The #1 reason to base sales strategies and tactics on deep customer insights

broken car to illustrate broken sales strategies

The B2B tech sales strategies we got used to don’t work anymore

B2B technology sales has always been competitive, but it’s gotten incredibly hard recently.

For the last 10 or 15 years, the predictable revenue model was a reliable playbook for B2B technology sales.

The idea (grossly simplified) was that you generated a ton of content and your leads found it on Google search. You called them inbound leads.

You also hired a dozen SDRs (Sales Development Representatives) or BDRs (Business Development Representatives) to cold-call and email and message your prospects.

Marketing would generate leads.

SDRs would set meetings for the sales executives.

Sales executives would close the deals.

The trouble is, these sales strategies aren’t working as well as it used to.

Even the people who invented these sales strategies agree this isn’t working anymore.

Marketing teams have generated so much content that it’s hard to be noticed in the noise. There’s no end in sight either as every company and a lot of their individual employees keep cranking out more videos and blog posts and podcasts and LinkedIn carousels every day.

SDRs have sent so many cold emails and made so many cold calls that the default move is to ignore all calls and unsolicited emails.

This leaves your account executives wondering how they’ll hit their quota.

What are the sales strategies and tactics that can get us back to success?

Three things haven’t changed.

Defining your target audience

You still have to have intimate knowledge of your ideal customers, what they need, what frustrates them, what their options are, and why you can help them in a way nobody else can.

Crafting compelling messages

You still have to get them to notice and act on your clear value proposition. This is a bigger exercise. It starts with understanding the customer.

Remember that what your customers tell you at renewal time, or at purchase time, or when your stuff is broken is couched in their political or business needs as they relate to you. These may not be what they really need. They’re just what they need from you in the current transaction.

Converting your pipelines

You still have to keep their attention long enough to guide them to becoming a happy customer. This has become extremely difficult. During longer sales cycles involving larger purchase teams, it is a tall order to somehow compel everyone involved to keep your solution as a priority throughout the sales & purchase process.

Use peer conversations to cut through the noise, re-engage, and close deals

One of the sales strategies that is still performing well is peer conversations. Use a properly executive Executive Roundtable to get leads’ attention, re-engage them in conversation, and guide them to becoming a customer.

It works for two reasons:

  1. Customers are still interested in what their peers have to say, even when they’re tuning vendors like you out.
  2. Hardly anybody else is doing it. Some people are. But relative to other sales strategies and marketing strategies, this is an underused gem.

You can do all kinds of B2B customer research where your ideal customers tell you what they want. Or at least they tell you what they want you to think they want.

But only at an executive roundtable will they tell their peers what they actually want.

If you run an Executive Roundtable the right way, they’ll almost forget you’re there and enter into a surprisingly candid peer conversation.

It’s a simple process I’ve outlined on a lot of posts here, but if you’d like an ebook that goes into it in much more detail, please download my Executive Roundtable Essential Guide.

FAQs about Sales Strategies

What are the basic sales strategies?

Apparently this is in fact a frequently asked question. The question itself doesn’t even make sense to me. You can have as many sales strategies as you’d like. Here’s a Hubspot article about 22 sales strategies.

It seems to me the first step would be to ask “What are we ignoring about our customer?” Or “What assumptions do we have about our customer that we could test?”

Because getting really clear on what your leads and customers want and how they behave can then make it possible for you to pick a strategy.

Which could be feature based. “We’ll have features nobody else has”.
Or experience based. “We’ll be the easiest company to do business with.”
Or yes, even price based . “We’ll be the most expensive. And we’ll be worth it.”

Starting with a strategy then looking for a customer segment to fit it sounds backwards to me.

What are outbound sales strategies?

An outbound sales strategy is usually defined as anything where the sales team goes out to find business. It could be that you’re finding leads by calling them, emailing them, knocking on their doors. Any sales strategy that involves not waiting around for them to find you could be considered an outbound sales strategy. Again, I ask if this is even a strategy. If it’s not based on a customer insight, it’s more of a process based on what’s convenient for you.

What are inbound sales strategies?

