Hey, I’ve got a great new business idea! Let’s take our least experienced, lowest paid, least trained, and barely empowered employees and make them our customer-facing B2B prospecting personnel!

Or…since about 75% of the B2B consideration process takes place without our direct involvement, let’s call prospects to “just check in” and see if they’re ready to engage!”

I would like my competitors to employ both strategies, please.

What’s in It for Me?

Of course, both strategies are pretty mainstream and sound pretty lame stream when you shine a light. It’s just that some businesses have lost their way. Somewhere along the line, they lost the core meaning of the terms value and benefit because they were looking in the wrong place. The answer is not in their heads, on the hard drive, or in a Google search. These terms can only be defined by our prospect.

Every prospect wants an answer to the question, what’s in it for me? We’re advocating a deep dive into “me” so we can learn how to answer the question. We’re advocating an in-depth conversation with complex individuals who have both personal and business goals, and specific responsibilities to the buying center. How does this person define value? What benefits would help them to address an issue? Prospects aren’t going to tweet this. We’re going to have to dig it out of them.

Three Ways to Find “Me” in B2B Prospecting

Here are three strategies that can improve every aspect of your prospecting by finding out more about “me:”

1. Prospect Persona Research

Really, there is no better way to find out what a person wants then by asking them directly, by engaging them in purposeful conversation.

B2B prospecting persona research is a specialized and proven qualitative process that helps us understand how an organization makes a decision and who is involved. It concentrates on gaining a human understanding of these individuals―the “me’s”―what they need and how they learn. It’s as an exploration into the life of a person who must solve a problem that your product is designed to address.

There are two things that we always look for in this research:

  • What is the prospect-to-product connection? We must learn how we can express and demonstrate our compelling competitive differentiation so that our prospect can hear us. We need to create preference.
  • Who is our potential champion? The decision making process is long and complex and most often results in no decision. Among the players, is there someone who has the potential to champion our cause, helping others to embrace the prospect-to-product connection?

2. Win/Loss Reporting

We live and die by the close ratio, so let’s infuse some in-depth understanding of the outcome. The only way to do that is to talk to wins, losses, and no decisions through the same qualitative research process. We want to know, overall and by persona (as possible):

  • Why did we win?
  • Why did we lose?
  • Why was there no decision?

Throughout our B2B prospecting, we are looking to sharpen the articulation of the nuance, to polish the key insight and to refine our process, especially among high-value prospects, which will come back to us in the close ratio.

3. Customer Satisfaction as Measured by Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Although significantly more money is spent of prospecting, customer retention is where the long-term money comes from. By better understanding where we are successfully satisfying customers and where we are falling short, we can influence both prospecting and customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction, in turn, leverages customer lifetime value.

A usual Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey bluntly asks customers if they would refer us to a friend or colleague. Customers are asked to respond numerically, where 0 is awful and 10 is divine. Boom.

The NPS survey we would recommend would build on this to gain the overall score and then within specific areas such as sales, products, and support. We would then employ qualitative research and dig deeply to understand “what do you mean by that?”

But It’s Expensive

Many companies we’ve spoken to feel that their B2B prospecting is underperforming and lament the long sales cycle bereft of direct engagement. The tendency is to invest in end products, like content, without the rigor of the underlying research. Well, prospecting is underperforming so marketing isn’t doing its job and we’re not getting the results we need, and research is expensive. Besides, we already know.

I think, unless things have changed, that convincing a prospect to become a customer is where the money trail starts. The better we understand the prospect…