The temporary shutdown of non-essential businesses across the country is clogging supply chains in every industry. But we’re a glass-half-full kind of company. So for business-to-business owners, this may mean you have some extra time to think about how your company will operate when we come out on the other side.
That’s right – your business processes should be on your Top 5 list for self-reflection. Before quarantine, when your phone was ringing off the hook with new business opportunities, it was necessary to focus resources on closing sales. Which meant de-prioritizing initiatives that were not. Companies that have grown successfully without a marketing department, for instance, are most likely lacking a strong foundation that can support and feed the sales team.
Now is the time to create that foundation – and the processes that feed it – to ensure a healthy pipeline in good times and bad. Following are four of the most common needs Gravity VMO clients have when they first come on board.
- Good (and Consistent) Prospecting Practices. Sales people in general do not have good prospecting practices. It’s understandable since they would prefer to spend their time on leads that are ready to purchase. Which is why at Gravity, sales and marketing are considered one and the same. First, you need definitions for the target audience, the ideal client, and what is considered a strong lead. Then, let marketing find ways to reach that target, wake them up to a problem that your company can solve, and hand over pre-qualified leads for the sales team to close.
- Customer Database. Is it easy to find a list of every customer you’ve ever had, with their contact information, including email address? What about every contact you worked with at every customer you’ve ever had? Without a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, customer contact information is spread out across employee email accounts, paper files, or never recorded. A CRM offers the added bonus of capturing email communication with each contact as well. This practice keeps everyone on the same page with a customer, and strengthens the company-to-company relationship instead of tying it to one employee.
- Capturing the Email Addresses of Website Visitors. Just because a B2B company conducts business development and sales activities in person doesn’t mean they should ignore all of the prospects researching them online. The biggest difference between a brochure-style website and a lead-generating website is a call to action, or conversion mechanism beyond the simple address and phone number. Every business has inherent value. If you start to give it away in bits and pieces on your website (through content like a white paper, video series, slide presentation, or cost calculator), people will provide you with their email address in order to download and use it.
- Consistent Communication to Prospects, Customers, and Contacts. The key to all marketing activity is consistency. Think about your experience as a consumer. Brands coming at you in fits and starts, or strong and then silent, means you probably don’t think of them at the time when you are actually making a purchase decision. Whether you choose Google/Facebook/LinkedIn advertising, an organic social media presence, email drip campaigns, ePublications, or the trade show circuit… Start with a messaging and content plan, spread it out throughout 12-18 months in a way that is manageable for your desired budget and time commitment, kick it off to see how the community responds, and then set realistic goals to sustainably grow from there.
If your business doesn’t have any of these foundational marketing initiatives in place, I recommend starting with a customer database. All other initiatives in this list can build from there. If you have some marketing foundation in place, take stock of how well it is working for you.
Marketing should be a systematic process that delivers predictable results. Self-reflect on the pieces you need in place to create that system, and take the time to execute, analyze, and improve. Your organization will be stronger for it.
Gravity Marketing is celebrating 10 years in the business. That’s 10 years of growing client businesses alongside our own. It’s also 10 years of trial and error, risk and reward, lessons learned, and problems solved. In this series, Gravity Marketing’s president and founder, Mike Kuharske, shares the top insights he’s gained over 10 years as an entrepreneurial marketer.