Finding new B2B leads can be difficult, compared to how typical B2C marketing and media reaches consumers in their home. For B2B marketing, reaching business owners and decision maker can challenging and takes a special kind of effort to showcase products/services. That’s where networking comes in.
The B2B Challenge
A key obstacle facing B2B sales is the relationships that form between a sales rep and the decision makers on the client side. Whether it’s because of golf trips, lunch meetings or happy hour meet ups, getting a sales lead to leave their current vendor who spoils them like your nine-pound Yorkshire is a tall task.
Networking groups can be your introduction to a whole new group of business owners and decision makers. These people likely need the service you provide for their company or office, you could be their new trusted source. The following types of groups can help you do just that:
Referral Networking Groups
Networking groups such as Business Networking International (BNI) form chapters in different locations across the world, and each chapter only allows one member from a specific vertical. BNI is unique from many groups because they strongly encourage member to refer each other and actually keep track of member referral revenue so each person can evaluate the value of their time spent in meetings.
Gary Gardner, the owner of Clearview Window Cleaning and a member of BNI says, “In my industry commercial accounts such as office buildings and store fronts are what keep the lights on, they have us come once or twice a month and are pretty flexible. My group has really impacted this side of my business, most of the people in my group fit our target customer profile.”
Executive peer to peer coaching groups
Vistage International offers peer-to-peer coaching groups that group you with executives and CEO’s of companies around the same size as your own. While the primary objective of these groups are to help you solve business problems you face with people who have been in similar situations, a key side effect is brushing shoulders with business owners focused on growing there firms. When it’s time for them to choose a new vendor in your sector, their fellow group member will probably be the first person they think about.
Just like most engagement today, you can make business networking work for you without leaving the comfort of your own home. Most people regard LinkedIn as the go-to business networking online, and while LinkedIn is a very powerful business tool, it’s abused by spammy salespeople with the titles of “biz dev” and “growth hacker.”
Other online networking sites exist that are a bit more exclusive and not comprised strictly of guys with the title “VP of Sales.” Efactor.com, for example, is an online only networking site that delivers consistent business advice and networking opportunities focused around entrepreneur.
Attracting B2B Takes Different Tactics then B2C
Businesses make purchasing decision different than consumers; it can often be a long process and come down to the relationship and trust that the prospect has with you. Focus on developing relationships with the people who matter, even if they aren’t ready to buy now or are happy with their current service provider. Eventually, when their contract ends or their current vendor drops the ball, you want to be their first call.
Photo via Flickr user International Transport Forum
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