Think of these as the inverse of outbound strategies. Think of the inbound marketing model that was all the rage during the 2010s. You write blog posts about certain topics, people who care about those topics search for them on Google, they see your posts and they sign up for your newsletter to learn more. That sort of thing.

By they way, this has fallen out of favour as these channels have become saturated. There’s just way too much content being produced so getting noticed is incredibly hard.

This is why I advocate for using Executive Roundtables and other customer-focused resources that your customers really want, and that other vendors are not offering. Not yet anyway.

What are nearbound sales strategies?

It was inevitable that once people started seeing diminishing returns from outbound and inbound some clever marketer would notice the naming trend for different types of sales strategies and make a leap to nearbound.

This is basically referral marketing. Or word of mouth marketing. It’s people you already have a relationship with helping you find your next customer. But it’s dressed up in new names and processes.

It can be effective. I’m not disparaging it. I’m just not sure we needed another marketing term.

What’s next? Abovebound sales? Aroundbound sales? You can go on forever just adding a preposition + “bound” and calling it the next new thing.

What is the most effective sales strategy?

The most effective sales strategies are the ones that get your customers. There’s no one-size fits all here. You’ll want different sales strategies for different customers. Don’t go looking for a list of top sales strategies. Instead, look for ways to offer your customers interactions that they really want and that other vendors aren’t offering them

This B2B customer research method can help you achieve your sales numbers

b2b customer research executive roundtable zoom call

Have you noticed that every time you share a tidbit of B2B customer research everyone leans in to hear what you’re saying?

Whether you’re in sales or marketing (or product even), knowledge of your customers’ needs and frustrations is indispensable to doing your job successfully.

The problem is a lot of the customer insights you get come in drips and drabs. A nugget shared during a discovery call here. A few questions that leads asked during the last marketing webinar.

What if you could get a group of leads and customers to tell you exactly what they’re thinking and doing in 1 hour? Would that be useful to your sales efforts?

The answer is not a webinar, it’s not a focus group, it’s not a survey. It’s an Buyer Roundtable and in my experience it’s the best way to achieve that goal.

Understanding B2B Customer Research

You can pay a customer research consultancy to do all kinds of B2B customer research for you. Or you can organize an internal project to carry out things like:

  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Usability studies
  • User experience workshops
  • Customer interviews
  • Buyer journey mapping exercises,

and a lot more.

But pulling these things off without introducing your own bias so you get useful results is hard.

Finding and using a company to get you your money’s worth in a big customer research project is beyond the scope of what we’re going to talk about here. If you want some more details about that, check the FAQ at the bottom of this page.

Why is customer research crucial to your success?

What we’re talking about here is how to get a ton of insights and quotes straight from your customers and leads. You can use those insights to generate more leads and close more deals.

Nothing is going to cut through the noise of cold calls and cold emails and non-stop ads and distractions like a message crafted by you, based around actual insights into what your leads and customers really think and really want, in the words of your ideal customers and leads.

What you want is B2B customer research insights you can use to get leads and close deals.

Keys to successful B2B customer research

1. Segment your audience

CFOs will have different needs than VP Sales. Manufacturers will have different expectations than software developers. North American companies will have different regulations than European ones. When you’re digging for insights, segment your audience into groups that have something in common with one another from their point of view.

2. Questions are powerful

Ask a question, then be silent. This isn’t about showing them how much you know. It’s about finding out what you don’t know. Your credibility will help get them in the room, but this is not about convincing them of anything.

3. People want to hear from their peers

Your buyers are overwhelmed with content and distractions. Luckily, there is still one thing they want to hear about: their peers.

Ask yourself what would you prefer? A webinar where a vendor tells you about their products that claim to solve your problems? Or a chat with other VP Sales like you about the problem?

Your customers are the same.

4. Gather up and distribute the insights

Insights are useless if they’re not shared and used and tested. Get it done, get it documented, and get it out in the real world. Share it with marketing so they can create better content. Use it on your next call so you can fine tune it.

5. Build momentum

Once you have their attention, keep going. Use the insights you get to give more value to your leads and customers. Then ask them for more insights. It builds on itself.

