B-to-B lead nurturing is critical to the sales cycle

The goals of a b-to-b PR program can span a wide spectrum, from brand awareness and brand-building to reputation and crisis management.

The goals of a b-to-b PR program can span a wide spectrum, from brand awareness and brand-building to reputation and crisis management.

But let's not kid ourselves, b-to-b companies primarily invest in PR as a sales tool, and a specific one at that. The b-to-b sales cycle is a long process, so the challenge is not only to attract but also maintain the attention of the people that would make good customers.

PR in this space is all about lead nurturing. So what's the best approach? Consistent, credible, and on-point communication is one of the best ways to nurture leads and help shorten the time between initial conversation and conversion to sale.

Establish and maintain a strong search profile. We all verify information gathered in meetings by searching online. What shows up when someone searches for a word or phrase related to your industry, product, or service? What are the various results of a search for your company name?

One of the strongest ways to nurture leads throughout the sales cycle is to demonstrate relevance in online search queries. A search profile is the body of content that results from a search in which you'd like to be present. This picture should reinforce the messages on the website, and what salespeople communicate in meetings.

Search results change frequently so you've got to keep feeding the beast. So what is it hungry for? Engaging storytelling in various media, ranging from articles placed in online publications, blog posts by company experts, video testimonials from satisfied customers (these have been particularly effective for our clients), or any other credible content posted or hosted by a third party. If a prospect comes upon something that verifies a claim made by the company, it can have a significant impact on decision-making.

Close the loop between marketing and sales. Good content should be repurposed for different audiences and markets, extending its value and providing an easy tool for busy salespeople to stay engaged with customers and prospects throughout the sales cycle. This effort connects the dots between what prospects see in their online searches, read in the trades, and learn in one-on-one meetings.

At the end of the day, clients hire us to shorten the typically lengthy B-to-B sales cycle by engaging decision makers with multi-platform value-based messages.

Amy Epstein is MD of the Americas for ABI.

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