Introducing: ask the expert – your questions on growing the business answered
FinTech Futures is introducing a new fortnightly column, Ask The Expert! The column is designed to provide readers with practical advice on how to grow their businesses.
Greg Watts is our resident expert. He is the founder of Demand Creation Partners, a London-based growth consultancy that helps fintechs and payment firms to scale. He was previously head of market acceleration at Visa Europe.
QUESTION: I’m struggling to secure a meeting with a prospect – how can I sharpen my approach?
One of the most common – and frustrating – challenges for fintechs is securing meetings with target clients.
Many believe that simply sending a LinkedIn mail or emailing the prospect is enough to secure a meeting. However, in the majority of cases, that message will be ignored, or more likely, deleted.
Here are some reasons for a lack of cut-through, and some suggestions to sharpen your approach:
1. You don’t know enough about your target.
Do you really know your prospect? You might know their name, title and where they work, but what about their priorities, targets, challenges and areas in which they need support and help? And crucially, how can you help them address their challenges and/or meet their objectives?
Building a detailed view of your target client or prospect – in other words, a buyer persona – will help you understand them and tailor your approach.
2. Your approach is too generic.
Cultivating relationships takes time; employing a long-term approach yields the best results.
Do your homework. Know what your prospect’s interests are, what events they attend, and what social channels they engage with. Most importantly, consider why they should invest time in meeting you – what’s in it for them?
Once you better understand their behaviours, translate that into targeted outreach – for example, rather than crafting a generic LinkedIn mail, consider a 1:1 approach: a handwritten note from your CEO; an invitation to participate in a relevant PR opportunity; or an offer to be quoted in a thought leadership piece. The possibilities are endless, but the point is: don’t expect generic outreach to be effective. Do your research and take a personalised approach.
3. You haven’t leveraged your network – or your team members’ networks – to secure an introduction.
An introduction from a mutual connection is more likely to result in a positive response. Yet this approach is often overlooked. Here’s how to do it:
- List your targets on an Excel spreadsheet.
- Under each company, add job descriptions based on buyer personas, plus names of individuals if you have them. If you don’t, leave gaps.
- Go through the list and make a note of the people in your organisation who have connections with them.
- Print everything out and stick it on your wall so everyone can see who you’re targeting, and who knows who. This is likely to spark additional connections you weren’t aware of.
- Ask your team members if they’re happy to introduce their connections, and to initiate an approach.
Bringing it all together
By taking a focused, researched approach to securing prospect meetings, you’re far more likely to get a positive outcome.
QUESTION: What is demand generation; how does it differ from lead generation; and why is it important for my business?
The terms demand generation, lead generation and inbound marketing are often confused. Here are the definitions of each:
- Demand generation uses targeted marketing to drive awareness and interest in a company’s products and/or services.
- Lead generation is a sub-category of demand generation. It’s the practice of collecting information on targeted individuals which can subsequently be used to qualify and nurture prospects into sales-ready leads, pipeline opportunities and – eventually – customers.
- Inbound marketing is a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimisation and branding.
Think of demand generation as the umbrella term for lead generation and inbound marketing and something that gets customers excited about your company’s products and services. Demand generation programs can help your organisation reach new markets, promote product features, create buzz, generate PR and re-engage existing customers.
Demand generation bridges the gap between your sales and marketing teams, and it should result in inbound growth. But co-ordinating sales and marketing efforts – from the first interaction with your brand to client retention and upsell – isn’t easy.
Here are the common challenges marketers have with creating and deploying a customer-centric demand generation strategy:
1. Your website isn’t attracting visitors.
People need to know about your product or service before they purchase it, so a demand generation strategy should start with brand awareness. If prospects aren’t reaching your website, there might be an issue with your brand identity, blogging strategy, SEO strategy, social media strategy or buyer persona development.
2. You don’t understand your audience.
Because a demand generation strategy considers every touch point along a buyer’s journey, you need a thorough understanding of those buyers: who they are; what their organisational challenges are; what solutions they’re looking for; what content they engage with; and, most importantly, how your product or service can help them. Improve your effectiveness by creating buyer personas with your marketing and sales teams.
3. Your website doesn’t have conversion opportunities.
Too often, marketers make the mistake of thinking that accurate buyer personas, great content and lots of web traffic are enough. To generate leads, you need to motivate site visitors to share personal information in exchange for valuable content you’ve created. In other words, you need conversion opportunities spread strategically across your website.
4. Your leads aren’t becoming customers.
One of the most frustrating things a demand generation marketer can hear is that the leads they’re bringing in aren’t converting into customers. This could indicate issues such as:
- Sales and marketing misalignment
- Lack of sales enablement materials
- Misunderstanding the customer journey
Meet with your sales team regularly to understand how they qualify leads and what they need from marketing to be successful.
5. You’re not retaining customers or effectively upselling.
An effective demand generation programme should incorporate retention and cross or upselling opportunities as part of the client lifecycle after the initial sale has been achieved. Client marketing provides the opportunity to enhance your product roadmap, create compelling case studies and cultivate advocacy. However, if you’re marketing to current clients and it isn’t paying off, you might have an issue with your buyer personas.
6. You have difficultly tracking and measuring results.
The best demand generation strategies are driven by data and powered by technology. If you don’t know which of your tactics are working and which are falling short, you won’t be able to optimize them in the future. Define the critical metrics for your business and track them using analytics software such as Hubspot or Pardot.
Bringing it all together
Creating a demand generation programme that has the needs target buyers at its heart – and which is adopted fully by your marketing and sales teams – will more likely result in increased revenue for your business.
QUESTION: How can I convince a prospect’s CFO to partner with us?
You’ve had a successful first meeting with a retail prospect: they understand your product and can see how it could help them improve their customer experience. Now, you need to prove how it can enhance their business and bottom line.
You’ve been asked to meet with their finance team to develop a business case. The challenge is: how do you persuade their CFO to buy into a partnership?
First, you need to demonstrate an understanding of their business and how your offering adds value – as opposed to weighing them down with additional costs or resource complexities. (Many fintechs claim they have simple or no integrations, but that’s not always the case – frustrating retailers when they need to allocate technical resources. It’s better to be candid about integration upfront and build it into the business case and development plan.)
Once you’ve identified the retailer’s commercial opportunities and challenges – for example, acquiring new customers, increasing the value of existing customers or attaining higher operational efficiencies – create an Excel value model to validate your assumptions and use it as a tool to secure the CFO’s buy-in.
Gather inputs by reviewing annual reports, financial statements and other sources that provide deep, factual insights into the prospect’s business. For example: what are their strategic goals; what was last year’s performance; what is their margin; how is their cost base constructed?
These inputs can be then be validated by the prospect at the meeting, and you can even conduct modelling together. If approached correctly, the CFO and finance team will relish the opportunity to co-create with you at an early stage.
Bringing it all together
By conducting a robust assessment of the prospect’s business and validating your assumptions with them, you’ll have a strong basis for a commercial case and a foundation on which to launch a partnership.