A Story From the Frontlines of B2B Lead Generation
For your B2B lead generation program to be successful, you and your sales team need to be one step ahead of your leads at all times. If you’re not, the best opportunities will fall out of the sales pipeline and land in the hands of a competitor company. It’s not always easy to stay in contact with resistant leads, but if you do, you might end up with a deal that pays for your B2B appointment setting program for a whole year (and then some).
Sounds too good to be true? Well, it’s not—this exact scenario happened to our longest-tenured accounting client. One of their leads was perilously close to dropping out of the sales pipeline forever, but we equipped our client with the best sales tips and they managed to lure the lead right back in. Learn how our strategic sales methods resulted in the deal of a lifetime for our East Coast accounting client.
Using B2B Appointment Setting Best Practices To Resurrect a Deal
If any of our clients can attest to the success of our B2B appointment setting program, it’s our East Coast accounting client. They’re our very first Abstrakt client, and they’ve been our partner for a decade. Back in 2011, they asked for our help building a sustainable sales pipeline for their accounting practice because they weren’t bringing in as many new leads as they wanted, and we have continuously delivered for the past 10 years.
Accounting B2B lead generation is challenging—the average deal size is only $13,500. To put that in perspective, the average solar lead generation deal size is almost $400,000. If you want to generate significant revenue through B2B appointment setting, you need a vigilant team that sets appointments with as many qualified leads as possible. From there, you need an impressive proposal and impeccable persuasion skills to close the deal.
A few years ago, we had to put our appointment setting skills to the test, and our client had to exercise their persuasion skills when a once-interested lead disappeared from the sales pipeline. It all started with the first call.
Call 1: Gauging Interest
B2B appointment setting works differently for our accounting partner than for clients in other industries. This particular partner does the bulk of their work with nonprofits that need an annual financial audit. Because not every state requires nonprofit audits, and those that do have specific revenue requirements, we have to do a lot of preliminary research before reaching out to leads.
Our clients’ appointments with nonprofits revolve around a request for proposal (RFP). Each year, nonprofits review multiple bids from different accounting firms before deciding which one will perform its annual audit. So, instead of delivering a sales pitch at their first meeting, our accounting client skips straight to the proposal phase. With so much competition and so little time to make an in-person impression, we have to create as much interest as possible during our introduction and lead nurturing phases.
On average, it takes 585 days and almost 19 calls to finally set an appointment with an accounting prospect. As a result, we use our first call to gauge interest and develop a relationship with the lead. Our first call with the key decision-maker (KDM) at our prospect nonprofit went as well as it could—they weren’t ready to ask for a proposal yet, but their annual audit was approaching in a few months. As a large nonprofit, their audits were costly, and this KDM did not take his decision lightly.
At the end of the call, we left the door open for a future relationship and promised to follow up with them in a few weeks.
Lead Nurturing Phase
Lead nurturing is the most critical stage in our accounting B2B appointment setting services. Because it might take a year and a half to get a lead to set an appointment, we have to maintain a long-term relationship with all qualified leads and keep them in the pipeline for an extended period of time. If we don’t properly nurture our leads, our client might miss out on an opportunity down the road.
For our large nonprofit prospect, we used lead nurturing best practices that include:
- Using multiple forms of communication: We used phone calls and emails to communicate with this lead and sent relevant marketing collateral during different stages of the potential customer’s buying journey. After every call, our appointment setters sent follow-up emails to recap the conversation and leave the door open for future communication.
- Following up frequently: Timing is everything in a B2B lead generation strategy. If you follow up with a lead too often, they may get annoyed and start dodging your calls. If you wait too long to follow up, they might forget about your conversations and engage with a competitor company. It takes a skilled sales development representative (SDR) to know the perfect follow-up timeframe. Our SDRs kept in contact every few weeks, which kept the lead in our pipeline.
