Where Sales and Marketing Advice Can Go Seriously Wrong
Boss, we need to have a talk. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for months — okay, more like years — and I’ve had a hard time pinpointing what in the everlovin’ was going on.
I finally have it figured out.
So here we go. Most of the tactics being taught in the online business world are based on tactics that are designed to sell to other entrepreneurs. And while it may be easy to think we’re playing in the business-to-business (B2B) market, we’re not.
It’s time for a new category called Business-to-Entrepreneur (B2E)
I know this may seem like semantics, but please trust me when I tell you it’s not.
On the regular, I’m confronted with having to inform a well-intentioned business owner that the marketing and sales tactics they’re using are all kinds of wrong.
Let me give you an example. I recently was talking to someone who wanted to build an email funnel, and she was excited to get that process going so she could grow her business. She’d been convinced by a seriously sketchy marketer that email marketing was the best possible way for her to find new clients.
This “expert” claims she’s built her business to multiple six-figures thanks to generating client leads by email.
This is good, in theory, but an important nuance is missing in said marketer’s sales pitch: the fact that she sells to other online business owners and plays in the B2E market. For the boss I was talking to who sells to corporate B2B clients, this was the absolute wrong way for her to try to land new clients. Unfortunately, I had to break the news to her that her plan was seriously flawed.
In a nutshell, there’s a massive difference in the tactics you use to sell to a scrappy freelancer who wants to build their business and those for a director in a midsized corporation. Your scrappy freelancer, they’re ready to do your quiz and go through your funnel. They’re potentially going to buy from you. But your director doesn’t have time to scarf down three bites of their wilted lunch salad at their desk, let alone sign up for an email freebie or read any of the 10 emails you’re planning to send.
Don’t Waste Your Time or Damage Your Credibility
This critical distinction between the B2B and B2E markets is missing as we have an entire generation of marketers and sales “experts” in the online market who have zero lived experience in the corporate world.
Which, at a glance, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, what’s not to love about other bosses with the drive and moxie to start their own businesses?
The problem is rooted in the fact that there are people out there teaching tactics that work in the B2E market, but when you try to apply them to the B2B market, they simply don’t work. Worse yet, they waste your time and have the potential to damage your credibility.
Having spent the last 20 years working with B2B clients, from startups to big brand tech companies, I can tell you that these B2E tactics are a surefire way to get you laughed out of the building. My corporate clients aren’t hanging out on Instagram (in fact, several of them make fun of it constantly), and they’re definitely not signing up for a webinar or free course from a potential service provider.
I will fully admit there are always exceptions, and I’d be remiss not to acknowledge that. If you’re on speaking stages around the world, publishing on your subject matter expertise in trade publications, and seen as a true leader, you may be able to pull off these tactics. But for most of us mere mortals without rock star status in our industry, it’s never going to happen.
With Small Business Boss, I do play in the B2E market, and I see daily what’s working and what’s not working. (And just know, tactics are about to change in a big way in 2020.) As context, I’ve had a podcast for nearly six years, I blog regularly, I’m active on social media, I’ve hosted many groups on Facebook, and the list goes on and on.
Here’s the thing. None of these tactics I’ve used for Small Business Boss are ones I’ve used to attract clients for the agency. In fact, how we find and book clients for Scoop Studios is using pretty old school methods because that’s what works for our target audience. It’s about relationships — not building a massive social media following or email list.
Who Are You Selling to Anyway?
The bottom line: You need to know who exactly you’re selling to.
If you’re selling to entrepreneurs, the tactics are very different than the ones you’re going to use for true B2B clients.
Stop trying to attract new clients using tactics that don’t get you in front of B2B prospects. And definitely stop listening to people on how to close the deal who don’t write proposals or pitch corporate clients.
Instead, figure out how to get to the person who’s actually going to buy from you. That may mean adding a new strategy to the mix or getting out of your comfort zone. And it very well may require you to pick up new skills or try new things.
Having been on my own journey of diversifying how we find and book our clients for Scoop, let me tell you, it’s taken work, but it’s definitely been worth it.
Best of all, these tactics are a hell of a lot easier than anything we do for Small Business Boss. They’re faster, cheaper, and highly efficient.
As you think about your marketing and sales plans for the year to come, carefully consider who your client really is and then how you can show up and serve them in a way that works for them. Let your strategies and tactics fit the needs of your audience and not be driven by what’s being dispensed as the latest/best/hottest way to get your business booked out.