Lead generationWith the advent of the internet, lead generation has become the single biggest challenge in the Marketing of Facilities Management.  This post is part two of a two-part series covering the marketing of Facilities Management. If you have not read the first post, I recommend that you go back and read The 3 Biggest Challenges in Marketing Facilities Management which will set the scene for the content that follows.

If you read to the bottom of this post you will see an offer to download an accompanying slide deck for these two posts entitled 5 Best Practices of Lead Generation for Facilities Managers.

In the first post we looked at the three most significant challenges in marketing Facilities Management;

  1. Buyers find sellers, not vice versa
  2. People only buy from people they trust
  3. Interruptive marketing doesn’t work

In this post, we will go into depth on five best practices in how we engage with prospective Facilities Management Customers and consequently generate better quality leads that lead to more sales. The content is based on research done by the Building Services Group in the UK.

So how do we do that?

1. Build an ‘Independent’ lead generation engine

The ubiquitous availability of information and resultant education of our potential Customers in the intricacies of FM has meant that the traditional lead generation role of marketing more often than not falls onto the sales team. However, the sheer volume of leads required to generate the necessary sales would need an army of salespeople which is both expensive and unsustainable. Salespeople should not be out there drumming up leads, that is the role of marketing. The role of sales should be to focus on more value-adding and relationship building activity when the Customers are ready to engage. So if marketing cant drum up the leads and sales are not going to do it, how does it happen?

In the post The 3 Biggest Challenges in Marketing Facilities Management I highlighted that the advent of Google has meant that our potential Customers want to engage with our brand anonymously in the early stages of their search for the right provider. This means our online presence is key to attracting engaging and retaining the Customer interest in the initial phases.

From a marketing perspective, this interaction is gold dust. We cannot pass up the opportunity that this engagement affords us regarding who is interacting with our online presence, what they are looking at and what interests them.

Contrary to what might appear to be Orwellian type tactics of spying on our potential customers, we need to deploy a lead generation engine which takes our Customers on a journey without an intrusive amount of human intervention. The principal objective of this Customer journey is to build trust over an extended period by asking and answering questions in a transparent and unpressurised manner.

The principal objective of this Customer journey is to build trust 
over an extended period by asking and answering questions 
in a transparent and unpressurised manner. Click To Tweet

2. Understand our Customers and their needs through the buying cycle

The BSG study indicated that the majority (59%) of respondents say that they began their procurement process either because their current contract was expiring or because they felt that the current supplier was delivering poor value for money. This should be a shot across the bow to all incumbent service providers, unknown to us; our existing Customers are often engaging with our competitors long before the end of our contract. Moreover, this is often happening before we are even aware of any dissatisfaction with our service. In an earlier post on Workplacefundi The 3 Common Causes for Contract Losses I reported that Random Elements report suggests that ”72% of Lost Clients said that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their service but they still defected”

From a competitors perspective, we need to understand our Customers point in their buying journey. The relationship with the Customer needs to be sustained over what can be an extended period. Typically this journey may be as long as 24 months or more. This is not easily done and requires passive persistence. One is aiming to achieve elevation to the vaulted status of what David Maister referred to as the ‘Trusted Advisor.’

This journey should start with an essential Awareness of Facilities Management and of our organisation together with what are the challenges within the Customer environment. It is about providing information that allows the Customer to understand their issues without necessarily offering or trying to sell them a solution.

From Awareness, we want to move to Consideration where the Customer is deepening their search for potential suppliers and exploring needs and solutions. This may well culminate in the Customers assessing all viable suppliers and deciding to test the market.

This ends up in the Decision stage leading to understanding the fit with potential partners and ultimately contracting with the preferred Supplier.

3. Developing invaluable content that meets Customers needs

With Customers preferring to research online before engaging with suppliers we need to ensure that our website, blogs and social media presence provides both the content and customer experience that move customers along their respective journeys from the onboarding to hopefully becoming a brand advocate of our organisation.

Essentially there are two elements to Customer eXperience (CX) — Empathy and Curiosity. We must be interested enough to understand a Customer’s pains, motivators, needs and wants, but be curious enough to come up with ways to help them meet those expectations in order to achieve success.

