Flirting with Your Brand
As your pre-built buyer personas start to convert on your offers and content, they start to come off of the pages of your ideal buyers. Suddenly, your personas—which were previously categorized by things like their industry, needs, geography, and their progress in the buyer's journey— become something else. They turn into real live people!
Your persona has turned into an AQL (Automated Qualified Lead) is now a person and is interested in your brand. At this point, your job is to follow up with them in a way that helps them to further solidify and develop their opinion of your brand. So what do you do?
The B2B Cocktail Party
Your initial meeting is where things get interesting, and you need to be strategic in how your organization proceeds with the conversation. After all, this is your first impression. When someone reads, reacts to, or responds to your content and offers, you need to step back, interpret, and react accordingly. Your approach may very well depend on what kind of content or offer the person responded to.
Let's throw this into the cocktail party analogy that inbound marketing professionals love so much and look at how to play it cool when you get that initial responder notification.
Top of the Funnel Conversion Follow-up
This is like a person flashing you a smile from across the room: They may be interested or just polite, but you know your next request is not a walk down the aisle to commit for life. You’d totally blow any chance you may have if you did this. Instead, you play it cool, reciprocate the smile and potentially walk over for an introduction.
Top of the funnel follow-up takes skill, thought, and a touch of bravado. A lot of prospects may be surprised that you're even bold enough to follow up after a single interaction. Your follow-up at this stage should be measured and tactful. Most importantly, it should be in line with the level of interest that was displayed. How do you show that you're eager...but not toooo eager?
- Take a step back and think about what got your responder to engage in the first place. Think about what this individual really needs. Going in too aggressively could lead to you missing out on reeling-in the next big fish because you snapped your line while trying to reel it in too quickly.
- Nurture your prospects through the buyer's journey with finesse. You’ll lose your top of the funnel audience if you follow up with a sales-minded approach with a prompt for any action to buy. Be mindful of where your prospects are in their buyer's journey.
- Follow up with your prospect through email, a social media connect, or a phone call to provide additional information and see if they enjoyed your content.
This approach needs to be well crafted, subtle, and— above all—human! You’ve won this person’s attention, so make sure you continue to follow up with the correct context. Personalized follow-up by a real person helps to:
- Humanize your brand
- Show that you aren't a marketing automation robot
- Cater your follow-up based on specific details about your prospect
Avoiding Rejection Depression
Asking for too much too soon can cost you. Like at a cocktail party, if your approach is too aggressive, you may scare away your prospect. It is a best practice to nurture and progress AQLs as they are learning about your company’s solutions. An initial interaction with your brand doesn't mean that someone is ready to make that long-term commitment and buy.
Here's how to avoid rejection:
- Ask questions
- Listen more than you talk
- Be helpful
- Try to connect on a personal level
- Attempt to create a sense of intrigue
- Leave them wanting more
Going back to the cocktail party scenario, have a polite introduction. Ask if they need a drink before even asking about a first date. When a prospect progresses to an MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead), they are still not yet ready to be handed-over to the sales team. This is a big slip that often happens when handling newly uncovered sales leads. Have you ever seen someone turn down a marriage proposal in public? …awkward. Likewise, when marketing is watching sales performance, there's more pressure.
Getting to Yes
Marketers are required to contribute to revenue these days, which means they own more of the sales process. An MQL needs to be further qualified and validated before the handoff to the sales department. Even with great follow-up, your company's reps are going to hear a lot of people saying "no, not right now" than "yes, I'm ready to buy."
According to a B2B Technology study by Forrestor and Sirius, it can take 341 responders to create a net-new customer with standard marketing practices. But with best-in-class practices, one new customer can be added with 71 responders. It is critical that your company takes the right approach so that you don’t miss out on any at-bats your company gets.
My advice? Don't forget that at the heart of B2B Marketing is P2P (person-to-person). Don't forget that the best kind of marketing is when people make connections with other people. In a digital marketing world full of robotic follow-up and canned, impersonal messages, bringing out the human side of your sales and marketing efforts can make a significant difference. A thoughtful and personalized follow-up approach (that isn't overly aggressive) can help you avoid embarrassment and rejection.
Find out why we think that people are still so central to your sales and marketing efforts. Get your copy of Why Marketing Automation is NOT a Silver Bullet by clicking the cover below.