The Buyer Roundtable approach to B2B customer research

Imagine hosting an Buyer Roundtable, an event carefully crafted to guide your customers and leads through a meaningful conversation about the problems they have and that your business addresses.

Here, peers engage in purposeful discussions about what matters to them. They share their successes and failures. They talk about what doing nothing has cost them. They share resources and lessons learned with each other.

You listen.

When the’ve re-discovered the value of solving these problems, they naturally turn to you for the solution.

With the insights you’ve gathered in the Buyer Roundtable, you are better positioned than ever to help them. Finally you have a B2B customer research method that is pragmatic and designed to drive sales and marketing success.

How does it work?

When you’re looking for sales strategies and tactics that put the customer at the heart of your activity, you owe it to yourself to find out more about this approach.

I’ll be happy to tell you how it’s worked at other companies so you can decide for yourself if it’s a good fit for you.

The entire Buyer Roundtable process takes about 6 weeks to promote the event and 1 hour to run it.

I do the work for you, and you get results, guaranteed.

That’s right, I guarantee results.

All for less than the cost of a typical webinar.

I’m always happy to tell you more.

FAQs about B2B Customer Research:

What is B2B customer research?

Customer research is the practice of understanding your customers’ needs, preferences and behaviours. If your customers are other businesses, this B2C-centric definition is recast in terms of the needs, preferences, and behaviours of not just the individual employees who you sell to and work with at your target market companies, but the way the companies themselves behave.

We always want to test what we do against what the customer really wants, needs, thinks, and feels. There are a lot of ways to develop the kinds of B2B customer insights that help us do more effective B2B marketing and B2B sales.

On the more formal end, we have things like focus groups where you can get a set of people who are representative of your target market and ask each of them a questions about your product or service, or about their needs and goals.

On the more casual and ad-hoc end, we can have hallway conversations with colleagues about things they may have overheard while working with customers.

They key thing is to make sure the work we do is informed by our customers’ reality, and to measure and test our understanding of this reality as often as possible.

What are the research methods for B2B?

You can see an outline for a B2B customer research program at this D&B article for which you may choose to hire a B2B market research company.

We advocate here for 2 quick ways to get a much deeper understanding of your customers so you can align your sales and marketing activities with them.

The first is the Buyer Roundtable, which we have described in detail here and throughout this site.

The second is to make it a habit to involve your sales and marketing teams in a conversation about what impact of your outreach.

In practice, this could look like the following example:
1. Run an Buyer Roundtable to learn about your customers’ buying process.
2. Speak to sales to determine what steps in that process deals get stuck.
3. Work with marketing to create tools to unblock those obstacles.
4. Train sales to use those tools in the field.
5. Gather insights from sales and from your customers about how well those tools are working so you can continue to improve them.

How do you research a B2B audience?

There are a lot of resources that can give you an overview of general B2B audience research.

We like to focus on immediate steps you can take to get insights on your B2B audience, as we outlined in the FAQ above, titled “What are the research methods for B2B?”

What are some forms of B2B Customer Research?

Some popular modes of B2B customer research include:
1. Surveys and Questionnaires: This is where your old friends like SurveyMonkey come into play. You can also run surveys during events like webinars and Buyer Roundtables.

2. Interviews: Pick up the phone and schedule one on one interviews with leads and customers. Don’t overlook lost leads who decided not to buy from you. You can get a lot of insights just by asking them to share their pros and cons with you.

If you think your customers might not be open with you for any reason hire an outside consultant to run some of the interviews. You might be surprised how much customers open up to outside consultants because they don’t have an ongoing relationship with them.

I run interviews like this and my clients are routinely amazed at the insights that even long-time customers share with me that they have never shared with them.

3. Focus groups: Get a group of target market representatives into a real or virtual room and ask them some questions. The difference between this and an Buyer Roundtable is that in a focus group, the attendees are answering your questions and talking to you.

In an Buyer Roundtable or any other peer conversation event, the goal is to get them to answer one another and talk with one another. Which I have found leads to much richer conversations.

4. Customer analytics: This is where you analyze data generated either from your own platform or from third party platforms like Google Analytics.

What is the importance of B2B customer research to sales and marketing?

