Effective Sales & Marketing Programs to Scale Prospect Meetings

Leading B2B companies are actively working to secure live meetings to fuel enhanced engagement with prospects. The programs listed below are cost-effective and straightforward ways to secure productive dialogue with current and potential customers (especially compared with traditional drip or nurture marketing activities).

Programs come from 2021 interviews with high-performing B2B sales and marketing leaders

1. Moderated Prospect Meetings: Approach: Use peer-centric best practice studies to engage buyers in moderated meetings. Example: Conde Nast leveraged this program to reach its top 100 prospects. They hired Go-to-Market Pros (GTMP) to enroll prospects in a best practice study on the development and use of Amazon-like Marketplaces and related in-marketplace advertising. GTMP conducted the search for candidates and arranged interviews. Conde Nast attended all meetings As a result, they had direct interaction and discovery with each prospect.

  1. Benchmarking: Approach: Help buyers better define goals, journeys, and practical next steps to solve problems via relative performance scores and journeys. Example: At Staples, as head of B2B marketing, I designed and ran an effort, giving participants ratings on the efficiency of programs to provide office products and services to employees. Scores were reported and compared to best-in-class performers, recommended improvement steps were offered to each prospect.

  2. Industry Indexing: Approach: Score prospects against key competitors, identifying gaps and filler solutions, while keying on a natural competitive drive towards excellence. Example: Annually, Sailthru conducts independent research on the top 100 retailers in marketing personalization proficiency. Ratings have become the de-facto industry standard, enabling Sailthru to engage prospects and as a knowledgeable and trusted resource to help them improve performance.

  1. Customer Performance Comparison: Approach: Perform an independent customer-centric experience audit. Optionally add a side-by-side, time-based video performance comparison of prospect and competitor solutions. Example: While consulting for Support.com, GTMP used this methodology to show AT&T (a Support.com prospect) a compare and contrast video of a similar service session with Comcast (a Support.com customer). While Support.com had tried to get an AT&T meeting for 5 years without luck, the related use of this dramatic customer-oriented comparison prompted an agreement to meet.

  2. Maturity Levels: Approach: Define maturity levels for your prospect; show each prospect's relative level of performance score on solving problems. Define gaps and show what it takes to get to the next level, plus reward and recognize those at the top and those who move up. Example: Qvidian uses a four-tier rating platform to help prospects to understand their proficiency. Data serves as the basis for offering paths to upgrade performance.

  3. Three-dimensional Mail, Gifting & Integrated Digital Marketing: Approach: Engage buyers with creative breakout packages that leverage personalized mail with emotional messaging. Example: At Student Advantage, an 18–24-year-old advertising, membership, and social media platform, we sent CEOs a provocative direct mail item (it was a “nipple ring”). We asked one simple question: do you know what this is? When the recipient lifted the flap, they saw a stat about how many college students use one, while asking if they really knew their next generation of customers -- we do, call us. It was a big success.

  4. Exclusive industry Research: Approach: Offer prospect-centric research in return for a sales meeting. Example: Arm Treasure Data publishes prospect-centric research every year. They tease it with an infographic and offer the full report after an intro meeting.

  5. Emotional Engagement: Charity Affiliations & Give-to-Get Programs: Approach: Appeal to prospect-relevant charity contributions. Example: Every year, Rapid7 builds a database of prospects and customers who were veterans. They call to thank them for their service and offer a donation to their veteran’s charity of choice. This makes an emotional connection, makes the reps feel good, and drives donations to customers and prospects. Titled “Calls for a Cause: Veteran’s Day Promotion”, it drives significant engagement and referrals.

  1. Desired Analyst Access:
    Approach: Offer meetings with prospect-relevant or association-relevant analysts; optionally include relevant authors with signed books. Example: At Square Trade, key prospects were interested in the development of the Premium Remote Technology Market. They wanted to hear from credible analysts, so GTMP partnered with a leading analyst to present research on market growth and potential. GTMP offered one-on-one analyst meetings and included these subject experts in dinners, customer panels and market assessments. The program was very successful.
  1. Seek Customer Referrals: Approach: Promote and reward customers for introductions and related help to secure prospect meetings. Example: Several top B2B companies offer robust referral programs with surprise or expected rewards.

  2. Engage Customer Success, Sales Engineering or Customer Training: Approach: Activate groups with enhanced credibility to ask for customer or prospect referrals. Example: At QuickBase, GTMP realized that customers have high respect and trust with these individuals in these customer-facing functions/departments, so the company decided to include them in seeking referrals. GTMP set up a program to encourage and reward employees within these departments who sought & delivered such referrals (customers and prospects).

  3. Leverage Founder, Angel, Investor & CEO Networks: Approach: Match individual networks on LinkedIn to target AMB prospects, seek intros, or ideally, facilitated meetings.

  4. CFOs, CIOs, CTOs & Board of Directors: Approach: Leverage executives in “non-sales-oriented” networking. Match their LinkedIn networks to targeted AMB prospects, seek intros, or ideally, facilitated meetings.

  5. Employee Alumni Programs: Activity: Offer access to high-value content and exclusive alumni events. Seek introductions from former employees; keep a database of past employees and actively network them. Example: McKinsey excels here, with alumni in powerful positions at Fortune 500 companies in the U.S and beyond. Proactively engage with alumni, inviting them to exclusive events, while leveraging an exclusive invite-only online networking and content-rich platform.

  1. Prospect Alumni Programs: Approach: Follow past customers and network into their new companies. Seek introductions, or ideally, facilitated meetings. Example: Investors Trust & Bank maintains a database of former customers and builds an ongoing relationship for referrals and new business.