It all comes down to meeting the customer needs. The first steps in any interaction are

1. Awareness

Our job is to help the prospect through the buying process by providing value and relevance and timely content that is both educational and informative to help prospective Customers understand their problems and the potential ramifications of those issues on their business. The focus must be on helping them and providing additional information on the topic and the solution, without talking about how we can solve their problems for them.

Typically this content will be things like free white papers, e-book’s guides checklists and videos

2. Consideration

This is increasingly about engaging in a conversation and exploring their needs through alternative solutions. The stage is much more interactive and typically may include things like webinars, FAQ sheets and potentially service specifications, service level agreements and case studies.

3. Decision

The decision process is about advising and nurturing Customers to help them with their buying decision and providing information to reassure them.
Typically this would involve things like Customer testimonials, including potential cost-saving indicators and returns on investment.

4. Leverage the content to generate leads

The inbound nature of content marketing means that there is potentially valuable intelligence available to the sales team. The monitoring of our Customers and how they interact with our website means that we know who is visiting our site where they are going, what pages they viewed how long they have remained on those pages thereby indicating how interested they may be in that topic.

If the website is set up correctly, we can encourage engagement with the ability to add comments to Blogs and News items on the site. Also, participation on social media can provide valuable insight into where the customer is on their buying journey and what is of interest to them.

All of this can occur before the first face-to-face engagement providing Customers with valuable information to engage in a face to face interaction which is very focused on their needs and objectives. Armed with this pre-knowledge ensures that the initial sales conversation becomes a continuation of the process, not the beginning. This, in turn, leads to better quality discussions and better relationship and a two-way relational conversation, not a sales pitch.

By only engaging this far down the customer journey means that we can ensure that we are making the very best use of our limited salespeople and that the Customer has qualified themselves as a quality prospective lead.

5. Measure and optimise results

The empowerment of the buyer facilitated by the Internet has meant that the customer controls the buying process. This does not mean however that the power has entirely left the seller.

The information gleaned from how the Customer has interacted with our website allows us to better understand our Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) through improved analytics on issues such as Page use, social media reach, keyword rankings, landing page conversions etc. This enables better lead and sales conversion rates and both the number and quality of the appointments lead to better and more focused proposals. Ultimately leading to an increase in value delivery to the Customer.

The empowerment of the buyer facilitated by the Internet has meant that the customer controls the buying process. This does not mean however that the power has entirely left the seller. Click To Tweet

Conclusion

This research has highlighted the need for suppliers to adopt a more customer-centric approach throughout the buying process.

In the area of lead generation, most FM suppliers still expect their salespeople to source their opportunities or use “interruptive” techniques, such as telemarketing, to generate appointments for them.

These techniques are unpopular with Customers and are damaging to our company’s marketing efforts. We need to move away from interuptive marketing, to a place where Customers can find us and engage with us at a scale that allows us to nurture that relationship over many months before the Customer decides to engage face to face.

Maintaining armies of telesales people, together with the outbound email marketing campaigns need to be a thing of the past.

The Customer has taken charge of the buying process, and it is buyers that find suppliers, these days, not the other way around. So suppliers need to make sure that they can be easily “found”. FM suppliers and service providers need to respond by adopting a more Customer-friendly approach to lead generation by using content and inbound marketing to attract new buyers.

Therefore the essential thing for suppliers to take away here is the need to define their value propositions clearly and succinctly, to stand out from the crowd, and position themselves as thought-leaders during the evaluation phase and turning traditional marketing on its head to develop a trusted relationship

Then, once in the bidding process, a suppliers’ success becomes highly dependent on their depth of understanding of a Customer’s needs.
In many respects, this is a “back-to-basics” approach, but it does hold the key to sales success.

By publishing the right content in the right place at the right time, our marketing becomes relevant and helpful to our customers, not interruptive.
Inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects to our business and keeps them coming back for more … because they want to!

This week’s Question; What is your single biggest challenge in the Marketing of Facilities Management? I read and reply all of your comments so please engage and leave a comment below