Spring is such a tease here in the northeast. One sunny day gives way to overly optimistic gestures like throwing open all the windows, and packing away the down coats. Only to be followed by snow showers or a cold, grey rain (cue us dragging those coats back out of storage). It’s enough to drive a person to AirBNB’s first long-stay tropical villa.
But those of us who weather (ha ha) these seasons over and over again know better. We know that warmer days are coming, if we can just wait a little bit longer and try to enjoy the April showers. So in the spirit of enjoying the rain, let’s talk about how to become a B2B marketing rainmaker!
Wikipedia calls a rainmaker someone who “brings in new business and wins new accounts almost by magic.” We all know someone like that. Maybe they were just born with an innate sales acumen. Or they’re a true extrovert, always talking up new people and looking for ways to network. They know someone everywhere they go, and business just seems to seek them out like a magnet. Then there’s the rest of us.
The good news is that rainmaking is a skill. It can be learned, just like painting or tight-rope walking. You don’t have to be a born salesperson to learn to make rain for your company. You just need to follow a few basic guidelines:
1. Spend time on qualified leads instead of cold calls.
Cold calling is the mind-set of traditional, old-school B2B marketing teams. It’s not exactly fun, with a dismal 1-3% success rate and the awkward task of selling something to someone when neither of you know much about the other.
Working with qualified leads to understand their problems and needs and to help provide solutions can be a lot more rewarding – for everyone! So how do you get enough qualified leads so that you can toss those cold-call phone lists?
Inbound marketing is key.
HubSpot describes inbound marketing as: “creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time…By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.”
2. Engage your customers / clients.
When potential customers truly engage with your company, brand or product, they can become personally invested in its success. Content marketing is the way to create two-way dialogue with your customers, and to connect your customers with each other to establish a community. Customers who connect with a brand or product on this level are more likely to talk about it with their friends and family, feel loyalty to that product, and be open to new products from the same company.
Engaging your customers relies on clearly understanding who your ideal target customers are, their interests, challenges, priorities, and how they communicate, which will help you decide which of the above platforms to focus on with your content marketing. (Find out how to create personas here).
With your customer personas in mind, you can develop a content strategy and editorial calendar to reach out to those customers on topics of interest to them. Need a few ideas to get started with content creation? Download our free B2B marketing eBook, Drive Sales with Content That Converts.
3. Pull on your boots and wade in.
The old saying, “When it rains, it pours” is often true when companies begin using inbound B2B marketing strategies. Qualified leads may begin to trickle in at first, but before long a company may be drowning in customer inquiries. Of course, this is a great situation to be in. But be careful: becoming overwhelmed and returning to your old sales-y ways will undo all of the hard work that went into drawing those leads in and nurturing them along.
So pull up your boots, and get to work.
Potential customers are interested in you and what you have to offer. But there are also probably a lot of other options out there, and the customer wants to make sure that you’re the right one for them.
Your job is to be their resource. Help them wade through their choices by asking about their needs, and educating them on the available options. Serve as a thought-leader, driving the conversation with prospects and competitors about what the focus should be in your industry – today and in the future.
Think like a buyer rather than a seller, invest time with each potential customer, and enjoy the rainy season.
4. Turn April showers into May flowers!
A product flops. A customer sends a disgruntled email. A shipment doesn’t make it in time.
It happens to everyone. We have a bad day, the storm clouds hang low and grey, and we’re tempted to send up the white flag.
But after you get done feeling gloomy, it’s time to think about the opportunity in the storm. Just like us hearty northerners when faced with yet another frost in April (Oh, how we wish that were an April Fool’s Joke), learn to look ahead to the future reward.
The flowers will come up, and be brighter for all of the rain. The product flop can be reworked with valuable feedback, and perhaps re-launch successfully. The unhappy customer can be turned-around with a personal and thoughtful response. And that shipment? Well, thank goodness for next-day air.
So whether it’s the rain you’re craving (now that you have the basics to become a B2B marketing rainmaker!) or some springtime sun, keep in mind that while we can’t ultimately control the weather—or our customers—we choose how to respond. So grab that umbrella, head outside, and dance in a puddle!