Running your own business can be tough.
But one thing that’s even more complex is setting it up and getting the ball rolling.
Building your product or service, landing your first customer, and growing your business with all the hurdles that need to be overcome, is stressful.
Been there, done that.
That’s why I’d like to share some of the valuable experiences I had throughout my entrepreneurial years and suggest some solutions that worked for me and Autoklose.
Things won’t always be easy, I won’t lie. You’re going to have some major bumps in the road, but what you need to do is reframe the situation and see your obstacles as challenges.
That’s what I did and it’s been a wild ride ever since.
Here are some tips from my B2B handbook that will get you from zero to lead generation hero.
- Start With Invite-Only Access
- Don’t Hesitate to Follow Up
- Be Consistent and Persistent
- Find a Reason to Contact
- Nail Your Customer Support
- Level Up Your Customer Onboarding
Start With Invite-Only Access
“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people.” — Brene Brown
When I started working on Autoklose in early 2017, I knew it would take me and a handful of my engineers over a year to self-fund and ship a minimum viable product (MVP.)
I knew back then how important it was to start building the brand, visibility, and fanbase early on. A good thing is that I had (and still has) a solid network of sales professionals.
But it wasn’t until I started hustling and inviting people to join the group that I started building that necessary trunk from which everything branched out.
It was all about precise communication and psychology.
- A crisp and clear message;
- It’s about You not about Shawn!
- FOMO effect (Fear of missing out);
- Sparking conversations;
- and a clear CTA.
If you are launching a product/service, it’s best to first test it with a handful of clients rather than spend months in the stealth mode (hiding in beta – behind the scenes).
Don’t Hesitate to Follow Up
“Not following up with your prospects is the same as filling up your bathtub without first putting the stopper in the drain.” — Michelle Moore
This quote by Michelle Moore, bestselling author, and real estate consultant, perfectly describes one of the most common mistakes that salespeople usually make.
Oddly enough, most sales reps mention lead generation as one of their top challenges, and yet once they land their precious leads, they give in and give up after the first follow-up.
Yeah, nobody wants to be a nuisance, and all of us – sales reps and marketers – are still trying to get rid of that stigma of hard selling and a door-to-door approach. That’s why we’re too cautious and watch where we tread when we’re trying to attract our prospects.
No wonder that this way most of us decide to move on after a prospect doesn’t respond after just one or two attempts to reach them.
And that’s the worst mistake that potentially costs us a lot of money and wasted opportunities.
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that not following up is actually one of the biggest challenges in sales.
We’re not saying it’s going to be easy to change your current walking-on-eggs mentality, but, we’re going to navigate you through the process, give you useful tips, and real-life examples and templates that our sales reps use.
The fear of rejection is a powerful anti-motivator.
What if I cross the line and my prospect unsubscribes?
“No” is the scariest word in the English language and that feeling of dread at the idea of hearing it is what throws a spanner in the works.
But the thing is that most sales reps are so afraid of being denied and rejected to the extent that they simply ghost on their prospects before even giving them a chance to respond.
Our CMO Vedran Rasic moved to Toronto a few years ago and he was eager to prosper and grow. So, he decided to seek mentorship and a C-level exec seemed like an obvious choice. But, after the initial message in which Vedran expressed his interest in being mentored and explained his agenda, there was no response.
If you knew Vedran you would be aware that the phrase “I give up” can’t be found in his vocabulary, so he kept on following up reluctant to miss out on the opportunity to learn from such a seasoned expert.
It’s not that such an unpleasant scenario in which he was being pushy didn’t occur to him. He was simply ready to persist until he got an answer.
Eventually, the said C-level wrote back and apologized for a belated reply. His schedule was crazy and he literally couldn’t find a moment to consider Vedran’s offer.
But once he did, he immediately agreed, and later even said how impressed he had been by Vedran’s persistence.
Similarly, I had my mind set on closing an important deal with Rogers, things weren’t going smoothly. But, I’m not a quitter either, so I kept on following up until I landed my 15 minutes to introduce Autoklose and our DataUnlimited feature.
