Want to improve your results? Mail to all the influencers in the customer company – from the CEO to the clerk who uses the product, if possible – to hit every level of influence. Be sure not to forget the financial and technology people who are also impacted by the decision to buy.
At a finer level of detail, publishers of leading trade publications can provide, for a fee, a list of every subscriber with a certain title or higher. The marketer can then append its own database with the new names from the publisher’s list. Or the publisher could provide a list of all subscribers who reported on the subscriber-qualification card that they recommend, influence or make final decisions on purchases in the marketer’s equipment category. Again, the marketer could use the data to expand and enhance its database.
Closer to home, the marketer can identify influencers by interviewing the sales force. The company’s salespeople know how the sales process works and what customer representatives play a role in the buying process. When interviewing the sales force, ask:
- Why do customers buy our products? Is it to solve business problems or technical problems?
- Does a technician drive the purchase, or is it the manager of a department?
- How high in the customer organization does buying authority rise, or how much budget authority is needed to approve the sale? Is it at the executive level or the manager level?
A combination of outside data with detailed information from your sales team is a sound strategy for identifying and targeting influencers.
M. H. “Mac” McIntosh is president of North Kingstown, RI-based B-to-B marketing consultancy Mac McIntosh.