It seems to me that the number 1 question on lips these days is “how do I sell my services to other businesses?”. It’s certainly a question I get asked often and it’s one I regularly ask myself (as we’re also trying to sell more to other businesses after all).
Selling services (and products) to businesses is difficult mainly because of the barriers that exist between you and the purchaser and if your ideal client is a larger business the challenge is greater as there’s rarely a single decision maker any more with most purchasing decisions these days relying on a team decision that can include many heads that all have their own interests that need satisfying.
Just finding the right person to speak to at a larger business can be tricky but once you find them, how do you approach them? Should you call them on the phone (yes, that still happens)?, email them? connect with them on LinkedIn? follow them on Twitter? What is the best first approach?
All of those options can work. But they can also be pointless wastes of time – as with any form of marketing, you have to try it, monitor and review the results, change things and try again until you find a combination that works as well as it can.
Personally, I hate cold calling as I’m sure many people do. It’s thank-less and tedious and produces poor results (in my experience – that could be because I don’t like doing it). I hate receiving cold calls – I get at least one a day usually for electricity or to help me claim for that accident I’ve had recently (I haven’t had an accident so please stop calling). So for me, cold calling is off the list of options.
That leaves me with this selection of marketing options:
- Social media – well you would be surprised if we didn’t use this one wouldn’t you
- Direct marketing – limited experience with this if i’m honest. Seems expensive
- Networking – at one time I described myself as a “networking tart” and would go to the opening of an envelope
- Email marketing – despite the calls for it’s death email seems to be becoming more and more popular
I’m going to leave out direct marketing, mainly because I’ve always found it expensive but i’m sure it works when applied well, and also networking, and focus on social media and email marketing.
So here are my top apps and websites for marketing to a B2B audience…
Let’s start with the daddy of B2B social media. With over 433 members spanning every country in the world and every type of business and profession, LinkedIn is the mecca for connecting with other business people. However, the number of people actually gaining business from it is limited because most members don’t use the site effectively or just treat it as an online resume.
Here are my tops for making LinkedIn more effective:
- Take some time over your profile. Make it less of a CV and more of a sales tool. Talk about how you solve problems and provide a value service rather than talking about your work history.
- Post regular updates and write longer posts (the long form posts introduced a couple of years ago are very effective for getting attention).
- Accept connection requests. Some people think you should only connect with people that you have actually met but in these digital days that’s becoming less and less likely. My approach – I usually only refuse a request from 3 types of people – recruitment people, sales peopel from Credit Safe or sales agents for Lead Forensics. Other than that – i’m open to any requests to connect.
- Use the search function to find your ideal contact then connect with them. The search bar on LinkedIn is very powerful and you can save your searches and have it email you with a list of new matches on a regular basis.
- Install the Email Hunter chrome plugin. This awesome plugin will find email addresses for any LinkedIn profile that you’re looking at – handy for those connection requests where it asks you to validate how you know the person but also for adding the contact to your mailing list.
- Join groups and be active. LinkedIn groups can be busy places to pick and choose wisely but get involved, post updates, share content and chat to others. We post all our blog posts out across a number of groups and it really does help to raise our profile with other businesses.
- If you use Gmail for your email – install the Rapportive plugin. It scans LinkedIn (and other social channels) and helps you to connect with whoever you’re emailing. Very useful way to get to know the person you’re emailing and to connect with them on LinkedIn so you can continue to impress them there too.
Much easier to connect with other users than LinkedIn but still very much misunderstood by most businesses. Twitter is idea for connecting with other businesses because there’s no barrier – you can simply follow and chat to anyone on the platform. Here are my top tips for getting the best from Twitter:
- Post often.Twitter needs content to survive. It’s not like LinkedIn or Facebook that can manage with a less regular diet of content. Twitter needs a lot of content so get posting – ideally multiple times per day. Sounds like a lot of work? It needent be – use the wonderful quuu.co and allow them to do all the hard work.
- Like and follow. I was a strong advocate against this strategy for a long time but recently i’ve seen how effective it can be for growing your audience. Use the search bar to find ideal connections and simply like their posts and follow them and you’ll start to see your own number of followers grow – each one a potential lead.
- Talk to your followers. As each new follower is gained a simple “thank you for the follow” tweet can do wonders. If that also sounds like a lot of work – you can automate it!!
Looking for ways to make working Twitter easier? Try these amazing tools
- Quuu.co – hand curated content perfect for your audience.
- narrow.io – automate the process of finding, following and liking so your followers will grow without you having to do a thing.
- Social Report – an amazing alternative to apps like Hootsuite that will empower you with a suite of tools to make your social media management effective.
A relatively new one on me – LeadFuze proved itself on the first day I tried it, generating genuine leads straight away. LeadFuze is almost fire and forget in that once it’s set up you just have to keep topping up the email list and let it do it’s thing. I’m going to do a full review of LeadFuze soon so keep an eye out for it. In the mean time, take advantage of the free trial.
There are loads of email marketing apps around… MailChimp seems to be very popular with a lot of my contacts – nearly all of the newsletters i’m send include the logo at the bottom. Whatever app you use for your mailouts just make sure that you’re consistent and providing something that your recipients will value.
Financial businesses are perfect examples of companies that generally get email marketing wrong. They tend to talk about what they do (tax and pension tips anyone?) and don’t generally talk about what their customers actually look to them for – how to make more money or grow their business.
Stop talking about what you do and start helping your contacts to improve their business. Perhaps some marketing advice?? We can help with that (hint hint).
Hopefully i’ve given you some useful tips for reaching out to a B2B audience. If you try out any of the ideas above be sure to let me know how you get on.