From The Editor | September 22, 2020

Thinking Beyond Net-New Leads: Part 2

Abby Sorensen July 2017 Headshot

By Abby Sorensen, Editor


In part one of this discussion on net-new leads, marketers learned how to combat the sales objection of “We’re already working that prospect account. We only want net-new leads.” In part two, we’ll explain how marketing intelligence about active customers can be just as important as net-new leads.

It’s time for B2B marketers to tackle the “We already do business with that company” objection.

First, let’s review why the definition of “net-new” can back marketers into a corner. A lead can only enter your funnel for the first time once. Marketing can only get credit for generating a net-new lead once. This one-time net-new metric overlooks the fact that a lead can be a great sales opportunity many times over when:

  • You uncover new information such as a new hire potentially involved in a buying group
  • A contact’s content consumption habits change, possibly indicating a new buyer’s journey
  • Market intelligence such as a new round of funding or an acquisition signals a readiness to buy

Engagement from a company that is already an active customer shouldn’t be dismissed by the sales team just because it isn’t a “new” lead.

Buyer’s Journeys Are Never Complete

Current clients will surely come calling when a new opportunity arises because of a sales rep’s “good relationship” with them, right?

That might be true (sometimes). But even so, that same client who calls you to bid on a new deal is also busy getting bids from other suppliers. You may have the upper hand in setting the vendor criteria as the incumbent supplier, but don’t be naïve by thinking they aren’t shopping around.

Your clients are reading competitor content. They are talking to their peers – your competitors’ customers. This is happening regardless of how happy your clients are with your product/service and regardless of how confident your sales rep is that the client will stay.

Your buyers are constantly exploring options, setting vendor criteria, and examining alternatives. The same buying group you won over will go back to the drawing board for their next purchase.

You’re Never As Sticky As Your Sales Reps Think

It’s in every good sales rep’s nature to be confident. And that confidence leads some sales reps to assume they know everything happening with every client. But things happen during a buyer’s journey that you can’t control, such as:

  • A key stakeholder leaves the client’s company.
  • A new stakeholder joins the client’s buying group.
  • Your client is acquired or acquires another company.
  • Your sales rep leaves and goes to work for a competitor.

If your marketing strategy is too focused on generating net-new leads, you’ll never be fully prepared to face these inevitable challenges in the buyer’s journey.

Customer Buying Groups Are Complex

If a sales rep dismisses a lead because that account is already a customer, it’s up to marketing to investigate who, exactly, that sales rep has been talking to at that company. And it’s then up to marketing to continue to nurture all contacts from that existing customer. Because chances are, sales reps aren’t talking to enough people.

Gartner says, “Why do we think more and more customer stakeholders are involved in these decisions? It’s not for fun, or because they have nothing else to do.” If there are an average of 6.8 people involved in a B2B purchase, how many of them have your sales reps talked to in the past 30, 60, 90 days? How many have detailed notes logged in your CRM? And how many are even in your CRM in the first place?

Remember, those 6.8 people are per purchase, not per company. A single client can have multiple purchase committees in various stages of multiple buyer’s journeys. Some people at that client might know who you are, but that doesn’t mean they know everything you do. Let’s say a sales rep has a “great relationship” with a few people at an existing account. That doesn’t mean the rep is guaranteed to get an introduction to other buying groups at that existing account.

For example, you might offer product/service A and B. Your customer only buys A from you. When that customer starts a buyer’s journey for product/service B, what will you have done to ensure that you are one of the suppliers being considered? How do you even know your customer is aware that you offer B? Why would the buying group for B talk to a sales rep they don’t have any relationship with?

Marketers need to constantly remind sales reps that they can always learn more about an existing customer.

Suppliers Need To Re-Earn Buyers’ Trust

There’s a reason nearly 60 percent of the buyer’s journey happens before your sales team hears directly from a buyer. There’s a reason 49 percent of tech buying committee members never talk to a vendor while making a purchase decision (according to this report). There’s a reason a pharma company will work with 10 different CMOs for each of the 10 drugs in their pipeline.

Like it or not, your buyers are not wired to trust suppliers. They’re wired to focus on what’s best for them and their business, not to stay loyal to you just for the sake of it.

What’s best for your buyers might be to work with multiple best of breed vendors instead of one that offers a complete suite of products/services. What’s best for your buyers might be to change suppliers in order to control costs. What’s best for your buyers might be to spread out the costs of products/services so they don’t risk too much of their budget with one supplier. And because of this, your marketing efforts need to continually uncover new information about current customers.