1. You can better tailor your solutions

2. You can better target your marketing and sales efforts

3. You can improve the customer experience, and the lead experience. Sometimes the winner is the vendor who’s easiest to buy from. You might have the best product, but if buying from you is perceived as being difficult, that can cost you the deal.

4. You can improve your sales strategy. Oftentimes we think the customer or the lead is stuck for one reason, and later find it was something else entirely. If we, as B2B salespeople, are to get the support we need from teams like marketing and product management to remove the obstacles to sales, it’s obviously important to know what exactly those obstacles are, from our customers’ point of view.

How To Discover Your Customer’s B2B Buying Process

sales strategies, b2b buying process, people around a table

Your customer’s B2B buying process matters. If you know how your customers do business, you’ll be more successful selling to them.

That’s my assertion.  I have no infographics to back it up, and your experience may vary. 

But it makes sense. Better B2B customer research should lead to better sales and marketing results, right? It makes sense that if that customer research includes mapping out their B2B buying process it can pave the way to smoother sales, and it matches what I’ve seen happen at the companies I’ve worked with. 

How do people in your market segment want to buy what you’re selling?

Here’s a start:

  1. Take a day to clear your head of preconceptions about how you think your customers buy.
  2. Ask your best salespeople and your industry’s best salespeople how they guide customers toward a successful sale.
  3. Ask your customers and other people’s customers what needs to happen before your product can be purchased and successfully used at their company.
  4. Compare the first set of answers to the second.
  5. Test what you’ve learned.

How does this relate to the B2B buying process models you’ve read about?

It’s all in the details.

Take for example John Dewey’s 5 steps in the buyer’s purchase decision, first published in 1910 (we’ve been solving this problem for a while now).

  1. Problem/Need recognition
  2. Information search
  3. Evaluation of alternatives
  4. Purchase decision
  5. Post-purchase behavior

Here’s how to use this model to ruin your day:

  • Ask your biggest champion at a potential client how they buy.
  • Hear her say “Once you give me a firm quote on the price we’ve agreed on for the features we need, I just need to get a PO generated and we’re good to go.”
  • You seem to be in stage 4 of 5! Set the deal to 80% in salesforce and send her the quote.
  • Six months later the deal has gone nowhere.  Set it down to 5%.
  • Lose credibility with your boss and try to ignore the layoff rumours.

That’s one way that sales strategies done wrong do more harm than good.

What about more recent models of the B2B buying process?

The more recent models of the buying process won’t help you avoid this scenario either.  Some describe the B2B buying process as a linear path. Some describe it as a B2B buying journey. Some describe it as a B2B buying cycle. These are all decent models, but their job isn’t to point out the details that can ruin a sale. All models simplify a complex situation. In B2B sales, the details skimmed over by these models can make or break a deal. You need to figure out what the details of the B2B buying process are for each customer that you sell to.

(By the way, I’m not even 100% comfortable calling it a “B2B buying process”.  Calling it a “process” makes it sound like one step leads to the next.  In a lot of companies, it’s a lot messier than that.  Maybe we need to call it a buying checklist.  A list of requirements have to be met, but the order may vary.)

Here’s an example.  A colleague was telling me about a sale they lost.  They had a champion, the “users” wanted the solution, the CFO issued a PO, all they had to do was install it.  But the IT team wouldn’t install it because their leader felt slighted.  They hadn’t shown him the respect he felt he deserved early in the project.  So he delayed and delayed.  He always found more urgent things to occupy his team with.  End result: the customer lost interest.  The PO lapsed.  The deal was lost.

Most B2B buying process models don’t have a step called “Respect the IT team’s authority.”  But it’s this kind of thing that will sink your deals, or even worse, put them in limbo.

If you skimmed the rest, here’s the main thing:

“Ask your customers and other people’s customers what needs to happen before your product can be purchased and successfully used at their company.”

It’s the “successfully used at their company” part, enlightened by a cautious respect for company politics and human nature that could have saved my colleague’s deal.

If you’re in a B2B tech company, let us know how you’ve figured out how your customers want to buy, and what it’s taken to get your teams to use this knowledge in their product development, marketing, and sales work.

