Make sure several influencers at each company are on your direct mail marketing list.
To be successful, the business-to-business marketer must include in the customer and prospect database a rich matrix of influencers. There may be as many as 15 or 20 individuals at a company who influence a business-to-business sale. Because most business decisions are made by more than one individual, it is usually more desirable to include many influencers at a few companies than to include a few influencers at many companies. In other words, it is much better to have in the database 10 individuals at each of 1,000 companies than to have one individual at 10,000 firms.
Mail to all the influencers in the customer company — from the CEO to the clerk who uses the product, if possible, to hit every level of influence. Be sure not to forget the financial and technology people who are also impacted by the decision to buy.
Various third-party resources can be helpful in your database marketing strategies to influencers. Resources that can explain, in general terms, who influences the buying decision include: trade associations, industry analysts, and trade-press editors and reporters. Information companies such as Dun & Bradstreet and business-press publishers can be helpful in identifying the correct titles for individuals who influence sales.
At a finer level of detail, publishers of leading trade publications can provide, for a fee, a list of every subscriber with a certain title or higher. The marketer can then append its own database with the new names from the publisher's list. Or the publisher could provide a list of all subscribers who reported on the subscriber-qualification card that they recommend, influence or make final decisions on purchases in the marketer's equipment category. Again, the marketer could use the data to expand and enhance its database.
Closer to home, the marketer can identify influencers by interviewing the sales force. The company's salespeople know how the sales process works and what customer representatives play a role in the buying process. When interviewing the sales force, ask:
- Why do customers buy our products? Is it to solve business problems or technical problems?
- Does a technician drive the purchase, or is it the manager of a department?
- How high in the customer organization does buying authority rise, or how much budget authority is needed to approve the sale? Is it at the executive level or the manager level?
- Who in the customer company may be affected by the purchase but doesn't make the buying decision?
- Who are the ones who say, "Well, they never asked me"? Those individuals may be the most important influencers to build a relationship with.
Database marketing strategies like these can enhance all facets of your B2B marketing program.
M. H. (Mac) McIntosh is a business-to-business lead generation and marketing consultant who specializes in helping companies create demand, generate leads and close more sales using the latest B2B marketing strategies, tactics, technology and media. Please visit www.sales-lead-experts.com for more information.
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