don’t do any inbound marketing: they might have a website, perhaps not a very good one, but that’s about it. You often see good B2B websites that started and then abandoned a social media presence almost immediately. They might have just a few blog and Twitter posts dated over a year ago. If that’s you, take the social links down. Better to have nothing at all. There is a chance they are really good, they might just be super busy, but it’s not a good look.
When it’s done well, inbound marketing absolutely drives sales. Regardless of what people say about other benefits like having a good brand, sales is what you need to aim for. But how much sales? And how long does it take to work?
I’ve had a couple of really good conversations lately with experts in this area. They say it all comes down to knowing your cost of client acquisition (CAC) and knowing what it should be. Once you know this doing your budget for inbound sales and costs should be a piece of cake.
Nevertheless, inbound marketing is often a medium to long-term game. That is, the long term benefits will usually exceed the long term costs. If you want sales next month, best not rely on it for that.
New Clients from Outbound Sales Activities
For professional services businesses this is one area that’s almost impossible to outsource, so the biggest constraint is the amount of time that you, and the most senior staff, can allocate to it. Someone might be able to do the research and some of the leg-work, but it will be you that the potential new clients usually want to talk to. One of the great ways to save some time is to use an outsourced Virtual Assistant, but there will still be a lot to do for you: phone calls and meetings.Make sure you budget some time for this as well as associated costs. If your industry runs on expensive lunches do it, but most businesses don’t these days, or most productive business people do not have the time either.
New Sales from Partners and Referrals
When someone thinks about buying your type of service, who do they typically reach out to for advice? The answer of obviously very dependant on the type of service you’re offering. Usually it is someone that does something associated, but is not the same. Often people that are good networkers and well connected. Seek out those people and get to know them, make sure you think they do a great job and that you might be able to help them as well. It works best with a genuine view to respectful long term relationships. It is not about getting or giving something immediately. It’s something the best salespeople know and an approach you should adopt too.
Again budget time and associated costs.
New Work from Existing Clients
Everyone says that work from existing clients is the cheapest, easiest and fastest to get because it is. It always is. Of course it’s often limited and you need to keep a steady flow of new clients to keep your business and people fresh.
Keep in contact with your clients, be genuinely interested in their business and their success, and not just your aspect of it.
Your inbound marketing should also be firmly aimed at keeping engaged with your current clients. Keep this in mind when you’re allocating resources and calculating CAC (cost of client acquisition).
Finally, make sure your systems and reporting are capable of tracking sales and costs for each type.
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash