Don’t neglect previous clients in lead nurturing efforts

If you use an integrated marketing platform to manage  lead nurturing and the sales cycle, it can be tempting to focus solely on new customers. However, previous clients may be your most valuable target audience. Although customer retention receives a great deal of attention in the business-to-consumer world, it’s just as important for B2B. Winning the initial sale is only the first step in an ongoing business relationship. B2B marketers need to think about the big picture and re-engage previous customers.

The B2B sales cycle is a complex, lengthy process and it can make marketers and sales representatives feel like they are running a marathon, according to an article for Dynamic Web written by Michael Sarrow. Closing sales requires a coordinated effort and a lot of endurance. Because of all the work that goes into acquiring new customers, it doesn’t make sense to throw it away after the sale. Depending on your product offering, clients may need to purchase updates or completely upgrade within a few years. Your sales team will have already built a strong foundation with these returning prospects, which reduces the required amount of relationship-building efforts. It’s increasingly important to customers to feel like they still matter after the sale. Businesses that prioritize this can win more revenue over time.

In addition to customer satisfaction, directing marketing efforts on previous clients is important because many B2B firms cater to a niche market. This means there are only so many relevant prospects they can attract. The dollar total for each account is higher than in other industries, but there are fewer potential customers, Sarrow wrote. If customers have a positive experience with your brand, they are more likely to view you favorably when they need to upgrade.

How to market to existing customers

Marketing efforts are often viewed exclusively as a client acquisition tool, but it’s essential to stay in touch with customers who have already purchased. When your company utilizes an integrated marketing environment, you have better visibility into customer behaviors. For example, you can monitor how previous clients interact with your website through behaviors like browsing product pages. Your sales team can then target them with relevant content based on their interests.

However, lead nurturing initiatives can fall somewhat short if marketers default to email. While this channel is an excellent way to stay in touch with customers, marketers need to take their efforts a step further to ensure they are connecting with prospects in the most appropriate way possible. Depending on your product, customers may need ongoing support from your company during the implementation process.

While content is often seen as a way to build the relationship before the initial sale, it can serve other purposes after the deal is closed, Rebecca Lieb wrote for Marketing Land. Content has an overlooked function as a customer service tool. Because many B2B offerings are highly complex, clients may need assistance with the offering after the implementation period has ended. Rather than providing a call center option – which can be costly for many businesses – a robust resources section that includes a frequently asked questions page can decrease the number of calls your sales representatives need to field. The B2B customer journey has also become a lot more independent with the Internet. Leads do most of their research online, without guidance from sales reps. In a similar fashion, they may prefer to seek they answers they need when they encounter a problem after the purchase. Providing these resources for clients can improve long-term customer satisfaction.

Retention is crucial

Acquiring customers takes longer than selling to existing ones, but it also costs more. In addition, returning customers who have already had a positive experience with your brand are more likely to make a larger purchase. The likelihood of a customer returning to your business for an additional purchase increases every time they buy, Sarrow stated. Citing data from SumAll, he said that customers who buy once have a 27 percent of chance of returning, but this figure triples after a client purchases four times. Some companies may collect up to 40 percent of their revenue from existing customers.

Making a good impression the first time is even more important when you consider that most buyers only look at a small number of vendors before making comparisons and purchasing. When you are already working with a very small target audience, this makes it more difficult to win new business. Building a strong relationship and exceeding expectations after the sale is a great way to ensure continued business from clients. In addition, returning customers can be a great source of referrals for new business. Your sales team may need to work as hard to convince prospects to buy when they have a reputable recommendation from a colleague in the industry.

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