  2. Hackathons: Approach: Engage your prospect community in live application development events. Example: athenahealth creates hackathons in cities like Boston, involving customers, prospects, employees, physicians, healthcare coders, and others. They use hackathons to surface customer-centric problems or related opportunities to harness. Participants spend a weekend building new products or services directly with the company. Finalists are offered funds to develop their ideas.

  3. Time Shifting: Approach: Meet with prospects off-hours, during a commute or on weekends. Example: One of GTMPs best business development meetings was with Walmart (at 8.00 pm on a Saturday night).

  1. Customer Podcasts: Approach: Interview your prospect’s executives and promote them via podcasts and social media Example: Peter Mahoney is CMO of Plannuh, a platform designed to better manage marketing spend regularly interviews the CMOs of his prospects. He then promotes their thought-leadership and podcasts via social media. Peter builds on such relationships, often leading to discovery meetings for the sales team.
  1. Reaction/Pivot Prospect Study: Approach: Show how best-in-class companies are adapting to COVID-19, major market changes, or new mandates. Use these pertinent insights to attract, engage and advise prospects.

20: Vendor introductions: Approach: Ask your vendors for targeted prospect introductions. Pro-actively review each vendor’s customer portfolios and ask for specific introductions Example: GTMP recently helped a non-profit raise funds. We asked the nonprofit’s vendors for funding and referrals; they were very responsive. The nonprofit realized a 100% year-over-year gain in funds received.

21: Offer access to “C” level entertainment talent: Activity: Find desirable and culturally relevant talent and leverage them as a draw for prospect meetings. Example: Sailthru created an online event with second-tier talent from “The Office” TV show.

22: Offer an experiential WFH prospect experience like “Wine Tasting”: Activity: Wine tasting is one of the most effective programs for prospect engagement. Spurred by Covid-19, B2B companies are offering WFH experiential programs with moderated/expert-led consumption of wine, beer, chocolate, coffee, cheese or pasta making.

  1. Offer direct access to sought-after company executives: Activity: Leverage prospect interest in high profile or in-demand executives. Arrange for and selectively invite prospect stakeholders to one-on-one meetings or fireside-chats with such executives.

  2. Create a partner referral channel: Approach: Offer commission for closed sales and ideally, rewards for prospect meetings booked (most partner referral channels are underleveraged).

  3. Offer seamless online ways to provide prospects with live meetings: Example: Calendly enables prospects to book meetings while reviewing content. Online chat services such as Drift, engage prospects in Q&A online and offer immediate demo booking

  1. Complimentary Onsite or Remote Workshops: Approach: Workshops allow prospects to ‘see you in action’ and encourage working interaction with your prospect. Workshops educate prospects about the problems you solve, allowing you to share best practices Workshops can be fee-based or complementary. They put “meat on the bone” as prospects working on solving the specific problem your company is focused on. You can include best practices use-cases as part of your workshop Example: GTMP executed this program to help clients define their target market by offering prospects a “Revenue Database Workshop”
  1. LinkedIn Surveys: Approach: Conduct a LinkedIn survey, post a pertinent question about the problem you solve, ask prospects what they think and what they do in practice. After people vote, thank them, send recent research, and offer to chat.

28: Multi-Part Content: Activity: Offer content during the prospect discussion and follow with second-level content afterward. Provide reps with something incremental to share or present following a marketing campaign or a discovery meeting. Reps need something unique and incremental to keep the prospects engaged with them. Ideally, the only way for them to get this content is to talk to a rep.

29: Physical or Virtual Prospect Round Tables: Activity: Promoting & sponsoring round tables on key topics of interest to prospects at industry events or trade shows, online/offline, this can be leveraged with breakfast, lunch, or dinner (served/delivered)

30: Leverage unpublished prospect data to gain access and drive interaction (including intent data) Activity: Prospects are intrigued when solution providers know things about them that are not public, especially when solution providers offer specific help & defined the next steps. Examples include highlighting prospect executives who attended or are planning to attend a relevant event or webinar, sharing news about prospect executives who have experience with your proposed solution, highlighting a competitive move that will impact your prospect, discussing a pending industry acquisition that utilizes your technology, offer news about a proven industry resource who quietly becomes available, or share a relevant job opportunity

31: Offer complimentary passes to industry events Activity: This is particularly effective for local evening events, ideally such events include research report-outs, customer panels, networking, and F&B. Such offers do not have to be company-centric, and they do not have to be paid events, show your prospects you are thinking of them and proactively inform them. Ideally, offer to meet the prospect at the event or before and have an informal chat. If they cannot attend, use the engagement as an opportunity to update or reconnect with them.

32: Offer prospect quotes in a book, blog, or industry round-up Activity: Prospects like to be quoted or featured in industry or vendor materials, or round-up expert reports, it promotes their personal brand and their company’s brand

33: GTMP Revenue Workshop: Building a forward-looking prospect database Activity: Most B2B solution providers have a relatively weak and incomplete prospect database. It is often less than 10% of their TAM. These historical databases represent a hodgepodge of past customers, events, campaigns, and prospects for prior products and services. GTMP offers a workshop to help clients define who they need to sell to in the next###-###-#### months, based on their latest/pending product or service offerings. One that is defined, GTMP builds a fresh and complete database, with detailed contact information. The database represents typically 95% plus of each client’s TAM. This database is owned by the client and fully ingested into their CRM for sales and marketing to use.

For help to implement the most relevant of these NNPM programs for your company, contact Michael Phelan, Founder, and Principal of Go-to-Market Pros, --@----.com