For many B2B marketers, recovering from a slow summer can be a tough process.
This summer in particular has been a challenging one. With holidays and travel finally making a triumphant return post-COVID, decision-makers have been swapping their desks for the sun loungers for longer than usual — prolonging buying journeys as a result.
It should come as no surprise, then, that two-thirds of B2B companies experienced a sales slump this summer, particularly in July and August. Of these businesses, just under 75% reported a 20% dip in sales, and one in five reported dips of more than 40%.
But the autumn period — from October to November — can offer a glimmer of hope to marketers looking to bounce back. Holiday season is over, and buyers are back at their desks, ready to talk business. For example, here at Sopro, between October 2021 and November 2021, we saw a 25% rise in our own deals closed, and other B2B companies have the chance to tap into similar success this year.
For businesses looking to take advantage of the “autumn opportunity” and recover their leads and sales, there are a number of actions that can be taken to maximise results.
Spring cleaning the database
A strong database separates the winning email prospecting campaigns from the losing ones. However, many marketers today are still missing out on the full rewards of email because their databases lag behind the real world.
The Great Resignation, for example, has sparked a rise in decision-makers switching organisations and roles. As a result, 70% of B2B companies have reported an increase in bouncing emails over the past two years.
Although the majority of marketers update their database at least quarterly, these updates are not enough to keep up with this constant influx of expired email addresses.
If B2B companies want to make the most of the lucrative autumn months, repairing their database decay is the best place to start. This can include:
- Using external data sources, such as LinkedIn, to verify contact details are still correct
- Reducing list sizes and ensuring the database is built on quality contacts, not quantity of contacts
- Combine quarterly database updates with continual small edits, and ensure data on email bounces and rejections are fed back into the main CRM
- Filtering and eliminating unresponsive market segments and refining audiences to limit budget wastage
Since data inaccuracy is one of the main culprits behind an ineffective prospecting campaign, companies must act fast in improving their database’s health before they cash in on autumn sales.
A refreshed email approach
When it comes to prospecting, email is a great channel for testing out new techniques, and there are several adjustments companies can make to optimise their results for the busy sales period.
Marketers must take a look at what has worked and what hasn’t worked in past campaigns and identify the areas that could be improved with their email content — from subject lines to email content. For example, our data shows that the more elusive and abstract the subject line, the better, with open rates improving by 2% when readers are unsure of the reason behind the email.
The timing and frequency of emails also has a big impact on success, so making improvements here can also take a prospecting campaign to new heights. For example, our data shows that sending emails at midday on Wednesday or 11AM on Thursday will generate the highest lead rates.
Adjusting the sequence of emails based on Out of Office replies can lead to better email engagement too. Most automatic replies include the date that prospect is due to return to their desk, so pausing outreach until they are back means emails won’t get buried in their inbox.
Lastly, although B2B companies need to use this autumn period to ramp up prospecting activity and fill up the pipeline for the months ahead, this shouldn’t be their sole focus. Marketers must also make sure they are giving their time and attention to the leads that are most likely to bring money into their business.
This is where lead scoring comes into play. Lead scoring ranks prospects in terms of how far they have shifted from the initial interest stage to revealing purchase intent, as well as the customer value they would bring to the business.
By shifting focus towards the most promising leads that are most likely to convert, sales teams will get the most out of this autumn’s killer sales period.
B2B companies looking to have a triumphant autumn when it comes to sales must act fast in refreshing their techniques and strengthening the foundations of their prospecting campaigns. In doing so, they can ensure their messages are reaching the right decision-makers at the right time, maximizing their return on investment.
For the best results, a commitment to maintaining a strong, healthy database, adapting email strategy, and effectively scoring leads will be essential.
Then, and only then, will companies be set for success as they head into autumn – and ready to brave the winter that follows.