- Utilizing a CRM: Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are invaluable tools for B2B marketers. We used our CRM to keep track of every lead and take detailed notes after every phone call. If a new SDR got in touch with the prospect, they had all the information they needed to continue the last conversation where it left off.
- Sending personalized messages: Leads typically don’t respond well to generic marketing emails; they want personalized messages that appeal to their pain points. Each time we emailed our lead, we used information about their nonprofit and details from past conversations to create a tailored message.
After several months of successful lead nurturing, it seemed like the lead was on the cusp of scheduling an RFP appointment with our accounting client.
Want to secure more RFP appointments for your accounting firm? Schedule an appointment to see if we’re available in your market.
Appointment Set and Proposal Sent
When our nonprofit lead was approaching their annual audit, we scheduled an appointment with them on behalf of our client. Appointments are typically where our services end—we find, cleanse, qualify, nurture, and set appointments with leads before passing the torch to our clients—but in this case, we took a consultative approach after securing a meeting.
Usually, we deal with communication issues during the lead nurturing and appointment setting phase, but we didn’t experience anything out of the ordinary with this lead. Our client, on the other hand, submitted a bid to our lead and was met with complete radio silence. After a few weeks and numerous unanswered phone calls, our client casually mentioned that they were giving up. Of course, after spending months chasing this lead, we couldn’t let that happen.
Chasing the Lead (Again)
Our account manager hopped on a call with our client and outlined the steps we take when we can’t get ahold of a lead, including:
- Approaching the lead from multiple angles: We told our client that they should try email if the lead didn’t answer their calls. No luck with email? Try sending them a message on LinkedIn. One creative message could be the push they need to get back in touch.
- Reiterating the value of your services: When attempting to reel in an elusive lead, you need to be tactful. Instead of leaving a message that says, “I haven’t heard from you; please call me back when you can,” you should be more specific about why they should call you back. We told our lead to reemphasize the value of their services during follow-up communications, which would hopefully prompt them to pick up the phone next time.
- Expressing empathy and understanding: Leads are just as busy as the rest of us, and they don’t like being pressured to make a quick decision. As a result, it’s important to express understanding. A few empathetic words, like “I know you’re busy preparing for your annual audit, so I appreciate you taking the time to read my email,” can go a long way.
- Giving concrete times and next steps: Vague timelines have no place in the B2B lead generation process. When you’re trying to get a lead to call you back, don’t say: “Call me back as soon as possible.” Instead, give them your availability, include specific times and dates, and let them know exactly what you’re looking for. They will be more likely to call back, and you won’t miss them.
Shortly after agreeing to use our sales strategies with the lead, our client was able to get back in touch and resurrect a deal they thought was dead.
Deal Made; Annual Program Paid
It didn’t take very long for our client to close the deal once they got back in touch with our lead. After a few weeks, they signed a contract worth almost $50,000, which paid for their B2B appointment setting program for over a year. Though closing the deal was a time-consuming and arduous process, it was 100% worth it. The contract was worth over three times the average accounting deal, and it opened the door for future contracts with other prominent nonprofits.
When a Deal Is on the Line, Never Stop Trying
If there’s one lesson to learn in B2B appointment setting, it’s to never stop trying. Leads might hang up on you, instantly delete emails, reject your connection requests, and disappear for months before suddenly agreeing to an appointment. You never know when a lead will be ready to commit to an accounting partnership, which is why you can’t let them slip out of the pipeline.
The accounting B2B lead generation game is a long one. If you’re looking for instant results and $100,000 deals, you’ll be sorely disappointed. However, as our East Coast accounting client proves, patience pays off. After a few years of an outsourced B2B appointment setting program, you’ll see a significant uptick in qualified leads and an increase in revenue.
If you need outside help to grow your accounting firm, look no further than Abstrakt. We have over a decade of experience scheduling appointments with qualified accounting leads and an unrivaled team of sales experts. Learn more about our B2B appointment setting program and take the first step in your Abstrakt partnership by contacting us today.
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