Needless to say, my persistence paid off and I landed not only a demo but a deal.
Be Consistent and Persistent
“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” — Colin Powell
Let’s get a couple of things straight:
- Only 2% of people are ready to convert during the initial contact, that is the first time you get in touch with them.
- People are too busy.
- It’s extremely hard to reach decision-makers and capture their attention.
- Sometimes people aren’t even aware that they need your product or service.
- It takes time to plan a budget and get everybody on the same page regarding investing in a certain product or service.
- There are numerous pressing matters to be addressed.
What this basically means is that you need to be patient and persistent.
Psychological factors play an important role when it comes to convincing your prospects to have a meeting with you, subscribe for your free trial, or make a purchase.
Ironically, a stat that has been circulating on the internet says only 20% of sales leads are followed up.
Ask yourself what the worst thing is that can happen if you decide to follow up and be persistent.
Or we can put it this way:
If you follow up, there’s a fifty-fifty chance to convert your prospect; however, if you give up then there’s a 100% chance that you’ll end up with a self-imposed “no.”
So, even if your prospect rejects you or unsubscribes eventually, you’ll be no worse off than if you give up after the first follow-up.
By following up you’re practically improving your chances of success by 50%, and that’s the best perspective on things.
Here’s what you can achieve with this approach.
#1. Build Awareness
Touching base is crucial for building the so-called “top of mind” awareness, which is why you need to find a good reason to reach out to your prospects and remind them of your company.
As for the frequency, it’s advisable to stick to the following schedule:
- 1st follow-up on day 3 after the initial contact;
- 2nd follow-up on day 7 after the initial contact;
- 3rd follow-up on day 14 after the initial contact;
- 4th follow-up on day 30 after the initial contact;
- 5th follow-up on day 60 after the initial contact.
After this cycle, you should follow up with your prospects once a month. That way you can be sure that you’ll be on their radar.
#2. Connect With Your Prospects on a More Profound Level
Every new follow is a new opportunity to establish a meaningful relationship with your prospects.
It’s also an excellent way to personalize your outreach additionally, and with Autoklose you can go well beyond those common first name-location-title personalization efforts.
As a matter of fact, you can create your own personalization tokens and personalize any element of your sales email message.
#3. Educate Your Prospects
This is particularly important in the B2B industry.
It’s no secret that products and services in this niche are complex and it takes time to understand how they operate and what benefits they can provide.
That’s one more reason to follow up and try to educate your prospects and help them understand that they need your product or service.
Besides, many people need a little encouragement when it comes to making a purchasing decision.
And your timely follow-up with social proof – reviews or testimonials from your happy customers – can be exactly the nudge that will get them to say yes.
#4. Gain a Competitive Edge
As we’ve said, only 20% of sales leads are followed up, which practically means that only 20% of sales reps use this effective strategy.
So, by following up, you’re outperforming your competitors because you’re doing something that they don’t do.
With every follow-up, you’re one step closer to converting your prospects into paying customers.
Find a Reason to Contact
Using the phrase ”Let me know how I can help you” is being lazy at best. — the Autoklose team
So, following up until you hear either yes or no is an absolute must, but there’s another obstacle to deal with.
Touching base just for the sake of it can be counterproductive which means that you need a reason to contact – an RTC.
It’s actually a fresh perspective on things or a new reason to call or email your prospects.
Sometimes it’s hard to catch up with a prospect because you don’t want to sound stale and repeat the same ol’ pitch all over again. Although this might be just your perception of things, the truth is that such an outlook gets to you and takes its toll on your confidence.
Needless to say, this lack of confidence is the worst-case scenario for any sales rep.
But with an RTC, you won’t have to be afraid that your prospects roll their eyes loudly when they receive your purposeless email.
Here’s what you can use as a proper reason to contact:
- The latest industry news which is relevant to your prospects. “I stumbled upon this information, and I thought that you would find it useful.” Now that’s a great icebreaker and an intro into a meaningful conversation.
