In a previous post, I asked the question, "How well do you know your B2B buyers?" Gathering information on your buyers is your responsibility, not theirs. They may or may not volunteer critical information during the buy cycle, but chances are, they won't offer any more than they need to. So, it's up to us to craft our lead generation, lead nurturing and sales process to qualify our leads and develop them into prospects and customers. It boils down to asking the right questions at the right time. Here are 20 important questions to ask at the three main buy stages—lead, prospect and customer.

Setting Goals

First, let's establish what our goals are for information gathering. I can think of a few:

  • Identify your leads so that you can nurture them and contact them at the appropriate stage of the buy cycle
  • Determine their interests and buy cycle stages so that you can nurture them with appropriate content
  • Segment your leads by appropriate demographics and by product/service
  • Qualify and score your leads for sales readiness and prioritization
  • Provide sales reps with vital information to assist in the sales process
  • Create buyer behavior models to assist in lead generation and lead nurturing
  • Create and maintain customer service models to reduce churn and enhance lifetime value

Goldilocks and the Three Bears Model

20 questions to ask your b2b leads prospects and customers and goldilocksRemember that today's customer doesn't want to be pushed, prodded or otherwise violated before they are ready to buy. You want your questioning strategy to not be too hard, not be too soft, but to be just right. The trick here is to gather information gradually and keep updating your records with new information until your profile is complete. Think about staging your questions in line with your buyer behavior and apparent stage in the buy cycle. You can do that by slowly introducing more questions in your lead capture forms as your leads make their way through your lead nurturing content and consume content you've targeted for TOFU (top of the sales funnel), MOFU (middle of the funnel) and BOFU (bottom of the funnel) stages. So let's get started already!

Stage 1 - Lead (has signed up for TOFU, MOFU, BOFU content )

  1. TOFU (First Touch) - Your Name? (Required), Your Email? (Required)
  2. TOFU (Second Touch) - Name, Email, Company (Optional), Title (Optional), Phone (Optional)
  3. TOFU (Third Touch) - Name, Email, Company (Required), Title (Optional), Phone (Optional), Interests (Optional), Comments (Optional)
  4. MOFU (First Touch) - Name, Email, Company (Required), Title (Required), Phone (Optional), Company Size (Optional), Industry (Optional), Region/Location (Optional), Interests (Optional), Interest Level (Optional), Comments (Optional)
  5. MOFU (Second Touch) - Name, Email, Company (Required), Title (Required), Phone (Required), Company Size (Required), Industry (Required), Region/Location (Required), Interests (Required), Interest Level (Required), Comments (Optional)
  6. MOFU-BOFU (Third Touch or Behavior-Driven Lead Nurturing Content) - Name, Email, Company (Required), Title (Required), Phone (Required), Best Time to Call (Required), Company Size (Required), Industry (Required), Region/Location (Required), Product/Service Desired (Required), Interest Level (Required), Comments (Required)  

Stage 2 - Prospect (contacted by sales rep and tracked as a CRM opportunity)

  1. What are you excited about during the next 12 months?
  2. What are your business goals for that period?
  3. How do you hope to achieve those goals using our product/service?
  4. What strategies/plans do you have in place now for accomplishing your goals?
  5. How do you foresee achieving them using our product/service?
  6. What process will you use to evaluate possible solutions; when will you decide?
  7. Who will make the final decision; can we speak to them?
  8. If we can do A, B, C for you, will you be ready to go with our product/service?

Stage 3 - Customer (at least one purchase)

  1. How well is our product/service performing?
  2. What factors influenced your decision to buy from us?
  3. What content helped you to make your decision?
  4. How would you like to be contacted by us and how often?
  5. What can we do to improve?
  6. When do you anticipate needing more (licenses, seats, upgrades, etc.)?

I'm sure there are many more questions you could ask, but these 20 should get you started on your way to understanding your buyer behavior at the various stages of the buy cycle. Now you can map out your content better for your leads and prospects, assisting them but not pushing them as they move through your sales funnel. You should definitely seek the input of all of the stakeholders in this process—marketing, sales, customer service and management—to come up with the right information-gathering strategy. Don't be afraid to leverage what you already know about your buyers, but don't rely on that alone. Let the data do the talking.

Photo Credit: annethelibrarian






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Topics: Lead Nurturing, lead generation, buyer behavior, john mctigue, sales funnel

John McTigue
John McTigue
With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.
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