We've compared dating and marketing in some previous posts. Why do we keep coming back to it? Because it's a pretty accurate analogy for the B2B buying process.
Asking for a prospect's contact information is a lot like asking for a stranger's digits. There are ways to increase your chances of success, and there are ways to look like a creepy asshole who doesn't understand boundaries. Doing it inbound marketing-style will increase your chances exponentially.
Then, once you have their phone number, do you ask them to marry you right off the bat? Hell no. You get to know each other first, and decide if you're a good match. This is especially true for considered purchases, which make up the majority of B2B purchases (vs. impulse buys).
(Think about it like this: B2B considered purchases = serious relationships; B2C impulse purchases = one night stands. As a B2B company, you're looking for customers to commit for the long haul.)
So how do you do it? How do you get that golden egg, that phone number?
Hint: not like this.
Let's look at a few inbound marketing tips for gathering contact information.
Getting a Prospect's Phone Number
Many people aren't going to give up their phone number right off the bat. They're not invested. They're not committed. They have no reason to trust you. Not to mention the imminent risk of sales calls.
How do you make them feel comfortable enough to give you that "in"?
1. Make giving up their phone number worth the potential risk.
Yes, there are risks in handing over your contact info to strangers. Think about all the reasons you'd be hesitant to give out your phone number:
- Unwanted sales calls or texts
- Your number being lost or passed around
- Corporations using it for gathering personal data
- Fear of identity theft
Personally, when a website asks me for my phone number in exchange for something I want, I hesitate. Usually, I'll immediately leave without downloading anything. Sometimes, I'll put in a bogus phone number so I don't have to deal with unwanted calls. Unless...
- I really, really want the thing they're offering,
- They've explicitly indicated they won't call me immediately, OR
- I like and trust them as a company and don't mind if they have my number on file.
I'm sure your unless criteria are similar.
If you want to grab more phone numbers from your prospects, you have to meet at least one of these criteria. You have to offer something so valuable it's worth the risk of unwanted calls. You have to explicitly state you won't use their phone number for sales or data gathering purposes. OR, you have to make them love and trust your brand.
2. Take it slow; be patient.
Thanks to the Internet and shifts in buyer behavior, the customer is now in complete control of the buying process. That means they can choose a different vendor for any reason, or no reason at all. If you want to be the last vendor standing, you'll let them set the pace.
How do you do this? You might already be aware of the buyer's journey. The journey breaks the buying process into three distinct stages: awareness, consideration, and decision.
When your prospect converts on your website, they'll be interacting with an offer that falls into one of these three stages. For example, an industry research report may fall into the awareness stage, an eBook on the benefits of your product may be consideration stage, and a case study is decision stage.
Based on the offer your prospect downloads, you'll ask for different information in your form. Here's an example of a form:
This is a form to access a piece of content that can be either awareness and consideration stage. How does that work? It's based on the level of contact they want to have with us.
If they want to fill out the checklist themselves, they're indicating they don't want as much contact with us. So, we ask for less information (just name and email). If they want us to fill it out, they're indicating they want to have further contact. So, we ask for more information (name, email, and website). The further through the process, the more information you can ask for.
- Accessing an awareness stage offer should require less information - sometimes just an email address.
- Consideration stage content asks for a little more information. Name, email, and company name are appropriate - some offers are valuable enough to require their phone number.
- Decision stage content is definitely a good place to ask for their phone number. You can also ask for job role, company size, and other metrics if you need them.
It's important to understand where your prospect is in their process. If they're earlier in the awareness or consideration stage, it's probably not appropriate to ask for their number. If they're further along, they'll be expecting (or maybe seeking out) sales assistance.
3. Wingpeople are magical.
What's a wingman? A wingman has your back. A wingman sets you up for success. A wingman talks you up to anyone who will listen.
Let's talk about blind dates. For the uninitiated, a blind date is going out with someone you've never talked to before. In the world of sales and marketing, we call this a referral.
So your wingman knows you're single. And, miracle of miracles, they have this other friend who would be perfect for you. Wingman sets you up on a blind date with this mystery person. You trust Wingman not to set you up with a serial killer, so you go. You meet the new person. They're charming, funny, attractive. You like them, so you start dating.
Referrals work the same way. Third party recommendations are incredibly valuable for any business - B2B or B2C. When you know and trust the referrer, you're much more likely to trust the company or product. (Customers are 4x more likely to buy when referred by a friend.)
Having a few consistent referrers (or wingpeople) exponentially increases your chances to grab that all-important phone number. You also get to skip the awareness-consideration-decision confusion and lead nurturing, since a referral is already in the final stages of the buying process. So, getting their phone number is all but guaranteed.
Getting Phone Numbers the Inbound Way
Those are our main inbound-style tips for gathering phone numbers. If you're struggling, remember:
- Provide something valuable enough to overcome their hesitation.
- Be patient and pay attention to their indications of interest.
- Engage with people who could be your wingmen - peers, past customers, associates.
Above all, don't try to corner them into giving up their number. Pushy, desperate people rarely find success. And, similar to a dating pool, your prospects will talk amongst themselves. They'll talk about the great vendors they've worked with - and the ones who made them uncomfortable from the start.
Struggling to generate leads? Frustrated with your website's performance? Feel free to contact us OR check out the following resources: