Gaining the Upper Hand in B2B Prospecting

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I please have your undivided attention.

Hah! Good luck with that.


B2B marketing wants and needs the attention of its prospects to shove them along the consideration journey. We’d like our messaging and content to fall from the heavens onto the tongues of prospects thirsty for knowledge, but the deck is stacked against us.


Our prospects are hiding under their bed, with their digital covers pulled over their head, suffering from:

  • The incredible shrinking attention span. Much has been made of the unfavorable comparison to goldfish, nevertheless, goldfish are not our targets. We must earn attention span.


  • The irresistible urge to multitask, which fractures what little concentration is left. Interestingly, neuroscience says multitasking is not really the concurrent performing of tasks (nor is it efficient). Our brains actually go through a stop/start process. I stop reading this article and start looking at puppy videos. Costs time, but multitasking is how we process our lives.


  • The Network of Me. Prospects are both executives and people, and the people side sharply restricts who and what gets through the digital cyclone that comes at us everyday. The person in you decides, beforehand, what sources are interesting. It’s likely that you’re not on the list.


So what’s a marketer to do? Here’s the short, marginally effective list, which you could probably get anywhere:

  • Be clever. For instance, write headlines that are abstractions of pop culture. An analysis of defensive tactics in the SuperBowl might be Game of Zones. (A poor example but you know where I’m going.)


  • Be quick. Utilize the 4-line rule: no paragraph can be more than 4 lines. Let folks know how long it will take to read your content. Put everything in bullets (like this post).


  • Be everywhere. Tonnage works. Cover every possible avenue a prospect might take looking for inspiration or information. Throw a lot against the wall.

Impressed? Not so much.


Or you could get to know your prospect better than anyone else. Empathy and insight will put your content and your message on the Network of Me, inside your prospect’s DNA, on the vein to the brain.

I am definitely advocating distinguishing yourself by taking the time to engage in persona research, where you engage individuals in a purposeful conversation – qualitative research to understand them as executives and people, what is important to them, and how they make decisions.

Compelling Competitive Differentiation

This is a compelling competitive differentiator, and will enable you, or the marketers who get their first, to empathize with your prospect, recognize what really matters and speak directly to it. The trust and respect that engenders is what really matters.

“Knowing our customer and communicating with them in their language, in the places they go in an appropriate way everything else is tactics.”

– Peter Bell, Product Marketing Senior Director, Marketo

It takes commitment, and the courage to change if the research says you got it wrong. The dividend is better qualification, earlier engagement, and accelerated revenue.

As my good friend, Stuart Taylor, SVP of Nielsen said, “B2B is a personal sell. Always has been.”

Gotta hand it to him, he’s right.