I am writing these lines in full containment due to COVID19. And this confinement prevents us from prospecting the least new customer in the traditional way.

This crisis has an unexpected first side effect. For some time, we have been regularly contacted by companies which, until now, did not really see the advantages of organizing their commercial prospection via digital means.

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But things are changing.

Either because they have the time, or because their turnover is collapsing, or because telephone prospecting has its limits, many business leaders are looking for a way to keep their business going for and during beyond the crisis. So they remember their website, their social networks and start asking the right questions.

But their businesses, for the most part, are far from ready.

This article aims to help them structure the implementation of an efficient, therefore profitable digital commercial prospecting. I will not go into the technical details, but on this site you can find them so that you can implement them.

Sell ​​without human contact

Acquiring prospects via digital channels is a business practice that takes place essentially without direct human intervention with the prospect. At least not in the early stages of the buying journey.

Because of the absence of a human being at the initiation of the commercial relationship, virtual commercial prospecting is a demanding practice that cannot be improvised. It requires a number of prerequisites before it can be activated effectively.

1 – Know your commercial offers

To start, it is essential to know exactly what you are selling. As trivial as it sounds, as soon as you start asking specific questions about it, the answers are often elusive. Why such a commercial offer? What are the average baskets? What margins are there? What is the maximum allowable acquisition cost?

An inventory of commercial activity must therefore be undertaken, this will be the first step in the process of digitizing the strategy for acquiring new customers.

We will advantageously surround ourselves with its sales manager and its accountant for this first reflection.

2 – Know your customers and understand your market

Then, it will be necessary to look at the profile of its known customers and understand why they became customers. This is probably not by chance, and it is essential to understand the reason for their engagement to duplicate the process.

This good understanding of existing customers will make it possible to better understand the market and to adapt commercial offers accordingly. Above all, it will provide valuable information to reproduce the process that encouraged current customers to become one.

We are talking about buyer personas or customer profiles.

Identify the intentions of prospects

Beyond their only profile, the prospecting plan will also have to be interested in the needs of prospects, their intentions (we are talking about marketing intent).

We will have to answer the question: what do they really want? Why do they want it?

3 – Build a “standalone” pitch

When a user is alone in front of his screen, there is no salesperson boosted in sales techniques to convince him to trust a particular company. He is alone.

Digital resources will have to compensate for this loneliness by providing the right response to the prospect at the right time.

It will be necessary to build a progressive pitch, focused on the prospect and his intentions, rather than on the offer and the company.

With excellent knowledge of their purchasing journey, prospects will more often become real potential customers.

4 – Audit its digital presence

Thirdly, it will be necessary to carry out an inventory of the digital presence of the company. What about his website? From his social networks? From her available email lists?

At a time when 78% of B2B buyers say they begin their search for a new supplier through the website of possible candidates (source: THE BTOB PROCESS OF THE INTERNET, EUROPAGES, 2018), being present on the Web is not no longer a question of choice, but a question of survival!

Website

An audit of the company site is a first job that is important to carry out. At a time when AFNIC tells us that only 37% of French VSEs / SMEs sites are well positioned in Google (source: AFNIC, KEY FIGURES ON THE INTERNET PRESENCE OF VSEs / SMEs IN 2019), the obvious of this action is manifest.

The audit should focus on four important aspects:

  1. The technical quality of the site: hosting and computer code;
  2. The editorial quality of the site: is its content relevant? Quite bulky? Does it meet the intentions of prospects?
  3. The reputation of the site: is its “Confidence Index” sufficient in the eyes of Google? Is the site integrated into a relevant Internet network?
  4. Internet users: is site traffic correct? Is visitor behavior satisfactory? Does the site generate requests for quotes?

The redesign of the site may be essential. Especially if it does not properly meet Google’s technical requirements. To be sure: CHROME> F12> audit.

Many professionals of the Web will be able to help the companies at this stage, I strongly advise to entrust them this task which will be used as base for the future digital prospecting. It is imperative to avoid “Sunday DIYers” or “friends who know” still too numerous in our field.

At this stage, it will also be very wise to carry out a competitive analysis. Knowing what others are doing well is always valuable information, especially if you are trying to go beyond them!

Social media

In BTOB, the presence on social networks has also become essential. Before launching a digital strategy it is important to take stock of the presence of the company on each of these platforms.

Which networks are activated? Which ones are really useful for business? Who is in charge? How? ‘Or’ What ? Is it effective?

Email marketing

One shortcoming that we regularly encounter is the lack of regular email communication. Whether in the form of newsletters intended for customers or prospects, or in the form of cold-emailing intended for suspects, it is necessary to take stock of this strategy led (or not) by the company.

What lists are available? Are they up to date? How are shipments managed? At what frequencies? With what tools? What are the statistics?

5 – Identify, classify and choose opportunities

At this stage, an initial sorting can be made: what offers, for which prospects via which acquisition channels and with what budgets? This is the starting point for a successful commercial acquisition strategy.

