This article is based on my experience in B2B Marketing and is written from the perspective of B2B Sales Challenges at a digital marketing agency. It includes some of my commentary specific to the business situation that I faced. It can be a useful reading for those who are selling in B2B or running their business in a B2B Market. I have tried to delete the timing and some specific details of the conversation for the sake of confidentiality & privacy.
A Prospect sent me a text me on LinkedIn. The profile described them as a founder of a company selling ABCDEFGH equipment.
Here is how it goes and instead of their real name I am using Prospect ABC for the person and also a plural pronoun to hide their gender:
Hello! What is your price list for your digital marketing services?
I need more information.
(That’s it. Just asked straight a question about price. What does this mean? Had they been talking to other vendors already?)
Hello Prospect ABC
Just saw your message. I will talk to you soon. Please, share some basic details about your project. Thanks.
(But no response…)
Prospect ABC, what services are you looking for? The list includes SEO, online advertising(PPC/AdWords) and video marketing etc. Do you have a website for your business? Plz, share the link & office contact #. Alternatively, You can please give me a call at 015…. .
I am looking to choose the best marketing strategy for my ……………….
(and they gave all the details of what they needed which ,in short, was to know a quotation for each digital marketing service I offer and how it could help them. On the other hand, they ignored my request regarding office contact as I wanted to take them on a call.)Prospect ABC 0
Giving an indication that they know that there is a trial test as well which cost initially to run an ad campaign and further mentioned:
” I think that SEO optimization, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube videos will be great to reach my goals.”Me:
Okay. Thanks. Your website plz? (I insisted)Me:
How much budget can you spare for SEO, Instagram, Facebook & YouTube approximately? (pushed the right question without further wasting my energy which I have done many times before 🙂
(No response for few days)Me:
Would you like to sign up for my consultancy service ? …….. If you still need my services after that, I can provide you with full digital marketing services. Please, let me know when you are ready. (Tried to explain to them that I would like to get paid if details are to be shared)
Hello Prospect ABC
I did not hear from you. Would you be interested in hiring my consultancy services? I would appreciate if you provide me with a referral from your professional network who would like to discuss my services.
I will get back to you after going through your proposal. (that’s it and it has been over 2 weeks since I spoke to them. There is still no contact or reply). The proposal was about a telephonic consultancy that I suggested to offer.
They actually wanted to get information for free. It is also possible that the prospect wanted to have all the information but then wanted to give away the project to someone else.
Let me share more details of the prospect’s intention.
The red flags in B2B sales in this case:
I have identified several B2B Marketing and Sales issues in this brief interaction with the client. Only some of them I would like to briefly discuss and the rest I would like to include later.
To start with, the Prospect didn’t have a website and did not share their phone# and also did not disclose the overall budget?
What does this mean? Why would someone behave like this? At least, one can share the office #?
The best answer to these questions, in my opinion, is that the prospect was looking for free consultancy and probably was shopping for ideas for two reasons.
First, they were just getting the feel of the market and were in no rush. Second, the prospect was new to digital marketing and wanted to know to understand the basics.
It might mean that the prospect was not even an executive or might have been trying to gather information to apply and grow in their career. It is also possible to learn new ideas and then impress their boss who doesn’t know about digital marketing.
In my experience, some people who are new, let’s say to digital marketing, would happily waste your times and take all the free advice and consultancy from you. But when it comes to awarding the contract, they prefer to give it to someone they trust which normally means unconscious or conscious bias/racism and stereotypes are at play.
This is the classic issue of implicit bias. I suggest you research implicit bias and you would save yourself from a lot of troubles or at least you would be better equipped mentally to deal with it.
Further, it is mostly a lie when a prospect says that they don’t know how much budget they should allocate. They mostly know very well how much they can afford to spend. It is a negotiation tactic to get your price list.
Let’s say they really don’t know about digital marketing or marketing as a whole. Go ahead give them five minutes brief and they should be able to give a rough estimate of their budget allocation. If they still are refusing to give you an idea of their budget then they are playing with you and mostly this would be the case.
There could be many reasons why this Prospect behaved in a certain way and but this one via LinkedIn was clearly not serious.
Due to the spam issue, I keep comments disabled. I will update and proofread this and probably add more ideas from my notes.