As the world has been taken over by Internet-connected devices, a need arose for low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) to be scalable and reliable. This isn’t exclusive to smart homes or smart cars, but every aspect of our lives including healthcare, agriculture, retail, and so on.
Developing and selling low-cost solutions for LPWANs is a niche market that follows the same sales funnel as B2B sales but also requires thorough research, follow-up, expertise, and fine-tuning around the details. With that, Smartrek knew they would need to rely on Belkins to take on the challenge of creating an outbound lead generation funnel for two months.
Belkins’s main challenges for this project included:
- First-time outsourcing lead generation – Belkins was the first company Smartrek hired to handle email outreach services. They had no previous data or metrics to work off of and would create the campaign completely from scratch. Smartrek was in urgent need to attract more customers and could not execute it with their in-house team.
- Developing a niche market – Given Smartrek’s unique niche and complex product, Belkins knew this would be a challenge. We were tasked with targeting specific industries with a complex product that required thorough explanation and detail to convey its true value. Despite all the technicalities, in both the product and market, Belkins had to frame a sharp and unique value proposition in the very first email to capture Smartreks prospects' attention.
- Long sales cycle – Niche products generally take longer to sell than mainstream items. Selling Smartrek solutions also requires an individual approach. The B2B sales process must be modified to accommodate the client's unique, specific needs. In addition, the larger the company the longer the sales cycle. Many of their clients would only adopt new products and devices through tenders, which wouldn’t speed up their approval process either.
What We Did
For their lead generation campaign, Belkins used the traditional referral approach. However, Smartrek’s unique niche and highly technical product required the team to spend some time training and developing a complete understanding of their solution.
Make time for learning
Belkins’s sales reps are always dedicated and focused on providing top-quality services. At the early stage of the campaign, Belkins tactic was to sell Smartrek as if it was their own product. To understand Smartrek's industry and unique specialization, the Belkins account team studied their product descriptions, prices, the material to handle objections, and loads of other scripts and data points to make their campaign a success. Smartrek worked with Belkins to ensure the product was properly represented in all conversations and supported Belkins’s reps with any imaginable piece of information. Working as a team, a spreadsheet was created to handle common objections and the best responses for them. Smartrek accompanied Belkins by ensuring they were properly trained in messaging and object handling. Intertwining everyone’s efforts, the sales reps conveyed deep expertise in the product.
Understanding niche markets
Selling a niche product can be a challenge because it requires understanding where to find a very condensed target audience. Belkins began by focusing on wastewater districts and municipal water before expanding to engineering companies. When brainstorming which decision-makers to reach out to, Belkins reps realized they needed to look for titles that included keywords in the name (wastewater, water districts, etc.). Belkins research team looked for high-quality leads best matched to the client’s ICP, always keeping in mind the sweet spot between highly-targeted but wide enough audiences.
Main Challenges We Faced
No campaign is ever presented without its challenges; however, this has never stopped our team. We know each challenge is an opportunity for innovation and growth. When you're a true professional, every obstacle is a chance to learn something new, improve, and find better ways to close more deals. Below are the challenges we faced.
- Narrow niche – Working on a highly specialized product is difficult. Narrowing a lead generation campaign to highly targeted customers, like municipal water companies, is even more difficult. To ensure the campaign's success, Belkins studied the ins and outs of the industry, product suite, and UVP before ever launching the first email outreach.
- Correct titles – While our team is notoriously skilled at sales and marketing, understanding the technical aspects of water purification and reverse osmosis would be a first-time endeavor for us. With further experimentation and lots of execution, Belkins was able to narrow down specific keywords and titles that could speak to this niche product.
- A smaller number of leads – Unlike other industries like construction or retail, municipal water and wastewater district companies and titles are less numerous. This meant Belkins sales experts had fewer companies and titles that fit the ICP to research. However, they resolved that issue with flying colors: the team had the same traction with fewer leads (1,000 leads for Smartrek in contrast to 750 leads for a standard contract).
Despite the highly technical product and the niche market, Belkins results were as follows:
- The team of SDRs closed its 15-appointment commitment in 2 months with 1,000 leads.
- The client provided Belkins with the following feedback: of 15 appointments there was only one no-show, which suggests all calls were qualified for the client.
- Working in a tight niche is fun. The most complicated and unfamiliar product can be exciting to work with if approached with the right mindset. Even with doubts and challenges, a proactive approach will allow you to always provide your client with better than expected results. Belkins’s team members look forward to working on complicated products because it pushes one to think outside of the box and explore different solutions. In these situations, creativity and highly coveted problem-solving skills are a must. The more challenging a task, the higher the reward when completed.
- Know the client’s product by heart. One of the most important things you need to do is learn about your client's product. With a niche market, the first stage of a successful campaign is to learn about the client's product in detail. Ask thoughtful questions, process the answers, and implement them into your approach.The more you know about a client's product and target market, the better your position will be when it's time to sell.
- The feedback will guide you. Don't hesitate to ask for feedback from your client — even if it seems you are wasting their time or asking for something that doesn't make sense at first glance. Data-driven decisions are necessary to execute a high-performing campaign and to obtain such data, you need to communicate with your client. A lot! The Belkins team knew they were doing it right as almost all the appointments were productive and received only positive feedback. In addition, Belkins had only one no-show they immediately were able to reschedule.