Writing for business-to-business lead generation is a balancing act: On the one hand, you want as great a response rate as possible; on the other, you don't want to clog the sales pipeline with useless leads—people who don't have the authority, interest, or money to buy what you're selling.
Your real goal? A high number of genuinely qualified leads—the attention of prospects who actually have the power to make or influence the purchasing decision. The following are five pragmatic ways for you to increase your success rate with the prospects who matter—the ones more likely to lead to a sale.
Know your segments and position accordingly
Any large purchase will involve a variety of people with different titles and roles. But a "one-size-fits-all" message won't work; instead, you'll need to segment your deliverables (whether mail, email, ads in various media, etc.) by title, and reposition your message for each segment.
Think of it this way: Each title has a different set of hot buttons, and they'll only respond when you press the rights ones for each role. Consider a large software purchase, for example. For the CEO, you may want to position the software as an investment for facilitating corporate growth. For the financial officer, you'll need to address the bottom line—how will it affect overall financial health? The IT people, the ones who'll have to deploy and maintain it, need more pragmatic insights: Is it easy to use? Will it require training or new hardware? How will it work with the systems and software they already have?
Fortunately, you rarely have to write an entirely new piece for each segment but can create variable sections—perhaps the Johnson (headline) and the first paragraph of a letter, for instance—to address the specific needs of your different titles.
Ask for incremental steps, not giant leaps
No mail package, no matter how beautifully designed, is going to close the deal on a $2,000,000 product. And very few will even land that precious face-to-face sales call you want.