Build prospect relationships based on trust and value, not loose connections based upon offering the lowest price.
I have always been amazed at how many B2B marketers focus on the cold call, or "telespam," which Stratten calls the "bottom of the barrel." They still create one-size-fits-all newsletters or promotional messages as if their potential customers were waiting eagerly for an e-mail to gush about the virtues of a product or service they know nothing about.
Graphic from Stratten's blog post: "Aiming Your Company at the Bottom of the Barrel"
Cold calling often is a primary strategy because it doesn't cost much. Any salesperson has myriad vendors calling to rent lists or provide "hot" leads. But what is the true cost of these efforts?
As Stratten notes, you risk annoying 99 people in search of the 100th person that would be interested in your product or service. In close-knit B2B markets with a limited number of potential customers, this can put you at a disadvantage vs. your competition. For the interested party, you are battling your competition for low-margin business from customers comparing your offering based on price alone.
I agree with Stratten's contention that you should concentrate your efforts on the middle of the pyramid, on prospects that were referred to you by a trusted source - ideally your own satisfied customers - as well as prospects who have developed a relationship with your brand but have not yet purchased, and those who consider you to be a recognized expert in the field. This will allow you to build prospect relationships based on trust and value, not loose connections based upon offering the lowest price.
Consider the following tips as you develop e-mail-marketing programs that focus on the middle.
The Last Word
As Stratten mentions in his book, many B2B marketers don't focus on the middle of the pyramid because it takes time. It isn't a silver bullet that will produce more leads and more revenue tomorrow.
But as we have learned, focusing on the bottom isn't the best strategy either. It will fill your pipeline with prospects seeking the lowest price over value.
Building trust and fostering relationships with people who see you as an expert in your industry will continually fill your sales pipeline with high-value prospects who will help you generate high-margin business for years to come.
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Mike Hotz is a senior strategic consultant for Responsys, working with clients to design, develop, and execute cross-channel digital marketing strategies that contribute to their cross-channel digital marketing success. As an industry veteran, Mike has worked in e-mail marketing since 1998, designing, building, and executing e-mail and multichannel direct marketing strategies focusing on increasing customer engagement, nurturing leads, supporting sales organizations, and driving revenue for companies such as CDW, OfficeMax, Grant Thornton, and Digitalwork.com.
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