B2B Selling – The “Magic Bullet” And The “Secret Sauce”

April 25, 2019

Business development specialists, especially paid consultants, really don’t want you to know that there is a magic bullet for getting a tremendous amount of B2B sales leads. 

That magic bullet is pay per click advertising; either buying a top position in the search engines or buying ads on LinkedIn that only charge you when your ad is opened. I know for a fact that pay per click is the magic bullet because I watched it work like a charm for 20 years. 

I am sure there are plenty of specialized businesses out there who can’t use pay per click advertising. It doesn’t work for their industry. For the vast majority of B2B business entities, especially those who sell essential products and services directly to managers, procurement specialists and other decision makers, pay per click works. 

If you want your sales reps to be in front of prospects instead of beating their heads against the wall as they grind out appointments, then you only need to decide where to spend your pay per click dollars. 

The Burning Question 

If it’s that simple, why isn’t everyone doing it? Probably because of the perceived cost. It might cost a business $400 to $600 per new account conversion, plus internal sales commissions. Is that expensive? Not if you accept the fact that all new accounts have a business development cost – like cold calling for example, still somehow touted as a valid idea by paid consultants. 

Is pay per click worth it? You need to do the math yourself. For coffee service operators for example, if an operator spends $5000 a month on pay per click and generates 10 new accounts per month with combined annualized sales of $150,000 a year, it would seem to make sense. The numbers look even better after those accounts are in place for two to three years. There is also the possibility of hitting a long home run with pay per click – landing a huge account that comes right to your door. 

The two most powerful pay per click platforms for B2B are search engine advertising (Google, Yahoo, Bing) and LinkedIn advertising. 

What to expect - Google, Yahoo and Bing 

  • Search engine advertising offers a do it yourself platform with plenty of phone support. Once unreachable by phone, Google now pours on the customer service, calling regularly to help refine your program and help select the right search terms. 
  • Set your own budget. You decide what to spend daily. 
  • Targeting - Set your own geographic radius. Example – 50 miles around your office location. 
  • Cost per click – The cost per click depends on how much competition there is in your industry for those top spots in the search engine. You will want to be in one of the top three positions. 
  • Expect plenty of leads - but plan to do lots of qualifying because there is essentially no targeting beyond geographic parameters and the search engine terms that you choose to attract prospects. 

Qualify – Qualify - Qualify 

The downside – if you really want to call it that: Many of the leads will be useless. You will hear from prospects who are not the decision maker, who don’t have any meaningful budget, who have no idea what you really do and even what their own needs are. 

You will also hear from ripe prospects, ready to buy now – buyers who are motivated to make a deal. 

Here is the key point: Search engine advertising delivers prospects who are well along in the buying journey. They need what you offer, and they need it now. 

What to Expect – LinkedIn pay per click 

If search engine pay per click advertising is the “magic bullet,” then LinkedIn pay per click is the “secret sauce.” 

The name “A. J. Wilcox” comes up frequently whenever you speak to digital marketing people about LinkedIn advertising. Wilcox has managed over 200 LinkedIn Ads accounts, spent a cumulative $110M+ on the platform, and has handled four of LinkedIn's top ten accounts. 

“LinkedIn advertising gets a lack of recognition in the advertising community because LinkedIn pricing is a little higher and it doesn’t provide the immediate results of Google advertising,” said Wilcox. “But the mindset of the user is right for B2B.” 

#1 B2B platform 

Wilcox said LinkedIn is clearly the number one B2B platform because it has two things going for it. 

  • Targeting that can’t be compared to any other platform. You can pinpoint the type of prospect you want to reach by city, with such factors as company size, job title, salary level and many other specific criteria. 
  • The scale of reach whether you have a $300 budget or a $3000 budget. Because LinkedIn offers a self-service platform, you can dip your toe in the water and see if LinkedIn advertising is right for you. Wilcox suggests that if a company is serious about LinkedIn advertising, using his company to coordinate a campaign makes sense. “We eliminate the potentially costly learning curve and we have the experience to help you succeed,” he said. 

Powerful content advertising 

Wilcox recommends Content advertising on LinkedIn, which works on a pay per click model. Wilcox says there are “many flavors” of content advertising, which allows you to provide useful information to your target audience right in their newsfeed. You only pay when your content ad is opened, usually about $6 to $9 per click. 

“What we know is that if you offer content in your advertising that teaches your target audience something about their industry or offers something useful, or solves a problem for them in the form of a 

webinar, a checklist, a guide, a whitepaper, all of a sudden you are applicable to 95 percent of the audience and you will have a much higher click through rate and a much lower cost per conversion,” said Wilcox. 

As Wilcox points out, unlike search engines, advertising on LinkedIn requires patience. “You should utilize the same engagement strategy that you always use on LinkedIn - even when you are not advertising – providing value and thought leadership to build relationships and opportunity,” he said. 

Google and LinkedIn - The big difference 

With search engine advertising – You will connect with prospects who have a definite and immediate need for your services. Do they have the budget and authority to hire your company? Maybe. 

With LinkedIn advertising – You will connect with highly targeted prospects who definitely have the budget and authority to bring your company on board, but they may not have the need for your services right now. The timing and need for your services will have to be cultivated. 

Be strategic 

Pay per click will bring you a tremendous amount of new business opportunity, but it still needs to be managed and tweaked on a regular basis. Google is helpful and so are advertising professionals like A. J. Wilcox, who specialize in LinkedIn. 

Perhaps the best approach for your business is to mix the magic bullet with the secret sauce. Some search engine advertising and some LinkedIn pay per click would seem to make sense. If your business is not utilizing either of these incredibly valuable tools, I urge you to take a long look at your business development strategy. 

I always appreciate hearing from readers, especially on this topic. 

Since selling his business in January of 2017, Bob Tullio has been an active industry consultant at www.tullioB2B.com focusing on content creation, strategic planning, sales training and business development. He has written over 40 columns and features, providing operators and other entrepreneurs with an inside look at how he helped build a successful business from the ground up. Currently, Tullio is developing a series of videos that are centered around his speaking presentation…“Ten Ways to Energize your Sales.” 

Website: www.tulliob2b.com 

Phone: 818 261-1758 

Email [email protected] 

About the Author

Bob Tullio

Since selling his business in January of 2017, Bob Tullio has been an active industry consultant at www.tullioB2B.com focused on content creation, strategic planning, sales training and business development. In addition to serving a growing client base, he has written over 50 columns and features, providing operators and others with an inside look at how he helped build a successful business from the ground up. He can be reached at 818-261-1758 or [email protected].