Customer Lifecycle Management: Tips for B2B Tech Companies

As a B2B tech company, your sales process is often several months to even a year long (or more!). It’s also usually a winding pathway, filled with education and deliberation. For tech companies especially, there are often multiple buyers and stakeholders involved. And there are many questions that must be answered.

Lead management: lifecycle stages from marketing to sales

What is Customer Lifecycle Management?

When you facilitate the purchase pathway for business leads — answering their questions with content, following up at key times, and providing plenty of opportunities to reconvert — you practice what’s called customer lifecycle management.

Customer lifecycle management is critical for B2B tech companies who want to generate leads online. You must know your buyers and their needs, and meet them throughout different consideration points.

See also: 15 Digital Marketing Trends for B2B Technology Companies

Why Customer Lifecycle Management Matters for B2B Tech

The B2B technology sales process involves multiple buyers: You need to convince both technical and business buyers that your solution is the right one. Therefore, an “autobiographical” approach will not help you reach new leads — for example, “We have many years of industry experience” will speak to no one.

Instead, you need to address several buying roles’ pain points and needs, with strong and well-researched value propositions.

The technology sales cycle has long and winding buyer journeys. This is because technology solutions are often disruptive and have some barrier to entry, like giving up an existing system or taking a risk. So buyers need education and nurturing to understand:

  1. How the technology solution would fit within, or disrupt current systems
  2. The value vs. cost of the technology solution, and
  3. How the technology solution has successfully worked for other companies.

This ethos proof is critical, especially in emerging markets, and even more so when you are going after large established companies with more to lose by investing in something new.

Enabling Tech Buyers to Convert

The best strategy for customer lifecycle management is let your buyers be in charge of their journey. They should have opportunities to “opt-in” to learn more, and you can offer gradual nudges and follow-up actions. This often comes in the form of content hosted and gated on your website. But ultimately your website and marketing strategy should let tech leads call their shots on readiness to buy.

Your technology marketing strategy can play a role by meeting buyers through the customer lifecycle with:

  • Multiple content offers – like eBooks, guides, video demos, case studies for self-education and sharing with managers and colleagues
  • Chatbots – AI- or human-enabled chatbots on your website to answer sales questions when the buyer decides he is ready
  • A strong CRM tool – A tool like HubSpot lets you keep in touch throughout the buyer’s journey, follow website revisits, and alert your sales team to hot and active leads

The right tools and content in place will let you capture, nurture, and qualify leads as they engage with your brand online.

Facilitating a Three-Part Buying Journey

 

Only 20% of organizations use marketing through the entire customer lifecycle. – Salesforce

 

Overall with pre-sale customer lifecycle management, you’re helping facilitate a three-part buying journey: Awareness of possibilities and problems solved with tech, consideration of different solutions in market and decision of a vendor to partner with.

Education is needed throughout the buying journey. It often comes in the form of content offers. This includes a range of materials such as blog posts, case studies, features and specs sheets, and video walkthroughs.

See also: How to Create a High-Ranking Technology Marketing Strategy

Your tech company should also test your messaging often. We see tech companies sometimes go to market with ads and keyword strategies that are off base. These campaigns might have heavy jargon or industry terminology that is not widespread. This closes you off so people can’t find you organically. So test language and messaging often to see what resonates throughout the funnel.

Strong Marketing and Sales Alignment

Cohesive messaging between marketing and sales messaging and approach is critical for technology companies. Tech sales leads conduct a lot of self-guided research before they ever contact sales reps. So you need to make sure there’s no disconnect in their purchase pathway.

For example, you don’t want marketing touting features and use cases, while sales dives straight into technical specs. This will confuse and break momentum for your leads.

 

Companies with good sales + marketing practices in place generated 208% more revenue from marketing efforts. – HubSpot

 

Both marketing and sales team members should ideally share one, cohesive CRM system so they can see all the steps a lead has taken with the brand as a whole. This also holds both teams accountable to the quality of the lead pool.

As technology investments can be big, long-term and expensive decisions, the timing might not always be right away. But it’s important to keep in touch with leads in a marketing list — so have a two-way plan so unqualified sales leads will be re-nurtured with marketing.

See also: Defining the B2B Marketing to Sales Lifecycle

Sources

Salesforce: “Benchmark Report: The State of Customer Lifecycle Marketing”

HubSpot: “20 Stats That Prove the Power of Sales and Marketing Synchronization [SlideShare]”

 




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Ironpaper is a results-driven digital marketing agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.