- An upcoming industry event. “Have you already registered for this conference? It’s awesome and we can have a talk over a virtual coffee.”
- The latest upgrade of your product or feature. It’s a good idea to let your prospects know that there’s a new benefit they can enjoy if they opt for your offer. “Our product is even better than the last time I reached out – this new upgrade will help you…”
- New client success stories and testimonials. “I thought you’d like to know how XY, who is similar to you, prospered with our help. This can be you too.”
- Inbound marketing. “I noticed that you downloaded our industry report, and I thought that you could use a couple of more insights. Also, I’d like to explain how our product can help you overcome your challenges.”
So, an RTC provides you with an excellent opportunity to reach out and engage a seemingly stale prospect.
Nail Your Customer Support
All your efforts to generate high-quality leads and expand your customer base will be futile unless your customer support can live up to your customers’ expectations.
Many companies fail to deliver exceptional customer support without even realizing that this careless approach is costing them a lot of lost opportunities. And we’re talking about $62 billion annually which is how much U.S. companies lose due to poor customer service.
If we add the fact that nowadays almost every market is increasingly competitive, meaning that a number of companies are offering products and services the same as or at least similar to yours, it’s obvious that you need to find a way to distinguish yourself. In my opinion, it’s a big deal, and Autoklose has always been praised for its superb customer service, and our customers even rewarded us with a 9.4 score on G2.
And having kick-ass customer support can be a huge differentiating factor – 90% of Americans use it when making a decision whether to do business with a company or not.
So, instead of perceiving a needy or unhappy customer as a nuisance, think about them as an opportunity to expand your customer base.
Not only will you prevent churn, but you’ll also benefit from word of mouth as these people will tell others about their positive experiences with your company.
Here are a couple of first-hand tips for stellar customer support:
- Empathy and patience play a critical role. You’ve probably noticed that people have become increasingly impatient these days. At the same time, they have paid for your product or service and they want to start using it right away. So, if they encounter a problem, it’s crucial to listen to them and try to fix things as soon as possible. Some customers might even be annoyed (or annoying!) and unpleasant, but your support reps have to be polite and calm at all times. Similarly, some customers might be completely confused and lost, and it’s your reps’ responsibility to answer all their questions patiently.
- Knowledge and expertise matter big time. Make sure your support reps know everything about your product or service, its features and benefits, as well as pricing plans. Fill them in on the latest product updates and upgrades, so that they can provide all the relevant information and technical support to your customers.
- Leverage different channels for customer support. Apart from traditional channels such as the phone or email, tap into the power of social media. Many people use Twitter or Facebook to get in touch with brands and ask for more information about their products. Improving your response times can have a tremendous impact on the quality of your customer support.
Zero in on your customer support and allocate a portion of your budget to training your support reps. From our experience, this is a worthwhile investment that will bring you a lot of happy customers and referrals.
Level Up Your Customer Onboarding
It’s not enough to just acquire new customers – the trick is to keep them.
Once somebody purchases your product or service, you should try even harder to show them that they have made a great choice. And this means wowing them with your onboarding process.
Namely, if your new customers struggle to understand how your product or service works, and if your onboarding process isn’t seamless, they will churn and look for a user-friendly option.
It’s a good idea to personalize your onboarding and tailor it to different needs and experience levels of your customers.
Provide very clear and detailed instructions and ask your new customers to work on just one task at a time. It’s important to let your every customer progress at their own pace.
Finally, assign a dedicated support rep available to your new customers at all times, so that they know they can reach out to them if they get stuck using your product or service.
Show them that you care and that your ultimate goal wasn’t just to get them to make a purchase.
Expanding your customer base means exploring as many new outreach avenues as possible. However, it’s equally important to keep your existing customers happy as that’s how you’ll prevent them from abandoning your company and giving their money to your competitors. In addition to that, happy customers are a great source of new business opportunities.