If you’d prefer to speak privately, I’d be happy to hear from you.

If you’d prefer to learn more on your own time, I highly recommend my Buyer Roundtable Essential Guide.

Sales Boost Power-ups for Lead Re-engagement

two dogs meeting on sidewalk, illustrating lead re-engagement

I’m not going to tell you what to do, but I’ll give you an example of what a B2B tech company I helped was facing, and how a focus on lead re-engagement helped them.

When I audited their marketing operations I saw a number of areas where there was a big disconnect between the marketing investment and the marketing outcome.

If you think of their marketing operations as a machine that you pour money into, then turn a crank, and business benefits come out the other side, the first part was definitely working.

They were making investments in all the right places.

The trouble is they weren’t turning the crank on lead re-engagement

They weren’t putting in the work to figure out what was working, what wasn’t, and what should be done about it. As far as marketing strategies or sales strategies go, you can tell this wasn’t going to work that well.

A lot of this came down to them trusting their agencies to connect the dots from investment to return. And the agencies were letting them down.

One area where there was no clear indication of what was and wasn’t working was in lead generation and lead re-engagement.

They had spent a lot of money and generated a lot of leads.

And that’s as far as the agencies had managed to connect the dots.

You wanted leads, you got leads, our job is done… Not quite.

I looked in their CRM and we found over 1000 high quality senior leads who fit their ideal customer profile (ICP).

These 1000 ICP leads had been in the database for about a year, and all of them had completely disengaged from my client for at least 6 months.

How’s this possible? How can 1000 real, qualified, targeted leads suddenly disengage from a company that they had previously been engaged with? I go into it in more detail at this link, but the summary is: leads binge, then disengage. It’s normal.

But what are you supposed to do about it?

Find a channel that they’re still tuned into and show up there.

What these channels have in common is that they are all very focused on the customer’s jobs, and they tend to have as little as possible to do with vendors.

For example, you’ve probably seen the “State of the Industry” reports that some vendors publish where they aggregate, anonymize, and summarize the data that they gather through their platform. These assets are lead re-engagement gold.

They get staged rollouts so investors and industry analysts see them first, then the customers, then high quality leads, and then finally the general lead generation and lead re-engagement programs use them to bring in more leads.

Why do they work? Because they’re about what the customer cares about: themselves and their peers. They are useful.

What they don’t have is a sales pitch. So customers lower their guard and tune in. They’re unaggressive. lead engagement is the goal.

Not selling. Lead re-engagement.

Of course once leads are re-engaged with the problem and with your solution, it paves the way for your sales team.

They’re useful and unaggressive

What’s a useful and unaggressive offering you can give your leads to re-engage them?

For my client, the answer was a series of Buyer Roundtables where their dis-engaged leads could speak with their peers about a problem that they had in common and that my client solved. They didn’t talk about my client. And my client didn’t say anything about their solution. That would have violated the unaggressive requirement.

The leads talked to each other about the approaches they’d tried to solve the problem.

One or more of them happened to be my client’s customers. I made sure to invite them first. We didn’t coach them in any way. They talked about how my client’s solution helped them solve the problem.

Typically, between 20% and 50% of the attendees enter further conversations with my client after an event like this. That’s exactly what happened here. This is what a lead re-engagement win looks like.

Maybe it can work for you.

Let me know if you want to chat:

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Converting Cold Leads into Sales Opportunities

icelandic stream and narrow path illustrating engaging with a cold leads

Cold leads are one thing. They don’t know you. You can’t take it personally when they don’t return your calls.

But what about the cold leads who used to be engaged, but have since gone cold?

That hurts.

They know you. They read your posts, they downloaded your pdfs, they attended your webinars, they opted into your newsletter!

Any now they just ignore you?

Well, it’s sad to say, but you know what?

Why warm leads become cold leads: It isn’t them. It’s you.

The way we consume vendor information has changed. We binge and ignore.

Think of how you act when you’re the buyer.

When we’re in binge mode, we download everything and scan it.

Once we get the feeling that we have a decent understanding of what the vendor can do for us, we disengage and ignore.


