No matter how great your B2B business is, if you aren’t good at B2B sales, your company is going to struggle. This is especially true if you’re trying to grow your business.
If you do a good job of marketing your B2B business online, you’ll get a lot of inbound leads. These are the best, easiest leads to close, but many B2B sales teams don’t know how to make the most of these leads.
The result? A lot of wasted marketing spend, a frustrated B2B sales team and—you guessed it—no B2B sales.
Let’s fix that. In this article, we’re going to look at what makes inbound B2B leads different from other types of leads and how to effectively turn B2B leads into B2B sales. Sound like a plan? Let’s get started!
What Makes B2B Sales Different?
Business-to-business sales is different from business-to-consumer sales in several ways, but the most important difference is who you are selling to. In B2B sales, you are usually selling to professional buyers or high-level executives. These people often know sales tactics just as well as you do, so you have to bring your “A game” to have a shot at closing the deal.
Dealing with Buyers
Professional buyers are just like you: they make a living in sales. They just happen to be on the opposite side of the table. As a result, they can spot most sales tactics a mile away—and they have their own counter-moves up their sleeve.
A smart professional buyer knows how B2B sales works and they know how to work the system to their advantage. For example, if it’s the end of the month and they know you’re probably feeling the heat, they’re more than happy to stall and try to get a better price out of you.
Dealing with Executives
Executives pose a slightly different problem. They might not be as sales-savvy as a professional buyer (although many are), but they are incredibly busy.
One of the easiest ways to sabotage a deal with an executive is to waste their time. They have better things to do than listen to long-winded speeches, so if you don’t get to the point, you don’t get the sale.
On the flip side, because they are so busy, executives love easy solutions. If you can show them how your business can make their lives easier and their business more profitable, they are a lot more likely to buy.
Finally, most executives know their business inside-out and they want to know exactly how what you’re selling will fit into their business. To handle this, make sure you do some research ahead of time. Figure out what their business is and does and how what you’re selling will help them.
If you make working with you seem like the easy, obvious answer to their problems, it’ll be that much harder for them to say “no.”
Handling Inbound Marketing Leads
Inbound marketing produces more qualified, high-intent B2B leads than any other lead source. But, to effectively close those leads, you have to understand what makes your inbound leads unique.
The Psychology of Inbound Marketing
Unlike outbound tactics like cold calling or emailing, inbound B2B leads want to talk to you. They have a problem that they think your business can solve.
For example, in paid search, leads enter your funnel with an online search. Your business’ ad pops up and they think, “Hey, this looks like what I was searching for.” They click on the ad, read through the landing page and decide, “Yep, this is for me” and fill out your lead form.
Yes, it’s a pretty straightforward process, but it’s critical to note that it is a user-initiated process. In other words, your inbound leads are out there on the internet looking for solutions.
This is important.
With most lead generation approaches (cold calls, TV advertisements, social media posts, etc), the lead reacts to your ads.
With inbound marketing, your leads initiate contact with your ads or content—they start the process.
As a result, inbound marketing produces incredibly qualified leads, but you have to close them before they start the same process with someone else.
How to Close Inbound B2B Leads
To successfully inbound leads, you (or your B2B sales team) need to understand what these leads want out of their sales experience.
With that in mind, here are 5 keys to successfully closing inbound B2B leads.
1. Respond Immediately
Remember, inbound leads are actively searching for a solution to their problem. That means they are probably looking at your competitors, too.
According to InsideSales.com, 50 percent of buyers choose the vendor that responds first. Since inbound leads are looking for and at your competitors, you are in a race against the clock to be the first to respond.
Plus, new leads are 100x more likely to respond if contacted within five minutes (vs. after 30 minutes), so every passing second increases the chance that your lead will find a more interesting competitor or get distracted by another page.
They are on the internet, after all.
Wherever possible, you should be responding to paid search leads in less than five minutes. Inbound calls from prospects should never go to voicemail or wait on hold for a prolonged period. Your hot paid search leads are simply too expensive to waste.
2. Call Again…and Again…and Again…
For a 90% contact rate, you needs make a minimum of 8-12 contact attempts within 10-14 days of the lead being submitted. To contact even 50% of your leads, you will need to make at least 6 contact attempts.
The problem is, most sales reps only make 1.3-2.1 contact attempts. Is it any wonder that only 1 out of every 4 internet leads are actually contacted?
Inbound B2B leads typically cost tens, hundreds or thousands of dollars apiece—can your company afford to pay four times that amount per contacted lead? Probably not.
In addition, remember, these lead are expensive because they are so hot. That means they may be your easiest-to-close leads. So, while it might be tempting to call once and move on, it’s worth it to make at least 8-12 contact attempts before giving up.
3. Talk to Marketing
Inbound leads filled out your form because they believe your company can solve their problem. Your job is to meet that expectation. However, if you don’t know why someone filled out your form, that can be tricky.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to find out why leads are reaching out to your company: ask marketing.
Your marketing team is creating the ads and message that your leads are responding to. They are setting expectations for your leads that you have to meet. But, if you don’t know talk to marketing, you won’t know what those expectations are.
On the flip side, you know what messaging works best in the sales process and which leads are the most receptive. By talking to marketing, you can provide invaluable insights that they can use to put even more qualified and hungry leads in your queue.
5. Get Them Off the Market!
As nice as it is to have leads that are looking for your solution, the dark side of inbound marketing is the fact that those same leads often keep looking for a solution—even after you’ve contacted them.
The quicker you can convince them that they’ve found the right solution, the less time they will spend looking at your competitors.
This is particularly important if you are a marketing an expensive product or service.
If you aren’t aggressively pursuing your inbound B2B leads, they may keep searching and decide to try out a cheaper competitor’s offer, even if your solution is actually a better fit for them.
However, if you can quickly convince your inbound leads that they’ve already found the right solution, they’ll be far less likely to keep searching for additional options.
B2B sales is a key part of any B2B business and inbound marketing is one of the best ways to drive B2B sales. But, if you don’t know how to handle inbound B2B leads, you’re going to miss out on a lot of opportunities.
Fortunately, if you understand what makes B2B sales unique and how to handle your inbound leads, you can turn many of those missed opportunities into closed sales. That’s good for you, good for your potential customers and good for your business.
By the way, if you’d like to improve your inbound close rates, let me know here or in the comments. I’d love to help you put together a fantastic B2B sales approach!
How do you handle B2B sales? Do you agree that inbound leads are one of the best ways to grow a B2B business? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
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