The choice of channels to activate must not be “pifometric”, it must avoid “vanity metric” as much as possible! This choice must result from work on profitability, therefore focus on the return on investment which must be estimated a priori.

The result of this work will provide a truly objective strategic choice.

When this sorting is done, it will be necessary to launch operations with method.

6 – Implement the selected acquisition channels

During this work, it is the operational that counts. We put our hands in the grease!

Web

Depending on the economic studies carried out upstream, we will choose to activate natural or paid referencing. Knowing that the two are complementary and should often be activated together.

Natural reference

An editorial line must be defined which responds to the intentions of the targeted suspects. And an editorial calendar that will define the frequency of publication. We will answer the questions: who will write what, why, for whom, when and how?

It may also be necessary to set up a reasoned but effective netlinking policy.

Paid referencing

It will be useful to focus on hard-to-reach SEO queries. Here, we can, for example, build captivating landing pages intended to obtain the first information of prospects.

Even if Google Ads remains the king in this area, we will not neglect Bing Ads!

Social media

The first rule is simple: do only what you can do right. This means that dilution should be avoided on all networks without really working on them thoroughly.

It is more important to choose just one to focus on than to spread out over all of them.

We will carefully avoid misconceptions like “Facebook is not made for BTOB, it is better to be on LinkedIn”.

We will also choose the social networks to work according to the content available, in particular its form (texts, photos, videos, etc.).

Ideally, we will cross the analysis of customer profiles with the audiences that can be reached via networks and we will practice paid advertising tests.

Once the tests are done, we can choose the “right” network and devote ourselves to it seriously.

Managing a social network seriously is time consuming, know it. So you might as well choose it.

Email marketing

Although this channel is still the most profitable (if, if), it is often neglected or poorly managed by VSEs / SMEs.

The newsletter

This is the best way to stay in touch with people who have already shown an interest in the company. We are talking about loyalty.

Aimed at customers and prospects, this means of communication will promote information related to the company and its offers. It will be graphically attractive and will encourage clicks to pages on the site.

The newsletter will be sent regularly, not necessarily at a high frequency. This frequency will depend on the quality of the information that will be included.

It is better to send four newsletters per year with useful content rather than one per week which is useless!

Cold-emailing

In countries other than ours, this cold-emailing can be likened to SPAM. In England, the law authorizes the sending of unsolicited emails provided that the targets are professional and that they are of commercial interest for the sender and the recipient.

Unlike the newsletter, the message will be simple and direct, unadorned and with a call-to-action (a link that points to a page).

It will be sent five times to the same recipients with an interval of ten days, taking care to remove the openers from the previous shoot each time.

Targets will be segmented to send them the right message.

Marketing automation

Digital prospecting is fully effective when some of its steps are automated. This is what marketing automation platforms offer by following automatic follow-up flows in order to increase the points of contact with prospects.

We can then imagine different sequences depending on the interactions that said prospects have with your content, such as for example sending a message to those who click on such and such a link of a specific email during a cold-emailing campaign.

Advanced techniques

Browsing the web, you can see that there are different practices for acquiring new prospects.

Among these so-called advanced techniques, we find inbound-marketing, data-marketing, growth-marketing or, more operational, remarketing (or retargeting for some). Most of the time it’s prospecting techniques to find new customers even more effectively.

Some are grouped under Anglicism ” growth-hacking ” We speak, in French, of clever growth. This is often a smart, but nonetheless effective mix of the techniques described above.

But in this area, you have to be careful, because gurus grow like mushrooms on a rainy day. You just have to remember that digital marketing is nothing magical and that it absolutely does not require the presence of magicians to be implemented.

7 – Analyze and optimize the results

The first results collected will allow us to measure the effectiveness of the campaigns undertaken. It will be useful to make choices: continue as it is, optimize what can be or stop the machine.

Tracking

To analyze the actions implemented and assess their commercial efficiency, it is essential to set up measurement tools. We are talking about trackers.

The purpose of these surveys is to identify the behavior of Internet users, or even to identify them, in order to understand their reactions to the offers to which they are exposed.

They also make it possible to know the progress of a customer during his purchasing process. This information will make it easier to optimize the conversion rate.

ROI calculation

Knowing the return on investment of corporate acquisition actions is the basis of success! The ROI will therefore be continuously monitored in order to be optimized. No unprofitable action should be pursued. Let’s not forget that the raison d’être of digital marketing is to find customers and generate turnover!

Marketing-sales alignment

The implementation of a digital acquisition policy has a significant effect on the organization of the company. It is often experienced as a revolution, both technical and organizational, and not just by salespeople.

The implementation of digital commercial prospecting is part of the digital transition.

The tools (CRM) and the collaborators have to adapt to these new working methods and this is probably not the easiest aspect to manage for a business manager. But this is another story…