How selling your sofa could help with your B2B sales strategy

How selling your sofa could help with your B2B sales strategy

By Adam Benson, Outsource Director

My family recently moved house. We were packing up and trying to find a home for a few surplus items of furniture that won’t fit in the new place. As a result, I got the job of wrangling with eBay.

As I was trawling through my ‘selling’ list of larger, more costly items, it occurred to me that there are some good lessons to be learned when comparing this experience to lead generation for B2B companies.

So what can we learn from eBay about lead generation?

In the eBay model, I’m marketing so interested buyers will find me and hopefully like my product more compared to the others they’re looking at.

What I’m not doing is ringing everyone on eBay to see if they’d be interested in my furniture.
I’ve also listed the more expensive items to display for ten days before the on-line auction ends. That is, the item is searchable and being actively promoted for that entire period. On day one, there were no ‘watchers’ or people who were interested. By day nine, on some items (let’s say a leather lounge), there are more than 30 watchers – and the bids are coming in. I could list for a shorter period – say a day, but predictably the watcher list would be tiny and I’m unlikely to make a sale.

That relationship between the number of buyers who are interested in a high-involvement product or service and amount of time spent promoting it is what I’d call the marketing accumulation factor.

The longer something is marketed (provided you’re selling the right thing to the right market) the more likely you’ll find a buyer. It’s not staggering logic.

Now consider the bulk of the B2B lead generation campaigns that go to market. In many cases, they are a single campaign, delivered at a single point in time, to people who are yet to recognise they have a problem that needs to be addressed. The problem is kind of obvious, there’s no opportunity to build ‘watchers’ in the way that eBay does.

If they blink, your prospects miss the campaign. Or if they get a telemarketing call, and they weren’t watching you already, then it’s about the same as ringing everyone on eBay to see if they’d like to buy your furniture. Sure they may have the right attributes on paper, but if they’re looking at fish tanks right at that point in time, your leather lounge isn’t going to get a look in. Just because they’re on eBay doesn’t make them qualified right?

The pipeline builder approach

Clearly, it’s better to be in continuous contact with prospects and give them multiple opportunities over time to interact with you. Provided you communicate the right things in the right way they will want to come to you when they have a problem that needs fixing.

That’s what I’d call a pipeline builder approach to lead generation – and it’s about as far away from cold calling telemarketing as you can get – and much more successful for selling high-involvement, complex products and services.

Like eBay, we need to build ‘watchers’ over time who, until they resolve for themselves that they need to start engaging with you, are kept interested. Some may never buy, but without a good size number of people who are at least getting to know you and what you have to say about their problems, there’s very little chance you’re going to build a steadily increasing sales pipeline.

So, think about the buyer-driven eBay model, aim to keep your offers in the market so you can build your watch lists and sales will increase.

If you’re interested in knowing more about developing prospects over time, click here to find out about Outsource’s lead-nurture-as-a-service program.