Vendors have trained us to behave this way

There’s just too much information. It costs too much in the way of time and mental energy to consume vendor information as it comes in.

DING! Here’s an email from a CRM vendor that might have some features that can help us.

DING! Here’s a call from a vendor who promises to lower our costs.

DING! Here’s an webinar invitation from vendor we don’t care about…but their guest speaker is Chris Voss!!!


It’s all day every day like this.

The only cure is to ignore it all until you need to figure out a vendor.

Then you binge everything they have. And as soon as you think you’ve got them figured out, you ignore them again.

It’s a wonder more of our contacts aren’t cold leads.

So it doesn’t really matter what your marketing team is saying, or what your call script is, or anything like that. Once you’re in the ignore pile, you tend to stay in the ignore pile.

The best you can hope for is:

  1. Stay somewhere in the periphery of their consciousness so they remember you when a need arises.
  2. Get your message into one of the channels that they’re not currently ignoring.

Once you get yourself back onto their attention span, then you can find ways to help them realize that they really do need your stuff right now.

But how do you get back in front of them when they’ve put you on their mental ignore list?

You show up where they’re paying attention.

One area that most of us keep paying attention to is our peers.

If I told you that I had a report showing what your 5 top competitors are doing, would you want to see it?

You probably would.

Let’s go one step further. What if I said I had a report showing what the top 3 sales people at your top 5 competitors were doing.

That’s a little more interesting, right?

Now let’s take it the whole way.

What if I invited you to have a friendly, moderated chat with those 15 top sales people who are as good as you are at what you do? A roundtable of your peers. Would you be interested in trading stories with them?

Maybe I lost you there. Sales people tend to be competitive. Maybe you’re concerned about sharing your secrets. But not everyone is as competitive and guarded as you might be.

This is what we mean when we talk about running an Buyer Roundtable. It warms up leads who’ve gone cold and it’s one of the most effective forms of B2B customer research you can run.

How do you do it?

You put 15 CFOs or CEOs or CISOs that fit your target buyer profile around a table.

Then you get the conversation started in just the right way and you’ll see how quickly they open up to one another and start sharing their experiences.

The warm leads who had turned into cold leads start to warm up again.

Figure out a way to steer the topic to problems your company solves, and you’re most of the way there.

Let me know if you need help doing this for your used-to-be-engaged-but-now-they’ve-gone-cold leads. Or if you prefer, you can learn the details of this method in this guide to Buyer Roundtables.

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See also: The Art of Cultivating Connections

Mastering Lead Nurturing and Follow-up for Lasting Relationships

seedling on a desk to illustrate lead nurturing

Your lead nurturing doesn’t work because you’re doing it right.

Just like everyone else.

You are tailoring content based on your leads’ goals and pains. So is everyone else.

You are targeting your ideal customer profile throughout their B2B buying process. So is everyone else.

You are following up in a timely and consistent way. So is everyone else.

And there are a lot of “everyone elses” out there.

You and everyone else are providing high value, highly targeted, timely and consistent lead nurturing and frankly, it’s a bit too much.

Your leads have gotten used to it.

They know that the good information you provide is there when they need it.

Once in a while they dip in, binge on it, then go away.

But why do they go away? Because consuming information is hard work, and we all avoid hard work if it’s not necessary.

Unless solving the problem you help with is necessary, your lead will stop engaging with your content the moment they feel that they have a good handle on what you do and how you do it.

They’ll file it away in the back of their mind in case they need it some day.

You’re left waiting for them to remember you when they finally need to take action.

And that’s uncomfortable. Just waiting. That’s not what you’re paid to do. That’s not who you are. You’re a person of action. Lead nurturing is part of You take charge.

You keep sending them more messages that are meant to convince them to do something (just like everyone else).

But they’ve already checked out. They’re not tuned into you anymore. So although you have some success in catching their attention and getting them to finally do something, it doesn’t work as often as you’d like it to.

Here’s a trick that might work for you:

Find out what they are still tuned into

Maybe it’s an industry publication.

Maybe it’s a semi-celebrity expert in their field.

Maybe it’s their peers.

