For the Win
To be successful, the business-to-business marketer must include in the customer and prospect database a rich matrix of influencers. There may be as many as 15 or 20 individuals at a company who influence a business-to-business sale. Because most business decisions are made by more than one individual, it is usually more desirable to include many influencers at a few companies than to include a few influencers at many companies. In other words, it is much better to have in the database 10 individuals at each of 1,000 companies than to have one individual at 10,000 firms.
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. And don't forget the financial and technology people who are also impacted by the decision to buy.
Various third-party resources can be helpful in your database marketing strategies to influencers. Resources that can explain, in general terms, who influences the buying decision include: trade associations, industry analysts and trade-press editors and reporters. Information companies such as Dun & Bradstreet and business-press publishers can be helpful in identifying the correct titles for individuals who influence sales.
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. The publisher could also 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.
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 these questions: