In B2B Direct Mail Lead Generation, Work Backwards

Alan Sharpe
 


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Business-to-business lead generation is one of the few times in life when you should start at the end and work backwards.

Before you write a single line of copy or design a single element of your direct mail package, sit down with the sales people who close the sales. Find out when and how they get prospects to sign on the line that is dotted, and work backwards from there to discover what you need to do to capture the attention of these prospects in the first place and get them into your sales funnel.

Here are some questions to ask the sales team:

  1. What makes a prospect buy? (Is it price? terms? guarantee? after-sales service? quality?)
  2. What customer objections will endanger a sale?
  3. How do salespeople overcome these objections?
  4. Do prospects need a lot of information before making a decision?
I am assuming that your clients’ B2B buying process (and your sales process) consists of more than a few steps. Usually, it looks something like this:

  • Identify need
  • Gather information on solutions
  • Establish specifications
  • Request proposals or quotations
  • Interview top suppliers
  • Make short list of suppliers
  • Check references
  • Test sample or demo product
  • Select supplier
  • Negotiate terms and price
  • Sign contract
  • Make first purchase
  • Evaluate performance
  • Make repeat purchases
  • Remain loyal to valued, long-term supplier
  • Drop supplier and start over again

Your goal with every direct mail lead generation mailing is to figure out where prospects are in their buying cycle and to target them there. The thing to remember in all of this is that your goal in a multi- step, complex buying process is not to close the sale but to move the prospect to the next stage. Here are some ideas:

If prospects are at the needs-identification stage, offer them a white paper or similar document that describes the customer problem that your product or service solves.

If prospects are gathering information on solutions, offer them a series of case studies or success stories that demonstrate why your solution is superior.

If your sale involves many stakeholders, consider mailing a different direct mail package to each person who influences the buying decision. In complex high- tech sales, for example, you can target the CIO (offer ROI benefits), the CFO (offer cost-cutting benefits) and the IT manager (offer scalability and ease of integration benefits).

In many B2B lead generation efforts, you will need to mail or contact leads more than once before you generate a response and have a chance to qualify them. That’s why starting at the end makes such good sense. You’ll know how many steps you need to take to reach the sale, and how many times you need to mail each prospect (and what to mail) to turn them into a customer.

About the author

Alan Sharpe is a business-to-business direct mail copywriter and lead generation specialist who helps business owners and marketing managers generate leads, close sales and retain customers using business-to-business direct mail marketing . Learn more about his creative direct mail writing services and sign up for free weekly tips like this at http://www.sharpecopy.com .

© 2005 Sharpe Copy Inc. You may reprint this article online and in print provided the links remain live and the content remains unaltered (including the “About the author" message).

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