Find out who they’re still tuned into and figure out how to get your message to your leads, through the people they still seek out and listen to.

That’s the most straightforward way I’ve found of getting cold leads to warm up again, to get some great customer research insights you can share with the rest of your team, and to get them re-engaged with the problems you solve.

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See also: Increase lead response rates

The #1 path to increasing lead response rates

exit sign illustrating falling lead response rates

You might forgive marketing people for forgetting this, but as a sales person you know that nothing happens until the lead starts talking to you.

Low lead response rates are your clearest indication that something’s wrong with your message or how you’re spreading it.

No amount of brand awareness or nurture or thought leadership means anything unless it gets a lead to say yes to a conversation with you.

There are two problems with this, and only the first one is normally talked about. We’re going to talk about both problems.

The first problem is about relevance and reach.

Does your marketing team have messaging that the leads find relevant?

And can they find ways to have that message reach the lead?

All the things we normally hear about personalization of content, creating urgency, storytelling, branding, advertising, all of it is really about relevance and reach.

Can we reach the right people with a relevant message?

But there’s a second type of response rate problem that is not talked about:

What happens when your message is relevant, and it reaches and even engages the lead, but then the lead disengages?

What do you do then?

Response rate averages can trick you

Your overall response rate might look fine but if you look at how your response rate changes over time you’ll see cohorts that go through a period where they show a huge response rate, followed by a complete drop off in their response rate.

I’m talking down to nothing.

0% response rate!

They just ignore you.

This specially hurts because the disengaged lead already knows about you. They already find your message relevant, or else they wouldn’t have engaged with you in the first place. Obviously you found a way to reach them too.

But now they’re no longer responding to anything you do.

They’re not reading your emails, downloading your pdfs, registering for your webinars…

What’s going on?

Let’s turn the table. Have you ever disengaged from a vendor even though you like what they do? Why?

Here’s an overlooked reason: It’s work.

It takes work to read a vendor’s emails, to download their pdfs, to attend their webinars, to think about their message, to remember their brand. It all takes work.

And we’re all so busy now that we don’t want extra work. Although we don’t think of this as our “response rate” going down, that’s how the vendor will see it.

But it’s not that we don’t value the vendor anymore. We’ll do the work if we think it will remove other work.

If it’s taking us an extra 10 hours a week to get a job done, and we think that could be done in 2 hours, then we will do the work of engage with the vendors who say they can make that happen. Even though we really don’t want to.

Chances are pretty good that a lot of your newly disengaged leads are in this boat. This is when you have to admit you have a lead engagement problem and get to work.

To get them to re-engage, you have to make the work worthwhile.

But here’s where we run into a circular problem.

They’re already checked out. And sending them more of the same messaging that engaged them in the first place isn’t going to get them to re-engage. They’ve already been there, done that.

If you can’t change the message, change the medium.

Find ways to get people they still engage with to give them the message.

For example, their peers. If you’re selling to CFOs, get other CFOs to deliver your message. If you’re selling to a given industry, get other people from that industry to deliver your message.

Chances are good that your leads haven’t disengaged from their peers.

How do you get this to happen? Lots of ways. The way that works really well for a lot of my clients is what I call the Buyer Roundtable.

Invite a group of peers to discuss a problem you solve, while you say nothing and take notes.

It works. It might even work for you.

See also: Lead re-engagement

Connect with me on LinkedIn

The Lead Engagement Strategy That Wins Lost Sales

person waving to own shadow to illustrate attempts at lead engagement

What’s your lead engagement approach for leads and customers who are overwhelmed by content?

There’s so much content noise out there every day, on LinkedIn, on blogs like this, on newsletters and podcasts and everywhere else, that it’s a chore just figuring out who to listen to.

People have gotten so good at writing clickbait titles that you can’t figure out if an article is any good until you’ve read, or at least skimmed, half of it.

Who’s got that kind of time?

Which means that more and more, your leads default to disengaged.

Disengaged is the default

To re-engage them, it’s not enough to say relevant, helpful things.

Because by default, they won’t even hear you.

Their internal self-defense-against-information-overload filters won’t even register most of what you’re saying.

It doesn’t matter how “personalized” your content is. It doesn’t matter how tailored it is for your target audience, it doesn’t matter if you’re “where they are” on social media.

Lead engagement remains out of reach..

At best they’ll stop scrolling long enough to get a vague sense of your headline, then keep scrolling.

More likely they’ll delete your emails and ignore your calls and maybe even block you on LinkedIn if you’re coming on even a little too strong.

The worst part of this is that these are often the same leads who were very engaged a few months ago. They’re the same leads who were qualified by marketing, who binged on your content. They attended your webinars. They even sat through a discovery call.

They represent an enormous amount of time and money and energy spent by you and your team.

Being able to get those leads engaged with you again represents not only a lot of potential revenue, but a lot more in-depth understanding of what your target market really needs. As long as they’re silent they’re not buying, and you’re not learning.

In lead engagement, it’s who says it that matters

No matter how relevant and valuable your message, it will reach fewer people if you say it. Because you’re a vendor and there are too many vendors saying too many things.

You might have solid B2B customer research. You might have solid sales strategies. You might have figured out their B2B buying process down to the tiniest nuance.

Their default is set to ignore.

But if the same words, the same messages, come from one of their peers, they pay attention.

(They’re a bit like teenagers that way.)

It’s not the message, it’s the medium. (Someone said that before, right?)

So how do you get their peers, people with the same title, from the same industry, going through the same problems, to deliver the message?

You do this by getting them into a conversation with one another.

And because the word “vendor” causes a Pavlovian dis-engagement response, what you need to do is distance yourself from that conversation. Sit quietly in the corner, listening intently, saying nothing.

When I run an Buyer Roundtable for my clients, I get the client to spend the first minute welcoming everyone, and the last minute thanking everyone. In between, they don’t say anything. I don’t say anything either. I just ask the right questions to get the attendees to forget we’re there and enter a deep discussion with one another.

There’s an art to lead engagement

And getting it right makes the difference between a good year and a great year.

See also: Here’s what one of the attendees at an Buyer Roundtable told me

Want to chat about lead engagement through buyer roundtables? Fill out the form here and I’ll get in touch, or call me at 647-479-5856.

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When SEO Breaks the Internet

I don’t do a lot of SEO work anymore. I refer the work to a competent agency my clients have said they’re happy with. (Ask me if you want an intro).

But I do look at websites through an SEO lens because it’s an undeniable part of the digital marketing mix.

And it’s obvious that SEO has broken the internet when a reputable website uses phrases like this one:

“If you’re looking for kitchen stores near me, then let us show you great kitchen accessories and equipment at our kitchen store in the Toronto area.”

The people at the site aren’t trying to be weird, but they probably feel like they have no choice.

They probably feel that they either stuff their copy with this kind of SEO-focused nonsense or see their competitors pull ahead of them.

And that’s a shame.

Because although it probably makes it easy for people to find their site, it makes it very hard for people to read their site.

Over the years I’ve always stuck with the principle that you should write for people, and let the search engine algorithms catch up with you.

It seems like they still have some catching up to do.

Anyway, if you want a referral to a good group of SEO people who can help you rank without this kind of thing let me know.

Or should I say if you’re looking for “SEO agency in my area” that provides the “Best SEO agency” service with “reasonably priced SEO services”, let me know. 😉

There is no pressure, only value.

I’ve hosted Executive Roundtables for years, and they consistently produce results.

The companies I work with are B2B tech companies that want to engage their senior executive prospects more deeply.

The problem is, their prospects have stopped responding to the automated emails, pdfs, surveys, and phone calls they receive from them.

To get past this problem, I organize a buyer roundtable and let prospects discuss a tough problem they’re trying to solve with each other.

I tell my client to say as little as possible.

While my client simply listens, I moderate the conversation so that the attendees can have open conversations.

Following the session, the attendees tell me they have a much better understanding of the problem and their peers’ solutions.

Almost always, my clients get sales meetings with the leads to discuss problems that the leads identified on their own.

There is no pressure, only value.

More problems are solved, more customers are signed. It’s amazing.

Call me if you want to try it out: 647-479-5856.

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